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« Reply #3510 on: Sep 10, 2019, 05:22 AM »

Trump ‘despised’ by GOP lawmakers infuriated by his constant blunders during summer recess: MSNBC’s Morning Joe

Raw Story

MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough warned President Donald Trump may find congressional Republicans less willing to overlook his various scandals after the summer recess.

The “Morning Joe” host said the president had done real damage to himself while Congress was on recess, and he said GOP lawmakers are losing patience with his unforced errors.

“It has been, we talked about this last week, a cruel, cruel political summer for Donald Trump,” Scarborough said, “and the most remarkable thing, and I do talk to Trump supporters a good bit, what infuriates them and what infuriates people close to him in the White House is so much of these scars are self-inflicted. He can’t get out of his own way.”

The president’s racist attacks on Democratic congresswomen and incoherent rants about a looming recession have cut into his already weak approval rating, as well as ballooning scandals involving government payments to his properties and doctoring weather data — and Scarborough said congressional Republicans may finally push back against his agenda.

“I spoke to a Republican insider last night, one of the most powerful that I know that has quietly remained in the background so their firm could still get business in this age of Trump Republicanism,” Scarborough said.

“He said what Donald Trump doesn’t realize is he is so despised on Capitol Hill, he’s so despised by Republican governors across the country and by members of the House personally, that it’s only a matter of time,” Scarborough added, “and this was last night before these numbers came out, that they start planning ahead for post-Trump Washington, and pretty soon they’re not going to take the slings and arrows for this guy because it’s proving to be a losing proposition.”

Watch: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=769cfRwVKto


Trump ‘almost looked sedated’ at campaign rally: Ex-White House official

Raw Story
By Bob Brigham

Two former top officials in Republican administrations worried about President Donald Trump’s mental state during CNN appearances on Monday.

“Look at what’s gone on over the last five or six weeks. Maybe you’re saying it can’t get any worse, but I predict it will. It will get a lot worse,” former Trump communications head Anthony Scaramucci told CNN’s Don Lemon.

Scaramucci explained what he saw of his former friend during a Monday evening campaign rally in Fayetteville, North Carolina.

“He almost looks sedated tonight. I don’t know if you were watching the rally. I mean he looked sedated,” Scarmucci said. “He was using words that he typically doesn’t use. He was reading off the prompter.”

“He’s got a loss of confidence going on — and he’s got a loss of personality at the same time,” Scarmucci added. “I’m not a psychologist, but I was around the campaign, and I was with the guy. You get a sense for a person’s personality.”

Peter Wehner, a former senior advisor to George W. Bush, also worried about Trump’s mental health.

Wehner authored a new piece in The Atlantic titled, “Trump Is Not Well.”

“Donald Trump’s disordered personality—his unhealthy patterns of thinking, functioning, and behaving—has become the defining characteristic of his presidency,” Wehner wrote. “It manifests itself in multiple ways: his extreme narcissism; his addiction to lying about things large and small, including his finances and bullying and silencing those who could expose them; his detachment from reality, including denying things he said even when there is video evidence to the contrary; his affinity for conspiracy theories; his demand for total loyalty from others while showing none to others; and his self-aggrandizement and petty cheating.”

Wehner explained the danger Trump poses to America.

“Yeah, it is more of the same. But what I would say is that his condition is getting worse, and the guardrails are getting less,” he explained. “And so, you know, I said to a friend a long time ago, when there’s no bottom, there’s no bottom. With Donald Trump, there’s no bottom. This is like a car on a steep hill without brakes. It’s just going to accelerate and there’s not going to be a way to stop it.”

“It’s just an avalanche of disordered personality traits, the lying, the pathological lying, the self-aggrandizement, the detachment from reality, the extreme narcissism, the misogyny, the ruthlessness, lack of remorse. All of those things are absolutely on public display, and the idea that as citizens, we’re not supposed to make judgments, reasoned judgments about those things as they’re unfolding before our eyes, I think is silly and irresponsible,” he explained.

“I’ve worked in three administrations. I worked in the White House as a senior adviser for seven years, and one of the things I came away from is the belief that even more than policy — and I care a lot about policy, I spent my life in policy — even more than that, what matters most is the president’s temperament, his disposition, his judgment, his prudence, his wisdom,” he continued. “And Donald Trump is not only worse than any president that we’ve had, he’s light years worse than anybody we’ve ever seen in political life. And that’s just a big, big danger.”

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« Reply #3511 on: Sep 10, 2019, 05:44 AM »

And the Repiglicans do nothing ... instead a 90% approval rating from them ..... let's have more of it they scream ...

A shocking CNN scoop confirms: Officials are defending our country from Trump

By Paul Waldman
Opinion writer
September 10 2019
Wa Post

What good is having a secret if you can’t tell people about it?

This is the dilemma President Trump has found himself in many times. Often he just blurts (or tweets) the secret out, as he did recently when he tweeted a probably classified image of an Iranian launch facility, enabling the Iranians (and everyone else) to learn more about American surveillance capabilities.

And according to this extraordinary CNN story ( https://edition.cnn.com/2019/09/09/politics/russia-us-spy-extracted/index.html ) from early in his presidency, the intelligence community felt it had no choice but to make decisions based on the likelihood that the person with almost unlimited access to American secrets probably couldn’t keep his mouth shut — especially when it came to Russia:

    In a previously undisclosed secret mission in 2017, the United States successfully extracted from Russia one of its highest-level covert sources inside the Russian government, multiple Trump administration officials with direct knowledge told CNN.

    A person directly involved in the discussions said that the removal of the Russian was driven, in part, by concerns that President Donald Trump and his administration repeatedly mishandled classified intelligence and could contribute to exposing the covert source as a spy.

    The decision to carry out the extraction occurred soon after a May 2017 meeting in the Oval Office in which Trump discussed highly classified intelligence with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and then-Russian Ambassador to the US Sergey Kislyak. The intelligence, concerning ISIS in Syria, had been provided by Israel.

In all the ongoing horrors emanating from the White House, you may have forgotten the story of that Oval Office meeting, but it was truly shocking. It concerned a spy Israel had succeeded in placing near the center of the Islamic State, a piece of information so sensitive that we hadn’t even shared it with many of our key allies. And then Trump, in an apparent attempt to impress the Russians, just told them all about it.

Then Trump defended himself by saying “I have the absolute right” to give incredibly sensitive secrets to our adversaries. This is technically true — as president, he can decide what’s classified and what isn’t, and reveal pretty much whatever he wants, no matter how pathetic or nefarious his motives.

If you were an American intelligence official and you just watched that happen, what would you do? Your obvious response would be to ask, “What else is he going to tell the Russians? What’s he going to tell Vladimir Putin the next time he sees him? What other intelligence assets is he going to burn?”

You’d have to assume the worst, which is apparently what they did.

The recent ludicrousness around “Sharpie-gate” shows how professionals in our government are constantly forced to devote time and energy to propping up Trump’s absurd lies. As my colleague Greg Sargent noted, that was just one of many times Trump has sent people in the administration scrambling to provide support for some idiotic story he has told, not only forcing them to cooperate in his dishonesty but also wasting government resources in the process.

But this story illustrates another dimension to the ways federal officials have had to accommodate Trump: They have been forced to defend the United States of America, its government and its interests from the president himself. As we have learned, this is a task of enormous difficulty and complexity; in a case like this, there are risks to national security and even lives.

And for what? To serve Trump’s embarrassing man-crush on Putin?

Try to imagine something similar happening with any other president from either party. Imagine American intelligence officials saying “We’d better exfiltrate this spy we have in the Kremlin before the president tells the Russians about him” if the president was Obama or Bush or Clinton or Reagan or Nixon or any other. You can’t do it.

It’s in part because of events such as this one that I’m certain history will judge Trump to be the worst president America has had in 230 years. Not just corrupt, not just ignorant, not just impulsive, not just divisive, not just bigoted, not just juvenile and petty and vindictive, but someone so untrustworthy that he couldn’t even be relied on to not spill intelligence secrets to our adversaries.

Some people assert that Trump is in fact a Russian asset; whether you agree will depend on how you define the term. But it has become clear that across the government and the country, everyone has had to adjust their expectations and actions to the fact that the president of the United States simply cannot be trusted to uphold America’s interests, if doing so conflicts with his greed, or his desire to please a foreign dictator, or simply some whim he had while watching “Fox & Friends.”

It may be some time before we understand the full extent of the damage that has caused.


Trump’s Taliban plans leave us wondering: What else is unbeknownst to us?

By Dana Milbank
WA Post
September 10 2019

There are many things to fear about the Trump presidency. Scariest of all may be those things we don’t even know we have to worry about — such as President Trump preparing to surrender to the Taliban at Camp David on the 18th anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

Few could have dreamed that such an outrage to American pride was even possible before seeing Trump’s Saturday tweet. “Unbeknownst to almost everyone, the major Taliban leaders and, separately, the President of Afghanistan, were going to secretly meet with me at Camp David on Sunday. They were coming to the United States tonight,” he wrote, but because of recent violence, “I immediately canceled the meeting and called off peace negotiations.”

While it’s a relief to learn that Trump isn’t planning to insult the 9/11 victims on the anniversary of their deaths, it raises the question: What else could he be planning?

“Unbeknownst to almost everyone, I was going to award the presidential medal of freedom posthumously to Jeffrey Epstein on Sunday, but I immediately canceled the ceremony.”

“Unbeknownst to almost everyone, I was going to name Kanye West as White House spokesman and Alex Jones as head of the National Weather Service on Sunday, but I immediately called off the announcement.”

“Unbeknownst to almost everyone, I was going to attack Denmark and annex Greenland on Sunday, but I immediately canceled the invasion and called off the bombers.”

Trump seems to enjoy the theatrics of canceling things he had (supposedly) planned to do. He canceled a retaliatory attack on Iran after ordering one up. He canceled, then reinstated, a meeting with North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un. He stormed into a meeting with Democrats for the sole purpose of canceling it. He canceled his Denmark trip after the prime minister panned his Greenland scheme. He said he canceled the Air Force One contract with Boeing because of high costs (then wound up paying even more). He cancels meetings with reporters as punishment. He’s constantly scheduling and canceling his talks with China. He has canceled dozens of proposed nominations.

But why did he cancel the Taliban sleepover party at Camp David? The stated reason — another Taliban attack in Afghanistan — doesn’t make much sense, because Taliban violence in Afghanistan happens all the time. I suspect it’s because he read a draft of the proposed peace agreement, and it went something like this:

CAMP DAVID, Sept. 11, 2019: Taliban Peace Treaty (Great Deal!)

Section A: Background

The Taliban sheltered and coddled the terrorists who killed 3,000 Americans on 9/11; has never renounced the attack or its role in it; continues to have an alliance with al-Qaeda; was the main enemy in an 18-year war that killed 2,400 Americans; has killed countless thousands of Afghan civilians, many children, women and the elderly; has targeted schools, hospitals and aid workers in attacks; has closed girls’ schools, denied health care and employment to women and subjected thousands of women to beatings, killings, acid attacks, gang rapes, public lashings and stoning for suspected infidelity or failure to cover themselves from head to toe; has banned television, movies, nonreligious music, non-Islamic holidays; has assassinated government officials, threatened journalists with death and targeted voters and election rallies; has conscripted young boys as suicide bombers, bans polio vaccines and blocks food aid.

Section B: United States Concessions

In recognition of the foregoing, the United States proposes immediately to pull 5,000 and eventually all 14,000 troops out of Afghanistan; to give the fledgling Afghan government, which the Taliban calls a “stooge government,” no say in the matter; and to provide no meaningful deterrent to continued Taliban atrocities and oppression.

