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Author Topic: ENVIRONMENT, GLOBAL WARMING, AND CULTURE  (Read 84868 times)
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« Reply #60 on: Oct 20, 2020, 05:44 AM »

Morning Joe hammers GOP voters for ignoring Trump’s anti-American behavior: ‘You can’t plead ignorance’

on October 20, 2020
Raw Story
By Travis Gettys

MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough hammered Republicans who are still backing President Donald Trump, after all they’ve seen so far, because they can’t bring themselves to vote for a Democrat.

The “Morning Joe” host rolled video of the president calling reporters and his opponent Joe Biden criminals, saying his Attorney General William Barr should prosecute them for unspecified crimes, and said Trump was obviously unfit for office.

“He’s enraged about the fact that his attorney general will not arrest his political opponent,” Scarborough said. “So all of these people saying, ‘Oh, you know, I don’t vote for Democrats, you know what, I’m just voting for him because of the regulations.’ Donald Trump in the last two weeks of the campaign is raging at his attorney general for not arresting his political opponent.”

“If you’re voting for Donald Trump, that’s who you’re voting for, and if you’re voting for that man who two weeks from Election Day is calling for the arrest of his opponent, then you have absolutely no idea what America is about,” Scarborough continued. “Let me say it again. You have no idea what this country is about if you’re supporting a man who, two weeks out, is calling for the arrest of his — you can’t — you can’t explain that away. You can’t explain that away to history or explain it away to your children or your grandchildren. You just can’t, and you can’t plead ignorance because you know better.”

“Let me say it one more time,” he added. “Donald Trump, the man who said that Article 2 gave him power to do whatever he wanted to do. Donald Trump, the same man who constantly undermines the judiciary and the same man who calls the media, the free press, that Stalinist slur, enemies of the people. He’s now yelling at his attorney general for not arresting his opponent.”

That type of undemocratic behavior fuels protests and revolutions in other countries, Scarborough said.

“This is what is being fought in Belarus,” he said. “Donald Trump is a strongman, a weak strongman, but he’s trying to be a strongman. How anybody can vote for him, I don’t care what your ideology is, I don’t care what your regulations are. I mean, two weeks out, saying that his opponent should be arrested, it is beyond the pale. It is un-American, there’s no other way to put it.”

Watch: https://youtu.be/DOFEEjykQyE

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Ivanka 'i am not a parasite' Trump could be targeted for multiple corruption investigations after her dad leaves office

on October 20, 2020
By Travis Gettys
- Commentary

President Donald Trump’s scurrilous attacks on Joe Biden’s son could turn the spotlight onto his eldest daughter’s shady dealings.

Ivanka Trump, who’s a senior adviser in the White House alongside her husband Jared Kushner, has been the subject of repeated ethics complaints detailing her alleged corruption, according to The Daily Beast’s Dean Obeidallah.

“If Hunter Biden had received a lucrative deal from a foreign country on the very same day his then-vice president father was meeting with the leader of that foreign country, Trump — and many in the media — would be calling that out as sleazy and possibly illegal,” Obeidallah writes. “But Ivanka Trump has done that and worse and we don’t hear a peep.”

The non-partisan watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics (CREW) has been tracking Ivanka Trump’s unethical conduct back to early 2017, and has filed complaints covering, among other things, her dealings with China and asked for an investigation into her and Kushner’s real estate holdings.

“In April 2017, on the very same day Trump dined with Chinese President Xi Jinping, the Chinese government granted preliminary approval for Ivanka’s long-sought-after trademarks for her namesake fashion brand,” Obeidallah writes.

“Another jaw-dropping example of possible blatant corruption, as CREW detailed, came when Ivanka received preliminary approval for additional trademarks from China’s government on June 7, 2018,” he adds. “What else happened on June 7, 2018? Her father agreed to lift sanctions against the massive Chinese telecommunication company ZTE, which is partly owned by the Chinese government. The Trumps aren’t even trying to hide the conflicts!”

CREW has asked the Department of Justice whether Ivanka Trump and her husband personally benefited from a new tax law that she had worked on, and the watchdog is cataloguing possible violations right up through last week — when she allegedly violated the Hatch Act eight times in 48 hours.

“These allegations demand a full investigation to determine Ivanka and her father’s possible role in these sweetheart deals,” Obeidallah writes. “Despite what Donald and Ivanka may believe, just because your last name is Trump does not mean you are above the law.”


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« Reply #61 on: Today at 02:56 AM »

Dr. Fauci has 2 new things everyone needs to do to avoid a wintertime coronavirus catastrophe

By Chris Smith
BGR
10/21/2020

    Coronavirus cases are surging in the US, with the country heading to a new peak after the scary records set in mid-July.
    Dr. Fauci is advising people to implement two new precautions for avoiding the virus during the cold season, in addition to the five safety measures he’s been advocating all summer long.
    Fauci says people should air their homes and wear a mask inside your house whenever someone visits.

The novel coronavirus is surging in most states, and the current data shows the country might soon hit a new peak. On Friday, nearly 70,000 cases were reported, according to the Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University, with other sources reporting a slightly higher figure (over 71,500). Health experts including Dr. Anthony Fauci have stressed the importance of reducing the number of daily cases before the fall and winter arrive. That was during the previous spike in cases this past summer, when Fauci warned against the dangers of having COVID-19 overlap with the flu this winter. At the time, he said the country should be aiming to reach under 10,000 new cases per day. Needless to say, that didn’t happen.

Fauci has also been recommending the same five safety measures that anyone can use to reduce transmission risk. And now, he has two other precautions that everyone needs to make note of this winter.

The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) director keeps telling anyone and everyone that five simple things can reduce the spread of the illness: universal face mask use, social distancing, avoiding gatherings, avoiding indoor places, and frequent hand washing. None of those measures can completely eliminate the risk of spread on their own, but the chances of infection are minuscule when all five are combined.

In recent interviews, Fauci warned that the cold season will push people indoors and that they should avoid crowded spaces, including gatherings at home. Even Thanksgiving is on the list, which Fauci warns against this year. Talking to CBS News a few days ago, Fauci explained the two other things people should consider with cold weather right around the corner.

The first one concerns ventilation. Fauci said that people should “try and keep windows open.” This simple measure can promote airflow in indoor settings and force those aerosols that linger in the air to disperse faster. The WHO and CDC both now acknowledge that COVID-19 is airborne. Fauci’s remark follows a similar recommendation from the German government, which is now officially instructing people to ventilate homes and public spaces, on top of observing the other health measures intended to help prevent the spread of covid.

The second thing Fauci said is also quite simple to implement, and it’s something people may have been doing intuitively at home already when in the presence of strangers. “Don’t be afraid to wear a mask in your house if you’re not certain that the persons in the house are negative,” Fauci said.

Studies have shown that most people get infected with COVID-19 at home. The home is where family members share the same air for the longest period of time, and face masks are rarely used. If one person is infected but not confirmed, he or she is likely to spread the disease to others in the household. Fauci’s advice addresses scenarios where other people might visit, but you should also wear a mask if you think someone in your household might have been exposed to the coronavirus.


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« Reply #62 on: Today at 02:58 AM »


London the worst city in Europe for health costs from air pollution

Study measured financial impact of car emissions on deaths, health and lost working days in 432 urban areas

Stefano Valentino
Guardian
Wed 21 Oct 2020 07.00 BST

The health costs of air pollution from roads are higher in London than any other city in Europe, a study has found.

Two other urban areas in the UK, Manchester and the West Midlands, have the 15th and 19th highest costs respectively among the 432 European cities analysed.

The research puts a figure on the social costs of car emissions at local level at an unprecedented number of sites across 30 countries – the EU27 plus the UK, Norway and Switzerland.

The costs measure the overall erosion of public welfare, defined as living a long and healthy life in a clean environment. The research quantifies the monetary value of premature death, hospital treatment, lost working days and other health costs caused by particulate matter, ozone and nitrogen dioxide. Indoor air pollution was not taken into account.

Researchers at the consultancy CE Delft used Eurostat pollution and demographic data from 2018 and WHO recommendations. The study is published by the European Public Health Alliance (EPHA), a network affiliating healthcare NGOs across Europe.

The 130 million inhabitants of the cities investigated by the study suffer more than £150bn of damage a year, with an average cost of £349m per city. Pollution-related deaths contribute 76% of the costs, with diseases accounting for the rest. However, costs are thought to be underestimated because several cities under-report their level of pollution.

Diesel vehicles are one of the main contributors to the damage. In the wake of the Volkswagen emissions cheating scandal in 2015, diesel cars and lorries were found to exceed EU limits for emissions that are the primary source of nitrogen dioxide (NO2). Moreover, diesel models older than the Euro 6 standard generally emit more particulate matter (PM) than other fossil-fuel engines, and also make up the largest share of the European fleet.

NO2, PM and ground-level ozone (O3) – also largely derived from diesel – are responsible for nearly 500,000 premature deaths across Europe every year. Researchers focused on these three contaminants and concluded that PM is responsible for the vast majority of the social costs (82.5% on average), compared with NO2 (15%) and O3 (2.5%).

