Welcome, Guest. Please login or register.
Did you miss your activation email?
Jul 18, 2019, 01:45 PM
Pages: 1 ... 81 82 [83] 84 85 ... 235   Go Down
0 Members and 19 Guests are viewing this topic.
Most Active Member
Offline Offline

Posts: 6493

« Reply #1230 on: Nov 08, 2018, 05:10 AM »

Putting Speed Bumps in Hurricane Alley

By Marlene Cimons

The advantages of wind power are well-known. Wind is clean, plentiful and renewable. Installing turbines in large numbers could help wean our carbon-intensive civilization from its addiction to fossil fuels. New research suggests that one day there could be another major benefit: massive installations of wind turbines could lessen the deluge when powerful hurricanes bring devastating amounts of rain onto land. During such recent storms as Harvey and Florence—which brought historic levels of rainfall—this could have meant less flooding and destruction, and fewer deaths.

"Offshore wind farms definitely could be a potential tool to weaken hurricanes and reduce their damage," said Cristina Archer, a professor in the University of Delaware's College of Earth, Ocean and Environment, who conducted a recent study published in the journal Environmental Research Letters describing the impact of offshore turbines on hurricane rainfall. "And they pay for themselves, ultimately, which is why I am excited about this."

Climate change has been driving larger and more intense hurricanes in recent years. Evaporating sea water fuels hurricanes, whose strength depends on how rapidly water can evaporate from the ocean. When sea water evaporates, it transfers heat from the ocean to the atmosphere, which converts it into wind energy, creating stronger and stronger winds. As the temperature of the water goes up, so does the rate of evaporation—and so does the wind. The warmer the ocean, the faster the evaporation. And climate change is heating up the oceans at an ominous pace.

In earlier research, Archer demonstrated that offshore wind farms absorb kinetic energy from hurricanes, reducing the effects of wind and storm surge. Her latest study suggests that turbines might also decrease rainfall for onshore locations downstream from a wind farm—when deployed in very large numbers. "The motivation for this new study was basically Harvey itself," Archer said. "It dumped an incredible amount of rain, and it was the rain that actually caused the flooding in the Houston area."

To picture what happens when a hurricane meets a wind turbine—and how turbines can diminish rainfall—it's important to understand the two significant factors that influence precipitation, convergence and divergence. Strong hurricane winds slow down when they hit wind turbines, and move upward because they have no other place to go. This brings more moisture into the atmosphere, boosting rainfall. That is convergence.

Divergence is the opposite; it causes downward motion, attracting drier air that is moving downward, which suppresses precipitation.

"Think about convergence like when there's traffic on a freeway, and everybody is going fast and then—all of a sudden—there's an accident and everyone slows down," Archer explained. "You get a convergence of cars that backs up… That's the convergence upstream of the offshore wind farms. Divergence is similar to what happens when cars finally get past the accident and everybody speeds up."

Convergence and divergence occur naturally in many situations. "For example, wherever we have a low-pressure center—associated with storms in the mid latitudes—typically the surface winds converge towards it," Archer said. "Vice versa, wherever we have a high-pressure center, like during clear and warm weather, winds at the surface diverge out of it. When you have a change in land use, like from ocean to land, or from forest to pasture, this causes a change in the winds — deceleration from ocean to land, or acceleration from forest to grass -and thus you have convergence and divergence, respectively."

Over a wind farm, the wind speed slows "because that's what turbines do," she said. "They extract kinetic energy from the wind, therefore the wind behind them, downstream of each turbine, is weaker than it was upstream. Put more and more turbines together in a large farm and you can imagine that you would start causing convergence ahead of the farm, before the winds hit the first turbines, and divergence past it, after the farm, where the winds accelerate again."

Therefore, in order to have precipitation, there must be upward motion to bring moisture-rich air near the surface into the atmosphere, where it condenses and causes rain. "To get upward motion near the surface, you need to have convergence," she said. Then, "to kill precipitation, you need downward motion, which is what happens when you have divergence at the surface. Obviously you also need a moisture-rich environment to start with. If you have convergence in the desert, no matter how strong, there will not be precipitation because it is too dry."

That's why the scientists studied the impact of offshore wind farms, rather than land-based ones, as hurricanes form over water and dissipate quickly once they reach land. "There is plenty of moisture [offshore], thus it was more likely that we would see an effect," she said. "We looked at hurricanes because they last long enough that the patterns of convergence/divergence can form and persist. If you think about it, a hurricane lasts for days and causes strong, steady winds from pretty much the same direction—from the ocean to the land."

U.S. Dept. of Energy

One current drawback is that turbines often are now turned off during high winds. Archer said their computer simulations took the "cut-off" wind speed into consideration, which currently is 76 miles per hour for the Enercon 126, a German offshore wind turbine model. However, manufacturers now are developing new turbines that will withstand even stronger winds, such as those in hurricanes and typhoons, and these are expected to be on the market in 2020, she added.

The scientists used numerical computer simulations that covered the coast of Texas and Louisiana, examining what might have occurred in the presence of offshore wind farms during Harvey. They looked at a wide range of numbers of turbines, over different sized areas, and in a variety of layouts.

"By the time the air reaches the land, it's been squeezed out of a lot of moisture," Archer said. "We got a 30 percent reduction of the precipitation with the Harvey simulations. That means, potentially, if you have arrays of offshore turbines in an area where there are hurricanes, you will likely see a reduction in precipitation inland…"

The study used hypothetical turbines ranging from a control case of zero turbines to a maximum of 74,619, a number currently unrealistic for the U.S., she said. Unlike Europe—where there are more than 100 offshore wind turbines—the U.S. only has five, all part of the nation's first and only offshore wind farm located on Block Island, off the coast of Rhode Island.

The largest configuration had 74,000 and the smallest 22,000, she said. "So these are high numbers by all means," she said. "By comparison, there are about 300,000 turbines in the world today."

Although she believes the more turbines the better, the scientists found the found positive effects even using fewer turbines or placing turbines over a smaller area. "For example, you do not need to have turbines covering a large area," she said. You can get pretty much the same benefit with [a smaller layout] placed 'smartly' for Houston."

With 33,363 turbines over a medium sized area, they saw a reduction of 15 percent in the Houston metropolitan area. With 28,197 turbines over the small [area], they saw a reduction of 10 percent, she said. "We get greater reductions in other locations, but we focused on the totals for Houston metropolitan."

At this time, she said the researchers can't project the optimal number of turbines needed, although "the more [offshore] wind farms you have, the more impact they will have on a hurricane," she said. "By the time a hurricane actually makes landfall, these arrays of turbines have been operating for days and days, extracting energy and moisture out of the storm. As a result, the storm will be weaker. Literally."

She pointed out that communities can build sea walls or artificial barrier islands to protect against storm surge. But these won't protect against rain. "The costs are high and they only serve one purpose," she said. "An alternative is to build offshore wind farms, which [ultimately] pay for themselves, generate clean and renewable energy, and—cherry on top—protect against hurricanes, including rain and storm surge."

Reposted with permission from our media associate Nexus Media.

* Capture.JPG (44.64 KB, 825x421 - viewed 65 times.)
Most Active Member
Offline Offline

Posts: 6493

« Reply #1231 on: Nov 08, 2018, 05:16 AM »

New Zealand Ends New Offshore Oil and Gas Exploration


Incredible news in New Zealand, as it has banned new permits for offshore oil and gas exploration in efforts to tackle climate change.

The Crown Minerals (Petroleum) Amendment Act passed its third reading in Parliament on Wednesday with 63 votes in favor and 55 against, New Zealand Herald reported.

"New Zealanders want to see a future for their country where we take action on climate change" Minister of Energy and Resources Megan Woods said at the third reading. "Where we have a long-term economic plan for our country, where we have the courage to look beyond the three-year political cycle and plan for the next 10, 20, 30 and 40 years."

The bill will preserve existing exploration permits, an area that covers roughly 100,000 square kilometers, Woods noted.

"Those permit holders will have the same rights and privileges that they do before this legislation comes into force," she said.

Crown Minerals (Petroleum) Amendment Bill - Third Reading - Video 1: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nD6hHf761Pw

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern's coalition government first set the ban's wheels in motion in April.

"The whole world is going in this direction," Ardern said then. "We all signed up to the Paris agreement that said we're moving towards carbon-neutrality, and now we need to act on it."

Ardern continued, "Nothing will change overnight. These existing permits have very long lead times. We'll be seeing oil and gas exploration for a number of years to come. And the jobs—the four-and-a-half thousand jobs in this industry—will continue too."

"But we're putting a line in the sand and saying, now it's our job to plan for the future," she said. "We will make sure we've got that transition plan in place, and what the future of clean, green, carbon-neutral New Zealand looks like."

The government has pledged to power the country's grid with 100 percent renewable energy by 2035 and aims to become carbon neutral by 2050.

Greenpeace celebrated the legislation's passing and said it had "overwhelming public support." A government committee for the environment received more than 7,000 submissions on the bill, with around 85 percent in support of it or saying that it did not go far enough to tackle climate change, the organization said.

"Today we have passed an incredibly important law for the global climate. This law means that around four million square kilometers of the Earth's surface is now off limits to oil and gas companies, and any deposits under our deep seas will stay in the ground where they belong," Greenpeace climate and energy campaigner Kate Simcock said in a press release.

"The science is very clear—we only have 10 years to halve our use of oil, gas, and coal or face the displacement of millions of people, catastrophic sea level rise, more extreme weather, and mass species extinction. That's going to mean massive change—not business as usual—and we need to be prepared to take bold steps like this to protect humanity and the planet," Simcock added.

The center-right National Party was opposed to the bill and pledged to reverse the ban if back in government. The Petroleum Exploration and Production Association of New Zealand (PEPANZ) also spoke against the legislation.

"The people most affected by this decision haven't been listened to and now face real uncertainty," PEPANZ CEO Cameron Madgwick said in a press release. "We need natural gas as a transition fuel towards a lower carbon economy. Turning off the tap when we have nothing concrete to replace it with is dangerous and irresponsible."

* Capture.JPG (56.23 KB, 823x398 - viewed 66 times.)
Most Active Member
Offline Offline

Posts: 6493

« Reply #1232 on: Nov 08, 2018, 05:18 AM »

Colorado Governor-Elect Has Most Ambitious Renewables Goal in U.S.


Jared Polis, who won Colorado's gubernatorial race to become the nation's first openly gay governor-elect, is charting the state's bold path towards clean energy.

The Democrat, who has served in the House of Representatives since 2009, ran on a platform of transitioning Colorado to 100 percent renewable energy by 2040—the most ambitious renewable goal in the entire country, Climate Home News reported. That's even faster than California and Hawaii, which both aim to phase out of fossil fuel generation by 2045.

On his campaign website, Polis said the green energy transition would create tens of thousands of jobs and save consumers 10 percent on energy costs. Pointing to a government study, he said that utility-scale wind is now cheaper than natural gas and that new energy storage technology would further improve these cost benefits. That's not to mention the public health benefits of cleaner air and water.

Aside from a strong environmental platform, Polis campaigned on other progressive issues such as Medicare-for-all, paid family medical leave and stronger gun laws.

"At the end of the day we all believe in our children's future, we all believe in protecting our amazing parks and open space, we all believe in saving people money in health care," Polis said in his victory speech Tuesday night. "And together we are going to get back to work because we have work to do to turn a bold vision into reality here in our amazing state of Colorado."

Jared Polis speaks after defeating Walker Stapleton in Colorado's gubernatorial race: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NUEfqkhHP_k

The fossil fuel industry has a major presence in the Centennial State—the sixth largest and one of the fastest-growing U.S. oil producing states. Oil and gas companies and their supporters poured about $40 million into a campaign to help successfully defeat Proposition 112, according to the Colorado Sun.

The ballot initiative, which Polis supported, would have banned oil and gas drilling on 85 percent of the state's land, but was voted down 57 percent to 43 percent on Tuesday.

But with a Democrat in the governor's seat, a Democratic-controlled legislature and the 825,000 Coloradan voters who supported 112, the fight against polluting energy companies is not over yet.

Polis had the endorsement of the Colorado Sierra Club, which praised his plans to make Colorado energy independent and his efforts to protect the state's outdoor spaces.

"The Colorado Sierra Club—with 100,000 members and supports across the state—threw our wholehearted support behind Jared Polis from the early days of his candidacy because of his leadership on climate and protection of public lands," club director Jim Alexee said in a press release. "As the Trump Administration rolls back critical pollution protections and tries to stifle our nation's clean energy leadership, the state of Colorado is moving forward with our clean energy future with Jared Polis as our Governor."