Section C: Taliban Concessions

In exchange for U.S. withdrawal under Section B, Taliban leaders agree to ask very nicely if the terrorists they work with might please consider refraining from attacking the United States, if it isn’t too much trouble. The Taliban delegation also agrees as part of this treaty to stay at Trump’s Turnberry resort in Scotland while refueling on the way home from Camp David.

Section D: Enforcement Mechanism

In the event the Taliban does not fulfill its obligations under Section C, the United States reserves the right to issue a sternly worded (written) statement of protest. But it promises to pull all troops out anyway.

Belatedly, Trump evidently realized that he was surrendering to America’s enemies on U.S. soil, desecrating the memory of the most solemn day in modern U.S. history and insulting those who have fought and died in a worthy cause. Should we be relieved? Or terrified as we await the next cockamamie idea, “unbeknownst” to all, to tumble from his disorganized brain?

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« Reply #3512 on: Sep 11, 2019, 03:31 AM »

Denisovan fingers were surprisingly human-like, new finding suggests

Denisovan DNA might be Neanderthal-like, but their fingers are very much human

Mihai Andrei

A Denisovan finger bone consisting of a newly identified piece, shown, along with colored, digital images of a previously discovered fragment, now broken into two, has surprisingly human-like dimensions and contours. Image credits:

Very little is known about the Denisovans. Up until a decade ago, their very existence was debated, until a tiny fragment of a fossil pinkie bone in Siberia’s Denisova Cave yielded Denisovan DNA, which cemented their existence — but we still haven’t learned all that much about them.

We know that they were a humanoid species, our “cousins”, alongside Neanderthals. They even mated with the two groups (as DNA analysis showed) — but other than that, things aren’t really clear. We don’t know what they looked like, what they ate, and what brought about their demise. The new study helps shed some light on those issues, suggesting that Denisovans were much more like ourselves than previously believed.

To date, only five skeletal fossils are known from Denisovans: three molars, a mandible, and the tip of a pinky finger from a 13-year-old Denisovan girl. That pinky finger yielded the valuable DNA information, but there’s only so much you can learn from DNA. Now, researchers believe they’ve found another fragment of the same finger, which only adds to the mystery of the Denisovans.
DNA analysis confirmed that the new Denisovan finger bone fragment comes from the same person as the first one. Image credits: Thilo Parg/Wikimedia.

The reason why the finding is so conflicting is because the finger is surprisingly modern — whereas other Denisovan features (such as teeth) don’t resemble human features at all.

So what does this mean about the human-Neanderthal-Denisovan relationship?

Neanderthals had longer finger bones with wider ends — something which seems to be a functional adaptation to their lifestyle. Human and Denisovan fingers, on the other hand, look quite different — which indicates that these finger adaptations evolved sometime after Neanderthals and Denisovans branched off from their last common ancestor 410,000 years ago. It’s unclear what lifestyle differences would have led to these different finger adaptations.

Meanwhile, previous findings suggested that the Denisovan jaw’s features are very similar to those of Neanderthals, which suggests that both species inherited those features from their last common ancestor.

This doesn’t mean that Denisovans are closer to us evolutionarily — instead, it highlights the fact that not everything that’s extant is also modern, in evolutionary terms. Oh, and it also highlights the fact that Neanderthals are weird and have weird fingers, says Jean-Jacques Hublin, director of the Department of Human Evolution at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, who was not involved in the study.

These differences may seem subtle but they hold the key to the different adaptations that these species underwent. They may very well define what makes us different from Neanderthals and Denisovans, and may even help explain why we survived while they went extinct.

The study has been published in Science Advances.

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« Reply #3513 on: Sep 11, 2019, 03:35 AM »

'Chaos, chaos, chaos': a journey through Bolsonaro's Amazon inferno

A 2,000km road and river odyssey in Brazil reveals consensus from all sides: Bolsonaro has ushered in a new age of wrecking

by Tom Phillips in Palmeiras, Rondônia state with photographs by Avener Prado
11 Sep 2019 07.30 BST

From afar, it resembles a tornado: an immense grey column shooting thousands of feet upwards from the forest canopy into the Amazonian skies.

Up close it is an inferno: a raging conflagration obliterating yet another stretch of the world’s greatest rainforest as a herd of Nelore cattle looks on in bewilderment.

“It started this morning,” said Valdir Urumon, the chief of an indigenous village in this isolated corner of Rondônia state, as the vast pillar of smoke loomed over his settlement’s palm-thatched homes.

By late afternoon, when the Guardian arrived on the scene, the fire had intensified into a catastrophic blaze, streaking north through a strip of jungle perhaps two miles long.

Huge plumes of smoke drifted skywards as if this sweep of woodland near Brazil’s north-western border with Bolivia had been subjected to a ferocious bombing campaign.

At the farmhouse nearest to the blaze the lights were on but not a soul was to be seen – much less anyone who might extinguish the giant pyre.

But two empty petrol barrels and a cluster of plastic jerrycans dumped at its entrance hinted at a possible culprit – a cattle rancher torching yet another swath of the Brazilian jungle in order to expand his Amazon domain.

Three weeks after Brazil’s unusually severe burning season sparked an international storm, the far-right government of Jair Bolsonaro has launched a global PR campaign to try to convince the world everything is under control.

“The Amazon is not burning, not burning at all,” Brazil’s foreign minister, Ernesto Araújo, insisted in an interview with CNN.

Rondônia’s governor, the Bolsonaro ally Marcos Rocha, took an identical line, dismissing the “fuss” over the fires as a foreign ruse to shackle Brazil’s economy.

Rocha, a retired police colonel, said: “If we look at the situation in other countries, their forests are burning much more than here in our Brazil. You go to London, or other countries, and what do you see?

“It’s not fog – it’s smoke! Smoke from burning; from industry. So how can they demand of us what they haven’t done themselves?”

João Chrisóstomo, a Bolsonarian congressman in Rondônia’s capital, Porto Velho, rejected claims that Brazil was entering a new era of Amazon devastation and insisted – contrary to a growing body of evidence – that conservation was a top priority in Bolsonaro’s Brazil.

Statistics produced by Brazil’s own space institute – whose director was sacked last month after clashing with Bolsonaro – show deforestation has surged in recent months with a Manhattan-sized area lost every day in July.

But Chrisóstomo maintained Bolsonaro was “making every effort to stop unbridled deforestation” and chastised European leaders, such as Emmanuel Macron, who have questioned Bolsonaro’s vision for the Amazon.

Chrisóstomo seethed: “He’s not Brazil’s president. He’s not even from the Americas. This forest isn’t shared, as he claims. It belongs to a nation which enjoys complete autonomy and authority to decide what happens to the forest and takes every possible care to preserve it.”

That last claim rang hollow this week as the Guardian travelled almost 2,000km by road and river through two of the Amazon states worst affected by this year’s fires, Rondônia and Amazonas.
Main street of the small village of Palmeiras. The orange sun indicates the amount of smoke in the air.
The main street of the small settlement of Palmeiras. The orange sun indicates the amount of smoke in the air.

Along the way, an almost identical refrain emerged from the mouths of indigenous leaders, wildcat goldminers, environmental activists and government officials: that Bolsonaro’s stripping back of protections and anti-environmental rhetoric had contributed to the scale of the fires – more than 30,000 of which were recorded in August alone – and set in motion a new age of wrecking that looks set to continue beyond the end of the annual burning season next month.

“It is chaos. Chaos, chaos, chaos,” lamented one senior official from Brazil’s environmental agency, Ibama, who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

“If we go on like this, things will get worse and worse,” predicted the official, diplomatically blaming the spike in Amazon deforestation during Bolsonaro’s first eight months in power on the “political situation” in Brazil.

Life has never been easy for the activists and government agents seeking to slow rainforest destruction in a vast region many still call Brazil’s “faroeste” (wild west).

In the riverside town of Humaitá in Amazonas state, Ibama’s former headquarters lies in ruins two years after it was stormed, ransacked and burned to the ground by illegal goldminers in retribution for a crackdown.

Now, as the dismantling of Brazil’s environmental protection system gathers pace, its operations there are to halt altogether.

Three regional Ibama offices – in Humaitá, Parintins and Tabatinga – are in the process of being deactivated, leaving only one central command post in the capital, Manaus, to tackle environmental crime in a state three times the size of Spain.

In a recent letter to Ibama’s new president, several hundred officials voiced “immense concern” over the direction environmental protection was taking.

Márcio Tenharim, an indigenous leader from a reserve near Humaitá, said he feared the influx of soy farmers, ranchers and mining companies would accelerate as Brazil’s president pushed for such activities to be allowed on previously protected areas.

“We aren’t ready for this,” said Tenharim, predicting such “development” would bring “nothing but misery” for his people.

Bolsonaro denies that will be the case – and many in the region see his Amazon blueprint as a boon.

“He’s our hope for improvement,” said Martins Tavares, 33, a goldminer who said he and virtually all of his colleagues backed Bolsonaro, believing his promises to open up the Amazon would help them feed their families.

Rui Souza, the owner of waterside petrol station in Humaitá that sells to goldseekers, said he was also optimistic Bolsonaro would do away with environmental and indigenous reserves so they could be commercially exploited.

“Our Amazonia is so rich, my friend. But we’re not allowed to use any of it,” the 65-year-old complained.

In Rondônia – where 72% of voters backed the far-right candidate in last year’s election – support is even more widespread. Bolsonarian billboards dot the highways declaring: “Together we will change the destiny of Rondônia and Brazil!”

“Nearly everyone here voted for him,” said Vicente Costa, a 69-year-old restaurant owner in the town of Araras, whose silver SUV was plastered with Bolsonaro stickers reading: “Change Brazil for real.”

That delight contrasts with the growing despair of many forest dwellers whose lives were upended in the 1960s when Brazil’s military dictatorship bulldozed roads through the Amazon.

“During his campaign Bolsonaro promised to divide up indigenous lands. That’s why the ranchers voted for him. But we don’t want to share our land,” said Valdillene Urumon, 28, as the fire continued to rage near her village.

“We felt sad [when Bolsonaro won]. But now we have to fight, don’t we?”

Chrisóstomo insisted fears for the future of Brazil’s forests were “totally misplaced”.

But on the rural outskirts of Humaitá another fire had broken out and as night fell two local firefighters battled in vain to contain it.

“The environment is so crucial to us, isn’t it?” one firefighter said as he paused from smothering the flames with a rubber damper. “It saddens us to see it being destroyed like this.”

It was, as usual, impossible to know who had started the fire, or why. But the men struggling to douse it suspected criminal intent, warning the Guardian to leave in case the firestarter still lurked in the shadows.

As the flames ripped across a prairie his hose was not long enough to reach, the sergeant looked on in exhaustion and dismay.

“Every year we do campaigns [against fire-starting] but it’s as if the more campaigns you do the worse it gets,” he said. “It leaves us with little faith humans will ever understand they need to protect the environment.”

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« Reply #3514 on: Sep 11, 2019, 03:39 AM »

After bronze and iron, welcome to the plastic age, say scientists

Plastic pollution has entered the fossil record, research shows

Damian Carrington Environment editor
9 Sep 2019 19.00 BST

Plastic pollution is being deposited into the fossil record, research has found, with contamination increasing exponentially since 1945.

Scientists suggest the plastic layers could be used to mark the start of the Anthropocene, the proposed geological epoch in which human activities have come to dominate the planet. They say after the bronze and iron ages, the current period may become known as the plastic age.

The study, the first detailed analysis of the rise in plastic pollution in sediments, examined annual layers off the coast of California back to 1834. They discovered the plastic in the layers mirrors precisely the exponential rise in plastic production over the past 70 years.

Most of the plastic particles were fibres from synthetic fabrics used in clothes, indicating that plastics are flowing freely into the ocean through waste water.