London suffers the highest social cost, at £10.32bn a year, well ahead of other European cities such as Bucharest (£5.75bn), Berlin (£4.75bn), Warsaw (£3.83bn), Rome (£3.76bn) and Paris (£3.18bn).

City size, combined with pollution level, is a key factor contributing to total social costs. The larger the population affected by high pollution levels, the higher the proportion of people who lose working days and have a shorter life expectancy.

The costs per capita and relative to income also vary among cities. On average, every European town dweller pays more than £1,156 a year, equating to 3.9% of household income. Poorer cities tend to lose a higher share of income, with losses reaching 10% in highly polluted and densely populated cities in central and eastern Europe, where wages are lower.

In the UK, the cost per city dweller is £905, representing 2.7% of average annual income. London tops the list of UK cities with costs of £1,173 per person, while residents of Plymouth bear the lowest costs of the cities studied, at £562 per capita.

The study shows that transport policies can influence the costs incurred by air pollution from roads. For example, a 1% higher average duration of the drive to work increases damage from PM10 by 0.29% and from NO2 by 0.54%.

Many countries plan to bring in bans on the sale of diesel and petrol cars by 2030, including Germany, the Netherlands and Ireland, while the UK’s current target is 2035 and France has a target of 2040. This will reduce the levels of some pollutants, though electric cars still produce significant amounts of particulate pollution through tyre and brake wear.

Air pollution levels in most cities around Europe are at illegal levels. In an attempt to reduce the pollution and the associated costs, many cities have also increasingly started to allocate more space for sustainable modes of transport such as walking and cycling, as well as increasing investment in public transport.

This story was supported by the European Data Journalist Network


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« Reply #63 on: Today at 03:02 AM »


10 million snowblowers? Last-ditch ideas to save the Arctic ice

Some of the solutions sound fantastical – but their proponents argue that there are precious few other options

Nils Adler
Guardian
21 Oct 2020 08.00 BST

Time is running out for the Arctic. The region continues to warm at two or three times the global rate and scientists now predict that we could see Arctic summer ice disappear as early as 2042.

As the realization sets in that existing emission reductions and renewable energy programs in place won’t be enough to save the Arctic, alternative geoengineering projects have gained traction as scientists look for a last-ditch solution. Some of them sound fantastical – but their proponents argue that there are precious few other options.

A layer of glass beads

The Arctic region suffers from a feedback loop called the albedo effect where melting snow and ice exposes darker ocean which absorbs more heat from the sun and in turn melts more ice. To reverse this effect, a non-profit called Arctic Ice Project has proposed sprinkling parts of the Arctic with a thin layer of glass beads that would boost surface reflectivity and create more ice, potentially starting a cooling feedback loop.

The beads are 35 micrometres in diameter and made from silica; a compound made up of oxygen and silicon, which is supposed to reflect 90% of the sun’s heat. Arctic Ice Project has tested the beads on ice-covered lakes in the Sierra Nevada mountains, Minnesota and Alaska and initial results have shown that they do increase ice reflectivity and thickness. Now, Leslie Field, the founder of the group, is targeting critical parts of the Arctic region, in particular the Fram Strait which lies between Greenland and the Norwegian island of Svalbard. Such an operation would cost about $300m, according to the Arctic Ice Project team.

Underwater sea walls

In 2018, John C Moore and Rupert Gladstone of the Arctic Centre, University of Lapland proposed a geoengineering project that would aim to slow the melt of fast-moving outlet glaciers such as the Thwaites glacier in western Antarctica and Jakobshavn glacier in Greenland.

The idea involves the construction of a sea wall or a free-floating design that could block the warm ocean currents from melting the glacier from below. “If you can turn the melting off, the ice shelf can re-ground” explains Moore. In the case of the Jakobshavn glacier, which drains about 7% of Greenland’s entire ice sheet, a barrier could be constructed across Ilulissat Fjord to block warm ocean currents reaching its lower reaches.

Rewilding the Arctic tundra

The family-run Pleistocene Park project has gradually reintroduced the mammoth steppe grassland ecosystem to swaths of Arctic tundra in northern Siberia over the past two decades. The project aims to reduce permafrost thaw in the Arctic, which emits a mixture of methane, carbon dioxide and nitrous oxide – all greenhouse gases.

This process of rewilding was made possible by the introduction of large grazing animals such as bison, reindeer and horses that can re-engineer the landscape by trampling on or eating tree saplings. These large herbivores also trample on the snow cover, reducing its insulating effect and exposing the layer of permafrost below to colder temperatures.

According to a preliminary study inspired by the Pleistocene Park project, increasing the population and density of big herbivores in northern high-latitude ecosystems could preserve 80% of the world’s permafrost.

Millions of wind-powered pumps

Perhaps the most ambitious geoengineering proposal to date is the construction of 10m wind-powered pumps throughout the Arctic that would continually distribute seawater on to surface ice where it would then freeze. The idea, initially proposed in 2017 by researchers in the American Geophysical Union’s journal Earth’s Future aimed to both increase the amount of ice in the Arctic as well as reduce the albedo effect by creating a thicker layer of ice which would survive the summer melt.

In 2019, researchers at the Alfred Wegener Institute used a climate model to test the approach. Their findings showed that the use of wind-powered pumps would delay the total-loss of summertime sea ice for a few decades but that it did not offer a permanent solution.

Solar geoengineering

In recent years, solar geoengineering has been highlighted as a potential, controversial solution to Arctic warming. The principle behind solar geoengineering is similar to that of the cooling effect that natural events such as volcanic eruptions have on the Earth’s surface, when they release particles into the atmosphere that block solar radiation.

The most high-profile solar geoengineering program is Harvard University’s Stratospheric Controlled Perturbation Experiment (SCoPEx), which looks to explore the idea of reflecting the sun’s heat by releasing calcium carbonate into the stratosphere. Harvard researchers, David Keith and Frank Keutsch plan to run initial tests by releasing small amounts of the aerosol into the stratosphere using a high-altitude scientific balloon.

The idea that one day enough of this aerosol could be injected into the stratosphere to reflect the sun’s heat has raised several environmental concerns, including potential damage to the ozone layer.
A man works on a pipe beside a carbon injection site well near Reykjavik Energy’s Hellisheidi Geothermal Power Plant, on December 4, 2017 outside Reykjavik, Iceland. To offset global warming, since year 2007, scientists have collaborated with Reykjavik Energy’s experts, technicians, and tradespeople on developing the idea and implementation of fixating CO2 into basaltic rock.

Turning CO2 into Icelandic rocks

At a geothermal power plant in Hellisheidi, Iceland – which is considered an Arctic state – researchers have produced a unique form of carbon capture by injecting emissions from the plant into basalt rock. The project, CarbFix, was headed by Reykjavik Energy and was successfully completed without any emissions leaking. The carbon was entirely converted into an organic non-polluting part of the Icelandic rock.

After the success of the first project, the CarbFix2 initiative aims to up-scale carbon capture from several hundred tonnes per year to several million tonnes per year. .
Peat expansion to cool the Arctic tundra

One solution to Arctic warming could occur naturally as its ecosystems are altered by global warming.

In recent years, northern parts of Canada, Siberia and Alaska have become greener, potentially creating the right conditions for a peat-rich landscape. Peat moss – or sphagnum – that grows in the Arctic tundra is a known carbon sink, which means it absorbs more carbon than it releases.

Researchers using high-resolution carbon dating and paleoecological records are now studying the expansion and development of peat in the Arctic tundra and the implications of an increase in peat on the region’s carbon cycle. Although a greener Arctic is ultimately a negative effect of climate change, if peat moss was able to flourish, the tundra could potentially offset some of the effects of climate change in the region.


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« Reply #64 on: Today at 03:05 AM »

Vast majority of Europe's key habitats in poor or bad condition – report

State of Nature in the EU survey finds only a quarter of species have good conservation status
Greenhouse farming from above

Fiona Harvey Environment correspondent
21 Oct 2020 11.00 BST
Guardian

The vast majority of protected landscapes across Europe are rated as in poor or bad condition and vital species and their habitats continue to decline despite targets aimed at protecting them, according to a report.

Only a quarter of Europe’s species are rated as having a good conservation status, while 80% of key habitats are rated as being in poor or bad condition across the continent, in the State of Nature in the EU 2013-2018 assessment by the European Environment Agency.

Just under half of all bird species are thriving, at 47%, but this is a decline of five percentage points since 2015, showing that the trend is going in the wrong direction.

Virginijus Sinkevičius, the EU commissioner for the environment, oceans and fisheries, said: “This shows very clearly that we are still losing our vital life support system. We urgently need to deliver on the commitments in the new EU biodiversity strategy to reverse this decline for the benefit of nature, people, climate and the economy.”

Much of the blame for the poor condition of Europe’s natural environment lies with intensive farming. The EU’s common agricultural policy (CAP) tends to reward intensive farming, despite moves to reward farmers for some measures that prioritise the environment.