The club also praised Polis for being a leader on environmental issues during his time in Congress. The press release noted that Polis is a founding member of the Sustainable Energy and Environment Coalition, that he introduced legislation to designate 90,000 acres of wilderness in Colorado's high country, led the effort to cut fossil fuel subsidies, defended President Obama's rules on methane and partnered with environmentalists and ranchers to protect the sage grouse's habitat.

"The Sierra Club was proud to support Jared Polis throughout this race and we are thrilled to congratulate him on this victory," National Sierra Club executive director Michael Brune said in the press release. "Coloradans made a clear choice in this election to support Jared Polis because he will defend Colorado values from the Eastern Plains to the Western Slope. Jared will lead Colorado to 100 percent clean, renewable energy by 2040, and work to build an economy that works for everyone, not just those at the top."

* polis.JPG (35.14 KB, 467x430 - viewed 66 times.)
« Last Edit: Nov 08, 2018, 05:28 AM by Darja » Logged
Most Active Member
Offline Offline

Posts: 6493

« Reply #1233 on: Nov 08, 2018, 05:33 AM »

Lady Gaga The Shape-Shifter

Lady Gaga wants to wear every costume, live out every type of known stardom. ‘‘A Star Is Born’’ is just her latest reinvention.

NY Times

Lady Gaga did not so much arrive at the Venice Film Festival this August as she floated into it, a platinum Aphrodite borne on the waves, black stilettos skimming the sea foam. Which is to say, she took a water taxi.

An image of her zooming across the canal — perched precariously on the side of the lacquered motorboat in a little black dress, her legs elegantly entwined, her hair shaped into three victory rolls like a crown of croissants, holding a single red rose in one hand and blowing kisses with the other — immediately became a meme. Of course she couldn’t just walk up to the premiere of “A Star Is Born,” the first feature film in which she has a leading role, playing the titular supernova. Walking is for rubes. Sailing, on the other hand, is timeless. It is an activity for sirens, of both the mythological and screen persuasions. It is also joyfully, unapologetically hammy: high camp on the high seas, a playful pastiche of all the celebrity cruisers who came before. In mere hours, several internet sleuths began to post pictures of Gaga on the boat along with photos of classic Hollywood stars, including Marilyn Monroe in a one-piece black bathing suit. The next day, Gaga and Bradley Cooper, her director and co-star, arrived hand in hand to a screening; she was wearing a swingy white dress, the kind made for walking over subway grates. The wink was complete.

We could have seen this coming. Lady Gaga is our pop laureate of the grand entrance, our patron saint of operatic ingress. She has never, in a decade of global fame, been content to simply appear in a room; she has to plummet into it, shimmying down a cable like a diamond-encrusted spider. Or she hobbles in, a fembot on fake crutches, a high-fashion Tiny Tim. Before performing at the 2011 Grammys, she claimed to have slept in an oversize translucent egg for 72 hours, so that when she finally emerged, she could feel that she had experienced total “creative, embryonic incubation.” For the first decade of her career, she was often at least seminude when descending every staircase. In her younger, more tenderized years, she trotted into the MTV Video Music Awards in a now-infamous gown and snow boots made of raw beef, not just a sight gag but a full-on olfactory happening, abattoir fabulous. Gaga once described herself as “a show with no intermission,” but it might be more accurate to view her career as a glorious series of overtures; her curtain is always rising. This is why her water ride in Venice elicited such collective delight in the form of vigorous retweeting. She may now be a serious actress, but she hasn’t lost her sense of play.

When I met Lady Gaga on a hazy afternoon a few days after her Venice tour, at her house so high up in the Hollywood Hills that I broke through the fog line before I reached it, she was still in full Marilyn mode. Her duckling-blond hair was molded into a halo around her face. Her lips were matte red, slightly overdrawn, an enthusiastic valentine. She was wearing the same towering patent-leather stilettos from the boat and a brown tiger-print wiggle dress, a midcentury silhouette favored by celluloid bombshells that vacuum-seals the calves into place. Her earrings, obsidian chandelier dangles heavy as hood ornaments, cast prismatic shadows on her clavicle and seemed to threaten the general integrity of her otherwise regal posture.

Having seen “A Star Is Born” the day before, in which Gaga gives a notably stripped down, unbleached performance, I was slightly jarred as I watched her shuffle through her house (which also happened to have been the house of the avant-garde rocker Frank Zappa before she bought it from his family trust in 2016) in a full face and spike heels. In the film, her character, Ally, starts off makeup-free, a frustrated waitress with mud-puddle hair (Gaga’s natural hue) who long ago abandoned her songwriting dreams and has settled for crooning live covers one night a week at a drag bar, the only woman on the bill. One night, Bradley Cooper, as the shambling, alcoholic rock star Jackson Maine, stumbles into the bar looking for a nightcap and instead discovers a muse — he is bewitched by her performance of “La Vie en Rose” in an Edith Piaf costume complete with thin eyebrows fashioned from electrical tape.

Later that night, Jackson asks Ally why she doesn’t pursue a music career. She tells him that she tried, she really did. She just couldn’t find any industry types who could get past her face. They loved the way she sounded, hated the way she looked. Hearing this, Jackson reaches out with a single finger and traces the contours of her nose. While this is on its own an erotic gesture, it is Ally’s reaction that makes the scene: She just breathes as he gently outlines the organ she feels worst about. It’s an arresting moment, in which she seems both receptive and completely assured.

Now, as we toured her house, Gaga was as opaque as Ally is transparent. She spoke carefully, in a breathy tone, as if she were in an active séance with an old movie star whose press agent advised her to remain enigmatic and demure. She showed me a bizarre bathroom, where she had found a bed over the shower; she gestured delicately at her backyard, announcing: “Some beautiful lemon trees. It’s a nice place to come and just create.” When we got into the studio, she tiptoed through the cavernous live room, pointing out a grand piano in a voice so quiet I could barely hear her. We made our way to a small alcove with whitewashed walls and 20-foot ceilings, which looked like the storage room of an art museum — an echo chamber, she explained. I asked about the acoustics, in part because it seemed the polite thing to do, but in part because I was trying to open any conversational tap I could find. Whether she was feeling legitimately shy or was simply method-acting as a restrained ingénue, she had yet to speak at full volume.

Suddenly, she broke into song. A cappella, unprompted, voce forte, her arms flung out to full wingspan, her head tossed back to bare her throat. She was singing the chorus of “Shallow,” the song she co-wrote for “A Star Is Born” that has become the de facto theme song for the movie. It is sung at the cathartic apex of the trailer (which has been viewed almost 10 million times on YouTube) — the moment when Ally reluctantly steps onto an arena stage for the first time to sing with Jackson. Gaga plays this moment with incredible restraint; it’s hard to imagine her not wanting to storm a stage, but she really sells it. Ally has been down for so long that she hesitates, not fully believing that this is her shot. But then something shifts. She straightens her shoulders, struts out to the microphone and sends her voice soaring over the crowd.

In the echo chamber, the words of the song ricocheted, shaking the room: “I’m off the deep end! Watch as I dive in! I’ll never meet the ground!” When Gaga sings, her whole body vibrates. She clenches her fists, squeezes her eyes shut.

After she finished belting, Gaga looked beatific, almost giddy, having answered my banal question with undeniable certainty. The acoustics in here, we agreed, were very good.

The title of “A Star Is Born” is misleading and always has been. It implies spontaneous generation, Athena popping fully formed out of Zeus’ forehead. In reality, it is a story about hard work, about the grueling machinations behind celebrity. In each version of the film, fame can destroy (by enabling addiction or worsening self-destructive behaviors), but it can also be a sacred rite; it anoints the truly worthy with laurels and fragrant oils, no matter how aquiline her nose. The narrative takes a nobody and brings her together with a fading legend. He falls in love with her and her artistic potential, and thrusts her straight into the crucible of mass popularity. It is a love story as unshakably perennial as “Romeo and Juliet,” except slightly less crushing, because only the man is doomed and the leading lady gets to walk away from her tragedy triumphant, her suffering noble, her name in neon lights.

“A Star Is Born” has never really been a film about an unknown actress shooting across the screen like a rare comet. Instead, from the very beginning, it has always been a film about an already superfamous woman shooting a movie. That’s the real reason the franchise works: It comes with a built-in insurance policy. In 1937, when Janet Gaynor stepped into the role of the farm girl Esther Blodgett in the first version (which was itself a remix of a 1932 drama called “What Price Hollywood?”), she was making a comeback, but she had been a box-office titan of the silent era, the first woman to ever win an Academy Award for acting. Judy Garland, who tackled Esther in 1954 (a studio executive quickly changes her name to Vicki Lester in the film), was a household name at 17, no longer a vaudevillian striver but a minted studio girl, kept on a steady infusion of amphetamines and barbiturates and praise. In 1976, Barbra Streisand, whose character’s name was Esther Hoffman (we have to believe she goes from mieskeit to swan), was already an Oscar winner for playing Fanny Brice, and fresh off another nomination, for “The Way We Were.” These actresses were all at least a decade into their careers, and they used the material less as a coming-out party and more as a victory lap. Of course the Esthers would succeed; their real-life counterparts had already pushed through every obstacle.

This is why the lead role is so alluring to divas who want to explore the boundaries of their fame and what they had to endure to lasso it. These actresses, in drag as younger versions of themselves, get to wrestle with their flaws and air out their darkest fears. But we don’t fear for them, not really, because we know how the story turns out. Garland, who always felt so intimidated by the leggy army of MGM blondes that she spent her life making self-deprecating jokes, fashioned herself into the world’s most beloved brunette. Streisand, whose line “Hello, gorgeous” was soaking in wry irony, turned a prominent bridge into a locus of desire.

Gaga’s innate New York City toughness brings a different flavor to the role than her predecessors. Where Janet Gaynor plays the starlet as pure and cornfed, Garland plays her as a plucky troubadour in pert ribbon bow ties and Streisand plays her as a wisecracking prima donna in colorful ponchos (hey, it was the ’70s), Gaga’s Ally is more world-weary and knowing. She is the kind of woman who gets into fistfights, who alternately sasses and fusses over her father (Andrew Dice Clay), a chauffeur who once had showbiz aspirations himself but never had a lucky break. When Cooper offered Gaga the role, he told her that “this is what it would be like if you were 31 and had never made it,” and she readily embodies the ferocious hunger of the would-be famous. She’s no innocent when she walks onstage to sing. She knows exactly what to do, and exactly what this will mean for her career. She’s ready to go.

Ally’s journey is not about a singer developing her talent — that’s already there. It is about finding her way toward an aesthetic once she has the world’s attention. She dyes her hair Tang orange, begins working with a choreographer and sings springy pop songs about butts, all of which she does without wavering, even when Jackson drunkenly criticizes her for being inauthentic. Some viewers may read a rock-versus-pop hierarchy into Ally’s transformations — that she is more “real” when she is harmonizing with Jackson’s twangy melodies or sitting at her piano — but Gaga’s onscreen mastery over both genres is a pre-emptive rebuttal to what is essentially a gendered bias. What “A Star Is Born” makes clear about Lady Gaga is that she possesses the dexterity to make whatever kind of music she likes.

Cooper told me that he cast Gaga after seeing her perform “La Vie en Rose” at a cancer benefit. The very next day, he drove to her Malibu home to test their chemistry. They bonded right away about their families (both East Coast, both Italian) and ate spaghetti on her porch. “She was completely illuminated by the sun,” he said. “So charismatic. I thought inside my head, Oh, gosh. If she is like this on film, if that’s the worst case scenario that she’s this present on film, the movie will work.”

It is difficult to pinpoint exactly when Lady Gaga, the international superstar, was born. Past a certain level of fame, the origin stories of pop artists begin to tilt into the mythological. “I have a nerve inside of me to do this,” Gaga said, sitting on a swivel chair in her basement studio, when I asked what drives her. She kept her legs crossed at the ankles and her spine rod-straight, with her shell-pink nails gingerly intertwined in her lap, as if she were practicing to meet Queen Elizabeth (side note: When Gaga did meet the queen, after performing in the Royal Variety Show in 2009, she curtsied while wearing a floor-length, puff-sleeved dress made entirely of slick red latex). “And I have no idea where it comes from, except that it might come from God. No one knows.”

What she does know is that at some point, she felt free: to drop her birth name (Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta), to turn herself into an event, to keep shedding old skins.