“Our love of plastic is being left behind in our fossil record,” said Jennifer Brandon, at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California San Diego, who led the study. “It is bad for the animals that live at the bottom of the ocean: coral reefs, mussels, oysters and so on. But the fact that it is getting into our fossil record is more of an existential question.

“We all learn in school about the stone age, the bronze age and iron age – is this going to be known as the plastic age?” she said. “It is a scary thing that this is what our generations will be remembered for.”

Sir David Attenborough, whose Blue Planet 2 TV series raised the profile of plastic pollution in the ocean, said in July attitudes were changing. He predicted polluting the planet would soon provoke as much abhorrence as human slavery.

The research, published in the journal Science Advances, found that since the 1940s the amount of microscopic plastics in the sediments has doubled about every 15 years. In 2010, the most recent year analysed, the pollution had reached almost 40 particles per 10cm by 10cm patch of ocean floor every year.

Two-thirds of the particles were plastic fibres, a fifth were broken-down fragments of other plastic and a 10th were plastic film. “It is a very clear signature,” Brandon said. “Plastic was invented and pretty much immediately we can see it appear in the sedimentary record.”

A study in 2016 showed a single clothes wash could release 700,000 microplastic fibres. “They are definitely not being disposed of properly,” Brandon said. “We are not filtering them out properly at household or waste treatment plant level. I think that is the next big frontier: what are we doing about our waste water and what we make our clothes out of, because clearly [the plastic] is washing straight into the ocean?”

Many millions of tonnes of plastic are discarded into the environment every year and are broken down into small particles and fibres that do not biodegrade. Microplastics have been found everywhere from the deepest oceans to high mountains and even the Arctic air, showing pervasive pollution of the planet.
The core cut open, showing the laminated sediment layers of mud.

Research is limited but eating plastic is known to harm marine creatures. Humans are believed to consume at least 50,000 microplastic particles a year through food and water. The health impact is unknown but microplastics can release toxic substances and may penetrate tissues.

The latest research analysed a sediment core taken more than a mile offshore from Santa Barbara and close to the 4 million people that live in Los Angeles. This basin is naturally devoid of oxygen due to local current patterns, meaning there are no animals burrowing into the sediments and destroying the delicate annual layering.

The 36cm-long core was originally taken to assess fish populations over time. It had been wrapped in a plastic liner, but the scientists used a laser signature to identify this specific type of plastic and discount the small amount of contamination from their analysis.

The core was taken in 2010 but Brandon said there was no reason to think the exponential rise in plastic pollution had been curbed since then, as plastic production continued to rise.

“I hope our study shows this is a very serious problem,” she said.

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« Reply #3515 on: Sep 11, 2019, 03:44 AM »

World must adapt to ‘inevitable’ climate change, warns report

on September 11, 2019
By Agence France-Presse

Nations rich and poor must invest now to protect against the effects of climate change or pay an even heavier price later, a global commission warned Tuesday.

Spending $1.8 trillion across five key areas over the next decade would not only help buffer the worst impacts of global warming but could generate more than $7 trillion in net benefits, the report from the Global Commission on Adaptation argued.

“We are the last generation that can change the course of climate change, and we are the first generation that then has to live with the consequences,” former UN chief Ban Ki-moon, who chairs the commission, said at the report’s launch in Beijing.

“Delay and pay, or plan and prosper,” he said, sharing a catchphrase from the commission, which is co-chaired by Microsoft founder Bill Gates and World Bank CEO Kristalina Georgieva.

Investing now in early warning systems, climate-resistant infrastructure, mangrove protection, better agriculture and improving fresh water resources would pay for itself several times over, the report said.

Mangroves — tropical tidal water forests — protect, for example, against storm surges and act as nurseries for commercial fisheries, but at least a third of them globally have been uprooted for tourism or aquaculture.

“Global actions to slow climate change are promising but insufficient,” the report stated. “We must invest in a massive effort to adapt to conditions that are now inevitable.”

Without action by 2030, climate change could push more than 100 million people in developing countries below the poverty line, said the report.

At the launch, Chinese environment minister Li Ganjie — whose country is the world’s top carbon polluter — called adaptation practices “an inherent requirement of China’s sustainable development”.

In the 25-year history of UN climate negotiations, adaptation has trailed far down the agenda compared with “mitigation”, or the reduction of carbon emissions.

It was long seen as an issue only affecting poor and developing nations.

But recent massive inland flooding and a string of record-breaking hurricanes in the United States, along with ferocious heatwaves in Europe and Japan, have shown that wealth is not an adequate shield.

Dominic Molloy, a co-author of the report from Britain’s Department for International Development, said a new focus on adapting should not detract from the need to slash carbon pollution.

“We absolutely need to do both, reduce emissions and adapt,” Molloy told AFP. “The purpose of this commission was to raise the visibility of adaptation, not shift away from mitigation.”

– Cost of failure –

Failure to curb the greenhouse gas emissions slow-roasting the planet has already unleashed a crescendo of deadly heat waves, water shortages and superstorms made more destructive by rising seas.
AFP/File / ANDER GILLENEA Recent massive inland flooding and a string of record-breaking hurricanes in the United States, along with ferocious heatwaves in Europe and Japan, have shown that wealth is not an adequate shield

The Bahamas was devastated this month by one of the strongest Atlantic storms on record.

Earth’s average surface temperature has gone up 1C since the late 19th century, and is on track — at current rates of CO2 emissions — to warm another two or three degrees by the century’s end.

The 2015 Paris Agreement calls for capping global warming at “well below” 2C, and 1.5C if possible, but it was given a hit when US President Donald Trump withdrew from the pact in 2017.

“I sincerely hope that President Trump will return to Paris climate agreement and do something good for humanity,” Ban said.

The report’s $1.8 trillion adaptation price tag for the period 2020-2030 is not an estimate of global needs, covering only warning systems and the four other areas identified.

The $7.1 trillion dividend is based on the World Bank calculation that the value of damage caused by climate change is increasing, averaged across the globe, at about 1.5 percent per year.

Patrick Verkooijen, the CEO of the centre that commissioned the report, described the proposal as a “global Marshall Plan” — the US aid program that rebuilt Western Europe after World War II.

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« Reply #3516 on: Sep 11, 2019, 03:47 AM »

Interview: 'This tape rewrites everything we knew about the Beatles'

Mark Lewisohn knows the Fab Four better than they knew themselves. The expert’s tapes of their tense final meetings shed new light on Abbey Road – and inspired a new stage show

Richard Williams
Wed 11 Sep 2019 06.00 BST

The Beatles weren’t a group much given to squabbling, says Mark Lewisohn, who probably knows more about them than they knew about themselves. But then he plays me the tape of a meeting held 50 years ago this month – on 8 September 1969 – containing a disagreement that sheds new light on their breakup.

They’ve wrapped up the recording of Abbey Road, which would turn out to be their last studio album, and are awaiting its release in two weeks’ time. Ringo Starr is in hospital, undergoing tests for an intestinal complaint. In his absence, John Lennon, Paul McCartney and George Harrison convene at Apple’s HQ in Savile Row. John has brought a portable tape recorder. He puts it on the table, switches it on and says: “Ringo – you can’t be here, but this is so you can hear what we’re discussing.”

What they talk about is the plan to make another album – and perhaps a single for release in time for Christmas, a commercial strategy going back to the earliest days of Beatlemania. “It’s a revelation,” Lewisohn says. “The books have always told us that they knew Abbey Road was their last album and they wanted to go out on an artistic high. But no – they’re discussing the next album. And you think that John is the one who wanted to break them up but, when you hear this, he isn’t. Doesn’t that rewrite pretty much everything we thought we knew?”

Lewisohn turns the tape back on, and we hear John suggesting that each of them should bring in songs as candidates for the single. He also proposes a new formula for assembling their next album: four songs apiece from Paul, George and himself, and two from Ringo – “If he wants them.” John refers to “the Lennon-and-McCartney myth”, clearly indicating that the authorship of their songs, hitherto presented to the public as a sacrosanct partnership, should at last be individually credited.

Then Paul – sounding, shall we say, relaxed – responds to the news that George now has equal standing as a composer with John and himself by muttering something mildly provocative. “I thought until this album that George’s songs weren’t that good,” he says, which is a pretty double-edged compliment since the earlier compositions he’s implicitly disparaging include Taxman and While My Guitar Gently Weeps. There’s a nettled rejoinder from George: “That’s a matter of taste. All down the line, people have liked my songs.”

John reacts by telling Paul that nobody else in the group “dug” his Maxwell’s Silver Hammer, a song they’ve just recorded for Abbey Road, and that it might be a good idea if he gave songs of that kind – which, John suggests, he probably didn’t even dig himself – to outside artists in whom he had an interest, such as Mary Hopkin, the Welsh folk singer. “I recorded it,” a drowsy Paul says, “because I liked it.”

A mapping of the tensions that would lead to the dissolution of the most famous and influential pop group in history is part of Hornsey Road, a teasingly titled stage show in which Lewisohn uses tape, film, photographs, new audio mixes of the music and his own matchless fund of anecdotes and memorabilia to tell the story of Abbey Road, that final burst of collective invention.

The album is now so mythologised that the humdrum zebra crossing featured on its celebrated cover picture is now officially listed as site of special historic interest; a webcam is trained on it 24 hours a day, observing the comings and goings of fans from every corner of the world, infuriating passing motorists as these visitors pause to take selfies, often in groups of four, some going barefoot in imitation of Paul’s enigmatic gesture that August morning in 1969.

“It’s a story of the people, the art, the people around them, the lives they were leading, and the break-up,” Lewisohn says. The show comes midway through his writing of The Beatles: All These Years, a magnum opus aiming to tell the whole story in its definitive version. The first volume, Tune In, was published six years ago, its mammoth 390,000-word narrative ending just before their first hit. (“All the heft of the Old Testament,” the Observer’s Kitty Empire wrote, “with greater forensic rigour.”)

Constant demands to know when Turn On (covering 1963-66) and Drop Out (1967-69) might appear are met with a sigh: “I’m 61, and I’ve got 14 or 15 years left on these books. I’ll be in my mid-70s when I finish.” Time is of the essence, he adds, perhaps thinking of the late John Richardson’s uncompleted multi-volume Picasso biography. This two-hour show is a way of buying the time for him to dive back into the project.

For 30 years, Lewisohn has been the man to call when you needed to know what any of the Fab Four was doing on almost any day of their lives, and with whom they were doing it. His books include a history of their sessions at what were then known as the EMI Recording Studios in Abbey Road, and he worked on the vast Anthology project in the 90s.

The idea for a stage show was inspired by an invitation from a university in New Jersey to be the keynote speaker at a three-day symposium on the Beatles’ White Album, then celebrating its golden jubilee. His presentation, called Double Lives, juxtaposed the making of the album and the lives they were leading as individuals outside the studio. “It took several weeks to put together, and I thought, ‘This is mad – I should be doing this more than once to get more people to see it.’”

The next anniversary to present itself was that of Abbey Road, which took place during a crowded year in which Paul married Linda Eastman, John and Yoko went off on their bed-ins for peace, George’s marriage to Pattie Boyd was breaking up, and they were all involved in side projects. John had released Give Peace a Chance as the Plastic Ono Band and George had been spending time in Woodstock with Bob Dylan.

John also took Yoko and their two children, Kyoko and Julian, on a sentimental road trip to childhood haunts in Liverpool, Wales and the north of Scotland, ending when he drove their Austin Maxi into a ditch while trying to avoid another car. Brian Epstein, their manager, had died the previous year and the idealism that had fuelled the founding of their Apple company – “It’s like a top,” John said. “We set it going and hope for the best” – was starting to fray badly. Other business concerns – such as their song-publishing copyrights, which had been sold without their knowledge – led to a war between Allen Klein, the hard-boiled New York record industry veteran invited by John to sort it out, and John Eastman, Linda’s father, a top lawyer brought in by Paul to safeguard his interests.