“The pressures on nature are much greater than the solutions we are currently providing,” said Micheal O’Briain, of the European commission’s nature protection unit. “Agriculture on balance is still putting huge pressure on nature.”

Reforms that would reward farmers for doing more for the environment are under discussion, as part of the “farm to fork” strategy and the European Green Deal, but some face opposition from farmers’ groups in some member states. “I would not pretend this is going to be an easy debate [on CAP reform] as we have somehow to reconcile different objectives,” O’Briain said.

Key votes on CAP reform will take place this week in the European parliament, but two of the largest groupings of MEPs on the political right have come together to reject many of the measures that would prioritise environmental protections. Jabier Ruiz, senior policy officer at WWF, said: “As it stands, the future of the CAP looks grim. Neither council nor parliament appear to care about the climate and biodiversity crises as they strip away conditions for farm subsidies and push for greenwashing loopholes. Policy-makers must hit the emergency brakes and change direction before it is too late.”

Campaigners are also calling for member states’ environment ministers to endorse the EU’s 2030 biodiversity strategy later in the week.

The EU’s habitats directive lists 233 key habitat types, covering nearly a third of the EU’s land area, and only 15% of these are rated as in good condition. Coastal habitats, dunes and bog, mire and fen come out worst, according to Europe’s environment watchdog, though forest habitats are faring slightly better.

There has been little sign of improvement over most of the past decade, despite EU targets. Overall, about a third of listed habitats are in an unfavourable condition and deteriorating, with a similar number unfavourable but stable.

Among species types, reptiles and vascular plants are faring best, though half are still rated as in poor or bad condition, while the fate of mammals is showing improvement but for about half of fish species the outlook is unfavourable and deteriorating.

There are a few bright spots. Rewilding in some areas has brought wolves back as far as Germany and Belgium, though not without concerns from farmers and rural communities. Some bird species, such as the red kite and crane, have been improving markedly, and there has been good news for the ruddy shelduck and black guillemot. Sweden’s agile frog is on the up, as is the bearded vulture across the continent. The EEA also singled out the Italian wall lizard, the horseshoe whip snake, the hairy agrimony and the great yellow gentian as conservation success stories.

Hans Bruyninckx, executive director of the EEA, called on EU member states to do more to reach the bloc’s biodiversity targets. “Our assessment shows that safeguarding the health and resilience of Europe’s nature, and people’s wellbeing, requires fundamental changes to the way we produce and consume food, manage and use forests, and build cities,” he said. “These efforts need to be coupled with better implementation and enforcement of conservation policies, a focus on nature restoration, as well as increasingly ambitious climate action, especially in the transport and energy sector.”

Agriculture is not the only problem: a lack of water in some areas, urbanisation and pollution are also harming wildlife and plants. Forestry is also showing mixed impacts, as some forests are thriving but in some areas forest management and clear-cutting are destroying habitats.

Birds face the additional pressure of hunting, which still accounts for at least 52 million bird deaths a year, and fish populations are under pressure from the common fisheries policy, reforms to which have not been fully implemented despite the 2020 deadline in law for bringing fishing quotas into line with scientific advice.

The assessment, published on Monday, was based on the work of 200,000 people, of whom about 60% were volunteers, reporting data to the EEA, and represents the largest dataset on nature ever compiled in Europe.

The UK will no longer be bound by the EU directives under Brexit, and is leaving the common agricultural policy. George Eustice, the environment secretary, said: “We are moving to a fairer system now we have left the EU, with our agriculture bill fulfilling our ambitious plans for a system based on the principle of public money for public goods, such as improving air and water quality and driving biodiversity. We have consulted on this and have announced our intention to start phasing out the existing, unfair direct payment system in England from 2021.”


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« Reply #65 on: Today at 03:11 AM »

Megan Thee Stallion: Why I Speak Up for Black Women

I’m not afraid of criticism, and “Protect Black women” should not be controversial.

By Megan Thee Stallion
Megan Thee Stallion is an entertainer, philanthropist and entrepreneur.
NY Times
Oct. 21, 2020

What does it mean to be a woman of color? [INTERPOSING VOICES] She’s got to be strong, because that’s just the expectation. Loving herself, but not too much, because then she’s conceited. Being his lady in the street, but his freak in the sheets. Inheriting her grandmother’s love, but always loving the wrong one. Twerking for her man, but not with her friends? Being constantly told she’s too much or not enough. “The most disrespected person is the black woman.” Constantly having to prove she’s a victim, because society sides with a man. Not being able to express her traumas, because she can’t show no weakness. Is constantly told that she’s too dark, too thin, too thick, too much of a bitch. Being murdered, beaten, abused, then questioned if she evoked all of it. Is left out on the street, but becomes the flower that grows from the concrete. “Who taught you to hate yourself from the top of your head to the soles of your feet?” She marches for everyone else, riots for everyone else, dies for everyone else. She loves for everyone else, lives for everyone else, but when it comes down to her, it ain’t a [BLEEP] in sight. “The system as a whole has failed her. You’ve never been shot. You don’t know her panic. Say her name. 18. Women of color.”

In the weeks leading up to the election, Black women are expected once again to deliver victory for Democratic candidates. We have gone from being unable to vote legally to a highly courted voting bloc — all in little more than a century.

Despite this and despite the way so many have embraced messages about racial justice this year, Black women are still constantly disrespected and disregarded in so many areas of life.

I was recently the victim of an act of violence by a man. After a party, I was shot twice as I walked away from him. We were not in a relationship. Truthfully, I was shocked that I ended up in that place.

My initial silence about what happened was out of fear for myself and my friends. Even as a victim, I have been met with skepticism and judgment. The way people have publicly questioned and debated whether I played a role in my own violent assault proves that my fears about discussing what happened were, unfortunately, warranted.

After a lot of self-reflection on that incident, I’ve realized that violence against women is not always connected to being in a relationship. Instead, it happens because too many men treat all women as objects, which helps them to justify inflicting abuse against us when we choose to exercise our own free will.

From the moment we begin to navigate the intricacies of adolescence, we feel the weight of this threat, and the weight of contradictory expectations and misguided preconceptions. Many of us begin to put too much value to how we are seen by others. That’s if we are seen at all.

The issue is even more intense for Black women, who struggle against stereotypes and are seen as angry or threatening when we try to stand up for ourselves and our sisters. There’s not much room for passionate advocacy if you are a Black woman.

I recently used the stage at “Saturday Night Live” to harshly rebuke Kentucky’s attorney general, Daniel Cameron, for his appalling conduct in denying Breonna Taylor and her family justice. I anticipated some backlash: Anyone who follows the lead of Congressman John Lewis, the late civil rights giant, and makes “good trouble, necessary trouble,” runs the risk of being attacked by those comfortable with the status quo.

But you know what? I’m not afraid of criticism. We live in a country where we have the freedom to criticize elected officials. And it’s ridiculous that some people think the simple phrase “Protect Black women” is controversial. We deserve to be protected as human beings. And we are entitled to our anger about a laundry list of mistreatment and neglect that we suffer.

Maternal mortality rates for Black mothers are about three times higher than those for white mothers, an obvious sign of racial bias in health care. In 2019, an astronomical 91 percent of the transgender or gender-nonconforming people who were fatally shot were Black, according to the Human Rights Campaign.

Beyond threats to our health and lives, we confront so much judgment and so many conflicting messages on a daily basis.

If we dress in fitted clothing, our curves become a topic of conversation not only on social media, but also in the workplace. The fact that Serena Williams, the greatest athlete in any sport ever, had to defend herself for wearing a bodysuit at the 2018 French Open is proof positive of how misguided the obsession with Black women’s bodies is.

I would know. I’ve received quite a bit of attention for appearance as well as my talent. I choose my own clothing. Let me repeat: I choose what I wear, not because I am trying to appeal to men, but because I am showing pride in my appearance, and a positive body image is central to who I am as a woman and a performer. I value compliments from women far more than from men. But the remarks about how I choose to present myself have often been judgmental and cruel, with many assuming that I’m dressing and performing for the male gaze. When women choose to capitalize on our sexuality, to reclaim our own power, like I have, we are vilified and disrespected.

In every industry, women are pitted against one another, but especially in hip-hop, where it seems as if the male-dominated ecosystem can handle only one female rapper at a time. Countless times, people have tried to pit me against Nicki Minaj and Cardi B, two incredible entertainers and strong women. I’m not “the new” anyone; we are all unique in our own ways.

Wouldn’t it be nice if Black girls weren’t inundated with negative, sexist comments about Black women? If they were told instead of the many important things that we’ve achieved? It took a major motion picture, “Hidden Figures,” to introduce the world to the NASA research mathematician Katherine Johnson. I wish I’d learned in school about this story as well as more earthly achievements: that Alice H. Parker filed the patent for the first home furnace, or that Marie Van Brittan Brown created the first home security system. Or that Black women, too often in the shadows of such accomplishments, actually powered the civil rights movement. It’s important to note that six of the Little Rock Nine students whose bravery in 1957 led to school integration were Black girls. And that Rosa Parks showed incredible bravery when she refused to move to the “colored section.” I wish that every little Black girl was taught that Black Lives Matter was co-founded by Patrisse Cullors, Alicia Garza and Opal Tometi.