Lady Gaga’s early career was a study in this invitational freedom: Look how free I am, look how free you could be. This is what she was selling, at 21, with her platinum oversize hairbows and gigantic sunglasses and skyscraper shoulder pads. This is the realization that led her, after growing up on the Upper West Side, attending a private Catholic girls’ school and studying piano minuets, to move downtown in 2004, first to study theater arts at N.Y.U. (she dropped out during sophomore year) and then to sing in grungy bars on the Lower East Side while she sent her demos to record labels. She read Andy Warhol’s books and realized that what most people want, when they dream of fame, is not necessarily wealth or power but limitlessness: the ability to change. So many artists start out gritty and homegrown but calcify into hardened personae over time; when Lady Gaga adopted her new name (sometime around 2006, most likely from a Queen song), she decided to flip the formula. What if she began with the character, and the character was the physical embodiment of flux? What if she never wore the same outfit twice, or gave an interview out of costume, or claimed to be a paragon of creative authenticity?

Gaga’s debut album, “The Fame” (quickly reissued with extra songs as “The Fame Monster”), came out in August 2008, a season of optimism and political overhaul, when young people were ready to accept jangly pop hooks from a chimerical sprite who told them they could continually redefine themselves. Her first recordings may not have been too deep — “Poker Face,” still her second-biggest single to date, after “Just Dance,” is an ode to mirrored surfaces, to remaining willfully inscrutable — but they were catchy (she changed the way an entire generation hears the phrase “ooh la la”), and their agile lightness was intentional. Much of her early music was thumping and linear: big synths, big hooks, the beats clinking together like a wristful of silver bangles. The music was a tool for propagating her radiant image, which was continually surprising to behold.

When Gaga first emerged onto the pop scene, she was a phenomenon — a kooky amalgam of New York club-kid toughness, art-school experimentation, record-label grooming, classical vocal training and bona fide radio hits. She clearly took her cues from previous incarnations of major pop stardom (David Bowie’s amphibious glam, Madonna’s blond ambition, Michael Jackson’s dual love of sparkles and precision), but she was even more focused than her predecessors on the live event, on the coup de théâtre. She started pushing boundaries and stopped wearing pants; she became a walking billboard for avant-garde fashion (Alexander McQueen’s ankle-bending hoof heels, a jacket covered in felt Kermit the Frogs, several gowns made of human hair, that meat dress), a fact that served to make every other artist at the time who wasn’t rolling around onstage in a pool of fake blood seem, frankly, dull.

Gaga’s initial obsession with masquerade predicted the double lives we all live now, our simultaneous existences as living, breathing people and disembodied avatars. But instead of seeing those identities as segmented — the real person, the facade — she put forth the concept that it’s possible, and ultimately adaptive, in a fractured world to try to free yourself from old boundaries. You can be an insider and an outsider at the same time, a human and an alien. All that is solid melts into Gaga. If this seems paradoxical, it is; but the paradox is where Gaga shines. Postmodern double truths are her milieu.

She started calling herself a monster, not just to embrace a kind of outré bizarreness that had mainly been the province of male pop icons like Bowie or Prince, but also because she was monstrous, a pop creation that devoured the zeitgeist and then gleefully regurgitated it. She mock-hanged herself with a noose onstage, she dreamed up a hat filled with live cockroaches, she sucked on a rosary in the “Alejandro” video, she hired a “vomit artist” to spew lime-green milk on her outfit at South by Southwest, she delivered an awards-show speech as her male alter-ego, Jo Calderone. Her whole project was a Technicolor dream ballet, a gauzy hallucination. And it sold records (over 27 million, worldwide) and won awards (six Grammys).

“I do keep transforming into a new shell of me,” she told me. “So sure, there is an acting component to what I do, or a showbiz component to what I do. But the word ‘acting,’ it’s hard for me to talk about in that way, because ‘acting’ to me almost implies faking it.” She insisted to me that all her iterations form an unbroken line, that the performance is the reality.

Gaga has, over the last decade, arguably moved the entire pop apparatus toward forceful weirdness. Her influence is everywhere — she opened the doors for more female hitmakers to be cheekily bizarre (Miley Cyrus grinding on a wrecking ball, Katy Perry with her sniper-rifle bra filled with whipped cream, Sia living under her wig, even St. Vincent’s indie Fritz Lang affect) — but as a result, Gaga’s early maximalism began to feel less vital to the cultural conversation. In 2011, Adele’s “21” cemented a new austerity in pop; all she had to do to sell 11 million records was stand in one place and sing plaintively about heartbreak.

So Gaga swerved again, and again, and again. She made a jazz record with Tony Bennett. She made a crunchier, heavy-metallish album called “Artpop” that mostly failed to connect with the public, at least on the large Gagagian scale she was used to (it sold fewer than a million copies). When she turned 30, she released a more minimalist fifth record called “Joanne,” after an aunt who died young of complications from lupus. She promoted the album in ripped T-shirts and a plain, pink felt hat. She toured dive bars before the arenas. She also released the Netflix documentary “Gaga: Five Foot Two,” a vérité glimpse into her daily life as she prepped for the 2017 Super Bowl, produced and promoted “Joanne” and spoke openly about the debilitating pain caused by her fibromyalgia (something she had been dealing with privately for years). The documentary presents Gaga with a striking lack of vanity. She appears on camera with dirty hair and a bare face. This is Gaga the Vulnerable, Gaga the Sensitive Soul.

That film ends with her performance at the Super Bowl, where she sang all the karaoke staples of her back catalog — “Bad Romance,” “Telephone,” even “Just Dance” — with gusto in a sequined bodysuit, thrusting through the jangly disco beats of “Born This Way” in high-heel boots, surrounded by an army of dancers in iridescent capes. It was a blistering set, a Greatest Hits Cardio Workout and a truly impressive display of her cultural dominance. But it also felt elegiac, as if it belonged to a different era, when Gaga was giving stump speeches about overturning “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” and the song became an anthem of the fight for gay marriage on a national scale. In recent years, queer culture has become more anti-institutional, less about normalizing and more about resisting norms. In a way, Gaga’s galactic fame, which once gave her such a huge platform as an advocate for equality, became a liability when the conversation became more intimate and nuanced. Pop is not entirely post-spectacle (Beyoncé’s recent Coachella performance was a multiact extravaganza), but it is evolving into a less bombastic space. It is getting more raw, smaller. And Gaga is doing the same.

She has not given up on the power of an audacious live show (this winter, she will put on a pyrotechnic Las Vegas residency called “Enigma”), but in making “A Star Is Born,” she is entering into a softer conversation with the public — about talent, about ambition, about her own trajectory. Ally is the most human of all of Gaga’s creations, and offering her to us — her fear, her loyalty, her shattered heart after tragedy — is a different kind of gamble than stepping out in front of millions dressed like a holographic Muppet. She is, in essence, making exploratory autofiction on a grand scale, even as she is playing yet another character.

Lady Gaga bought Frank Zappa’s eccentric woodland estate not as a place to live while in Los Angeles — she already has a Mediterranean-style villa on an isolated, craggy cliffside in Malibu for that — but as a work retreat, the new nerve center of her countless creative pursuits. She wants to paint here, write music here (she told me that currently she is feverishly writing songs on a white piano upstairs; literally on the surface of the piano, with a black Sharpie) and plan her Vegas spectacular from here with her production team, like a war council plotting some dazzling siege. In her recording studio, after her “Shallows” serenade, Gaga played me five tracks from the coming film soundtrack. As the music blasted, she began to loosen up — this was her turf, her major contribution to the film. She lip-synced to her own songs from her swivel chair, looking straight into my eyes and drawing me insistently into her joy.

The studio is her sanctuary, and one of the main reasons she felt she had to have the property. She is also working to preserve as many of the home’s oddities as possible: the vintage submarine doors with thick portholes, a giant dragon mural, the library floor painted to look like a lily pond. She told me she loves the house’s “intricate chaos.”

Gaga is an auction shopper — she likes to acquire iconic objects, created by iconic personalities — and as I toured Zappa’s house it occurred to me that we were standing in a giant collector’s item of sorts, an 8,000-square-foot twig in the magpie’s nest of pop cultural artifacts that she has been building for a decade. In 2012, she purchased 55 items from Michael Jackson’s private archive, including his leather “Bad” jacket and a crystal glove. That same year, she bought an eggshell silk Alexander McQueen gown from the collection of the British fashion maven Daphne Guinness. In 2016, for her Dive Bar Tour in support of “Joanne,” Gaga rolled up to a show in Elvis’s pink 1955 Cadillac Fleetwood (she was just borrowing it).

Perhaps this collector’s impulse is what she absorbed from her early study of Warhol. Gaga is an artist of accrual, of remixing and reimagination, of pulling her heroes into her gravitational orbit. She once told an interviewer that her “whole career is a tribute to David Bowie,” but her career is really a tribute to all the different ways a person can be monstrously famous: She wants to wear every costume, live out every type of stardom to its maximalist extreme.

If she was going to be a movie star, she couldn’t just step into a role, or a film, that no one had ever heard of — she wanted to waltz into a lineage. When she was younger, she told me, she used to watch “The Wizard of Oz,” over and over, convinced that Judy Garland was the greatest entertainer alive. “Judy, I just think she’s tremendous,” she told me. “There’s a vulnerability behind her eyes, the way she speaks, she has big features. I just always wanted to be like her. It’s as simple as that.” And now she is standing on the very same stage.

Earlier in the afternoon, she showed me a room that was empty save for a gigantic photograph of her own face, at least 15 feet across, in a gilded frame. “It was a gift from Bradley,” she said. “It’s the last frame of the movie. Do you know the scene?”

I did know it. It is the moment when Ally is standing on the stage of the Shrine Auditorium — where Garland shot her final scene — in an ice blue evening gown, singing a homage to her late husband. She starts out timid and drained of expression, explaining to the audience that she is going to sing the last song that Jackson wrote for her, and that maybe with their support, she can get through it. But as the ballad goes on, her voice swells and becomes an avalanche. It’s a bravura performance in extreme close-up, a sort of symphonic summoning of every woman who has played the part. Gaga channels both the way Garland sang (wounded, tonally bright, barely holding it together) and the way Streisand did (forceful, sweeping, with a diffident jutting of the jaw). But Gaga adds something of her own: a sensual, earthy confidence, like gasoline in her veins.

When she finishes, a single elephant tear rolls down her face. Magically, the moment somehow avoids bathos — the tear feels truly earned. After watching her perform this scene, I felt elated by what Gaga managed to do, not just for her character but for herself. You desperately want to know what her future holds after the curtain falls.

I asked Gaga later what we can expect from her next phase. Of course, there’s Vegas and a new record on the way, and she’s reading piles of scripts. But she really didn’t want to discuss any of that. Instead, she just smiled enigmatically. “Oh,” she sighed. “I’m just shape-shifting again.”

* gaga.JPG (74.16 KB, 827x835 - viewed 70 times.)
Most Active Member
Offline Offline

Posts: 6493

« Reply #1234 on: Nov 08, 2018, 05:34 AM »

France and UK must strengthen links 'to hedge against Trump'

Hostility of US president to Europe’s defence role and impact of Brexit demand closer alliance says ex-Nato head

Daniel Boffey in Brussels
Thu 8 Nov 2018 06.00 GMT

A former French prime minister and a previous British head of Nato say that France and the UK have to overcome the risks of Brexit and urgently deepen their military alliance to hedge against the unpredictability of Donald Trump’s White House.

In a report from a taskforce led by Bernard Cazeneuve, France’s prime minister from 2016 to 2017, and George Robertson, a former Labour defence secretary and secretary general of Nato, it is claimed the two countries’ relationship has never been more fragile.

The failure of the UK government to hedge against the dollar ahead of the Brexit referendum, and the subsequent devaluation of sterling, is said to have left a gaping hole in the British defence budget, which has undermined a joint attempt to develop unmanned combat aircraft.

The dispute over the UK’s post-Brexit involvement in Galileo, the EU’s global satellite navigation system, is said to have “emerged as a fault line in the negotiations for the country’s withdrawal from the bloc”, indicative of the breakdown in key joint structures.

At a time when US foreign policy has never been more unpredictable, it is said to be vital to overcome the problems facing the alliance. The alliance was strengthened by a treaty in 2010 through the establishment of the joint expeditionary forces used in Libya but now, it is claimed, it needs updating and upgrading.

The US president, who is likely to be constrained with his domestic agenda following the US midterm elections in which Democrats gained control over the House of Representatives, is expected to turn to foreign policy to make a mark – an area in which he has already built a doubtful reputation.

The report calls for French and British intelligence agencies to work together on a greater scale, for military facilities to be shared, and for concessions to be made in the Brexit talks between the UK and Brussels to bring the two allies closer together.

Lord Robertson, who led Nato from 1999 to 2004, said: “I think that the Trump administration has underscored the need for Europe to do more in its own interests and the [midterm election] result doesn’t do anything but underscore the fact that there is an unpredictability about American foreign policy which should drive Europe to do more in its own interests.
The latest major Trump resignations and firings
Read more

“Trump has been lukewarm on Nato and has taken a pretty hostile view about the role of some European countries and their seriousness about defence. And that has made European allies more nervous about the ultimate American support.”