Lewisohn has the minutes of another business meeting, this time at Olympic Studios, where the decision to ratify Klein’s appointment was approved by three votes to one (Paul), the first time the Beatles had not spoken with unanimity. “It was the crack in the Liberty Bell,” Paul said. “It never came back together after that one. Ringo and George just said, whatever John does, we’re going with. I was actually trying, in my mind, to save our future.”

And yet Lewisohn challenges the conventional wisdom that 1969 was the year in which they were at each other’s throats, storming out of the recording sessions filmed by Michael Lindsay-Hogg for the verité-style movie Let It Be, and barely on speaking terms. During the making of Abbey Road, says Lewisohn, “they were in an almost entirely positive frame of mind. They had this uncanny ability to leave their problems at the studio door – not entirely, but almost.”

In fact, Abbey Road was not the only recording location for the album: earlier sessions were held at Olympic in Barnes and Trident in Soho. And Lewisohn’s creation is called Hornsey Road because that, in other circumstances, is what the album might have been titled, had EMI not abandoned its plans to turn a converted cinema in that rather grittier part of north London into its venue for pop recording.

The show, Lewisohn believes, is the first time an album has been treated to this format. “People will be able to listen with more layers and levels of understanding,” he says. “When you go to an art gallery, you hope that someone, an expert, will tell you what was happening when the artist painted a particular picture. With these songs, I’m going to show the stories behind them and the people who made them, and what they were going through at the time. Certainly, no one who sees this show will ever hear Abbey Road in the same way again.”

• Hornsey Road is at the Royal and Derngate, Northampton, on 18 September and touring until 4 December.

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« Reply #3517 on: Sep 11, 2019, 04:03 AM »

Scottish judges rule Boris Johnson's suspension of parliament unlawful

Court backs MPs who said prorogation breached constitution

Severin Carrell Scotland editor
Wed 11 Sep 2019 10.36 BST

Scottish appeal court judges have declared Boris Johnson’s decision to suspend parliament in the run-up to the October Brexit deadline is unlawful.

The three judges, chaired by Lord Carloway, Scotland’s most senior judge, overturned an earlier ruling that the courts did not have the power to interfere in the prime minister’s political decision to prorogue parliament.

Lawyers acting for 75 opposition MPs and peers argued Johnson’s decision to suspend parliament for five weeks was illegal and in breach of the constitution, as it was designed to stifle parliamentary debate and action on Brexit.

The British government will appeal at the UK supreme court against the latest decision, which also contradicts a decision in Johnson’s favour by senior English judges last week.

The supreme court has already scheduled an emergency hearing on both the Scottish and English cases for 17 September, alongside a third challenge brought in the courts in Belfast.

The three Scottish judges, who will issue their own reasonings in full on Friday, said the prorogation was unlawful “because it had the purpose of stymying parliament”.

Parliamentary scrutiny of the executive was “a central pillar of the good governance principle enshrined in the constitution”.

The court’s summary concluded Johnson’s prorogation request to the Queen and her decision to accept it “was unlawful and is thus null and of no effect”.

Jolyon Maugham QC, whose Good Law Project funded the legal challenge, said: “Our understanding is that unless the supreme court grants an order in the meantime, parliament is unsuspended with immediate effect.

“I’m relieved that my understanding of the functioning of our democracy – that allows parliament to exercise its vital constitutional role – has been vindicated by Scotland’s highest court.

“This is an incredibly important point of principle. The prime minister mustn’t treat parliament as an inconvenience.”

A UK government spokesperson said: “We are disappointed by today’s decision and will appeal to the UK supreme court. The UK government needs to bring forward a strong domestic legislative agenda. Proroguing parliament is the legal and necessary way of delivering this.”

Keir Starmer, the shadow Brexit secretary, said: “I welcome the court’s judgement. No one in their right mind believed Boris Johnson’s reason for shutting down parliament.

“I urge the prime minister to immediately recall parliament so we can debate this judgement and decide what happens next.”

House of Commons authorities had no immediate response when asked if the Speaker would be able to declare that parliament is back in session, with a spokeswoman saying the ruling was still being looked into.

The Liberal Democrat leader, Jo Swinson, tweeted: “Scottish judges have found in favour of 75 MPs (including me and other Liberal Democrats). We argued that Boris Johnson’s parliament shutdown is illegal, and designed to stifle parliamentary debate and action on Brexit.”


Nigel Farage offers Boris Johnson no-deal Brexit election pact

Proposal includes giving Brexit party and Conservatives a free run in 80-90 constituencies

Rowena Mason Deputy political editor
Wed 11 Sep 2019 09.31 BST

Boris Johnson has been publicly offered a non-aggression pact by Nigel Farage if he signs up fully to a no-deal departure from the EU and the Conservatives stand aside in more than 80 seats, amid signs the prime minister could be considering softer options for a deal with Brussels.

The Brexit party leader urged the prime minister to strike an agreement to stand jointly in favour of no deal, at a time of increasing speculation that Johnson is revisiting ways of making a version of Theresa May’s withdrawal agreement work.

Johnson insists he is not proposing a Northern Ireland-only backstop, which EU leaders hope he could move towards, as that would not be acceptable to the Democratic Unionist party. However, the idea of an all-Ireland agrifood zone of regulatory alignment as part of the solution was discussed on Tuesday by Johnson and Arlene Foster, the DUP leader, as long as it did not extend to an all-Ireland customs area with a tariff border in the Irish Sea.

The idea would not be enough to satisfy Brussels that the backstop is no longer necessary, but the discussions were taken as a sign that Johnson is more focused than ever on finding solutions to the Irish border problem.

A No 10 spokesman said Johnson rejected the idea of an alliance with Farage, saying he “has been clear – no pact”.

It comes as the Sun reported that Johnson recently claimed to anti-no-deal Tory rebels that ultimately the hardline Eurosceptic Conservatives would be the ones putting “spears in my back” when they realise he is prepared to make a compromise on a deal.

The prime minister also told cabinet he was fundamentally liberal and should be regarded as a “Brexity Hezza”– a reference to the former deputy prime minister Michael Heseltine.

Andrea Leadsom, the business secretary, did not deny Johnson was looking at softer options for a deal on Wednesday morning, as she appeared on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme. “We are looking at creative ways to ensure no Irish backstop,” she said. “We are looking at getting a good deal that works for the UK that is different to existing one.”

However, Farage is preparing to exploit any move by Johnson towards a return to May’s withdrawal deal, which the prime minister had promised his supporters was dead and that the backstop must be completely removed.

The Brexit party took out a full-page advert in the Sun and a wraparound ad in the Daily Express, setting out its terms for a hard Brexit alliance to take on tactical voting among supporters of the pro-referendum parties.

Farage would pledge to give the Tories a clear run at all their existing seats and targets if the Brexit party were to get a similar deal in 80-90 constituencies. Johnson would also have to sign up unequivocally to a no-deal departure.

He challenged Johnson: “If you have the courage for a clean-break Brexit, then we will help you secure a big Brexit majority. Together we can destroy Corbyn’s Labour”.

Farage’s high-profile adverts appear designed to publicise his harder Brexit position than Johnson in the months before a possible election, with little chance that the prime minister could accept such a high price for a pact.

However, most recent polling suggests the Conservatives would be short of a majority with Farage’s Brexit party eating into his vote and the possibility of pro-referendum parties – Labour, the Liberal Democrats, the SNP and others – potentially able to cobble together a majority for a remain alliance.

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« Reply #3518 on: Sep 11, 2019, 04:07 AM »

Netanyahu vows to annex large parts of occupied West Bank

Israeli PM says he will seek to make move ‘in maximum coordination with Trump’

Oliver Holmes in Jerusalem
Wed 11 Sep 2019 04.07 BST

Benjamin Netanyahu has announced he will annex large swathes of occupied Palestinian territories if he is re-elected, a decision that for decades has been considered an endgame scenario for Palestinians’ aspirations of statehood.

The Israeli prime minister said on Tuesday that he planned to make the move, which would permanently seize up to one-third of the West Bank, after the election next week and hinted it may have been approved by Washington.

“I am waiting to do this in maximum coordination with [Donald] Trump,” he said in a speech broadcast live on Israeli television.

Netanyahu said the US president was likely to release his long-touted Middle East peace plan soon. US officials have suggested the plan will not include a Palestinian state, something Netanyahu has promised to never let happen.

A White House official said there had been no change in its policy and would not comment further.

Netanyahu, Israel’s longest-serving leader, is battling for his political survival and the announcement was interpreted as a rallying cry to his hardline rightwing base.

The prime minister stood in front of a large map on an easel that showed Israeli sovereignty extended over the vast majority of the Jordan Valley.

It appeared to display Israeli territory completely encircling the West Bank, slicing off the eastern border with Jordan. Jericho, a Palestinian city, and smaller Palestinian villages were displayed as enclaves that would not be annexed.

    Raphael Ahren (@RaphaelAhren)

    Here's the map of the territory of the Jordan Valley, in the West Bank, that Netanyahu vowed to annex if he wins next week's election (blue: will be annexed to Israel; orange: will remain under Palestinian control) pic.twitter.com/xMcsPeDLpt
    September 10, 2019

Netanyahu said: “Today, I announce my intention, after the establishment of a new government, to apply Israeli sovereignty to the Jordan Valley and the northern Dead Sea.

“This map defines our eastern frontier. We haven’t had this kind of opportunity since the [1967] six-day war, and may not have it again for another 50 years.” His comment referred to the war in which Israel captured the land.

Jordan’s foreign minister, Ayman Safadi, warned the plan would “push the whole region towards violence”. And later on Tuesday evening, Netanyahu was dragged away by his security team from a campaign rally in the southern city of Ashdod after air sirens sounded. The Israeli military said two rockets had been launched from Gaza, both of which were intercepted by its aerial defence system.

Saudi Arabia condemned it as a “dangerous escalation against the Palestinian people” and called for an emergency meeting of foreign ministers from the 57 member states of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), the official Saudi Press Agency said, citing the royal court.

Hundreds of thousands of settlers live in outposts in the West Bank, which Israel’s military continues to rule, controlling the lives of more than 2.5 million Palestinians.

The prime minister made a similar pledge in April to annex Israeli settlements, but the latest announcement appeared to extend to a much larger part of the Palestinian territories that border Jordan.

He made the earlier statement two days before an election in which he came out ahead with support from pro-settler nationalists. But Netanyahu was unable to form a coalition and forced a second election.

The senior Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat said that if Netanyahu’s latest plan went ahead, “he would have succeeded in burying even any chance of peace between Palestinians and Israelis”.

He added: “We need to end the conflict and not to keep it for another 100 years.”

Ayman Odeh, the leader of an alliance of Arab parties in Israel, called Netanyahu’s statement “not just election spin” but “a vision of apartheid”.

The international community considers Israeli settlements illegal under international law, built on land confiscated from Palestinian families. Extending Israeli sovereignty over such a large area would also be seen as putting an end to fading hopes for a Palestinian state, as there would be little unbroken land on which to create it.

Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital early in his term further damaged the two-state ideal. The Palestinians regard the occupied eastern section of Jerusalem as the capital of any future state, and cut contact with Washington after the declaration.

Earlier this year, Trump also recognised Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights, a plateau Israel captured from Syria in the same 1967 conflict and annexed in 1981. The move broke from the international consensus following the second world war that forbids territorial conquest during war.

Palestinians warned at the time that it set a dangerous precedent for land grabs in the West Bank.

In Israeli politics, however, annexation is a popular position. Israel has long stated it would want to keep the 2,400-sq km (926.65-sqmile) Jordan Valley to maintain control over the international border.

Benny Gantz, the head of the main opposition party, Blue and White, said Netanyahu had stolen his idea.