Walking the path paved by such legends as Shirley Chisholm, Loretta Lynch, U.S. Representative Maxine Waters and the first Black woman to be elected to the U.S. Senate, Carol Moseley Braun, my hope is that Kamala Harris’s candidacy for vice president will usher in an era where Black women in 2020 are no longer “making history” for achieving things that should have been accomplished decades ago.

But that will take time, and Black women are not naïve. We know that after the last ballot is cast and the vote is tallied, we are likely to go back to fighting for ourselves. Because at least for now, that’s all we have.

Megan Thee Stallion (@TheeStallion) is an entertainer, philanthropist and entrepreneur.

Watch: https://www.nytimes.com/video/opinion/100000007387419/megan-thee-stallion-black-women.html?action=click&gtype=vhs&version=vhs-heading&module=vhs&region=title-area&cview=true&t=12


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« Reply #66 on: Today at 03:29 AM »

Global Covid report: 300,000 excess US deaths recorded as Cathay Pacific cuts 5,900 jobs

Brazil’s health minister falls ill in suspected coronavirus case; state-owned drugmaker in China prepares to supply a billion vaccine doses
   
Helen Sullivan
Guardian
Wed 21 Oct 2020 04.16 BST

The US Centers for Disease Control and Protection has found that 300,000 excess deaths were recorded in the US this year – 66% of which are accounted for by the official coronavirus death toll of around 220,000.

Excess deaths refer to how many more deaths have been reported in total this year compared with the same period last year. Usually, between the beginning of February and the end of September, about 1.9 million deaths are reported. This year, it is closer to 2.2 million – a 14.5% increase.

The remaining deaths, the CDC wrote, “provide information about the degree to which Covid-19 deaths might be underascertained”. While the remaining 100,000 deaths may not be people who had contracted coronavirus, these deaths may be indirectly related to the pandemic: a heart attack victim, for example, who might not have been able to get treatment because hospitals were overwhelmed.

The largest portion of the excess deaths occurred among people aged 75 to 84. That groups saw about 95,000 deaths, or 21.5% more than in a normal year. But the biggest relative increase, of 26.5%, was in people aged 25 to 44. Deaths among under-25s dropped slightly.

Deaths were up for different racial and ethnic groups, but the largest increase - 54% - was among Hispanic Americans.

In Brazil, which has the second-highest death toll worldwide after the US, health minister Eduardo Pazuello has fallen ill with a suspected case of Covid-19. The ministry said Pazuello had a fever on Tuesday and would be tested for Covid-19. On Monday, the minister had missed a public event with President Jair Bolsonaro.

“He had a small indisposition and went to the hospital,” Bolsonaro said at the event. The ministry said on Monday that Pazuello had been discharged and was at home.

Two different health ministers resigned in the span of roughly a month before Bolsonaro appointed Pazuello. Bolsonaro has endorsed the drug hydroxychloroquine for treating coronavirus, despite its being unproven for that purpose; the former ministers had advised a more cautious approach.

Brazil has more than 5.3 million confirmed cases and a death toll of just under 155,000.

In yet another blow to airline industry workers, Hong Kong’s Cathay Pacific Airways said on Wednesday it would cut 5,900 jobs and end its regional Cathay Dragon brand as it grapples with a plunge in demand.

The restructuring will cost HK$2.2bn ($284m) and the airline will also seek changes to conditions in its contracts with cabin crew and pilots, it told the stock exchange.

Overall, it will cut 8,500 positions, or 24% of its normal headcount, but that includes 2,600 roles already unfilled due to cost reductions, Cathay said.

The airline, which has stored around 40% of its fleet outside Hong Kong, said on Monday it planned to operate at less than 50% of its pre-pandemic capacity in 2021.

After receiving a $5bn rescue package led by the Hong Kong government in June, it had been conducting a strategic review that analysts expected would result in major job losses because it has been losing HK$1.5bn-$2bn a month.

Other key global developments include:

    A state-owned drugmaker in China is setting up production lines to supply a billion doses of two possible vaccines that are being tested on 50,000 people in 10 countries, the company chairman said on Tuesday. Testing by SinoPharm Group is “in the last kilometre of a long march”, chairman Liu Jingzhen said. He gave no indication when results were expected.

    Health officials in New Zealand recorded 25 new cases of Covid-19 on Wednesday – the highest number in a single day in many weeks – with two of them diagnosed in the community.

    Spain is nearing a total of a million infections over the course of the pandemic so far, with 988,322 registered on the Johns Hopkins database, which would make it the first European country and sixth country globally to do so. Its death toll stands at more than 34,000.

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Global report: record Covid cases and new lockdowns across Europe

Parts of Spain and Italy facing restrictions as Ireland set to become first EU country to reimpose national lockdown

Jon Henley Europe correspondent
Guardian
21 Oct 2020 17.06 BST

Regions in Spain and Italy have returned to lockdown and Ireland will do so from Wednesday as countries across Europe continue to report new Covid infection highs and governments struggle to contain the second wave of the pandemic.

The northern Spanish Navarre region, where the number of cases per 100,000 people is 945 against 312 nationally, announced a two-week lockdown from Thursday that will be stricter than measures imposed on Madrid by central government.

People will only be allowed in and out of Navarre for work, university studies, to care for relatives, or for emergencies, the regional government said. Restaurants, cafes and bars will be closed, while shops may open at 40% capacity but close by 9pm.

The lockdown in and around the capital, the source of bitter arguments between the central and regional government, is due to expire this Saturday amid media reports that the regional government is considering the introduction of a curfew.

Central government said on Tuesday it too was considering curfews to tackle a nationwide rise in daily cases that reached 38,000 on Monday.

Imposing a curfew in Madrid and possibly beyond would require invoking a state of emergency, health minister Salvador Illa said, adding that a period lasting more than two weeks would require the support of some opposition parties.

Ireland is set to become the first EU country to return to lockdown, the taoiseach, Micheál Martin, confirmed late on Monday, issuing a nationwide “stay at home” order but insisting schools will stay open.

The measures come into effect for six weeks from midnight on Wednesday and will see all non-essential retail businesses close, bars and restaurants limited to takeaways, and people required to stay at home with a 5km travel limit for exercise.

In Italy, the southern region of Campania said it would ask central government to give permission for a night-time curfew from this weekend, after the northern region of Lombardy got the green light for a similar 11pm to 5am lockdown from Thursday.

Unlike when the epidemic first struck in March, the prime minister, Giuseppe Conte, is looking to give towns and regions more leeway to decide their own curbs as infections rise around the country.

Local officials in both regions warned their health systems risked being overwhelmed, with the mayor of Naples saying Campania had just 15 intensive care beds left and experts predicting ICU admissions could leap from 100 to 600 in Lombardy.

Poland’s parliament, meanwhile, postponed an emergency debate on new rules to boost the number of medics available to treat Covid-19 cases and make wearing face masks in public legally binding, after opposition parties demanded clarifications.

Doctors have demanded more support for the health system after reports of patients dying when ambulances couldn’t find a hospital to admit them. Poland reported 9,291 new infections on Tuesday, its second highest daily figure.

Hungary is also holding back on new measures despite growing criticism of the response of Viktor Orbán’s government. During the first wave, Hungary recorded relatively low numbers of infections and deaths.

This month, however, more Hungarians have died of coronavirus than in the previous four months put together. According to the European Centre for Disease Control (ECDC), the country currently has the third-highest rolling seven-day death rate per million in the bloc, behind the Czech Republic and Romania.

Russia recorded a record high of 16,319 new cases on Tuesday, including 4,999 in the capital Moscow, while Germany is putting the Bavarian municipality of Berchtesgadener Land under lockdown from 2pm on Tuesday.

Schools, nurseries and restaurants closed and residents are confined to their homes unless they have a legitimate reason to be out. The local lockdown, the first of its kind in Bavaria since April, came as the municipality reported the highest seven-day incidence of Covid-19 in the country, with 272.8 new infections per 100,000 residents.

The federal government has insisted it will try to avoid a second nationwide lockdown at all costs, but some officials have in recent days proposed cordoning off regions to contain the spread of the virus.

Lothar Wieler, the head of the German disease control agency, said last week that while cordoning off entire districts had seemed “unimaginable” to him nine months ago, he could now see some states taking such a step.

Greece scrapped a plan to allow a limited number of spectators back into sporting events, the prime minister’s office said on Tuesday. “Conducting the games even with a few spectators … would send a wrong message to citizens,” it said, after the country registered 438 new Covid-19 infections on Monday.

Beyond Europe, Iran’s daily infections surpassed 5,000 – a new record. There were also 322 new deaths. The president, Hassan Rouhani, said the worst-hit country in the Middle East was now “facing a larger wave of the virus” than earlier in the year.