Robertson said the proposals were not about building a European army, and he denied the recent suggestion that this was an aim of the French president, Emmanuel Macron. He said it was instead about “reinforcing the European pillar of Nato”.

He added: “This is a crucial alliance between the two major military powers in Europe but it is under pressure due to Brexit and it is has never been more valuable given what America is doing at the moment. It needs to be strengthened, improved and reinforced.”

The report calls on the EU to rethink its relationship with countries that are not member states, to keep the security relationship alive after Brexit, and urges the UK to soften its “red lines” on the jurisdiction of the European court of justice, to allow its security forces access to key databases.

Robertson said: “I don’t think [security] should be part of the bartering to do with trade. There is a clear identifiable interest here in terms of security. Brexit does not change geography.

“Britain and France are close neighbours, close allies and share threats and it is important to say that the two countries account for more than half of European defence spending and probably over 60% of defence capability. We are both in the UN security council, we are both nuclear powers and we have both got the expeditionary capabilities.

“Any EU operation will need UK forces. [The EU’s defence cooperation arm] will only work in operational terms if the UK is involved in it and that is the dilemma we are highlighting.

* 2132.jpg (27.71 KB, 620x372 - viewed 75 times.)
Most Active Member
Offline Offline

Posts: 6493

« Reply #1235 on: Nov 08, 2018, 05:36 AM »

'A Farage in every country': Barnier warns of existential threat to EU

Brexit negotiator urges pro-EU forces to defend the fragile union against populist forces

Jennifer Rankin in Helsinki
Thu 8 Nov 2018 10.12 GMT

The European Union’s Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier has called on pro-EU forces to defend the fragile union from populist forces, because he said there was now “a Farage in every country”.

In a speech at the conference of the powerful centre-right European People’s party, Barnier did not go into details of the deadlocked Brexit negotiations, but warned the EU project was “under threat”.

“We will have to fight against those who want to demolish Europe with their fear, their populist deceit,” he told more than 700 EPP delegates in Helsinki, before naming the former Ukip leader Nigel Farage.

In a wide-ranging speech that moved from European defence to electric vehicles, he mentioned Brexit only to promise to “fulfill my Brexit mission to the end” and make a brief opening joke that his speech would be short because “the clock is ticking”.

Barnier was speaking as Brexit talks were in stalemate over the issue of the Irish backstop – an insurance plan to avoid creating a hard border on the island of Ireland. A crucial cabinet meeting to agree the UK’s Brexit negotiating position was delayed from Thursday to the weekend or early next week amid a row over whether senior ministers should be given the government’s full legal advice on the backstop.

Barnier, a former French foreign minister with a long career in centre-right politics, also issued veiled criticism of the French president, Emmanuel Macron, who is seeking to champion himself as a defender of Europe’s liberal and multilateral values, against populists on the far-right and far-left.

“We must also respond to those who think that defending Europe belongs to one single party,” Barnier said, without mentioning Macron by name. “More than ever before, Europe needs the EPP’s founding vision. We are patriots and Europeans.”

Touching on the threat of climate change and the need to “rid our cities of smog and particles”, Barnier revealed that his first granddaughter will be born in a few weeks. “In 2050 when our kids are 32, what will our environment look like, if we continue to use the resources of three planets per year,” he said.

He also called for European action to invest in new space technology and artificial intelligence, while revealing anxiety about Europe losing out to China or big tech companies. “The four GAFAs are bigger than Germany[’s economy],” he said using the French-inspired acronym to refer to Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon.

EPP delegates are voting to choose its candidate to become the next European commission president when Jean-Claude Juncker stands down in 2019.

* Michel Barnier.jpg (23.62 KB, 620x372 - viewed 65 times.)
Most Active Member
Offline Offline

Posts: 6493

« Reply #1236 on: Nov 08, 2018, 05:41 AM »

One Legacy of Merkel? Angry East German Men Fueling the Far Right

How the Far Right Is Shaking Germany’s Political Order

By Cora Engelbrecht, Brian Dawson, Ben Laffin and Katrin Bennhold
NY Times
Nov. 8, 2018

EBERSBACH-NEUGERSDORF, Germany — Frank Dehmel was on the streets of East Germany in 1989. Every Monday, he marched against the Communist regime, demanding freedom and democracy and chanting with the crowds: “We are the people!”

Three decades later, Mr. Dehmel is on the streets again, older and angrier, and chanting the same slogan — this time for the far right.

He won freedom and democracy when the Berlin Wall came down 29 years ago on Nov. 9. But he lost everything else: His job, his status, his country — and his wife. Like so many eastern women, she went west to look for work and never came back.

To understand why the far right is on the march again in Germany, it helps to understand the many grievances of its most loyal supporters: men in the former Communist East.

The emergence of Eastern Man as a disruptive political force stands as a prime legacy of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s 13 years in power. As she prepared Germans last week for her eventual political exit, some noted that, politically at least, her Germany was more divided between East and West than at any point since reunification.

No doubt the far right has made gains across Germany. The Alternative for Germany, or AfD, won 13 percent of votes in last year’s elections, enough to make it the leading opposition voice in Parliament. It is now represented in every one of the country’s 16 state legislatures.

But support for the AfD in the East is on average more than double that in the West. Among eastern men, the party is the strongest political force, with 28 percent having cast their ballots for the AfD last year.

Eastern Man, a figure long patronized, pitied or just ignored in the West, is in the process of again reshaping German politics.

No one more embodies the frustrations of eastern men — or has been more the object of their ire — than Ms. Merkel, an eastern woman who rose to the pinnacle of power and provides a daily reminder of their own failure.

Yet Ms. Merkel never became the ambassador for the East that people yearned for: Living standards in the region still lag those in the West, even after what is perceived as a traumatic economic takeover.

Mr. Dehmel calls her a “traitor” and worse.

After reunification, Mr. Dehmel recalled, western men in suits and Mercedes-Benzes arrived in his eastern home state of Saxony, soon running businesses, running universities, running the regional government, “running everything.”

And that was before more than a million asylum seekers, many of them young men, came to Germany in 2015.

“I didn’t risk my skin back then to become a third-class citizen,” said Mr. Dehmel, now 57, counting off the perceived hierarchy on his fingers: “First there are western Germans, then there are asylum seekers, then it’s us.”

One-third of male voters in Saxony, where he lives, cast their ballots for the far right last year — by far more than any other place in the country.

“We have a crisis of masculinity in the East and it is feeding the far right,” said Petra Köpping, minister for integration in Saxony.

When Ms. Köpping took office in 2014, she thought her job was to integrate immigrants. But as hundreds of thousands of asylum seekers began arriving in Germany a year later, a middle-aged white man heckled her at a town-hall-style meeting.

“Why don’t you integrate us first?” the man had shouted.

That question, which has since become the title of a book written by Ms. Köpping, prompted her to tour her eastern home state and interview dozens of angry men. The disappointed hopes and humiliations of 1989, she found, still fester.

Some three million jobs, most of them in traditionally male industries, were lost over two years. The working-class heroes of Socialism became the working-class losers of capitalism.

East German men were abandoned by their newly united country practically overnight, Ms. Köpping said: “They are the original left-behinds.”

And they were quite literally left behind — by the women.

Long before the #MeToo movement, Communism succeeded in creating a broad class of women who were independent, emancipated, often better educated and working in more adaptable service jobs than eastern men.

After the wall came down, the East lost more than 10 percent of its population. Two-thirds of those who left and did not come back were young women.

It was the most extreme case of female flight in Europe, said Reiner Klingholz, director of the Berlin Institute for Population and Development, who has studied the phenomenon. Only the Arctic Circle and a few islands off the coast of Turkey suffer comparable male-female imbalances.

In large swaths of rural eastern Germany, men today still outnumber women, and the regions where the women disappeared map almost exactly onto the regions that vote for the Alternative for Germany today.

“There is a gender element to the rise of the far right that is not sufficiently acknowledged and studied,” Mr. Klingholz said.

Only 16 percent of the Alternative for Germany’s registered members are women. And only 9 percent of female voters cast their ballot for the party last year, compared with 16 percent of male voters.

The far right is disproportionally male. And so is eastern Germany.

There are on average nine women for every 10 men between the ages of 20 to 40 in the former East, statistics from 2015 show. But that average disguises a surplus of women in big cities — and a much starker shortage in smaller towns and rural areas.

Chemnitz, the site of far-right riots in late August, has eight women for every 10 men ages 20 to 40. In Weisskeissel, a village near the Polish border, the ratio is three women to five men. In Glaubitz, it is almost one woman to four men.

Mr. Dehmel’s hometown, Ebersbach, once a thriving textile hub on the Czech border, lost seven in 10 of its jobs and almost half its population after 1989. Schools were closed and train services cut. To halt the decline it merged with the neighboring town of Neugersdorf.

“We lost a generation,” said Verena Hergenröder, the mayor of Ebersbach-Neugersdorf, an independent.

Unemployment, once over 25 percent, is now below 3 percent. But the region feels less than thriving. Empty dwellings dot residential neighborhoods. The train station is boarded up. One bit of graffiti proclaims: “There is enough love for everyone.”

But people here know that is not true.

There were two women for every three men ages 22 to 35 when Mr. Klingholz and his team visited in 2007 to make it a case study. That generation is now 11 years older — the core voting age of the Alternative for Germany.

Oliver Graf is one of them. Soft-spoken and polite, Mr. Graf works in construction and volunteers for the local fire brigade. He says he hardly knows anyone “who does not vote for the AfD,” the strongest party in town.

At 37, Mr. Graf says he is ready to start a family. He has been restoring his own house. But he is single, like several of his male friends. It’s a topic of conversation, he said. As he put it, “it’s hard to meet someone.”

The shortfall of women is not visible in everyday life.

“Men don’t know it’s there and if you show them the numbers, they’re often surprised,” Mr. Klingholz said. “All they know is that they have trouble finding a partner.”

Bernd Noack, a former mayor of Ebersbach, remembers being surprised, too, when he was first confronted with the issue a decade ago. “I didn’t believe it at first,” he said.

At the time, he ran the numbers himself. “Twenty-six percent of the young men couldn’t find a wife,” Mr. Noack recalled.

Suddenly some things started making sense, he said: the fights over women in discothèques, the barely disguised hostility toward foreign men in the town.

Once, a local company had brought 24 young apprentices over from Spain. They were urged to stay away from the nightclubs, Mr. Noack said, code for “staying away from the local women,” he said.

The women who have stayed are prominent in public life. Not just the mayor is a woman. The pastor is a woman. One of the few bars open at night, the Brauerei, is run by a woman, too.

Her son helps her out. Her daughter, who graduated from high school in 1989, months before the wall came down, moved away and married a western man. Most marriages between easterners and westerners are between eastern women and western men.

“The anger of eastern men also has something to do with the success of eastern women,” said Frank Richter, an eastern theologian and prominent thinker.

If eastern men dislike Ms. Merkel so viscerally, it is not just because she let in a million asylum seekers, Mr. Richter said, “but because she is so utterly familiar to eastern men and a daily reminder of their own failure.”

Ms. Köpping, another successful eastern woman, worries about the rage. Over the past two years she has toured her home state and held regular citizens’ office hours, trying to understand the anger of the men — and it was, she said, almost always men.

One of them, a 69-year-old former factory worker, broke down in tears when he recounted how his factory had been closed down, the brand new machines sold to a western German company.

Another told her he stopped going to high school reunions because he was too ashamed that, despite multiple retraining programs, he had not found another stable job.

A third, who regularly marches with Pegida, an acronym that stands for Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamization of the West, raged about young male migrants stabbing and raping “our women.”

“Most men I met have suffered so many injustices and setbacks, they have lost all self-confidence,” Ms. Köpping said.

As of 2015, she added, they also feel threatened by young male migrants, who do not necessarily live anywhere near them, but whose difficult journey proves they are everything eastern men are not — dynamic, determined and driven — “otherwise they would not have made it here in the first place.”

Last year, Ms. Köpping got a postcard from one of the men she had met during a Pegida march. “Dear Ms. Köpping,” it read, “if you get me a wife I will stop marching with Pegida.”

Mr. Dehmel said he, too, takes the train from Ebersbach to Dresden most Mondays to join the weekly Pegida march. In September, he traveled all the way to Chemnitz to join far-right protests after the death of a German man, allegedly at the hands of two asylum seekers.

On a recent afternoon he was buying ammunition for his rifle at the local gun shop. Gunther Fritz, the gun shop owner, who is also single, said it was no coincidence that the slogans on the streets in 2018 are the same ones as in 1989.