“Blue and White have made clear that the Jordan Valley is a part of Israel forever. We are happy that Netanyahu has come around to adopt the Blue and White plan to recognise the Jordan Valley,” he said.

J Street, a liberal pro-Israel lobby in the US, said Netanyahu’s annexation plan “would destroy Israeli democracy and constitute a flagrant violation of international law”.

Jeremy Ben-Ami, the group’s president, said it would “make the occupation permanent and condemn millions of Palestinians to a future of living under unending Israeli rule, without basic civil rights or self-determination.”


Arab leaders denounce Netanyahu’s plan to annex Palestinian territories

Israeli prime minister’s proposal would ‘kill all chances of peace’, says Jordan

Michael Safi in Beirut and Oliver Holmes in Jerusalem
Wed 11 Sep 2019 10.28 BST

Arab leaders have denounced Benjamin Netanyahu’s plan to annex large swathes of the Palestinian territories if he is re-elected next week as an election stunt that would “kill all chances for peace”.

The Arab League held an emergency session on Tuesday evening after the Israeli prime minister announced the plan in a live press conference.

Netanyahu, who is fighting for his political life before elections on 17 September, said he would permanently seize up to a third of the West Bank, a move that for decades has been considered an endgame scenario for Palestinians’ aspirations of statehood.

“We haven’t had this kind of opportunity since the [1967] six-day war, and may not have it again for another 50 years,” Netanyahu said, referring to the war in which Israel captured the land.

Arab foreign ministers meeting in Cairo condemned the plan as “a dangerous development and a new Israeli aggression by declaring the intention to violate the international law”.

“The league regards these statements as undermining the chances of any progress in the peace process and will torpedo all its foundations,” the ministers said.

Jordan’s foreign minister, Ayman Safadi, said Netanyahu’s plan was an outrageous election ploy and a “dangerous escalation that shatters the foundations of the peace process”.

Netanyahu made the announcement in front of a large map showing Israeli sovereignty extending over the vast majority of the Jordan Valley and slicing off the eastern border with Jordan.

“Killing all chances for peace for electoral purposes is irresponsible, dangerous,” Safadi added in a tweet.

Turkey’s foreign minister said the plan was racist and incendiary. “The election promise of Netanyahu, who is giving all kind of illegal, unlawful and aggressive messages before the election, is a racist apartheid state,” Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu wrote on Twitter.

“Will defend rights and interests of our Palestinian brothers & sisters till the end,” he added.

The president of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas, said he would pull out of any previous agreements signed with the Israeli government if it went ahead with the move – a threat he has previously made without following through.

[We maintain the right to defend our rights and achieve our goals through all available means regardless of the consequences,” Abbas said, according to a report by the state-run Wafa news agency.

Ayman Odeh, the leader of an alliance of Arab parties in Israel, called Netanyahu’s statement “not just election spin” but “a vision of apartheid”.

Netanyahu hinted on Tuesday night that the plan had the support of the White House. “I am waiting to do this in maximum coordination with [Donald] Trump,” he said in a speech broadcast live on Israeli television.

A White House official said there had been no change in US policy and would not comment further.

Late on Tuesday evening, Netanyahu was dragged away by his security team from a campaign rally in the southern city of Ashdod after air sirens sounded. The Israeli military said two rockets had been launched from Gaza, both of which were intercepted by its aerial defence system.

Despite the implications for a future two-state solution, Arab states would be under significant pressure not to escalate if the annexation went ahead, analysts said.

The fate of the Palestinians has diminished as a priority in many Arab capitals as the geopolitics of the region has shifted. Saudi Arabia and Israel share an interest in combating Iranian influence in the Middle East. Jordan and Egypt have long ago signed peace treaties with Israel, easing the flow of American aid and military equipment on which both depend.

Significant implications are likely to be felt across the border with the West Bank in Amman. “Jordan has real existential fears with any outcome other than a two-state solution,” said Osama al-Sharif, a Jordanian analyst and columnist.

Roughly 2 million Palestinians live in Jordan, most of them naturalised but barred from certain jobs on the basis they will one day be able to return to their own state. Jordanians living in the East Bank also fear that Israeli consolidation of its occupied territories could push new waves of refugees into Jordan, at a time when the country is already hosting an estimate 1.4 million Syrian refugees.

The international community considers Israeli settlements illegal under international law, built on land confiscated from Palestinian families. Extending Israeli sovereignty over such a large area would also be seen as putting an end to fading hopes for a Palestinian state, as there would be little unbroken land on which to create it.

Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital early in his term further damaged the two-state ideal. The Palestinians regard the occupied eastern section of Jerusalem as the capital of any future state, and cut contact with Washington after the declaration.

Earlier this year, Trump also recognised Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights, a plateau Israel captured from Syria in the same 1967 conflict and annexed in 1981. The move broke from the international consensus following the second world war that forbids territorial conquest during war.

In Israeli politics, annexation is a popular position. Israel has long stated it would want to keep the 2,400 sq km (927 sq mile) Jordan Valley to maintain control over the international border.

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« Reply #3519 on: Sep 11, 2019, 04:12 AM »

Italy's Conte wins first confidence vote in Parliament


ROME (AP) — Italian Premier Giuseppe Conte on Monday won the first of two mandatory confidence votes on his four-day-old coalition of rival parties, after a day of fielding insults during a boisterous Parliament session from an opposition outraged that Italy got a new government instead of a new election.

The 343-263 vote in the lower Chamber of Deputies, with three lawmakers abstaining, was the preamble to Tuesday's vote in the Senate. The vote in the upper chamber promises to be tighter, since the coalition holds only a handful votes more than needed for a simple majority, and any defections in Conte's unnatural coalition could cost him dearly.

Should Conte lose, he must resign. That would make elections this fall all but certain. "I'm satisfied," Conte said of Monday's vote. Much of Monday's 11-hour-long session in the Chamber of Deputies seemed more like a soccer stadium with frenzied fans than a hall of lawmakers weighing whether to confirm Italy's second government of mismatched partners in 15 months.

Practically eclipsed in the raucous atmosphere was any debate over Conte's main policy thrust — a government focused on economic growth and determined to keep Europe united. In the square outside the Chamber, Matteo Salvini, leader of the "Italians first," right-wing League party who brought down Conte's first government, rallied a few thousand supporters who clamored for their say at the ballot box.

Shouts against "robbers of sovereignty" and "elections now" rang out in the crowd. A few wrapped Italy's red-white-and-green flag around them like a shawl. "Inside, there's the regime that knows it's about to fall and is acting like Marie Antoinette," Salvini told the rally, sarcastically likening Conte's cobbled-together coalition to the tone-deaf attitude of the French queen.

Inside the legislature, the opposition called out "buffoon," ''elections, elections" and "sold" to indicate Conte had betrayed voters in a quest for a new mandate. Conte lobbed his own barbs at Salvini, who abruptly withdrew the League as a partner in the previous government in a bid for an early election that would make him premier and bring him "full powers."

"That every year a leader can think he can bring the country to elections is irresponsible," Conte said. The premier forged a new coalition last week out of rival parties that have sparred nastily for years — the populist 5-Star Movement that he led in a first coalition and the center-left Democratic Party to replace the League.

Each of the two major partners has been plagued by squabbling, including over whether this marriage of convenience is a good idea. More than any policy convergence, the alliance of 5-Stars and Democrats mainly hinges on mutual determination to keep out of power Salvini and his anti-migrant League, soaring in opinion polls for months. The League was Italy's biggest party in European Parliament elections last May, practically doubling in a year its percentage of support from voters.

Conte outsmarted Salvini in forming the alternative coalition, also with the aid of a tiny left-wing party which has one Cabinet minister. Salvini and his allies, including a far-right party with neo-fascist roots, contend Italians deserved to have early elections.

"Our voice counts. They have to respect the people's voice, we must vote," said Daniela De Licio, who turned out for the rally outside Parliament from the Rome suburb of Tivoli. Conte vowed that his new government would solidly support a strong, united Europe and focus on getting Italy's stubbornly stagnant economy growing again.

Buoyed by his booming popularity among a voter base that blame migrants for crime and taking work away from Italians, Salvini while interior minister stiffened an already-tough government policy on illegal immigration, with a decree that harshly enforces a ban on charity migrant rescue boats from entering Italian ports.

Conte indicated that migrant policy will be tweaked, but offered no details. One lawmaker from a tiny opposition party expressed ambivalence about the new coalition, still containing populists. However, Riccardo Magi, from the More Europe party, announced reluctant support, saying the risk of an "illiberal and anti-European drift" if Conte's government falls would be worse.

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« Reply #3520 on: Sep 11, 2019, 04:31 AM »

Donald Trump ousts top adviser John Bolton: 'I disagreed strongly with him'

    Trump to name new national security adviser next week
    Bolton took hawkish positions on major foreign policy issues
Ed Pilkington in New York and Julian Borger in Washington
Wed 11 Sep 2019 07.31 BST

Donald Trump has fired his national security adviser, John Bolton, in a pair of tweets in which he laid bare searing internal divisions within his inner circle, saying he had “disagreed strongly” with his top aide.

The departure of such a resolute hawk raises the possibility that Trump’s foreign policy could now make a dovish turn in the run up to next year’s elections, in particular with respect to Iran.

The president’s firing of his third national security adviser in as many years appears to have caught even the White House by surprise. The explosive tweets were posted barely an hour after it was announced that Bolton would be appearing at a press conference alongside the secretaries of state and treasury.

Bolton himself added to the confusion, commenting minutes after his public dismissal that he had offered to resign on Monday night but that Trump had replied: “Let’s talk about it tomorrow.”

Bolton continued to press his case that he had resigned rather than being fired. He sent out a battery of texts including to Fox News presenters on air as well as the Washington Post, protesting: “I resigned, having offered to do so last night.”

Bolton’s resignation letter was terse in the extreme.

“I hereby resign, effective immediately, as Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs. Thank you for affording me this opportunity to serve our country,” the two-line note said.

The sacking-cum-resignation of the lavishly mustachioed Bolton, an ultra-hawk on foreign policy who under George Bush was a key architect of the invasion of Iraq in 2003, brings to a head mounting tensions within Trump’s top team of national security and foreign policy strategists.

His removal had been a long time coming, with Trump making little effort to disguise his dissatisfaction over many months.

According to the New York Times, Bolton had refused to appear on television talk shows on 25 August after the G7 summit in Biarritz so he did not have defend the president’s views on Russia

The two men agreed on some issues, like scrapping multilateral agreements such as the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran and tearing up the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty with Russia.

But Trump’s maverick approach to dealing with tough men and adversaries, in which he has emphasized a willingness to deal directly with America’s traditional enemies, such as Vladimir Putin in Russia, Kim Jong-un in North Korea – and most recently the Taliban in Afghanistan – was increasingly at odds with Bolton’s hardline belief that US military might is right.

Bolton was also reported to have a testy relationship with the US secretary of state, Mike Pompeo. The two officials are said to have been at loggerheads for months to the extent that in recent days they were not speaking other than at official engagements.

“There were definitely places that Ambassador Bolton and I had different views about how we should proceed,” Pompeo said yesterday. Asked if he had been taken unawares by the development, the secretary of state smiled and said: “I’m never surprised.”

Bolton also appears to have alienated Mick Mulvaney, the acting White House chief of staff, for his refusal to promote presidential policies he did not agree with.

“It was in Bolton’s nature to run an imperial NSC [national security council] but he stepped on the toes of too many people,” said Mark Groombridge, who worked for Bolton for a decade. “He got into the crosshairs of Pompeo and Mulvaney, who saw Bolton as a liability for the 2020 election. War on every front was not what Trump ran on.”