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« Reply #67 on: Today at 03:34 AM »


Croatian police accused of 'sickening' assaults on migrants on Balkans trail

Testimony from asylum seekers alleging brutal border pushbacks, including sexual abuse, adds to calls for EU to investigate

Lorenzo Tondo
Guardian
Wed 21 Oct 2020 06.30 BST

People on the Balkans migrant trail have allegedly been whipped, robbed and, in one case, sexually abused by members of the Croatian police.

The Danish Refugee Council (DRC) has documented a series of brutal pushbacks on the Bosnia-Croatian border involving dozens of asylum seekers between 12 and 16 October.

The Guardian has obtained photographs and medical reports that support the accounts, described by aid workers as “sickening” and “shocking”.

“The testimonies collected from victims of pushbacks are horrifying,’’ said Charlotte Slente, DRC secretary general. “More than 75 persons in one week have all independently reported inhumane treatment, savage beatings and even sexual abuse.’’

According to migrants’ accounts, the pushbacks occurred in Croatian territory over the border from Velika Kladuša in Bosnia, close to Šiljkovača – a tented forest settlement of around 700 refugees and migrants.

“All of the persons interviewed by DRC bore visible injuries from beatings (bruises and cuts), as a result of alleged Croatian police violence,” reads the DRC report. “According to the statements provided by interviewed victims (with visible evidence of their injuries), pushbacks included brutal and extremely violent behaviour, degrading treatment, and theft and destruction of personal belongings.” One of the testimonies includes a report of serious sexual abuse.

On 12 October, five Afghans, including two minors, crossed the Croatian border near the Šturlić settlement. On the same day, near Novo Selo, an uniformed police officer stopped them and then called two more officers. One of the migrants ran, and the other four were detained at a police station. Two days later they were taken to court, where they say they were to “appear as witnesses in the case launched against the fifth member of the group – the one who escaped”, who had been accused of violent behaviour towards police.

The asylum seekers told the DRC that the original officers then took them “to some unknown location, where they were put in a van in the charge of 10 armed people, dressed in black and with full face balaclavas, army boots and with flashlights on their foreheads”. Their money was taken, their belongings torched and they were ordered to strip to their underwear. The migrants allege that they were forced to lie face down on the ground.

“One man in black was standing on the victim’s hands, preventing any movements,” reads the report. “Legs were also restrained. Once the person was hampered, the beating started. They were punched, kicked, whipped and beaten.” Medical reports confirm that migrants’ injuries are consistent with the use of a whip.

One migrant, MK, says at this point he was sexually assaulted by a man using a branch.

Mustafa Hodžić, a doctor in Velika Kladuša, examined the man. “The patient had wounds all over the back of his body, on his back and legs. I can confirm the signs of clear sexual violence … I have never seen anything like it. Even if it isn’t the first time as a doctor [that] I have seen signs of sexual violence on migrants, which, according the asylum seekers’ accounts, were perpetrated on Croatian territory by Croatian officials dressed in black uniforms.”

One Pakistani migrant told of being intercepted with two others near Croatia’s Blata railway station. The police allegedly ordered them to strip naked before loading them into a van and taking them to a sort of garage, where five other migrants were waiting to be sent back to Bosnia. Awaiting their arrival were men dressed in black.

“They started to beat us with batons, and the third one took his mobile phone and took a selfie with us without clothes,” the Pakistani man said. “The first four of us were on the ground, and we lay next to each other, naked and beaten, and the other four were ordered to lie on us, like when trees are stacked, so we lay motionless for 20 minutes. The last one was a minor. He was from the other group; I saw when the police officer ask him where he was from. He tried to say that he is a minor. He was beaten a lot, and when it was his turn to take off his clothes, he was beaten even more.”

One man added: “A minor from the second group fainted after many blows. His friends took him in their arms, and one of the police officers ordered them to lay him down on the ground. Then they started hitting them with batons. Before the deportation, police told us: ‘We don’t care where you are from or if you will return to Bosnia or to your country, but you will not go to Croatia. Now you have all your arms and legs because we were careful how we hit you. Next time it will be worse’.’’

Small groups of asylum seekers attempt to cross from Bosnia into Croatia nightly on the migrant trail into western Europe. The EU’s longest internal border, it is patrolled by police armed with truncheons, pistols and night vision goggles. Aid workers, doctors, border guards and UN officials have documented systematic abuse and violence perpetrated along the border stretch for several years.

Last May, the Guardian documented a case of more than 30 migrants who were allegedly robbed and had their heads spray painted with red crosses by Croatian officers.

The UNHCR has asked the Croatian government to set up an independent assessment of the border situation.

The details of the latest pushback are in a report that the DRC has shared with the European commission, which has yet to investigate.

‘’The Croatian government and the European commission must act to put a stop to the systematic use of violence,” said Slente. ‘’Treating human beings like this, inflicting severe pain and causing unnecessary suffering, irrespective of their migratory status, cannot and should not be accepted by any European country, or by any EU institution. There is an urgent need to ensure that independent border monitoring mechanisms are in place to prevent these abuses.”

Croatian police and the ministry of the interior have not responded to requests for comment.
A man shows his injured arm as part of evidence alleging assaults on migrants from the Croatian police.

In June, the Guardian revealed EU officials were accused of an “outrageous cover-up” for withholding evidence of the Croatian government’s failure to supervise border forces. Internal emails showed Brussels officials were fearful of full disclosure of Croatia’s lack of commitment to a monitoring mechanism that EU ministers had agreed to fund.

In January, a commission official warned a colleague that Croatia’s failure to use money earmarked two years ago for border police “will for sure be seen as a scandal”.

The recent accusations come as the commission presented its final report on the grant, in which Croatia asserted that the co-financing project had “helped make the implementation of activities of border surveillance more conscientious and of higher quality, with emphasis on the respect of migrants’ rights guaranteed under international, European and national legislation”.

Regarding allegations of abuse, Croatian authorities stated: “Every single [piece of] information and every single complaint was inspected in the process called internal control. We did not establish that the police officers committed any criminal or disciplinary offence in any of the cases.”

Clare Daly, an Irish MEP, is among those who have raised concerns in Brussels. “The blood of these people, so horrifically mistreated on the Croatian border, is on the hands of the European commission. They have enabled this violation of fundamental rights by ignoring the facts presented to them by NGOs and MEPs that all was not well. They turned a blind eye time and again, and now these horrible events have occurred again, even worse than before.”

She added: “The last time such behaviour occurred, the commission rewarded Croatia with an extra grant even bigger than the first one, and said they were happy with how the funds had been spent … when is someone going to be held accountable for these crimes against humanity?


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« Reply #68 on: Today at 03:37 AM »


Italy probes why women's names mark aborted fetuses' graves

AFP
10/21/2020

ROME (AFP) — Italian prosecutors and the government’s privacy watchdog are investigating how the names of women who miscarried or had abortions ended up on crosses over graves for the fetuses in a Rome cemetery.

Rights groups have denounced the grave markings as a gross violation of the women’s privacy, which is protected by the 1978 law that legalized abortion in Italy. While regulations require burial of a fetus after 20 weeks, women who have complained said they never knowingly consented to the burials, much less to having their names put on crosses.

The scandal — brought to light last month when a woman wrote on Facebook about happening upon her name on a cross in Rome's Flaminio Cemetery — has reverberated in this largely Roman Catholic country at a time when women say finding a doctor to perform an abortion has become increasingly difficult and that they face poor treatment when they do.

Women's rights group Differenza Donna says it has so far identified over 1,000 such graves in the Roman cemetery in overgrown plots. The crosses are crude wooden or iron slats, and some of the graves are adorned with filthy stuffed animals or toys that have been left to the elements.

“As if what I went through was not enough, I discovered that at the Flaminio Cemetery there is a tomb with my name on it,” said one of the women, Francesca, whose name appears on a grave. She said she had an abortion in September 2019 after a scan showed her baby would not survive a malformed heart and aorta and that her own life would be at risk if she carried the pregnancy to term.

“Somebody, without my consent, collected the fetus, buried it at the cemetery and put over it a cross with my name and family name on it,” said Francesca, who spoke on condition that her last name not be used because she said she feared retaliation from anti-abortion activists.

Differenza Donna has filed a formal complaint with Rome prosecutors, providing testimony from some of the women who asked the rights group for help. “By displaying names and family names of the women on the crosses, there was a violation of a crucial aspect of the law ... which is the right to privacy and confidentiality for women who voluntarily interrupt the pregnancy,” said the president of Differenza Donna, Elisa Ercoli.

Additionally, some of the women weren’t Christian or religious believers, meaning the crosses violated their freedom of conscience and religion, she said. Parliamentarians have demanded explanations from the public entities implicated, and Italy’s government-appointed guarantor of privacy opened an investigation.

Former Health Minister Livia Turco has led the charge, visiting the cemetery herself. “To me, a cross is a symbol of love,” Turco said. “That a cross could be used as a violent gesture toward a woman who experienced a laceration and profound suffering is a blasphemy that humiliates women and deforms the sense of the cross.”