“We got a sense of power back then, and we’re not going to let anyone take that away from us,” Mr. Fritz said. “The West was handed democracy after the war, we in the East had to get it for ourselves.”

“You watch,” he added, “we brought down one system. We can do it again.”

* Capture.JPG (47.94 KB, 1025x524 - viewed 78 times.)
Most Active Member
Offline Offline

Posts: 6493

« Reply #1237 on: Nov 08, 2018, 06:06 AM »

Jeff Sessions firing: top Republicans warn Mueller inquiry must continue

Matthew Whitaker, Trump’s interim replacement for attorney general, is longtime critic of special counsel

Jon Swaine in New York
Thu 8 Nov 2018 00.21 GMT

Senior Republicans led a chorus of public warnings that the special counsel Robert Mueller must be allowed to continue his Russia investigation after Donald Trump finally fired his attorney general, Jeff Sessions.

As Trump replaced Sessions with a senior aide, Matthew Whitaker, a critic of Mueller’s inquiry, Senator Susan Collins was amongst the first Republicans to warn: “It is imperative that the Administration not impede the Mueller investigation … Special Counsel Mueller must be allowed to complete his work without interference.”

Mitt Romney, who won the race on Tuesday to become a senator for Utah, aimed his first broadside at Trump, tweeting: “It is imperative that the important work of the Justice Department continues, and that the Mueller investigation proceeds to its conclusion unimpeded.”

As progressives activated a plan for mass protests across the United States, starting at 5pm Thursday in all time zones, the former CIA chief, John Brennan, predicted that it was likely Mueller had already completed his report for the deputy attorney general, Rod Rosenstein, who was yesterday relieved of his duty overseeing the investigation into Russian election interference and any collusion with the Trump campaign.

Brennan told MSNBC: “If there are some major indictments coming down the pike, I wouldn’t be surprised if you’re going to see it very soon. Generally the report that the special counsel will draft and deliver to Rod Rosenstein, I wouldn’t be surprised if that is ready to go.”

Sessions looked close to tears as he was applauded by justice department staff on his way out of the building on Wednesday night.

His departure came hours after he received a White House call ordering him to resign.

He was replaced by his former chief of staff, Matthew Whitaker, who has previously called for Mueller’s investigation to be defunded and reined in.

Trump said in a tweet on Wednesday afternoon that Whitaker had been appointed acting attorney general and that a permanent replacement would be nominated later.

Whitaker, 49, will take charge of the inquiry into Russian interference in the 2016 election and possible collusion with Trump’s campaign. Sarah Isgur Flores, a justice department spokeswoman, said in an email: “The acting attorney general is in charge of all matters under the purview of the Department of Justice.”

Democrats expressed concern that the president was moving to sabotage Mueller’s investigation, which has obtained guilty pleas to federal criminal charges from Trump’s former campaign chairman, deputy campaign chairman, White House national security adviser and campaign foreign policy adviser.

Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the minority leader, said in a statement that Whitaker should recuse himself from the Russia issue in light of “his previous comments advocating defunding and imposing limitations on the Mueller investigation”.

Trump’s decision concluded a long-running public feud between the president and his beleaguered attorney general.

Sessions said in an undated letter to Trump released on Wednesday: “At your request, I am submitting my resignation.” He took credit for reversing a recent rise in violent crime. He was later applauded by staff as he left the department’s headquarters.

“We thank Attorney General Jeff Sessions for his service, and wish him well,” Trump said.

A US official said on Wednesday that Sessions was told he had to resign in a telephone call from John Kelly, the White House chief of staff, rather than Trump himself.

Sessions, a former US senator for Alabama, was one of the earliest supporters of Trump’s presidential campaign, but ran into trouble soon after being confirmed to the new administration.

He enraged Trump by recusing himself in March 2017 from investigations into Russian interference in the 2016 election, following revelations that he had two undisclosed meetings with Sergey Kislyak, then
Sessions had not disclosed the discussions when asked under oath during his Senate confirmation hearing in early 2017 about contacts between Trump’s campaign and Moscow. Following his recusal, the deputy attorney general, Rod Rosenstein, took over responsibility for Russia matters.

In May 2017, after Trump fired the FBI director, James Comey, Rosenstein shocked the White House by appointing the former FBI chief Robert Mueller as a special counsel to investigate Russia’s interference and any coordination with Trump’s campaign team.

That investigation has since continued without Sessions being involved, leaving Trump deeply frustrated. Trump has publicly lambasted Sessions for recusing himself, claiming he ought instead to have protected Trump against what the president has termed a “witch-hunt” over Russia. Sessions and Rosenstein have defended Mueller’s integrity.

Whitaker’s view on the investigation appears to be in more line with the president’s. He has publicly proposed choking off funding for Mueller’s investigation and wrote an article for CNN last year declaring that the special counsel was “going too far” and needed to be brought under control.

“The president is absolutely correct,” Whitaker said, after Trump suggested Mueller would exceed his remit by looking into the president’s finances. “Mueller has come up to a red line in the Russia 2016 election-meddling investigation that he is dangerously close to crossing.”

Congressman Jerrold Nadler of New York, the likely new chairman of the House judiciary committee, said the American public “must have answers immediately” on Trump’s reasons for firing Sessions.

“Why is the president making this change and who has authority over Special Counsel Mueller’s investigation? We will be holding people accountable,” Nadler said on Twitter.

Senator Mark Warner of Virginia, the senior Democrat on the Senate intelligence committee, urged senators from both parties to “speak out now and deliver a clear message” to Trump that he must not interfere with Mueller’s investigation.

Legal analysts said that Trump’s decision, announced soon after a lengthy and chaotic post-midterm election press conference at the White House, may set off a long-feared constitutional crisis over the fate of the inquiry, which followed a conclusion by US intelligence agencies that Russia intervened to help Trump win in 2016.

Laurence Tribe, a constitutional law professor at Harvard University, said Trump’s replacement of Sessions with Whitaker was arguably an impeachable offence in itself. “This rule of law crisis has been a slow-motion train wreck for a long time,” said Tribe.

In any case, the firing of Sessions will conclude a bitter public dispute between the attorney general and his president that is unprecedented in recent times.

In August, Trump sharply criticised Sessions in a television interview the day after the president’s former lawyer, Michael Cohen, pleaded guilty to campaign finance violations and his former campaign manager Paul Manafort was convicted of fraud – both cases having stemmed from the Mueller investigation.

Trump said: “I put in an attorney general that never took control of the justice department.”

Sessions struck back with a statement that said: “I took control of the Department of Justice the day I was sworn in … While I am attorney general the actions of the department will not be improperly influenced by political considerations.”


CNN's Jim Acosta has White House credentials revoked after furious exchange with Trump

President called Acosta a ‘rude, terrible person’ after he refused to give up a microphone while trying to ask a question

Guardian staff and agencies
Thu 8 Nov 2018 07.57 GMT

1:34..White House accuses CNN’s Jim Acosta of 'placing his hands’ on young intern – video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=22&v=xYNM6UQVW04

The White House is revoking the credential pass of CNN reporter Jim Acosta hours after a fiery exchange at a press conference.

Acosta has long been a bitter adversary of the White House. The Hispanic American reporter works for the rolling news channel that has been a particular focus of ire for the administration. CNN has been the network most closely associated with the “fake news” slur, which the president has used consistently to undermine public confidence in the media.

In a news conference on Wednesday, Acosta was trying to challenge Trump over the president’s scare-mongering about the so-called “caravan” of migrants making their way through Mexico.

When Trump tried to brush him off, Acosta refused to surrender a microphone provided by the White House, while trying to ask Trump another question. A female staffer tried to take it from him and Acosta held on. Trump went on to call the reporter “a rude, terrible person”.

    Jim Acosta (@Acosta)

    This is a lie. https://t.co/FastFfWych
    November 8, 2018

Hours later, the White House press secretary, Sarah Sanders, said in a statement: “President Trump believes in a free press and expects and welcomes tough questions of him and his Administration. We will, however, never tolerate a reporter placing his hands on a young woman just trying to do her job as a White House intern. This conduct is absolutely unacceptable. It is also completely disrespectful to the reporter’s colleagues not to allow them an opportunity to ask a question … As a result of today’s incident, the White House is suspending the hard pass of the reporter involved until further notice.”

In a statement, CNN defended its reporter. “The White House announced tonight that it has revoked the press pass of CNN’s Chief White House Correspondent Jim Acosta,” said the company in a statement. “It was done in retaliation for his challenging questions at today’s press conference. In an explanation, Press Secretary Sarah Sanders lied. She provided fraudulent accusations and cited an incident that never happened. This unprecedented decision is a threat to our democracy and the country deserves better. Jim Acosta has our full support.”

    Peter Baker (@peterbakernyt)

    Trump @PressSec confirms that White House has suspended the hard pass of a reporter because it doesn't like the way he does his job. This is something I've never seen since I started covering the White House in 1996. Other presidents did not fear tough questioning.
    November 8, 2018

The move will be seen as clear interference with the way White House Correspondents’ Association members cover the administration. Only journalists who have been accredited with a “hard pass” can enter White House grounds swiftly through security.

Acosta would theoretically be able to apply for a day pass to continue doing his job, but the process is slow and impractical for any journalist who needs to move freely in and out of the White House.

Appearing on CNN Tuesday night, Acosta said he had first become aware of a problem when security stopped him from entering the White House grounds. It was “a pretty surreal experience” being barred from doing his job because he tried to ask a question of the president, he said.

The White House Correspondents’ Association issued a statement condemning what it called the Trump administration’s “decision to use US Secret Service security credentials as a tool to punish a reporter with whom it has a difficult relationship”.

Calling on the White House to reverse this “weak and misguided action”, it added: “Revoking access to the White House complex is a reaction out of line to the purported offense and is unacceptable.

“We encourage anyone with doubts that this reaction was disproportionate to the perceived offense to view the video of the events from earlier today.”


New acting AG Matt Whitaker said he wanted ‘biblical view of justice’ in federal judiciary: report

Raw Story

Newly appointed acting Attorney General Matt Whitaker put forth religious requirements for federal judges while running as a Republican for the United States Senate, the Des Moines Register reported in 2014.

During an Iowa Family Leader debate moderated by Erick Erickson, Whitaker gave his views on the federal judiciary.

“If they have a secular world view, then I’m going to be very concerned about how they judge,” he explained.

“Natural law often times is used from the eye of the beholder and what I would like to see — I’d like to see things like their world view, what informs them. Are they people of faith? Do they have a biblical view of justice? — which I think is very important because we all know that our government …”

Erickson, the moderator, interrupted his answer with, “Levitical or New Testament?”

“I’m a New Testament,” Whitaker replied. “And what I know is as long as they have that world view, that they’ll be a good judge. And if they have a secular world view, where this is all we have here on Earth, then I’m going to be very concerned about that judge.”

    In 2014, the new acting AG Matt Whitaker said he would only support federal judges who hold a biblical view of justice. https://t.co/eZEQhzC3mC pic.twitter.com/wcoESxNkSx

    — Yashar Ali 🐘 (@yashar) November 8, 2018


‘We have your backs’: CNN President Jeff Zucker rallies reporters after Trump’s attacks on Jim Acosta

Raw Story

CNN President Jeff Zucker attempted to rally the network’s reporters after Donald Trump attacked White House correspondent Jim Acosta during a post-midterms press conference.

“I want you to know that we have your backs,” Zucker said a memo to employees that was obtained by The Hollywood Reporter. “That this organization believes fiercely in the protections granted to us by the First Amendment, and we will defend them, and you, vigorously, every time.”

In the president’s first press conference of the day on Wednesday, he called Acosta “a rude, terrible person” after the reporter grilled him on insistently calling the Latin American migrant caravan in Mexico an “invasion.”

“CNN should be ashamed of itself having you working for them,” the president said. “You are a rude, terrible person. You shouldn’t be working for CNN. You’re a very rude person. The way you treat Sarah Huckabee Sanders is horrible. You shouldn’t treat people that way.”

Zucker wrote in the memo that Trump’s “ongoing attacks on the press have gone too far” and “are disturbingly un-American.”


‘Way beyond Watergate’’: Watch NBC News historian explain this could be ‘10 times worse than Nixon’

Raw Story

NBC News presidential historian says Donald Trump’s latest actions against special counsel Robert Mueller could be “ten times worse” than the obstruction of justice following Watergate that helped end the administration of President Richard Nixon.

Michael Beschloss, the author of the new book Presidents of War, joined MSNBC’s “The Beat with Ari Melber” on Wednesday to discuss Trump ousting Attorney General Jeff Sessions and installing loyalist Matthew Whitaker.

Many believe the actions constituted obstruction of justice.