Trump was unusually candid about the rift within his own inner team. In the tweets he posted on Tuesday announcing Bolton’s departure he wrote: “I informed John Bolton last night that his services are no longer needed at the White House. I disagreed strongly with many of his suggestions, as did others in the Administration, and therefore I asked John for his resignation, which was given to me this morning.”

Trump said he would announce his pick for his fourth national security adviser next week, and early speculation on candidates pointed to the ambassador to Germany, Richard Grenell, Iran envoy Brian Hook and Robert Blair, an aide to Mulvaney.

An adviser to Iran’s president, Hassan Rouhani, said Bolton’s departure underlined the failure of Washington’s “maximum pressure strategy” against Iran.

“The marginalisation and subsequent elimination of Bolton is not an accident but a decisive sign of the failure of the US maximum pressure strategy in the face of the constructive resistance of Iran,” Hesameddin Ashena tweeted.

Bolton’s departure could open the way to fresh diplomacy with Iran. Trump has repeatedly said he is prepared to meet Rouhani, at the urging of France’s president, Emmanuel Macron.

Asked on Tuesday if he could foresee such a meeting at the UN general assembly later this month, Pompeo replied: “Sure.”

Commentators interpreted the news as further evidence of chaos and confusion within Trump’s White House, but there were also loud sighs of relief from those who were delighted to see such a hawkish influence excised from the heart of government.

Elizabeth Warren, a leading contender for the Democratic presidential nomination, agreed, saying: “The American people are better off with John Bolton out of the White House.”

Her rival, Bernie Sanders tweeted: “A symptom of the problem is gone. The root cause of authoritarianism remains.”

The National Iranian American Council, the largest body of US-Iranians, heralded the decision as the best of Trump’s presidency, saying in a statement: “This single move dramatically reduces the chances of a new, catastrophic war in the Middle East.”

In contrast, the Republican senator Lindsey Graham praised Bolton on Twitter for “always pursuing an agenda that not only helps the President but makes America safe”.

Trump appointed Bolton in March 2018, having been impressed by the former US ambassador to the UN’s performances as a commentator on Fox News, where he advocated a first strike on North Korea and pushed for regime change in Tehran.

The tension between such a militaristic stance and Trump’s hesitancy about being drawn into another major conflict broke into public view this summer as Bolton was increasingly pushed into the shadows. The division was plain to see when Trump made a surprise visit in June to meet Kim, without his adviser.


Trump unveiled on Twitter his campaign sign — to run for president in 2024

Raw Story

President Donald Trump unveiled a campaign sign to run for president in 2024 on Tuesday.

The 22nd Amendment to the United States Constitution — which Trump took a solemn oath to defend — strictly limits the president to serving two terms.

This means that to run in 2024, Trump would have to lose re-election in 2020, amend the Constitution, or violate the supreme law of the land and violate his oath of office to run.

The tweet was posted shortly before midnight in Washington, DC.


    — Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 11, 2019

Click here: https://twitter.com/realDonaldTrump/status/1171631144414208000/photo/1


Trump said there was no ‘turmoil’ in the White House — and then he set the internal chaos loose in public

on September 11, 2019
By Cody Fenwick, AlterNet

On Monday, President Donald Trump insisted on Twitter that there was no “turmoil” in the White House and that any suggestion otherwise was just more misinformation from the “Dishonest Media.”

And then on Tuesday, that internal chaos of the administration poured out into public.

It began, as it so often does, with a Trump tweet. He revealed that National Security Adviser John Bolton, a controversial figure for decades, is no longer a part of the administration:

    ….I asked John for his resignation, which was given to me this morning. I thank John very much for his service. I will be naming a new National Security Advisor next week.

    — Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 10, 2019

Many were cheered by this announcement, given that Bolton is a fierce warmonger who never should have been hired by any president. But was Trump’s claim even true? Bolton countered the president’s narrative almost immediately:

    I offered to resign last night and President Trump said, “Let’s talk about it tomorrow.”

    — John Bolton (@AmbJohnBolton) September 10, 2019

But it didn’t end there. Not content to just let the two competing stories run, Bolton began apparently began text every member of the media he could think of. He texted Fox News, Washington Post reporter Robert Costa, and the Daily Beast.

“Let’s be clear, I resigned, having offered to do so last night,” he told Costa. “I will have my say in due course. But I have given you the facts on the resignation. My sole concern is US national security.”

Despite Trump’s claim that the decision was made Monday night, the White House sent out a schedule to reporters at 10:55 a.m. — just about an hour before Trump’s tweet about Bolton — which said that the national security adviser would be appearing alongside the secretary of State and the Treasury secretary to brief the press on Tuesday afternoon.

So, let’s review: Trump claimed there was no “turmoil” in the White House. Then he announced that he was firing his national security adviser — the third person to hold the position in as many years — because his views clash so drastically with him and others in the administration. That firing, however, seemed not to be planned out, because the White House had said Bolton would be performing official duties about an hour before the tweet. Bolton directly contradicted the president after the tweet, clearly insulted, and went to multiple media outlets to deliver an alternative version of events. He even promised that he has more information to provide in “due course.”

Does this sounds like a White House that is, as Trump himself once described it, a “well-oiled machine”?


Trump’s foreign policy is ‘failing everywhere’ and ‘in shambles’ no matter who he fires or replaces: Jeffrey Toobin

Raw Story

On Tuesday, CNN chief legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin weighed in on President Donald Trump’s decision to fire National Security Adviser John Bolton, with whom he had quarreled bitterly for months.

As Toobin noted, the dismissal is unlikely to change Trump’s foreign policy much — because Trump’s foreign policy is chaos.

“Isn’t the real issue — the cast of characters has changed, but isn’t the real issue that the foreign policy is failing everywhere?” said Toobin. “In North Korea, Kim Jong-Un is shooting off missiles all the time. In Iran, we had a treaty in place to stop nuclear weapons development. Weapons development has started again. Our NATO allies can’t stand us anymore because all we ever do is harass them about their defense spending. That seems to me what matters.”

“Who’s occupying what office, that’s a fascinating ‘inside Washington’ story,” said Toobin. “But American foreign policy is in shambles, and that seems to me the more important aspect of this.”


Nicolle Wallace breaks down why Trump’s foreign policy is a ‘public relations debacle of epic proportions’

Raw Story

MSNBC anchor Nicolle Wallace on Tuesday broke down the political implications of President Donald Trump’s ouster of National Security Advisor John Bolton.

“There are no graceful exits from Trump world, but this one may take the cake for combining the three central pillars of a Trumpian exit. A presidential lie, a presidential tweet and a public relations debacle of epic proportions for Donald Trump,” Wallace reported.

“The news breaking today that John Bolton, Donald Trump’s third National Security Adviser, is out. Donald Trump claiming that he ousted Bolton over policy disagreements, while Bolton maintains that he offered to resign last night and turned in that resignation this morning,” she explained.

“Whatever you thought of Bolton’s foreign policy views, he was largely seen as a check on some of the president’s most reckless and childlike impulses. Things like sucking up to Kim Jong-Un and staging a summit with the Taliban at Camp David. His abrupt resignation came as a surprise to the West Wing,” Wallace noted.

The host read a quote from The New York Times.

“The national security adviser’s dismissal came so abruptly that it was announced barely an hour after the White House scheduled a briefing on terrorism for 1:30 p.m. at which Mr. Bolton was supposed to appear alongside Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin. But Mr. Bolton left the White House, and the briefing proceeded without him,” the newspaper reported.

Wallace noted that other officials who have left that administration over policy disagreements include former Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, former Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats, former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, former Homeland security chief Kirstjen Nielsen, and National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster.


This is how the Trump administration quietly incapacitates the government

By Dana Milbank
WA Post
September 11 2019

This is how the Trump administration goes about the quiet business of incapacitating the U.S. government.

President Trump spent his summer making war on Denmark, attacking Baltimore, destabilizing the world economy, sending an imaginary hurricane to Alabama and ousting his national security adviser, among other things. But while everybody was watching those fireworks, Trump’s underlings — some far more competent than he — were toiling in the shadows to hand over public lands to the tender mercies of oil and gas companies.

The scheme, rolled out over the summer, was ostensibly to put the Bureau of Land Management closer to the lands it manages by moving personnel out of Washington. That makes sense until you consider:

1. Ninety-seven percent of the BLM’s employees already are outside of Washington, and the few hundred in the capital do things such as coordinate with Congress and other agencies; now half the congressional affairs staff, I’m told, will work out of Reno, Nev. — 2,600 miles from Capitol Hill.

2. BLM organized this with cursory analysis of impacts and costs and no significant consultation with Congress, American Indian tribes or BLM staff.

3. BLM decided to locate its new headquarters in Grand Junction, Colo., hours from a major airport but just down the road from the hometown of Interior Secretary (and former oil and gas lobbyist) David Bernhardt, who presides over BLM.

4. The relocation was overseen by Interior assistant secretary Joseph Balash , up until days before he took employment for himself with an oil-exploration company.

5. When Sen. Tom Udall (D-N.M.) said it appeared that the proposal, which doesn’t have congressional approval, was a “deliberate effort to dismantle” BLM, Balash threatened Udall, saying he would “reconsider the relocation of additional Departmental resources to your State” in retaliation.

6. Many workers being shipped out of Washington are reportedly being offered lower-level, lower-pay jobs — confirming suspicions that the real purpose is to drive experts out of government and thereby shrink the agency.

Trump’s acting chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, said as much last month. “It’s nearly impossible to fire a federal worker. I know that because a lot of them work for me, and I’ve tried,” he told a GOP gala. “By simply saying to people, ‘You know what, we’re going to . . . move you out in the real part of the country,’ and they quit — what a wonderful way to sort of streamline government.”

Since Balash left to join the oil industry, the unenviable task of explaining the relocation to Congress fell to his replacement, William Perry Pendley, who joined Interior after three decades of suing the federal government to weaken protections for federal lands. Pendley, serving in an “acting” capacity, hasn’t been confirmed by the Senate and perhaps couldn’t be: His Twitter musings are a fevered collection of attacks on Democrats and celebrations of oil and gas drilling.

Pendley, with a Yosemite Sam mustache, informed the House Natural Resources Committee on Tuesday that “we will not dispose of or transfer in a wholesale manner our public lands.”

So they’ll do it piecemeal?

He volunteered that he’s “in full compliance with . . . President Trump’s heightened ethics pledge.”

As if that were reassuring.

He declared that the department is offering “knowledgeable and compassionate assistance” to those relocating. (Last week, he apologized to enraged employees that BLM had been “less than transparent”).

Rep. Deb Haaland (D-N.M.), a Native American, asked about his past mockery of native religions.

“I was not speaking as a member of the BLM,” Pendley explained.

Rep. Diana DeGette (D-Colo.) asked for details on the many unfilled vacancies BLM already has.

“I don’t have that number,” he said.

Rep. Raúl M. Grijalva (D-Ariz.) asked if BLM had studied the lost expertise the move would create.

“No, Mr. Chairman.”

Rep. TJ Cox (D-Calif.) asked for specific details of the relocation.

“I’ll have to defer to congressional and legislative affairs,” Pendley said.

Right. In Reno.

The Trump administration has attempted similar relocations — read: job cuts — at the Agriculture Department, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Office of Personnel Management and elsewhere. But 85 percent of the federal workforce already is outside the Washington area. And at BLM, which has only a few hundred of its 10,000 employees in Washington, the argument for decentralization is particularly weak. Even BLM’s deputy director of operations, Mike Nedd, told employees last week that “I probably would have made a different decision,” E&E News reported.

But Pendley, at that same meeting, said the administration would push ahead with the plan, even if it doesn’t have sufficient funds — because “we are confident that Congress will provide additional funding.”

And if not? Well, Trump can declare another emergency and take more money from the Pentagon. When your goal is kneecapping the federal government, anything goes.


The cumlslut squeaks ..

‘Not going to give a crap’: Miss Lindsey 'i love being Trump's cumslut' Graham tells Fox News viewers why he ignores Trump’s scandals

on September 11, 2019
Raw Story
By Bob Brigham

One of President Donald Trump’s leading defenders on Capitol Hill told Fox News why he is simply ignoring the latest White House scandals.

Sen. Miss Lindsey 'i love being Trump's cumslut' Graham (R-SC) was interviewed by Brett Baier on Fox News on Tuesday.

“I want to ask you two more questions. One, there’s an investigation out on Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, if he put his finger on the scale and NOAA scientists and the fallout of the Alabama ordeal we dealt with last week. What’re your thoughts on that?” Baier asked.

“Not going to give a crap,” Graham spluttered between spurts of white stuff.

“That’s for the record?” Baier asked.

“Yeah, thank you,” Miss Graham replied. “Next question.”

“I could care less, this whole thing is a bunch of garbage,” she continued. “This is the Trump world. The guy can’t do anything — the guy getting criticized by a bunch of people who just hate his guts and I’m not playing that game.”

“The story about the Russian asset that was extracted?” Baier asked.

“Another example of what I think is complete B.S. — trying to blame the president for something that didn’t happen,” Miss Graham replied. “The president is a mouthful, he makes his fair share of mistakes, but the story about the president damaging our national security I think is unverified and untrue.”

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« Last Edit: Sep 11, 2019, 07:36 AM by Rad » Logged
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« Reply #3521 on: Sep 11, 2019, 06:16 AM »

The unleashing of Evil ......

We Will Never, Ever Be Rid of Donald Trump

There is no black Sharpie to write him out of our consciousness.

By Frank Bruni
Opinion Columnist
NY Times

House Democrats are inching closer to a formal impeachment inquiry, as if that’s how best to exorcise Donald Trump from the body politic. Mark Sanford just became the third Republican to announce a 2020 primary challenge and to dream of a successful insurrection against an emperor whom most of the party meekly obeys.

And 10 Democrats will take the stage on Thursday night for their party’s next presidential debate, each determined to present himself or herself as the surest route to the far side of Trump.

So now is as good a time as any to state what should be obvious to anyone who has considered Trump’s psychology, registered his megalomania and taken full account of his behavior to date.

We will never, ever be rid of him.

Oh, sure, we may remove him from the presidency, which is no small thing. But that won’t get him out of the nation’s bloodstream. It sure as hell won’t shut him up. If you think he has demolished all the norms of what it means to be the president of the United States, just wait until you see the sledgehammer he takes to the traditional role and restraint of former presidents.

He won’t be at an easel in remote Texas, like George W. Bush. He won’t be biting his tongue and taking big, deep, centering breaths, like Barack Obama.

A foundation devoted to good works? Been there, done that, and it was a perfect mirror of the man, which is to say a complete sham. It’s under investigation by the State of New York.

No, he’ll be tweeting, bleating, ranting and raging in precisely the manner that he is now, just without the nuclear codes. And if that transition happens after November 2020, he’ll declare the election suspect, fraudulent, the result of a media crusade against him, the fruit of illegal votes. He pressed that narrative in 2016 even though he was declared the victor. A winner that sore is poised to be an epically nasty loser, and I have an easier time imagining a “Thelma and Louise” remake starring Felicity Huffman and Lori Loughlin than I do the Trumps graciously beckoning the Warrens across the threshold of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

The post-Trump landscape — or, rather, the impossibility of one — is on my mind in part because of a prediction by Brad Parscale, the manager of the Trump 2020 campaign, at a California Republican convention last weekend. “The Trumps will be a dynasty that will last for decades, propelling the Republican Party into a new party,” he said in a speech to delegates.

Then The Atlantic published a riveting cover story by McKay Coppins that in some ways raised the same prospect, reporting that Ivanka and Don Jr. are jockeying to be their dad’s rightful political heir and noting that the Trump progeny are genetically wired to wring every last droplet from their father’s celebrity that they can.

Flashing back to the night in November 2016 when the family watched the election returns, Coppins wrote that they were in shock, because Trump “was supposed to go down in a spectacular blaze of made-for-TV martyrdom that all of them could capitalize on. Ivanka had a book coming out. Don and Eric were working on a line of patriotically themed budget hotels. And preliminary talks were underway to launch a Trump-branded TV network that would turn disgruntled voters into viewers. Now they needed a new plan.” Apparently it’s one modeled after the Kennedys and the Bushes, only with a much bigger budget for hair and makeup.

Best of luck, Trumpkins. I just don’t see it. Ivanka — or, as I like to think of her, Our Lady of the DMZ — has shown a shocking tone-deafness during her White House romp. And Don Jr. was the nitwit emailing ecstatically and then lying badly about that June 2016 meeting with the Russian, um, adoption evangelists. These two have all of Dad’s gall but only a scintilla of his guile.

Trump won’t hang around by proxy, in a next generation of opportunists with his surname or agenda. That would negate the whole point of his pivot into politics. It wasn’t to promote ideas; it was to promote himself. Health permitting, he’ll move heaven and earth to maintain his omnipresence in American life, by which I mean he’ll be as outrageous as he must to stay in the news. And we in the media will confront a decision: Give him what he wants, or let go of him and all the eyeballs he draws?

Even if we let go, there’s the strong possibility, as Coppins noted, that he’ll establish his own media enterprise, with a network where the news really is fake, adulation doesn’t hinge on nuisances like the ballot box and Sean Hannity isn’t the model for Trump veneration. He’s the baseline.

From that coddled perch Trump can take out his big black Sharpie and write higher vote counts over his actual, official ones. He can draw horns on John Bolton and a halo over William Barr. He can sketch a second White House adjacent to the first one but taller, with gold trim.

That’s where he’ll be living, his power fictive but his presence ineluctable, snappily ever after.

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« Reply #3522 on: Sep 12, 2019, 03:24 AM »

Sponges are the dirtiest thing in your kitchen, study finds

Red Orbit

You might want to think twice about using a kitchen sponge to clean off your dishes, as a new study published this month in the journal Scientific Reports has found that the objects could be contaminated with a plethora of potentially disease-causing bacteria and other microbes.

As part of their research, Furtwangen University Professor Dr. Markus Egert and his colleagues sequenced the microbial DNA of 14 used kitchen sponges and found high concentrations of such bacteria as Moraxella osloensis, a pathogen that can cause infections in those with weak immune systems and is known for producing a pungent odor, according to Science.

More than 360 different types of bacteria were discovered, including strains related to those that cause pneumonia and meningitis, the study authors explained in a statement. On the plus side, at least fecal bacteria and micobes responsible for causing food poisoning and dysentery were rare.

“What surprised us was that five of the ten which we most commonly found, belong to the so-called risk group 2, which means they are potential pathogens,” Dr. Egert explained, noting that there are 40 million households in Germany. If each had at least one or two kitchen sponges, that means that there could be more than 80 million miniature germ factories in that country alone.

“Sometimes the bacteria achieved a concentration of more than 5 times 1010 cells per cubic centimeter,” he added. “Those are concentrations which one would normally only find in fecal samples. And levels which should never be reached in a kitchen. These high concentrations can be explained by the optimal conditions the bacteria find in the sponge: besides the large surface area for growth, there are high levels of moisture and nutrients from food residue and dirt.”

Forget about sterilizing old kitchen sponges – just buy new ones

No big deal, right? All you have to do is periodically boil or microwave the sponges to sterilize them. Not exactly, the study authors warn: sponges that had been regularly sanitized using these methods were actually found to have a higher percentage of bacteria than uncleaned sponges.

Why? The researchers explained that while boiling or microwaving sponges does indeed result in a short-term decrease in the number of pathogens, those that survive the process become resistant to cleaning attempts, not unlike how gut bacteria become stronger after we take antibiotics.

“Our work demonstrated that kitchen sponges harbor a higher bacterial diversity than previously thought… [and] from a long term perspective, sponge sanitation methods appear not sufficient to effectively reduce the bacterial load in kitchen sponges,” Dr. Egert’s team reported. In fact, they said, such sterilization attempts “might even increase” potentially-harmful bacteria content.

Instead of attempting to boil or microwave sponges, the authors recommend regularly replacing them, perhaps on a weekly basis. This is especially true in places such as hospitals or retirement homes, where patients or residents may have weak immune systems and be more susceptible to such harmful pathogens. No microbial contamination was found in recently bought sponges.

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« Reply #3523 on: Sep 12, 2019, 03:26 AM »

Unmasked: New planned Alaska pipeline could spew 3.5 billion cubic feet of gas — per day

Raw Story

This article was paid for by Raw Story subscribers. Not a subscriber? Try us and go ad-free for $1. Prefer to give a one-time tip? Click here.

800-Mile, $43-Billion Project Is Intended to Send Liquified Natural Gas To China

Republicans are trying to push through a $43 billion liquified natural gas project in Alaska that could be a financial dud, harm whales and polar bears, and help cook our overheating planet.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, which by law is supposed to be independent but is now stacked with Trump appointees, is considering plans for an 807-mile pipeline that would carry up to 3.5 billion cubic feet a day of gas to an Alaskan port where it would be liquified to ship to Asia.

“This reckless project would hurt polar bears, whales and coastal communities and escalate the climate crisis,” said Kristen Monsell, a senior attorney with the Center for Biological Diversity.

Trump and China President Xi Jinping were in Beijing in November 2017 when an agreement was signed for three Chinese firms to buy up to 75% of the project’s liquified natural gas and help finance it. Alaska’s new governor, Mike Dunleavy, scrapped that plan.

BP, ConocoPhillips and ExxonMobile pulled out of an earlier effort in 2016 after the consulting firm Wood Mackenzie called the Alaska LNG project “one of the least competitive” LNG projects in the world. In January, the Alaska Gasoline Development Corp.fired Keith Meyer, the man who had been leading the project. Exxon and BP are paying part of the cost to help the project get a permit.
Unclear Who Will Buy the Gas

The $43 billion price tag for the project means that the cost of the liquified natural gas could be nearly three times the going rate on the spot market.

“That’s so far out of the market now nobody would return your phone call,” said Joe Dubler, the interim president of Alaska Gasoline Development Corp. “I mean, they wouldn’t even talk to you.”

A draft study of the environmental impacts of the project said it could harm six species that are listed as endangered or threatened: the spectacled eider, polar bear, bearded seal, Cook Inlet beluga whale, humpback whale and ringed seal.

Threatened Caribou Herd

The project would be in the middle of the range of the Central Arctic caribou herd which roams the central region of northern Alaska and could affect the caribou migration. The size of the herd peaked in 2010 at 70,000 animals. Since the mid-1990s, the size of caribou herds in the Alaska-Canada region has declined by 56%.

Alaska natives who depend on caribou and other animals for food, gather berries, and fish could also be harmed by the project, according to the study.

The pipeline would cross or pass near recreation areas including the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, Denali National Park and Preserve, George Parks Highway, Iditarod National Historic Trail, Dalton Highway Scenic Byway and Denali State Park.

The pipeline would contribute as much to global warming each year as 21 coal-fired power plants. This past July was the hottest month ever recorded on our planet since record-keeping began in 1880. In Alaska, sea ice completely melted for the first time in recorded history.

Trump has stacked the regulatory commission with appointees like Bernard McNamee who helped craft a proposal to provide subsidies to uneconomic coal plants. The commission chair, former Mitch McConnell aide Neil Chatterjee has called exports of liquified natural gas “freedom gas” that “is good for the American people, our allies abroad & for U.S. geopolitical interests.”

ACTION BOX/What You Can Do About It

Comment on the draft Environmental Impact Statement using the docket number CP17-178-000 or mail comments to Kimberly D. Bose, secretary, Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, 888 First Street NE, Room 1A, Washington, DC 20426. Use the docket number when mailing comments.

Call FERC Chairman Neil Chatterjee at 202-502-6477 or mail him at 888 First Street NE, Washington, DC 20246 to tell him your thoughts about the liquified natural gas project.

The Center for Biological Diversity can be reached at 520-623-5252 or center@biologicaldiversity.org

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« Reply #3524 on: Sep 12, 2019, 03:28 AM »

09/12/2019 05:14 PM

Ultra-Locally Grown: Urban Farming Takes Off in Germany

By Marcel Rosenbach

Recent experiments in sustainability mean you can now purchase shrimp from Bavaria and pike perch from Berlin. "Urban gardening" promises healthy and fresh products without long transportation routes.

When Christian Echternacht gets invited to dinner, he likes to bring tilapia and basil rather than wine or flowers. His friends have grown used to it by now. They know that the fish and the plants have something in common: Both are harvested by Echternacht himself. They make great fish burgers topped with basil mayonnaise.

The ingredients prosper in the urban farm that Echternacht has run with his partner, Nicolas Leschke, for several years. It's located in central Berlin, on the grounds of the Malzfabrik, a startup hub in the city's Schöneberg district.

Tilapia at various stages of growth swim around in 13 different tanks, their skin varying shades of silver and pink. The fish don't weigh much when they arrive at Echternacht's ECF Farmsystems, as his company is called, but after a few months in his tanks, they plump up to half a kilogram (1.1 pounds) and are ready for harvesting.

Next door on this warm summer's day, shirtless gardeners are working in the greenhouse where they grow basil from seed, an intensely aromatic sea of leaves. The plants sit atop gigantic grow tables onto which water from the fish tanks is diverted -- filtered and full of nutrients. The water contains ammonia from fish excrement and is transformed into optimal fertilizer by bacteria. This symbiotic circuit made up of fish farming (aquaculture) and plant cultivation in water (hydroponics) is called aquaponics, a technique that is thought to have been used hundreds of years ago in China and by the Mayans.

The Berlin duo markets their products as "capital city tilapia" and "capital city basil," and they are part of an international movement that seeks to bring food production closer to consumers in the city, thus making it more sustainable. Doing so is an absolute necessity, because traditional rural agriculture and forestry is responsible for 23 percent of manmade greenhouse gas emissions.

Bringing Production Closer to Home

Alternative forms of food production, such as city farms, are currently just as popular as modern aquaculture facilities. Saltwater shrimp are being raised in the village of Langenpreising, near Munich; and in supermarkets and restaurants, one increasingly finds futuristic glass cabinets from the Berlin-based startup Infarm, where consumers can watch herbs and lettuce grow and buy them freshly harvested.

All the producers are united by the mission of producing high-quality natural foodstuffs using modern technology and unconventional methods. In their indoor gardens, they use no pesticides for growing vegetables and eschew antibiotics in aquaculture facilities. Aquaponics has the added benefit that 90 percent of the water is reused. Shorter transportation routes result in fresher food and lower emissions, especially due to the reduced need for refrigeration.

A surprising number of those involved in such production are self-taught or mid-career beginners and don't have backgrounds in agriculture.

That also holds true for Christian Echternacht. He initially studied medicine before founding an internet agency in the mid-1990s. Later, he spent a few years on the road with Roxy Music icon Brian Eno, helping out with his video installations.

His new career was born out of his interest in high-quality foodstuffs, the 48-year-old explains, and the beginnings were rather modest. He initially used a shipping container for the fish tanks, and he built a greenhouse on his roof. The remains of this container farm can still be seen on the premises of the Malzfabrik in Schöneberg, just a few meters from the current facility, which is 1,800 square meters in size (almost 20,000 square feet) and cost around 1.4 million euros to build. The money came from private investors and from the Investitionsbank Berlin, a state owned development bank.

The early years were difficult. The city farmers soon had to abandon their hopes of a completely circular economy in which nutrient-rich fish water would be cleaned by the plants' roots and sent back to the fish tanks. "We realized that for optimal results growing the plants and raising the fish, we needed water with different pH values."

They also experimented with a wide variety of different sorts of vegetables -- from eggplants to tomatoes to peppers -- before ultimately arriving at basil. And why did they choose a fish species that originated in Africa? Primarily because it is particularly efficient at utilizing food: 1.4 kilos of food produces 1 kilo of fish. Furthermore, the species is rather undemanding. "We would also like to raise pike perch," Echternacht says, "but they are sensitive, require peace and quiet and are quick to stop eating if conditions aren't perfect."

'The Experimentation Phase Is Over

Echternacht and his partner also experienced a steep learning curve when it came to marketing their products. Initially, they tried to sell on-site in addition to offering a subscription produce box for 15 euros a week. For a time, they also had a stand at a market hall in the district of Kreuzberg. But it was a partnership with the supermarket chain Rewe that provided the breakthrough. Rewe now buys up the farm's entire production of basil, with 7,500 plants per week ending up in stores in the region just one day after harvest. The price at the store is around 2 euros per plant. Currently, more than 400,000 basil plants and around 30 tons of fish are produced each year at the facility right in the heart of Germany's capital city.

"The experimentation phase is over and we're going to be profitable this year," says Echternacht, though the work done by the three gardeners and two fish farmers is only part of the business plan. The farm, after all, is also a showroom, with tours almost every day for schoolchildren and people interested in the facility from around the world. Just recently, Echternacht hosted a delegation from Bangladesh who were interested in learning more about aquaponics.

Echternacht and his partner have also branched out into consulting, offering feasibility studies for individual projects at a price of 15,000 euros in addition to planning complete facilities. Farms designed by the team are currently operating in Brussels and in Bad Ragaz, Switzerland.

Traditional farms will always cover the lion's share of the demand, Echternacht says, but he says his farms show that agriculture in city centers is also a viable option. Far from being a short-lived trend, he believes the model presents a real alternative. "It makes economic sense for any Germany city with a population of more than 500,000, so they will spread."

Another Berlin-based produce start-up is located just a few kilometers away -- one that is currently working on an international growth strategy. The founders of Indoor Urban Farming, known as Infarm for short, have only recently secured funding for their expansion. The venture capital firm Atomico invested tens of millions, accounting for a significant share of a financing round totaling $100 million. It would seem that even large investors from the tech industry have faith in the concept of urban produce cultivated indoors.

Infarm was founded by three Israelis who moved to Berlin six years ago from La Gomera in the Canary Islands, where they grew a broad array of vegetables for their own consumption. Once they moved to Berlin, they were put off by the quality of standard vegetables at the supermarkets. "The vegetables only had an echo of the flavor that we had grown used to from our own," says co-founder Osnat Michaeli. But they were faced with the problem of too little sun and no garden of their own. So, they began growing lettuce and cherry tomatoes in their apartment -- and the very first harvest was so good that they decided to professionalize the operation.

'We Sell Living Plants'

They developed mini greenhouses that look a bit like glass display cases. Inside, the herbs and lettuce grow on plastic trays, arranged on seven levels -- a principle known as vertical farming, the goal of which is to grow lots of produce in a tight space.

"We have a specific strategy for each seed," says head biologist Ido Golan as he stands in the corridor between dozens of growing cabinets at company headquarters. "The basil here is currently sleeping," he says, pointing to an incubator where the grow lamps have been switched off. The incubators are computer controlled in an effort to create the ideal growth conditions for each plant, which can mean simulating a Mediterranean climate for many of the herbs.

The plants' roots are in water into which nutrients are added by way of canisters in the floor of the cabinets. That means that each of the miniature greenhouses is completely autonomous from the others. Once the lettuce and herb plants reach maturity, they are only separated from their root balls at the supermarket. "We sell living plants, which makes a huge difference," says Golan. Standard produce, he says, loses valuable vitamins and antioxidants during transportation. "Normal growing practices are focused primarily on keeping produce fresh longer so they can withstand the transportation and storage phases. Nutrition and taste are last on the list of priorities."

There are already around 200 connected and remote-controllable Infarm cabinets in German supermarkets, with an additional 150 at wholesalers. The company hopes that the number will rise to over 1,000 by the end of the year and they are currently focusing on expansion throughout Europe. It's not the vertical farms themselves that Infarm is selling, though, but the produce inside. Supermarket operators and wholesalers then sell the produce onward at a markup. Infarm employees take care of the harvesting and restocking, referring to the business model as "farming as a service."

Yet the reliance on grow lamps raises questions about energy consumption -- concerns that Infarm head Michaeli immediately counters: "We rely on green energy and our CO2 footprint is less than 20 grams per plant. A traditionally produced head of iceberg lettuce is responsible for many times more than that.

At its production site in the Berlin district of Tempelhof, the company isn't just producing seedlings for supermarkets, but also for Germany's star chef Tim Raue, whose name is written on two of the vertical farming units. At the moment, they contain Peruvian basil, a special type of coriander and a kind of edible flower. Because he farms independently of climactic zones and seasons, Golan is also able to handle special requests. The biologist pulls a stalk of arugula from a harvest container that produces a wasabi-like aroma in your mouth. He also raves about a rare type of oregano found in the Middle East and coveted by Moroccan chefs.

Restaurants are important buyers for most of the new urban farming operations. They include the one belonging to Fabian Riedel, who has established a modern aquaculture facility in Langenpreising, located just northeast of Munich. The 36-year-old is actually a lawyer by training, but these days, his mobile phone contains the numbers of several high-end chefs, who are able to place orders directly via WhatsApp. As proof, he reads a recent message from a chef on Austria's Wörthersee lake: The previous day, the chef wrote, Jon Bon Jovi ate at his restaurant and praised his food. Now, the chef needed to lay in fresh supplies.

Raising Shrimp in Bavaria

The supplies grow in a large warehouse in an industrial zone in the town, not far from the Munich airport. Behind a hygienic gate that leads to rooms containing eight shallow pools, the climate is tropical, with high humidity and temperatures above 30 degrees Celsius (86 degrees Fahrenheit). That's how the pool residents, of the species litopenaeus vannamei, prefer it. The shrimp species is native to mangrove forests, but here in Bavaria, the grayish-blue animals seem to be doing just fine. The edges of the pools are lined with white curtains because the creatures can sometimes jump quite high out of the water.

Riedel buys the shrimp as larvae for around 15 euros per 1,000 and then spends three to four months feeding them a nutritious diet of peas, wheat and sustainably produced fish meal. They are then caught in fish traps, killed with electricity and packed by hand to be sold in select supermarkets and through the company's own online shop. About half of the shrimp go to restaurants.

Riedel says that although his operation "may not be romantic, it is a contemporary industrial farming enterprise." In contrast to production in Asia, he says, no mangroves are harmed, no water is polluted and no antibiotics are used -- and because transportation distances are short, there is no need to freeze the shrimp. They can even be eaten raw in the form of sashimi or tartare.

'Indoor Farming Will Play a Significant Role'

The launch of his exotic business concept of raising shrimp in Bavaria wasn't exactly easy. The state of Bavaria provided a significant financial grant, but Riedel's co-founder soon backed out for health reasons. Later, there was a several-month period with larvae supply difficulties. Riedel says he also initially underestimated the seasonal demand for fish. "Having only a single product is risky," he says. These days, his brand CrustaNova also sells caviar, lobster and salmon from other producers with similar quality standards. He says the company has become profitable and is investing in growth. His facility can be expanded modularly and he has secured the neighboring property.

For now, Riedel only sells around 30 tons of product each year, making him something of a niche producer, just like the urban farmers in Berlin. But it doesn't have to stay that way. In the United States and Asia, larger aquaponic facilities are in operation and one company is trying to establish a mass-production shrimp farm on land.

Infarm co-founder Michaeli says she believes the development is unavoidable. "Because of climate change and depleted soil, we need methods to produce more with fewer resources. Indoor farming will play a significant role."

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