It is unclear who is to blame, and there are indications the scandal may have more bureaucratic than ideological roots. To answer the question requires untangling a knot of regulations and agencies with sometimes overlapping responsibilities: The public hospital that performs abortions in Rome, the local health system and the AMA garbage collection agency are all pointing fingers at one another. AMA operates Rome’s cemeteries and is known for its dysfunction.

In addition, seemingly contradictory rules appear to be at play. While Italy’s national abortion law guarantees the woman’s privacy, a 1939 regulation for the mortuary police requires the burial of fetuses aborted after the 20th week.

AMA has cited yet another regulation that requires all graves to be identified. Yet other Italian cemeteries have plots dedicated to fetuses that are not marked with women's names. AMA declined to comment further to The Associated Press.

Dr. Giovanna Scassellati, chief gynecologist at the induced abortion ward of the San Camillo hospital in Rome, said when women come in to terminate a pregnancy, they are given the option of arranging burial themselves, or having the hospital arrange for it.

“The story of the fetuses is very serious, but our hospital can’t be blamed for it," she said. “We did not play any role in what happened." Aside from public entities such as AMA, private, Catholic volunteer groups that oppose abortion have entered into agreements with hospitals around Italy to perform the burials, though it is unclear if one was involved in the Flaminio scandal.

The “Defend Life with Mary Association,” a Catholic nonprofit, is one such group. But the group’s vice president, Emiliano Ferri, denied that it ever identified women on a grave for a fetus. Instead, each tomb carries a number that is registered with the authority running the cemetery. A woman could eventually find a grave through that authority.

“How do we work? First of all in complete respect of privacy, not regarding us but in regards to the privacy of those women who aborted,” Ferri said. That said, he acknowledges the religious motivation for his work, which also involves burying younger fetuses if parents request it.

The cemetery scandal has erupted as women in Italy are increasingly reporting that they face discrimination and unsympathetic treatment in the public hospitals that perform the procedures — testimony that Italian newsmagazine L’Espresso has been gathering in a series of reports on what it calls the “torture” that some women undergo.

Even finding a doctor willing to perform the procedure has become difficult: According to health ministry statistics, 68% of Italian gynecologists identify themselves as conscientious objectors and refuse to perform abortions.

“It took me almost 10 days to find a non-objector doctor that would take me in a hospital, and once I entered ... everything went wrong,” said Francesca. She said she was induced without an epidural and said she endured the criticism of medical staff during seven hours of labor for having the procedure. Such late-term abortions are legal if the women's life is at risk.

“Nobody gave me assistance,” she said.


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« Reply #69 on: Today at 03:39 AM »


Polish academics protest 'fundamentalist' education minister

AFP
10/21/2020

WARSAW, Poland (AFP) — Activists dressed as security guards climbed onto a balcony of a Polish Education Ministry building early Wednesday and hung a banner protesting the appointment of a new minister whom they consider to be a religious fundamentalist and a danger to the nation's youth and universities.

Many university academics in Poland are protesting the conservative government’s appointment of Przemyslaw Czarnek, who has said that LGBT people aren't equal to “normal people,” women were created to produce children and who has voiced support for corporal punishment.

The banner that two activists hung said “Boycott Czarnek. Homophobe. Xenophobe. Fundamentalist.” Security guards removed it quickly, before the minister arrived at work, and a large contingent of police officers showed up to question the two activists.

Wearing orange security vests and hardhats, they used a long ladder to climb up to a balcony and hang the banner. Rafal Suszek, a physics professor at Warsaw University who led the operation and was one of the two, told a police officer who questioned him afterwards that he believed a man with Czarnek's “backward views” shouldn't be allowed to have such a position of authority.

Wearing a mask, Suszek added that Czarnek represents a “virus of hate” more dangerous than the coronavirus. Suszek later told The Associated Press that he and his fellow activist were charged with the illegal hanging of banners and not adhering to social distancing rules.

Suszek is one of 2,700 professors and other academics to sign a petition vowing to boycott Czarnek, a member of the ruling conservative party, Law and Justice, who was sworn in this week by President Andrzej Duda.

In his role, Czarnek will oversee the nation’s system of schools and universities. He was named in a recent government reshuffle, but was sworn in two weeks after the other ministers as he recovered from COVID-19.

Duda said that appointing Czarnek would help restore some ideological balance to academia, which he said has been dominated by left-wing views. “In recent years, people trying to achieve higher ranks in scientific development ... have been brutally attacked for not having a worldview that is politically correct, that is, liberal-leftist,” Duda said. He said university life would be made richer by having people with opposing views confront each other.

The protesting academics, however, view Czarnek, who has also taken part in demonstrations organized by a far-right organization, the National Radical Camp, as an extremist and religious fundamentalist who risks damaging Poland’s educational system. They fear his hostility towards gays and lesbians means he won't act to protect young sexual minorities, who sometimes suffer from depression and bullying, and that he could seek to suppress academic research into areas like gender studies.

“Before our eyes a symbolic rape of Polish education and science is taking place,” says the petition. The academics’ petition calls on members of the academic community to boycott events that Czarnek takes part in and to refuse to participate in the work of any collegial bodies that could subvert humanistic values. However, they say they won't take any steps that would hurt their institutions, such as not teaching their students.

During this year's summer presidential campaign that culminated in Duda’s reelection to a second term, Czarnek, who worked on that campaign, drew controversy for language against LGBT people. He said at the time: “Let’s protect ourselves against LGBT ideology and stop listening to idiocy about some human rights or some equality. These people are not equal to normal people.”

After those words, broadcast on TV, caused a huge uproar, he insisted they were taken out of context and he later clarified his view, saying: “LGBT people are people, and LGBT ideology is ideology.” A professor of law at the Catholic University of Lublin, Czarnek had also called LGBT “deviants" and faced disciplinary proceedings at his university for his statements.

The 43-year-old father of two has argued that parents — under certain conditions — have the constitutional right to inflict corporal punishment on their children. He has suggested that women's key role is to have children and that they should start early.

In a lecture last year during a scholarly conference, he argued that modern society’s message that women can first pursue a career “and then maybe a child … leads to dire consequences.” “The first child is not born at the age of 20-25, but at the age of 30. When the first child is born at the age of 30, how many of these children can be born? These are the consequences of explaining to a woman that she does not have to do what God has called her to do,” said Czarnek, whose own wife has a Ph.D. in biology and also teaches at his university.


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« Reply #70 on: Today at 03:53 AM »

Donald Trump paid nearly $200,000 in taxes to China, report claims

New York Times says records reveal company bank account in China, and documents show he paid more tax there than at home

Lily Kuo in Beijing
Guardian
Wed 21 Oct 2020 06.47 BST

Donald Trump maintains a bank account in China where he pursued licensing deals for years, according to a report that could undermine the president’s election campaign claim that he is tough on Beijing.

Tax records reviewed by the New York Times showed a previously unreported bank account in China controlled by Trump International Hotels Management. The account paid $188,561 in taxes in China between 2013 and 2015 in connection to potential licensing deals, according the newspaper.

Earlier reporting by the Times showed he paid just $750 in US taxes in 2016 and 2017.

The recent tax records also showed Trump invested at least $192,000 in five companies charged with pursuing business deals in China. Those companies claimed $97,400 in business expenses, including payments as recently as 2018, the Times reported.

Trump has waged his re-election campaign on his ability to stand up to China on issues from trade to human rights abuses in Xinjiang and political repression in Hong Kong as well as accountability for the spread of Covid-19. Under Trump, ties between China and the US have reached their lowest point in decades.

The disclosures also come after Trump accused his opponent, Joe Biden, of being “weak on China” and described the Biden family as “selling out our country” to China. The Trump campaign has run attack ads against Biden’s son for having “inked a billion-dollar deal” with the government-owned Bank of China, allegations that have been not been substantiated.

Trump has previously pursued an office tower project in Guangzhou in southern China that did not come to fruition. AFP reported in 2016 that the Trump Hotel Collection negotiated with the government owned electricity company, State Grid Corporation of China, to brand and manage a major development in Beijing, resulting in a deal worth up to $150 million over 15 years. Negotiations were put on hold after the state-owned enterprise became the focus of a corruption probe.

A lawyer for the Trump Organization, Alan Garten told the Times that the company had “opened an account with a Chinese bank having offices in the United States in order to pay the local taxes”.

“No deals, transactions or other business activities ever materialized and, since 2015, the office has remained inactive,” he said.

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Six key findings from the New York Times' Trump taxes bombshell

The president pays little, faces hefty audit costs as well as loans coming due soon, and Ivanka is not in the clear   

Guardian staff
10/21/2020

The publication of Donald Trump’s tax records by the New York Times is one of the biggest bombshells to hit a 2020 election campaign already buffeted by a litany of scandals, a bitter fight over a supreme court nomination and a pandemic in which 7m Americans have been infected and more than 200,000 have died.

The president’s taxes have long been the great white whale of political reporters in America as well as prosecutors keen to find evidence of wrongdoing. Democrats too were eager to seize on them as a potentially game-changing stick with which to beat the Trump campaign.

The Times, with its shock report published on Sunday evening, appears to have won the race. Its publication of details from the documents could send shock waves through the campaign as the key first debate between Trump and challenger Joe Biden looms, in Ohio on Tuesday night.

Here are its key findings:

Trump pays little tax

The Times reported that Trump paid no federal income taxes in 11 of 18 years the newspaper looked at. In 2017, after he became president, his tax bill was only $750. This is despite Trump often railing against taxes in America and ushering through a series of tax cuts that critics say mostly helps the rich and big business.

    Barack Obama and George W Bush each regularly paid more than $100,000 a year

The Times said of Trump’s immediate predecessors: “Barack Obama and George W Bush each regularly paid more than $100,000 a year.”

A long audit – with potentially hefty costs

Trump is involved in a decade-long audit with the Internal Revenue Service over a $72.9m tax refund he claimed, and received, after declaring huge losses. A ruling against him could cost him more than $100m, the Times reported.

It added: “In 2011, the IRS began an audit reviewing the legitimacy of the refund. Almost a decade later, the case remains unresolved, for unknown reasons, and could ultimately end up in federal court, where it could become a matter of public record.”

The president’s oldest daughter, while working as an employee of the Trump Organization, appears to have received “consulting fees” that helped reduce the family’s tax bill, the Times said. Such a revelation might further tarnish the reputation of Ivanka, a senior White House adviser married to another, Jared Kushner, who often tries to distance herself from some of the biggest scandals of her father’s administration. She is widely believed to harbor political ambitions of her own after Trump leaves office.

The Times reported: “Trump’s private records show that his company once paid $747,622 in fees to an unnamed consultant for hotel projects in Hawaii and Vancouver, British Columbia. Ivanka Trump’s public disclosure forms – which she filed when joining the White House staff in 2017 – show that she had received an identical amount through a consulting company she co-owned.”

    His lenders could be placed in the unprecedented position of weighing whether to foreclose on a sitting president

Trump businesses lose money

The Times was brutal in its assessment of Trump’s businesses, about which he often boasts and on the back of which he sought to promote a carefully curated image as a master businessman. “Trump’s core enterprises – from his constellation of golf courses to his conservative-magnet hotel in Washington – report losing millions, if not tens of millions, of dollars year after year,” the newspaper said.

It detailed how since 2000, Trump has reported losing more than $315m at his golf courses, with much of that coming from Trump National Doral in Florida. His Washington hotel, which opened in 2016 and has been the subject of much speculation regarding federal ethics laws, has lost more than $55m.

Trump has a big bill to pay

The newspaper also reported that Trump is facing a major financial bill, as within the next four years, hundreds of millions of dollars in loans will come due. The paper said Trump is personally responsible for many of those obligations.

The paper reported: “In the 1990s, Mr Trump nearly ruined himself by personally guaranteeing hundreds of millions of dollars in loans, and he has since said that he regretted doing so. But he has taken the same step again, his tax records show. He appears to be responsible for loans totaling $421m, most of which is coming due within four years.”

In a blunt summary of the problem, the Times speculated: “Should he win re-election, his lenders could be placed in the unprecedented position of weighing whether to foreclose on a sitting president.”

Trump businesses profit from his presidency

The issue of whether Trump’s businesses benefit from his position in the White House has been one of the long-running themes of reporting on the Trump presidency. The global nature of the Trump Organization and its portfolio of hotels, resorts and other interests has left Trump open to speculation that lobbyists, business leaders and foreign powers could spend money in them to try and peddle influence in the US.

The Times report on his tax returns is clear that Trump’s businesses have indeed benefited from his political career.

“Since he became a leading presidential candidate, he has received large amounts of money from lobbyists, politicians and foreign officials who pay to stay at his properties or join his clubs,” the newspaper reported, before detailing monies paid at his Mar-a-Largo resort in Florida, his Washington hotel and other locations.

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Progressives unite for last-ditch effort to delay Amy Coney Barrett vote — by impeaching Bill Barr

Raw Story
10/21/2020

Progressive activists are urging House Democrats to essentially kill two birds with one stone by impeaching Attorney General Bill Barr — which would delay the confirmation vote for Judge Amy Coney Barrett.

“Attorney General Barr has acted to subvert the laws that he, as our nation’s chief federal law enforcement official, is duty-bound to uphold,” more than 20 progressive groups signed in a joint letter.

“Attorney General Barr has made a career out of undermining our democracy and it is pellucidly clear that he has been ramping up efforts to undermine the upcoming elections and invalidate the votes of millions of Americans,” the groups wrote.

The groups explained that the Democrats in the House of Representatives have power that Senate Democrats lack — they can delay the confirmation of Judge Barrett’s nomination to the Supreme Court by impeaching Barr, as it would force action by the Senate and scuttle the current calendar being pushed by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) according to Senate rules.

    .@senatemajldr: "We'll be voting to confirm Justice-to-be Barrett next Monday."#SCOTUS #SCOTUSnominee pic.twitter.com/fTaQhfZHy2

    — CSPAN (@cspan) October 20, 2020

“Should you impeach Attorney General Barr prior to October 32rd, the Senate would be required to take one of two actions. On one hand, the Senate would be obligated to hold a trial, which would occupy a day or more of floor time and delay the hasty and irregular consideration of Amy Coney Barrett as a Supreme Court associate justice,” the groups explained. “In the alternative, Senate Republican leadership would be forced to go ‘nuclear’ by changing the rules that govern how that chamber responds to receiving articles of impeachment from the House of Representatives.”

“Either outcome is desirable,” the groups concluded.

Demand Progress, Our Revolution and the Sunrise Movement were among the progressives organizations that signed on to the strategy.

    New: 20+ progressive groups, including the Sunrise Movement and Our Revolution, signed onto a letter urging Nancy Pelosi to back impeaching AG Barr. They said it "would have the salutary effect of delaying the confirmation process and may help push it towards after Election Day." pic.twitter.com/con05vfwuF

    — Holly Otterbein (@hollyotterbein) October 21, 2020

    More than 20 progressive groups are urging House Democrats to impeach Bill Barr next week, an impeachment that would have to be dealt with on the Senate floor ahead of ACB.

    Letter: pic.twitter.com/rbFt6PCEtR

    — Ryan Grim (@ryangrim) October 21, 2020

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Trump ‘abruptly’ storms out of 60 Minutes interview and refuses to return: report

Raw Story
10/21/2020

President Donald Trump was said to have “abruptly” ended an interview with 60 Minutes correspondent Leslie Stahl at the White House.

According to CNN correspondent Kaitlan Collins, the “drama” occurred on Tuesday afternoon.

“Apparently there was some drama while President Trump was taping his 60 Minutes interview today,” Collins wrote on Twitter. “He abruptly ended his solo interview after around 45 minutes & did not return for a scheduled walk & talk he was supposed to tape with Pence, @abdallahcnn and I are told by sources.”

    Apparently there was some drama while President Trump was taping his 60 Minutes interview today. He abruptly ended his solo interview after around 45 minutes & did not return for a scheduled walk & talk he was supposed to tape with Pence, @abdallahcnn and I are told by sources.

    — Kaitlan Collins (@kaitlancollins) October 20, 2020

Minutes after the interview, the president tweeted an attack on Stahl for allegedly not wearing a mask at the White House.

    President Trump sat down with Lesley Stahl for about 45 minutes Tuesday before he abruptly ended the interview and told the network he believed they had enough material to use, two sources tell @abdallahcnn & @kaitlancollins https://t.co/v2nRHccDMN

    — Vivian Salama (@vmsalama) October 20, 2020

“Vice President Joe Biden and California Sen. Kamala Harris were also interviewed by ’60 Minutes’ and all four are scheduled to appear in the same program on Sunday,” CNN reported. “While Biden and Harris taped their interviews separately, Trump and Pence were scheduled to appear on camera together, like they did four years ago, for a walk and talk session. But Trump did not return for the appearance with Pence, sources said.”

“Stahl previously said that during an off-camera conversation with Trump in 2016, when he was running for President, he admitted his attacks on the press were meant to discredit negative stories that emerged about him,” CNN noted.

The interviews are set to air Sunday.

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Trump mask-shames CBS reporter Lesley Stahl — and ominously warns ‘much more to come’

Raw Story
10/21/2020

President Donald Trump has spent months belittling people for wearing masks during the COVID-19 pandemic.

His anti-mask attitude reportedly resulted in White House and campaign staff not wearing masks so as to avoid angering their boss.

And Trump has repeatedly attacked Joe Biden for wearing facial coverings — even after the president was hospitalized for COVID-19.

But on Tuesday, Trump dramatically shifted his position and mask-shamed CBS “60 Minutes” reporter Lesley Stahl, posting video of her not wearing a mask while Trump was.

Trump included video of their interview in his tweet:

    Lesley Stahl of 60 Minutes not wearing a mask in the White House after her interview with me. Much more to come. pic.twitter.com/0plZG6a4fH

    — Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 20, 2020

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America is on pace for record-shattering early voter turnout — including in critical states: report

By Matthew Chapman
Raw Story
10/21/2020

On Tuesday, The Washington Post reported that voters are casting early ballots in numbers on track to set a historic record — including in some critical battleground states.

“Early-voting counts suggest a record level of civic participation before Election Day. The tens of millions of ballots already cast show highly enthusiastic voters are making sure their votes are counted amid a pandemic,” said the report.

15.8 million people in battleground states have already voted, and in some states, like Michigan and Wisconsin, more people have voted early so far than did in the entire early voting period of 2016. In North Carolina, meanwhile, 2 million ballots have been cast — more than double the same amount at this point in 2016.

Part of this is being driven by the expansion of mail-in voting, spurred by the coronavirus pandemic.

“More voters than ever before can vote by mail this election,” said the report. “While some western states have long conducted their elections by mail, others, such as New Hampshire, are allowing all voters to cast ballots by mail for the first time. Several key states — such as Wisconsin Arizona, and Iowa — greatly expanded mail-in voting, bringing to 12 the number of states that now mail absentee applications to everyone registered.”

“Despite weeks of campaigning and news still to come, the election is actually well underway,” concluded the report. “A large share of Americans have not just made up their minds — they have sealed in their vote.”


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« Reply #71 on: Today at 04:02 AM »


Sam Elliott narrated a powerful new Joe Biden ad — and it aired during Game 1 of the World Series

on October 21, 2020
Raw Story
By Bob Brigham

Actor Sam Elliott narrated a new ad for Joe Biden that aired during Game 1 of the World Series.

“There is only America,” Elliott said. “No Democratic rivers, no Republican mountains, just this great land and all that’s possible on it — with a fresh start.”

“Cures we can find, futures we can shape, work to reward, dignity to protect,” Elliott continues, as the Star Spangled Banner plays quietly on a piano in the background.

“There is so much we can do if we choose to take on problems and not each other,” the narrator continues. “And choose a president who brings out our best.”

“Joe Biden doesn’t need everyone in the country to always agree, just too agree we all love this country, and go from there,” Elliot explained.

    The Biden campaign ran this 60-second spot nationally tonight during Game 1 of the #WorldSeries on FOX — pic.twitter.com/kxraB1L6EK

    — Medium Buying (@MediumBuying) October 21, 2020

Watch: https://twitter.com/MediumBuying/status/1318716343311544320

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WATCH: Lincoln Project targets Pennsylvania voters with devastating new ad as Trump visits the state

on October 21, 2020
Raw Story
By Sarah Toce

In a new ad released Tuesday for The Lincoln Project, the narrator says, “There’s mourning in Pennsylvania. Today, hundreds of thousands of Americans have died from a deadly virus Donald Trump ignored. Praising China’s response instead of heeding the warnings, then blaming them to cover his own failures.”

The ad continues, “With the economy in shambles, people in Pennsylvania are still out of work. One of the worst economies in decades.”

The ad was released on the same day President Donald J. Trump planned to visit the state.

Watch: https://youtu.be/FUtFHhd9G5k

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WATCH: Drew Barrymore is terrorized by Donald Trump in ‘Scream’ spoof

Raw Story
10/21/2020

Actress Drew Barrymore reprised the role of the character Casey Becker from the hit 1996 movie “Scream.”

Barrymore’s character was killed at the beginning of the film after receiving a threatening phone call.

In the spoof, Barrymore answers a cordless phone to and hears crazy things President Donald Trump has said.

The skit was filmed for comedian Samatha Bee’s “Full Frontal” on TBS.

    Hard to believe it’s been over twenty years since the movie Scream came out and even longer since Trump took office. Don’t believe us? Here’s scream queen @DrewBarrymore and the president having a perfect phone call. pic.twitter.com/aPZo4nmGiZ

    — Full Frontal (@FullFrontalSamB) October 20, 2020

Watch: https://twitter.com/FullFrontalSamB/status/1318658416106180610


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« Reply #72 on: Today at 07:12 AM »


Experts: ‘Destructive’ Donald Trump is getting desperate — and his psyche is unraveling right before our very eyes

on October 21, 2020
By Alan D. Blotcky & Seth D. Norrholm
Raw Story

Despite the outbreak and spread of the coronavirus at the White House, Donald Trump still insists that “it’s going to disappear.” To make matters worse, he proclaims, “We have a cure.” We have lost 220,000 Americans to a deadly pandemic. And what does he say? “I’m immune. So the president is in very good shape to fight the battles.” He continues to promulgate lies and misinformation about the pandemic.

At his rally in Florida in front of 7,000 supporters, Trump announced, “I feel so powerful. I’ll walk into that audience, I’ll walk in there, kiss everyone in that audience. I’ll kiss the guys and the beautiful women, just give you a big fat kiss.” This is hypomanic hypersexuality from our president.

Last Thursday evening at his town hall on NBC, Trump admitted that he had retweeted a QAnon conspiracy theory that the killing of Osama bin Laden was fake and had been staged by Barack Obama and Joe Biden. A bizarre conspiracy theory gone awry.

On Friday, Trump told a crowd in Georgia that he “might have to leave the country” if he loses the election to Biden. That sounds like a semi-confession of his corruption.

At a campaign rally in Wisconsin on Saturday, he asserted that the National Guard’s physical altercations with protesters were “beautiful.” Trump’s glorification of violence.

At his rally in Michigan on the same day, he criticized Gov. Gretchen Whitmer — recently the subject of a kidnapping plot busted by the FBI — and the crowd chanted, “Lock her up.” His response: “Lock them all up.” Trump’s vindictiveness toward political foes.

Donald Trump is a desperate man. His recklessness is growing by the hour as his poll numbers are failing and his presidency is coming to a crashing end. His mental pathology is front and center. His psyche is unraveling before our eyes.

Trump is in an existential crisis of his own making. George Conway — a lifelong Republican, Washington attorney and co-founder of the Lincoln Project — summed it up best when we reached out to him: “We’ve seen how he is continuing to reach new depths. He realizes he is headed toward destruction.”

Trump is now wildly out of control with his ranting tweets, lies, conspiracy theories, threats, gaslighting and erratic behavior. His pronouncements are getting more disturbed and destructive. He is telling senior citizens that they are not vulnerable to the coronavirus. He is telling the public that they should not let the coronavirus dominate their lives. He even stated that he must be a perfect physical specimen because he recovered from COVID-19 so quickly (completely disregarding the powerful cocktail of drugs he received). He was recently live on the air twice in one day on Fox News, airing his unmoored grievances, soothing his injured ego, projecting ridiculous grandiosity and collecting narcissistic fuel.

Alarmingly, Trump is losing his grip on reality. He is agitated. He seems to be hypomanic — quite likely exacerbated by his COVID-19 medications. He has become paranoid. He has been calling out for his political opponents to be indicted. He has been preoccupied with a totally fake conspiracy theory about Barack Obama and Joe Biden spying on his campaign. He is lashing out at some of his most loyal cabinet members. He is even blaming Gold Star families for giving him COVID-19.

Trump is on a collision course with self-destruction. He has lost all ability for rational and reasonable discourse with the American people. His performance during the presidential debate on Sept. 29 was shocking and disheartening. He was hostile and rude. He showed no self-control. He was flailing. Trump even canceled his second debate with Biden — he was looking for a way out.

Trump now feels cornered and exposed. His sense of entitlement is threatened. His grandiosity and superiority are crumbling. What he fears most is being embarrassed and humiliated. After all, he has spent his whole life branding himself as smarter and stronger and richer than anyone else. His “false self” persona is being chipped away hour by hour.

The emperor is about to have no clothes.

As Trump’s desperation grows, his mental pathology is becoming more amplified. He is looking unhinged because he is unhinged. It is all we can see — a man who is erratic and unrestrained and debilitated. He is always defensive. He grumbles and roars and blames others. He is incapable of taking responsibility for his own decisions and behavior. He is incapable of leading and governing.

Trump’s desperation includes a scorched-earth mentality. If he is going down, he wants to bring everyone and everything down with him. He has no hesitation to break laws or destroy people. Democratic institutions and principles mean nothing to him. All that matters is his survival, his preservation, his continued power.

The end is in sight. But Trump will go down fighting. He will hold onto power until the last possible moment. It will have to be stripped away from him. He will not facilitate a peaceful transfer of power to Biden. He will cry out that he is the victim of a conspiracy. Unbelievably, he will seek sympathy for himself. He will urge his supporters to strike out in anger and aggrievement. He will bask in the glow of his victimhood.

Trump will leave behind a deadly pandemic. He will leave behind a country that is divided and tribal. Racism and xenophobia and terrorist groups have become prominent. Far too many of us have stopped believing in science, the truth and the free press.

We are facing two more weeks of Trump’s desperation and mental pathology. Each day will seem unending. Each day will be exhausting.

Two more weeks until our votes are finally cast and counted.

Two more weeks until Trump’s chaos, incompetence and corruption can be ended.


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