“Firing of Jeff Sessions — replaced by what looks like a loyalist, who is on the record for narrowing in this probe — where does this rate in comparison to Nixon,” Melber asked.

“Ari, if this is going the way this looks, this is ten times worse than Nixon because, let’s look, if this leads to let’s say the firing of Robert Mueller or the substantial limiting of this investigation — ten times worse than Nixon,” Beschloss replied.

The historian described acting Attorney General Matt Whitaker as, “by most accounts, not terribly qualified — by some accounts a political hack — by almost all accounts, someone who can be relied upon to be completely obedient to President Trump.”

“The case we’re dealing with is a possible covert relationship between an American president and a hostile foreign power,” Beschloss reminded. “That’s way beyond Watergate.”

Watch: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rcr1s74r-DQ


Ex-FBI special agent explains why new acting AG will be in deep trouble if he tries to fire Mueller

Raw Story

A former FBI special agent revealed what will happen if the new acting attorney general attempts to fire special counsel Robert Mueller.

After tweeting that she’s “honestly not panicking” about newly-appointed Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker taking over the Mueller probe, former FBI official and CNN analyst Asha Rangappa explained her reasoning.

“To be clear, I do NOT think this is an ideal situation,” Rangappa wrote in a Twitter thread.

Whitaker, the analyst noted, has on multiple occasions been public about his critical opinions on the Mueller investigation.

“This clearly creates an appearance of a conflict of interest,” she wrote. “He must consult with the ethics people as his former boss did and, if it is warranted, recuse. Period.”

    2. First, Whitaker has spoken and written publicly on the Mueller investigation. This clearly creates an appearance of a conflict of interest. He must consult with the ethics people as his former boss did and, if it is warranted, recuse. Period. But assuming he does not:

    — Asha Rangappa (@AshaRangappa_) November 8, 2018

His comments about the Russia probe took place when he was a pundit, Rangappa noted — but the Justice Department has “a very strong culture” of not allowing their opinions to affect their decisions.

“As a former [US attorney], Whitaker knows this culture,” she wrote.

    3. First, as a commentator/pundit, you’re expected to have an opinion on a given issue. But as discussed in the context of Strzok, et al., keep in mind that there is a very strong culture in DOJ to not let these views infect decisions. As a former USA, Whitaker knows this culture

    — Asha Rangappa (@AshaRangappa_) November 8, 2018

Any major decisions he makes as acting attorney general, Rangappa continued, will need to be documented.

“The standard in the Special Counsel regulations for denying a request or recommendation of the Special Counsel is that it is ‘so inappropriate or unwarranted under established Departmental practices that it should not be pursued,'” the former FBI agent wrote.

With Democrats soon to take over the House of Representatives following the midterm elections, Whitaker has to know that “he would have to testify to them under oath.”

“Flimsy or corrupt justifications would open him up to obstruction of justice,” Rangappa noted.

    5. Whitaker would have to document and justify his decisions under this standard, knowing (especially with Dems in control of the House) that he would have to testify to them under oath. Flimsy or corrupt justifications would open him up to obstruction of justice.

    — Asha Rangappa (@AshaRangappa_) November 8, 2018

The CNN analyst then pointed to another speculative claim made about Whitaker becoming acting attorney general: that he could “starve” the Mueller investigation financially.

Per DOJ regulations, Rangappa wrote, “the budget for the coming year must be approved within 90 days of the fiscal year.”

“The fiscal year already started on October 1,” she noted, meaning the budget is in place until September 2019 and the next approval won’t take place until June of 2019.

    6. Evenf he wanted to “starve the investigation,” the SC regs state that the budget for the coming year must be approved within 90 days of the fiscal year. The fiscal year already started on October 1, and so the budget is in place until Sept ’19. The next approval is in June ’19

    — Asha Rangappa (@AshaRangappa_) November 8, 2018

Whitaker opined that Mueller looking into Donald Trump’s finances is a red line, but as Rangappa pointed out, the special counsel didn’t actually take on the president’s finances himself and instead referred it to the Southern District of New York.

Read the rest of her thread below:

    8. Important to keep in mind that his comments were made when he, like the rest of us, only knew what was public — which, in summer '17, wasn't much. Since then, we've had indictments and guilty pleas on Manafort, Gates, Flynn, Papadopolous, Cohen, and a bunch of Russians.

    — Asha Rangappa (@AshaRangappa_) November 8, 2018

    10. Also, at a personal level, until now his loyalty as Chief of Staff has been to Sessions — someone he saw get berated, insulted, pressured, and humiliated by POTUS. He may have seen more cray behind the scenes. I wouldn't count on his loyalty suddenly switching to POTUS.

    — Asha Rangappa (@AshaRangappa_) November 8, 2018

    11. Which brings me to: What would be the payoff? He’s not going to be AG, this is temporary. If he has political ambitions he is much better off with Sessions as an ally and being respected in DOJ than hitching his wagon to Trump’s (falling) star.

    — Asha Rangappa (@AshaRangappa_) November 8, 2018


Fox News legal analyst says Trump violated the law by appointing Matt Whitaker as acting attorney general

Raw Story

On Wednesday, President Donald Trump asked Attorney General Jeff Sessions to step down.

Trump announced that in replacement of Sessions, Matt Whitaker would become the new acting attorney general.

However, Fox News legal analyst Andrew Napolitano explained to Fox News host Dana Perino how Trump could be breaking the law with his new appointee.

Napolitano explained that Whitaker was not confirmed by the Senate and therefore violates the law.

“Under the law, the person running the Department of Justice must have been approved by the United States Senate for some previous position. Even on an interim post,” Napolitano said.

Napolitano continued saying that next in line for the position is Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein.

“Whitaker was not confirmed by the United States Senate for a leadership position at the Justice Department. The White House will have to work this out. Who has been confirmed and who’s next in line? Deputy attorney general Rosenstein,” he said.


BUSTED: Trump’s new acting Attorney General’s linked to secretive anti-Dem group

Raw Story

Newly-installed acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker lead a mysterious right-wing organization The Daily Beast reported Wednesday.

Whitaker worked as executive director of the Foundation for Accountability and Civic Trust (FACT), which defended Attorney General Jeff Sessions for telling the United States Senate mistruths about meetings with Russians during confirmation hearings.

“The statement was blasted out to reporters by CRC Public Relations, a conservative group based in Alexandria, Virginia, which represented FACT and Whitaker throughout 2017, according to press releases,” The Beast explained. “More recently, CRC faced scrutiny and criticism during Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation process for reportedly stoking media interest in a discredited conspiracy theory about Kavanaugh’s chief accuser.”

FACT was an “organization which served primarily to level ethics complaints against Democrats.”

“The organization’s funding is opaque: In 2014, it received $600,000 from a fund called DonorsTrust, whose donors are mostly anonymous, but for Charles Koch,” The Beast noted.


‘Impeachment is real now’: Lawrence O’Donnell reveals how everything changed in the last 24 hours

Raw Story

MSNBC anchor Lawrence O’Donnell on Wednesday explained how Democratic Party control of the House of Representatives, along with President Donald Trump ousting Attorney General Jeff Sessions, have moved America one step closer to impeachment.

“Today, Trump is clinging to the wreckage of the Trump government and panicking,” O’Donnell observed. “The Trump government has included the White House and both houses of Congress and now the Trump government is broken, very broken, because the Democrats have the House of Representatives.”

“And if Donald Trump’s newly installed political hack of an acting attorney general takes action against special prosecutor Robert Mueller, the Democratic House of Representatives will bring Robert Mueller to testify publicly about exactly how the acting attorney general has interfered with his investigation,” he explained.

“And the Democratic House of Representatives will move to impeach the president of the United States for obstruction of justice,” he predicted.

“They will do it — they will have to do it — they will have no choice,” he continued. “The new members of the House of Representatives will demand it. And they will get it.”

“Impeachment is real now,” he concluded. “And so the president’s panicked firing of his attorney general today has moved Donald Trump one step closer to impeachment and the new Trump acting Attorney General Matthew Whittaker will also be investigated by the Democratic House for obstruction of justice if he interferes with the Mueller investigation in any way.”


‘The puzzle’s complete’: Morning Joe says Sessions filing gives Mueller everything he needs to nail Trump for obstruction

Raw Story

MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough said President Donald Trump is “freaked out” now that Democrats gained subpoena power over him after retaking the House of Representatives.

The “Morning Joe” host said the president’s unhinged news conference Wednesday — and his firing of attorney general Jeff Sessions — was a response to the midterm election results.

“The bottom line is, he lost big time yesterday,” Scarborough said. “He hates losing. On top of it, Democrats have gained the power to basically ask him every question they finally want the answer to.”

“Donald Trump was freaked out yesterday,” he added. “Everybody could see how freaked out he was. It was embarrassing watching him fire Jeff Sessions.”

Scarborough said the Sessions sacking, and his deeply conflicted temporary replacement, should be considered additional evidence in the special counsel probe Trump’s trying to stop.

“”(If) you’re (Robert) Mueller, you’re putting together this obstruction of justice charge, and he has this hole in the puzzle,” Scarborough said. “What can I put there? Oh, he fires the United States attorney general and appoints a hack, and may not have done that legally, to obstruct justice and stop this investigation.”

“Boom — the puzzle’s complete,” he added.

Scarborough said House Democrats can then task Mueller to complete his investigation under for them.

“If Donald Trump gets rid of Mueller, now the Democrats can hire him, he can now work for the House of Representatives and if they want to send all the information — they’re going to send it to the states,” he said. “He thinks he’s going to stop his children, if they’ve done something wrong, from going to jail. They’ll just be in state jail instead of the federal penitentiary.”

“By the way, no pardoning if any of these people are sent to state jail,” he added.

Watch: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZOEsCIibS1Y


CNN’s Bakari Sellers rips Lindsey 'I love being Trump's drag queen' Graham: He’s the prime example of when Donald Trump breaks an individual

Raw Story

On Wednesday, in what has been discussed as a calculated move from President Donald Trump, Attorney General Jeff Sessions was fired.

During his afternoon show, CNN’s Jake Tapper played a clip of Senator Lindsey 'I love being Trump's drag queen' Graham (R-SC), reacting to the news. Even though Graham appeared to have a positive attitude, Tapper called him out on his flip-flop position towards Trump and Sessions’ relationship.

“He once said that Trump would have holy hell to pay if he ever fired Sessions,” Tapper said.

In response to the news, Graham said that he is “looking forward and not backward,” and that there would be a fresh start at The Department of Justice.

Contributor Bakari Sellers, who served with Graham in the state legislature in South Carolina, said that Graham was acting very “weak-kneed” and that he did not recognize who Graham was anymore.

“I don’t know who Lindsey 'I love being Trump's drag queen' Graham is anymore,” Sellers said.

“He’s always been afraid of his shadow somewhat. I think he’s the prime example of when Donald Trump breaks an individual. Now Lindsey Graham is very weak-kneed. He is no longer putting the country first, but putting his party first,” Sellers said.

Watch the video via CNN: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rG7Nkxx_L4Q

* sessions.JPG (19.87 KB, 368x368 - viewed 76 times.)

* Matt-Whitaker-800x430.gif (172.42 KB, 800x430 - viewed 78 times.)

* th5.jpg (10.54 KB, 333x216 - viewed 72 times.)

* your president 1.jpg (68.75 KB, 600x598 - viewed 73 times.)
Most Active Member
Offline Offline

Posts: 28218

« Reply #1238 on: Nov 08, 2018, 06:40 AM »

Democrats got millions more votes – so how did Republicans win the Senate?

Experts warn of ‘rise of minority rule’ after Democrats’ vote tally beat Republicans’ by more than 12m

Sabrina Siddiqui in Washington
Thu 8 Nov 2018 12.00 GMT

The 2018 midterm elections brought significant gains for Democrats, who retook the House of Representatives and snatched several governorships from the grip of Republicans.

But some were left questioning why Democrats suffered a series of setbacks that prevented the party from picking up even more seats and, perhaps most consequentially, left the US Senate in Republican hands.

Among the most eye-catching was a statistic showing Democrats led Republicans by more than 12 million votes in Senate races, and yet still suffered losses on the night and failed to win a majority of seats in the chamber.

The obvious discrepancy between votes cast and seats won renewed some frustration on the left with an electoral system they complained gives an advantage to conservative-leaning states.

    The rise of minority rule in America is now unmistakable
    Laurence Tribe, Harvard professor

But constitutional law experts said more pressing concerns for Democrats could be found in a combination of gerrymandering and voter suppression tactics that might have prevented them from winning an even larger majority in the House and some key statewide elections.

“The rise of minority rule in America is now unmistakable,” said Laurence Tribe, a constitutional law professor at Harvard University.

“Especially with a sitting president who won a majority in the electoral college [in 2016] while receiving roughly 3m fewer votes than his opponent, and a supreme court five of whose nine justices were nominated by Republican presidents who collectively received fewer popular votes than their Democratic opponents and were confirmed by Senates similarly skewed.”

According to the latest data, Democrats won the House popular vote by about seven percentage points in Tuesday night’s midterms.

They picked up 29 Republican-held seats in the House, while losing two of their own incumbents, resulting in a net gain of 27 seats. Republicans meanwhile won a larger majority in the Senate, picking up at least two seats as a handful of vulnerable Democrats faced defeat.

The mixed result undermined Democratic hopes of a blue wave in an election billed as a referendum on Donald Trump and his presidency. In the 2010 midterms, by contrast, Republicans stormed into control of the House with a haul of 63 seats.

But the latter was the result of partisan gerrymandering, which saw Republican-controlled state legislatures redraw congressional districts to favor the party in what conservative architects dubbed as Redmap, short for the Redistricting Majority Project.

Referring to the process as “the deliberate rigging of district boundaries”, Tribe said it all but ensured that the incoming House of Representatives would remain more closely divided despite the broader electorate favoring Democrats.

It was for this very reason that Tuesday night’s governors’ contests were deemed by Democrats as equally, if not more, important. With the next redrawing of district lines set to take place in 2020, it was regarded as vital for Democrats to win back seats in state legislatures across the country.

Democrats made gains in some must-win states, including Michigan, but fell short in other battlegrounds, such as Florida and Ohio. David Daley, author of a 2016 book about how Republicans built a firewall against Democrats through redistricting, said he was not sure Democrats had done enough on Tuesday “to ensure that they have a reasonable voice in the process”.

Elsewhere, progressives lamented the results in the Senate, where some commentators were quick to note that Democrats led the overall tally by double-digit percentage points. The most recent figures had Republicans holding 51 seats and Democrats with just 46, with a handful of races still too close to call.

But the 2018 Senate map was unfavorable for Democrats going into the midterms – the party was defending 26 seats compared with Republicans’ nine – and the outcome had more to do with which states were up for grabs.

Each of America’s 50 states elects two senators, regardless of population, and only a third of the country’s Senate seats are voted on each election cycle.

What that means is that California, which has a population of just under 40 million, holds the same representation in the Senate as Wyoming, which at roughly 579,000 is the least populous state in the country.

“That’s a radically undemocratic principle, and it gives rise to what we see,” said David Golove, a professor at the New York University School of Law, “which is that the minority populations are going to have a disproportionate impact in the United States. That tends to mean conservatives have a disproportionate influence over the Senate.”

Golove said the issue of Senate representation simply had not yet become a part of mainstream American discourse.

Because the Senate map changes every two years, experts said, it was also difficult to tabulate what a national vote might look like. Since more Democratic seats were up for re-election in 2018, some argued, it was not unexpected that the party secured more votes.

“The Senate is inherently anti-majoritarian,” said Erwin Chemerinsky, the dean of Berkeley Law at the University of California. “So it is not about the total vote, but votes in each state.”

Any notion of change would require a constitutional amendment, he added, which is unlikely to occur in any foreseeable future.

“That is not going to happen, because it would take approval of 2/3 of both houses of Congress and approval of 3/4 of the states,” Chemerinsky said. “The states that [currently] benefit will never approve this and would block a constitutional amendment’s passage.”

Arguably more tangible than the historic construct of America’s electoral process was the role voter suppression might have played in some big Democratic losses.

In North Dakota, voter ID rules pushed by Republicans and upheld by the supreme court might have barred thousands of Native Americans from voting in Tuesday’s general election. The restrictions required that voters show their current residential address in order to vote. But Native Americans who live on reservations do not have street names and instead use PO boxes.

In 2012, the state’s incumbent Democrat, Senator Heidi Heitkamp, was elected in part due to the support of Native American voters. She lost on Tuesday to her Republican challenger, Kevin Cramer, although the margin was large enough to suggest voter suppression tactics alone cost Heitkamp the race.

The closely watched governor’s race in Georgia, however, told a more contentious story, as the Democrat Stacey Abrams vied to become the first black woman elected governor in US history. Abrams was running against the Republican Brian Kemp, who as Georgia’s sitting secretary of state remained at the helm of the office tasked with overseeing its elections.

Leading up to the election, Kemp’s office put at least 53,000 voter registrations on hold – the majority of which applied to black voters – citing Georgia’s so-called “exact match” law. The restrictions could have prevented thousands of eligible voters from casting ballots due to minor discrepancies with other identification documents that included missing hyphens, middle initials or accent marks in a name.

Abrams, who narrowly trailed Kemp as returns poured in on Tuesday, refused to concede.

“We are going to make sure that every vote is counted, every single vote,” she said. “In a civilized nation, the machinery of democracy should work for everyone, everywhere.

* beto o'rouke.jpg (201.42 KB, 1160x773 - viewed 72 times.)
Most Active Member
Offline Offline

Posts: 28218

« Reply #1239 on: Nov 08, 2018, 07:13 AM »

Thought the election might restore some order? Oh you poor, sweet child

Firing Jeff Sessions proves Trump learned nothing from the midterms

By Dana Milbank Columnist
WA Post
November 8 2018

On Tuesday, American voters had their say: They gave Democrats control of the House, a check on the chaotic and rageful Trump presidency that left many voters saying in Election Day polls that they felt anxious and overwhelmed.

On Wednesday, President Trump gave his response: He will be even more chaotic and rageful going forward.

Trump called a news conference Wednesday and, incredibly, proclaimed Tuesday’s loss “a great victory for us . . . very close to complete victory.”

Watch: <iframe width='480' height='290' scrolling='no' src='https://www.washingtonpost.com/video/c/embed/ea0daa20-e2d4-11e8-ba30-a7ded04d8fac' frameborder='0' webkitallowfullscreen mozallowfullscreen allowfullscreen></iframe>

He mocked Republicans who lost, claiming they didn’t embrace him enough: “Too bad, Mike . . . Mia Love gave me no love.”

He threatened to respond to House Democrats’ prospective probes of his administration by bringing government “to a halt,” going to a “warlike posture” and directing Senate Republicans to investigate House Democrats.

He raged at the media , renewing his “enemy of the people” accusation, telling CNN’s Jim Acosta “you are a rude, terrible person” and accusing an African American journalist, PBS’s Yamiche Alcindor, of asking “such a racist question” because she dared to inquire about Trump’s self-declaration as a “nationalist” emboldening white nationalists.

A White House staff member reaches for the microphone held by CNN's Jim Acosta as he questions President Trump during a news conference Wednesday. (Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)

And then, the coup de grace: Soon after the news conference ended, Trump announced that he had ousted Attorney General Jeff Sessions. He hadn’t even bothered to tell Sessions himself. Trump replaced him with a loyalist, Matthew Whitaker, who has publicly criticized special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s Russia probe and speculated about ways to end it.

This was a brazen and defiant response to the election results by a president who is apparently moved neither by convention nor by constitutional checks on his power. He renewed his threat Wednesday unilaterally to try to rewrite the Constitution’s citizenship provisions by executive order. Rather than offer reconciliation, he trolled his opponents and spun more wild fantasies: The Democrats “agree that a wall is necessary” on the border, Democrats “at a high level have suggested . . . getting rid of law enforcement,” CNN has perpetrated “voter suppression.”

Though the Sessions firing had been expected after the election, Trump’s handling of it renewed a sense of looming crisis. Trump, before announcing the ouster, again declared the Russia probe “a hoax” and asserted that support for Mueller had fallen. It’s difficult to see the appointment of Whitaker, stripping Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein of authority over the Mueller inquiry, as anything but an attempt to shut down a probe that has already earned criminal convictions against several Trump advisers.

For those who hoped the election results would restore some calm and order to politics, Trump has just informed them that they can expect more of the same — and worse.

The defiance of the electorate is breathtaking. Republicans appear to have lost nearly 35 House seats, seven governorships, more than 225 state legislative seats and six legislative chambers. And Republicans’ House losses would be higher if not for gerrymandering.

Trump’s victory claims rest on Republican gains of a few Senate seats — an artifact of a political map friendly to Republicans, not popular will. The latest popular-vote tally for the Senate, though distorted by the absence of a Republican candidate in California, shows Democrats leading Republicans by 12.5 million votes. Voters turned out at near-presidential levels. Of the two-thirds of voters who said Trump was a factor in their votes, most said they were voting to oppose him.

And yet, asked Wednesday “what lesson did you learn most” from the election results, Trump replied: “I think people like me.”

In the wee hours of Wednesday morning, after the Democratic takeover of the House had become official, Trump retweeted a message saying “Trump is the magic man.”

And he is! Trump made three dozen Republican House seats disappear, sawed his party’s advantage in governorships in half and caused six legislative chambers to escape from Republican control — while pulling one racist canard after another out of his hat about invading hordes of migrant criminals.

Most troubling: Trump is acting as though he actually believes the midterms were a triumph. His sacking of Sessions suggests he thinks he can get away with anything — even ousting Mueller — with impunity. And he seems to credit his reckless campaign tactics for his fantasy election outcome.

“Why are you pitting Americans against one another, sir?” asked NBC’s Peter Alexander.

Trump’s reply: “We won a lot of elections last night.”

A foreign journalist asked about his polarizing message on race.

“I have the best numbers with African Americans and Hispanic Americans,” he answered.

What will he do to reduce the startling rise in anti-Semitism?

“Nobody has done more for Israel than Donald Trump,” he replied.

But what about his role as a moral leader?

“I think I am a great moral leader.”

Trump’s fury and falsehoods sent tens of millions to the polls Tuesday to tell him to tone it down.

Instead, he’s determined to be even worse in defeat.

* f127f7b6173e483e0b44f5e2127f929c--republican-party-the-republican.jpg (10.03 KB, 236x226 - viewed 69 times.)

* PARADE4.jpg (14.38 KB, 480x240 - viewed 83 times.)
Most Active Member
Offline Offline

Posts: 6493

« Reply #1240 on: Nov 09, 2018, 05:05 AM »

Old Master? Cave paintings from 40,000 years ago are world’s earliest figurative art

Agence France-Presse
09 Nov 2018 at 08:10 ET                   

A painting of an animal in an Indonesian cave dates from at least 40,000 years ago, making it the world’s oldest piece of figurative art, new research has shown.

The painting in Borneo, possibly depicting a native type of wild cattle, is among thousands of artworks discovered decades ago in the remote region.

But it was only using technology called uranium series analysis that researchers have finally been able to work out just when they were painted.

The discovery adds to a growing body of evidence that cave painting did not emerge only in Europe, as was once thought.

“We can see that figurative art developed and evolved more or less at the same time in Asia and in Europe,” researcher Maxime Aubert told AFP.

In 2014, researchers dated figurative art on the Indonesian island of Sulawesi to 35,000 years ago, but some of the paintings examined by Aubert and his team in nearby Borneo were produced at least 5,000 years earlier.

Aubert, an associate professor at Australia’s Griffith University, worked with a team in remote and inaccessible caves in the East Kalimantan area of Borneo to date the paintings.

The team, whose research was published in the journal Nature on Wednesday, looked at multiple layers of artwork painted on top of each other.

The bottom-most and oldest layer featured paintings of animals, mostly a local type of cattle, as well as hand stencils in a reddish colour.

On top of those artworks were hand stencils in a mulberry colour grouped in patterns and embellished with lines and dots, as well as small stick-like human figures in the same colour.

The final layer featured people, boats and geometric designs.

– ‘An intimate window’ –

Aubert and his team employed a technique called uranium series dating, which involves analysing layers of the mineral calcite that formed on top of the painting over the years, as well as the material underneath the art.

They removed samples smaller than one centimetre (half an inch) across from the artworks and found one painting of an animal had been produced at least 40,000 years ago, and possibly nearly 52,000 years ago.

“To our knowledge, the large animal painting… is the oldest figurative rock art image in the world,” the team’s study said.

The painting is in fact one of the earliest-known representations of any kind of an animal, dating from a similar period to mammoth-ivory figurines found in Germany, the study added.

For many years, cave art was thought to have emerged from Europe, where famed pieces have been discovered and dated in Spain, Italy and France.

But the Indonesian paintings challenge that theory.

“It now seems that two early cave art provinces arose at a similar time in remote corners of Palaeolithic Eurasia: one in Europe and one in Indonesia, at the opposite end of this ice age world,” said Adam Brum, an archeologist involved in the study, in a press release issued by Griffith University.

The second layer of artwork dates to around 20,000 years ago, and suggests an interesting evolution in the artwork of the era.

“Around 20,000 years ago, painting becomes of the human world, not the animal world. We see the same thing in Europe at more or less the same time,” Aubert told AFP.

He plans to carry out further testing of other artwork in Indonesia, as well as pieces in Australia, and said he felt a personal connection to the past when examining the paintings.

“It’s amazing to see that. It’s an intimate window into the past.”

Most Active Member
Offline Offline

Posts: 6493

« Reply #1241 on: Nov 09, 2018, 05:08 AM »

Will This Case Finally Bring Down ExxonMobil’s Culture of Climate Deception?

By Elliott Negin

New York State Attorney General Barbara Underwood recently filed what could be an enormously consequential securities fraud lawsuit against ExxonMobil, exposing in great detail the company's long history of lying about issues related to climate change.

According to the findings of the AG's investigation, ExxonMobil kept one set of numbers internally about the likely future costs of carbon-emission rules while using another set for its shareholders that it knew to be false. For internal planning purposes, the company low-balled estimates for the cost per ton of carbon that would likely be imposed by regulation to make its projects appear to be more profitable. Meanwhile, the company told its shareholders it was using a higher, more plausible, price when determining its projects' long-term economic viability. By doing so, the complaint charges, ExxonMobil deceived its investors, falsely assuring them that its oil and gas reserves would not become unusable for economic reasons—what the industry refers to as "stranded assets."

The 97-page legal complaint is chock-full of examples of ExxonMobil reports and statements that deceived shareholders about the likely cost of carbon-emission standards. It charges the company with "a longstanding fraudulent scheme" that "was sanctioned at the highest levels of the company."

Just as the notorious Prohibition-era gangster Al Capone was ultimately brought down on tax fraud charges despite a long rap sheet of murder and mayhem, the case raises the prospect that New York's unique securities fraud law, the Martin Act, could be the legal tool that holds the company accountable for a culture of deception about climate change that spans decades.

The legal complaint cites one notable corporate statement titled "ExxonMobil and the carbon tax" in which the company reiterated its dubious contention that it supports a carbon tax. In fact, ExxonMobil has never publicly supported an actual carbon tax bill and has consistently funded members of Congress who oppose the idea. The company did get some positive press recently for pledging to donate $1 million to Americans for Carbon Dividends, a new lobby group promoting a revenue-neutral carbon tax, but the group's plan would pre-empt climate-related lawsuits against fossil fuel companies and eliminate federal regulations curbing carbon emissions.

ExxonMobil also has long lied about its ongoing support for climate science denier groups. In 2007, a company vice president claimed it stopped funding them after the Union of Concerned Scientists revealed that ExxonMobil had spent millions of dollars on dozens of groups to sow doubt about the reality and seriousness of climate change. The company's own corporate giving reports show that it continues to fund them to this day. From 1998 through last year, ExxonMobil spent at least $36 million on climate science disinformation groups, more than any other funder besides Charles and David Koch, the multibillionaire owners of Koch Industries.

The bottom line of the New York AG's complaint is that, when calculating costs for major projects, ExxonMobil "assumed, contrary to its representations [to investors], that existing climate regulation would remain in place, unchanged, indefinitely into the future."

What would make ExxonMobil so confident that currently weak-to-nonexistent carbon-emission standards would remain the same? Likely its success over the past 20 years in stifling meaningful government action. After all, ExxonMobil and the rest of the US fossil fuel industry have spent enough money on their friends in Congress that a critical mass of them deny the reality of human-driven climate change. So, as long as fossil fuel industry-funded groups continue to provide lawmakers with bogus studies and ply the news media with industry mouthpieces, it is not surprising that ExxonMobil believed it could maintain the status quo.

As the New York AG complaint shows, however, ExxonMobil's strategy relied on the belief that it could get away with privately counting on business as usual while telling investors it was taking into full consideration the risks to its business posed by the global effort to dramatically curb carbon emissions. When it comes to defrauding investors in New York state, this looming court battle may prove the company wrong.

Elliott Negin is a senior writer in the Communications Department at the Union of Concerned Scientists.

* Capture.JPG (35.87 KB, 616x425 - viewed 70 times.)
Most Active Member
Offline Offline

Posts: 6493

« Reply #1242 on: Nov 09, 2018, 05:10 AM »

World's Largest E-Bike Fleet to Roll Out in Paris Region


I love electric bikes. They're a great, low-carbon transportation option that requires much less work than traditional pedal bikes. So it's exciting news that the Paris region is rolling out a massive fleet of them as a way to beat back traffic and air pollution.

Starting September 2019, the Ile-de-France Mobilités—the Paris-area public transport network—will offer 10,000 electric bikes for long-term rental, according to Reuters. The plan is to expand the so-called "Véligo" service to 20,000 units, making it the world's largest e-bike rental program.

The larger aim is to encourage bike-riding in the wider Parisian region that's home to 10 million people. Currently, commuter cycling counts for a mere 1.6 percent of daily trips in the area.

"Electric bicycles have an enormous potential. They are an efficient and ecological way to get to the railway station for short commutes that can replace the car," Valerie Pecresse, the head of the Ile-de-France region, told Reuters.

The Véligo program works differently than typical bike-share programs where you rent a bike for a few hours and return it to a docking station after use. Instead, Véligo bikes can stay with the users for 40 euros ($45) a month, half of which can be subsidized by their employers, Reuters reported.

The new scheme is an addition to the city of Paris' own Vélib' bike-sharing system, which had been a "huge success and a point of pride" for the French capital until it changed operators and nearly collapsed, NPR reported last month. Daily use dramatically fell from 100,000 trips a day to only a couple thousand.

The Véligo program will be operated by the postal service and transport firm Transdev under a six-year contract and have a budget of 111 million euros ($127 million), according to Reuters.

* Capture.JPG (74.03 KB, 682x402 - viewed 76 times.)
Most Active Member
Offline Offline

Posts: 6493

« Reply #1243 on: Nov 09, 2018, 05:14 AM »

New water-based battery that uses organic materials instead of toxic metals could solve renewable storage problem


Renewable energy is clean, getting cheaper by the day and in many respects becoming more efficient thanks to rapid advancements coming from the world’s top-notch labs. It has one major drawback – storage. Before people can find a clever and cost-effective way to store all of that excess energy from wind and solar farms, chances have it that very few countries will want to pass the 30% renewables share margin.  The best solution might actually be an old idea revamped to work for a novel setting – batteries. Not just any batteries though. The most promising solution so far is using flow batteries – storage mediums that are rechargeable and whose electroactive materials are stored external to the actual battery. Such a flow battery was developed at University of Southern California, and it might be a real game changer if the proper attention is awarded.
An elegant solution for a most troublesome problem

    “The batteries last for about 5,000 recharge cycles, giving them an estimated 15-year lifespan,” said Sri Narayan, professor of chemistry at the USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences and corresponding author of an open-access paper published online by the Journal of the Electrochemical Society.

    “Lithium ion batteries degrade after around 1,000 cycles, and cost 10 times more to manufacture,” he said.

These batteries aren’t meant to fit in your mobile, though. They’re intended for large-scale energy storage, backing power generating plants and making the grid more resilient. Where they shine, however, is in their potential to change how renewable energy is perceived in the broader picture. Solar panels can only generate power when the sun’s shining, and wind turbines can only generate power when the wind blows. Often, these systems are designed to produce just about as much energy as the grid can handle or just enough so it can power consumers, never more though. This makes renewables inherently unreliable. If you can find a way to cheaply and effectively store this excess energy, that a lot of people might consider their stance over renewable energy.

The working principle of the new battery, called the aqueous organic redox flow battery (ORBAT), is typical. It consists of a redox-flow design, very similar to a fuel cell, where two tanks of electroactive materials dissolved in water are pumped into the cell. Here, a proton carrying membrane separates the two fluids with electrodes on either side, releasing energy. The innovation lies in the tanks’ contents.

Such batteries typically work using metals, most often than not the toxic variety, as well as a precious metal catalyst. The ORBAT employs organic compounds dissolved in water and doesn’t employ an expensive catalyst. Using molecule design and a lot of trial-and-error, the researchers were able to find the perfect organic mix: quinones, or oxidized organic compounds. Quinones are found in plants, fungi, bacteria, and some animals, and are involved in photosynthesis and cellular respiration. Basically, Narayan and team modeled nature’s energy transfer model for their battery, and it works like a charm. Worth noting that similar solution was applied by Harvard researchers, but their prototype was only tested for about 100 cycles.

Currently, the quinones used by the ORBAT come from hydrocarbons, but there are ways to derive them directly from carbon dioxide. So there you have it: a scalable, inexpensive and sustainable metal-free rechargeable battery for large-scale electrical energy storage. But will we hear again about it four years from now? Fingers crossed.

* orbat_energy_storage.jpg (40.38 KB, 852x383 - viewed 75 times.)

* orbat_energy.jpg (317.81 KB, 1000x714 - viewed 85 times.)
Most Active Member
Offline Offline

Posts: 6493

« Reply #1244 on: Nov 09, 2018, 05:20 AM »

Pakistan blasphemy case: Asia Bibi freed from jail

Christian labourer has left detention facility but has to stay in Pakistan

Harriet Sherwood Religion correspondent, and agencies
9 Nov 2018 05.49 GMT

Asia Bibi, the Christian farm labourer whose blasphemy case has triggered violent protests and assassinations in Pakistan, has been freed from jail but remains in protective custody, a week after the country’s supreme court overturned her conviction.

Officials said that she left a detention facility in the Punjab province amid tight security on Wednesday and was flown to Islamabad, where she was at a secure location because of threats to her life.

A spokesman for Pakistan’s foreign office said on Thursday that reports Bibi had left the country were false, in a statement backed up by sources close to the family.

Bibi, who had spent eight years on death row, had been left in limbo after the government struck a deal with religious conservatives to end protests, which erupted after her acquittal.

Her husband and children have been living at a secret address in Pakistan in fear of their lives, and have made repeated appeals to the international community to help secure the whole family’s safety.

“Help us get out of Pakistan. We are extremely worried because our lives are in danger. We no longer have even anything to eat, because we cannot leave the house to buy food,” Ashiq Masih, Bibi’s husband, told Aid to the Church in Need, which campaigns on religious freedom.

He told the BBC World Service that he had not seen Bibi since her acquittal, and the family was worried about her safety. Religious extremists have threatened to kill her.

Authorities now say Bibi may not be able to leave the country because a petition for a review of the court’s ruling was filed by a radical Islamist lawyer requesting the acquittal be reversed. Pakistani courts usually take years to decide such cases.

Bibi’s lawyer, Saiful Mulook, fled Pakistan at the weekend after being issued with death threats, and is seeking asylum in the Netherlands.

0:33..Asia Bibi: protests erupt in Pakistan after blasphemy conviction overturned - video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-fOWSLV6Esw

Canada, France and Spain were reportedly considering offering asylum to Bibi and her family. Her husband has also appealed to the UK and the US to offer a safe haven.

In Italy, Matteo Salvini, the hardline anti-migrant interior minister, said he would do “all that is humanly possible” to ensure Bibi and her family were safe, either in Italy or elsewhere.

Bibi was convicted of blasphemy after a row with Muslim women in her village. Two Pakistani politicians were killed for publicly supporting her and criticising the country’s blasphemy laws.

The supreme court’s decision last week to overturn the verdict led to violent protests throughout Pakistan and calls for the judges in the case to be killed.

Imran Khan, Pakistan’s prime minister since July, has been criticised for capitulating to extremists over the case.

“Khan swept to power earlier this year on promises to restore the rule of law, to champion the oppressed and marginalised and to deliver justice. His party is, after all, called the Movement for Justice,” said Omar Waraich of Amnesty International.

“But what does that even mean when, in the space of just two days, he went from warning the mob against using violence, to bowing to their demands?”

Khan’s former wife, Jemima Goldsmith, accused him on Twitter of caving in “to extremist demands to bar #AsiaBibi from leaving [Pakistan], after she was acquitted of blasphemy – effectively signing her death warrant”.

The Religious Liberty Commission, a coalition of organisations campaigning against Christian persecution, have called on Khan to allow Bibi to leave the country.

“Following her unjust imprisonment and long-awaited release, it is clear that Asia’s life is in danger in Pakistan … As others involved with the case continue to flee the country, we affirm that Asia’s safety is now the responsibility of prime minister Khan,” it said.

* 3298.jpg (38.14 KB, 620x372 - viewed 80 times.)

* Asia Bibi at a prison in Sheikhupura near Lahore, Pakistan.jpg (34.04 KB, 620x372 - viewed 81 times.)
Pages: 1 ... 81 82 [83] 84 85 ... 235   Go Up
Jump to: