AuthorTopic: Knarf's Knewz Channel  (Read 1525767 times)

Offline knarf

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 Ryan Goodman recently highlighted an important revelation contained in the memo written by Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee: Not only had the Russians told the Trump campaign that they had dirt on Hillary Clinton in the form of thousands of emails, but they had also previewed for George Papadopoulos, a foreign policy adviser on the campaign, that they could help with disseminating them.

This revelation would suggest significant legal exposure on its own. But when viewed within the broader context of what we know about the Russia investigation, it is further evidence of an extremely troubling pattern of interactions between the Trump campaign and Russia-linked operatives, which show an intertwining of two campaigns to elect Donald Trump: one run out of Trump Tower and one run out of the Kremlin.

Goodman and the experts he spoke with identified four types of actions that could create criminal liability for the Trump team stemming from this new information: if the campaign consulted with the Russians on their plans to disseminate the emails, if the Trump campaign gave tacit assent or approval or support, if Trump officials intentionally encouraged the Russians, or if they sought to conceal the facts of a crime. Just looking at the publicly available information shows the outlines of a potential legal case against members of the Trump team along these very lines.

As campaign finance law expert Paul S. Ryan points out, campaigns cannot coordinate with foreign nationals on any expenditure that seeks to influence a U.S. election. Coordination includes cooperation, consultation, or acting in concert with, or at the request or suggestion of the candidate or his team. A key word is or—each of those actions could independently suffice to establish a violation.

The emails to set up the now infamous June 9, 2016, Trump Tower meeting contain a particularly incriminating piece of evidence on this score. While significant focus has been given to Donald Trump Jr.’s enthusiastic response to the offer of damaging information on Clinton as “part of Russia and its government’s support for Mr. Trump,” equal attention should be paid to the rest of his response, in which he says that such information would be helpful “especially later in the summer.” In this statement, Trump Jr. was not only communicating a willingness to collude with Russia; he was also telling them when the campaign thought the release of such information would be most politically useful. What’s more, as Bob Bauer has noted, when Trump Jr. told the Russian lawyer the information that she presented on Clinton-related donors was not valuable, he “aided the Russians by providing access to its judgments about attacks that would be ineffective.” That too was a form of consultation and assistance.

After Trump Jr. shared his assessment of the best timing for the release of damaging material on Clinton, WikiLeaks, which the U.S. intelligence community assessed with high confidence was provided the stolen Democratic emails by Russia, released a slew of emails later that summer right before the Democratic National Convention, exacerbating divisions within the Democratic Party and undermining the convention’s unifying message.

This was not the only instance when the Russian and American campaigns to elect Trump appeared to be well-coordinated. Perhaps the starkest example was the timing of WikiLeaks’ release of the hacked emails of John Podesta, chairman of the Clinton campaign. His emails were made public a scant 29 minutes after the Washington Post broke the story late on a Friday afternoon of the Access Hollywood tape in which Trump bragged about sexually assaulting women. This move was guaranteed to blunt the negative effects of the Post story but also dampened coverage of WikiLeaks’ release. What makes little sense as a strategy for an independent organization seeking attention and page views makes perfect sense for a campaign seeking to limit damage to its candidate.

Moreover, despite widespread reporting that the Trump campaign was disorganized and unfocused, it proved surprisingly effective at weaponizing the Clinton-linked emails released by WikiLeaks. Trump mentioned the website 164 times—an average of more than five times per day—in the final month of the campaign, including during all three presidential debates. In one notable instance, the Trump campaign and its supporters were very quick to find and highlight a supposedly anti-Catholic email from 2011 among the many pages of Podesta’s emails that were released by WikiLeaks. The email was used to attribute bias to Clinton in an effort to drive down her numbers among Catholics, a particularly important voting demographic in the Rust Belt states that Trump was targeting.

 Goodman notes that the Trump team would also face legal liability for participating in the Russian conspiracy to defraud the United States, for which Special Counsel Robert Mueller indicted 13 Russian nationals and three Russian companies, if they provided tacit assent or support for their activities. Trump Jr.’s affirmative response to the offer of help from the Russian government is an important data point, as is Trump’s repeated use of the leaked emails on the campaign trail. We now know that Trump Jr. was also exchanging private messages with WikiLeaks both during and after the campaign. In one instance, Trump tweeted about the hacked emails just 15 minutes after WikiLeaks messaged Trump Jr. suggesting his father promote them. Trump Jr. wasn’t the only person talking with the people behind WikiLeaks; both Roger Stone and the head of Cambridge Analytica, a firm the Trump campaign employed to help with data analytics, were also reportedly in contact with them.

Members of the Trump campaign could also be subject to liability for acting as accomplices to the Russians by actively encouraging them in their illegal actions. While we do not know how Papadopoulos and others on the campaign reacted to the specific information regarding the potential dissemination of the emails, we do know that the Trump campaign was supportive of Papadopoulos’ repeated efforts to set up meetings between the campaign and Russia after he learned of the emails. In one instance, Sam Clovis, national campaign co-chairman, responded to a Papadopoulos email about the campaign meeting with Russian leadership by telling him he was doing “great work.”

We also know that the Trump campaign was actively encouraging the Russians to continue their hacking efforts. Trump himself explicitly called on Russia to steal Clinton’s emails in July 2016. This public request, which some have brushed off as a joke or too obvious to be viewed as genuine, takes on greater significance in light of reports in the Steele dossier from that summer that the Russians were becoming concerned about the political fallout from their hacking efforts and were looking to lay low in the near future. If these claims are accurate, then Trump’s exhortation could have been an attempt to buck up a now-recalcitrant partner and make sure they continued their efforts to help his campaign. It may have also been a way for the candidate himself to communicate unmistakably to Moscow that he was supportive of Trump Jr. and other affiliates’ interactions with the Russians.

Finally, Goodman notes that the Trump team could potentially have committed a crime by helping to conceal any felony committed by Russian operatives. Here the publicly available information is sparse about exactly who in the campaign knew about which aspects of Russian efforts to undermine the election, and what actions they took as a result.

But what we do know is that the Trump team undertook a massive effort to cover up its collusion with Russia. They repeatedly denied any contacts with Russian officials, calling the claims “absurd,” “disgusting,” and even “dangerous.” But subsequent reporting, admissions, and indictments have revealed there were many, many contacts between the Trump team and Russia-linked operatives, including numerous in-person meetings. Knowledge about these contacts was widespread in the campaign: Donald Trump Jr., Jared Kushner, Paul Manafort, Rick Gates, Jeff Sessions, Sam Clovis, and Corey Lewandowski all knew, as did many others.
Yet no one on the campaign ever revealed these contacts or told the authorities about Russia’s hacking and offers of help. In fact, they actively participated in the cover-up by lying about their contacts every step of the way. There’s no question that the Trump team was hiding its contacts with Russia-linked operatives—the only question is whether that cover-up exposes them to criminal liability as a result.

In the final analysis, we know there were two campaigns trying to elect Donald Trump, that the Trump campaign was eager to work with its Russian counterpart, and that they had repeated and frequent contacts with Russia-linked operatives. We know that the two campaigns adopted similar strategies and appeared to act in concert during critical moments of the election season. And we know that despite widespread knowledge within the Trump campaign of these contacts, the Trump team did everything in its power to cover it up. That included not only lying to the public but also lying to federal authorities. In short, we know that they colluded. What remains to be found is the extent of that collusion and the legal liability that may result from it.

But given the information that has already been made public, it seems highly likely that we’ll see more indictments before the Mueller investigation is over.

https://slate.com/news-and-politics/2018/03/muellers-choice-of-criminal-charges-why-the-trump-team-should-be-very-worried.html
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The feel-good media coverage of corporate bonuses and raises tied to the new tax law overlooks one important question: what tangible economic impact is the law having on the country’s 30 million small businesses and the people they employ?

It could be that the dearth of news coverage is due to the fact that the byzantine new rules for small-business owners make it hard to calculate the law’s impact. It could be because the meager tax savings small-business owners may receive are temporary and unremarkable when compared to the permanent 40 percent tax cut their corporate brethren were gifted. Or, as a new poll by Businesses for Responsible Tax Reform suggests, it could be that there is not much to report because small-business owners don’t expect the law to help them grow their businesses or invest in their employees.

We conducted a public opinion poll of small-business owners in the battleground states of Arizona, Nevada, Maine and Tennessee with the express purpose of learning what the tax cuts will mean for their business growth. What we found is most small-business owners don’t think the possible benefits of new law will enable them to invest in their businesses and believe it further tilts the playing field in favor of big corporations:

    Seven in 10 small-business owners said they would not hire a new employee as a result of the new tax law.
    Six in 10 small-business owners said they would not be giving their employees raises.
    54 percent of small-business owners say the tax law favors large corporations over small businesses.
    55 percent of respondents do not believe the law puts small businesses on a level playing field with big businesses.
    Importantly, given the partisan nature of the law, 41 percent identify as Republican, 31 percent as Democrat and 28 percent as independent or something else.

Clearly the new law—which has come under fire for heavily favoring large corporations—is not going to do much to help small-business owners grow their businesses. Nor is it going to allow them to invest in the millions of people they employ. That is a travesty, considering the size and economic importance of our country’s small-business sector and the focus on jobs and the economy since the 2016 election. These poll results show a law policymakers promised would reinvigorate the entire economy instead leaves half of it behind, widening the gap between the haves and the have-nots.

Small-business owners are at the center of American life and prosperity and employ half the country’s private workforce. They represent 99.9 percent of all firms in the country, employ nearly 60 million people, generate 33 percent of the country’s export value and have created 62 percent of the country’s net new jobs since 1993, according to the Small Business Administration. Since the Great Recession they have been even stronger in job creation. Since 2008, they created two out of three private-sector jobs, putting America back to work after the biggest economic slump we’ve had since the Great Depression.

How was their economic might rewarded? With a convoluted tax law that gives every advantage to their wealthy corporate competitors rather than supporting small-business growth.

The bottom line is this tax law doesn’t treat small businesses like the job creators they are. Small-business owners may get a nominal and temporary tax cut, but they clearly think it won’t be enough to invest in employees or grow their businesses. Meanwhile, their corporate competitors will rake in billions that they can use to compete for quality employees, undercut prices of their small-business competitors and feather their nests. Policymakers hope that, with a few extra bucks in their pockets, small-business owners will forgive and forget that corporations and the wealthy are getting the vast majority of the benefit from this $1.4 trillion tax bill.

That’s pretty shabby treatment for the companies that are the economic engine of our country. And as the media continues to report on one corporate windfall after another, it’s a snub every small-business owner will feel.

http://thehill.com/blogs/congress-blog/economy-budget/377892-poll-most-small-business-owners-say-they-will-not-hire
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Democrat Doug Jones waves to supporters Tuesday, Dec. 12, 2017, in Birmingham, Ala. In a stunning victory aided by scandal, Jones won Alabama's special Senate election. Democratic enthusiasm continues at every level of government.

In 2004, George W. Bush showed up to campaign at the Golden Lamb Inn in Warren County, Ohio, and left with a hotel room named after him. In 2008, John McCain and Sarah Palin appeared at the same venue in suburban Cincinnati, cheered on by thousands. And in 2012, Mitt Romney made a similar late-fall push to energize his base in a county renowned for its staunch Republican bent.

But in 2017, in that same county, Democrats won more than a dozen local contests. And now, as the midterm election cycle heats up, Democrats there say the enthusiasm is only intensifying. It’s a reflection of the broader Democratic energy that is unfolding at every level of government in the Trump era, in some of the most traditionally Republican counties in the country—yet another worrisome sign for Republicans bracing for a difficult midterm year.

"It's a tough political environment,” said Nick Everhart, an Ohio-based GOP operative. “All of these state legislative special and off-year 2017 races across the country have been canaries in the coal mine. When there's a tough political environment, Ohio isn't the exception to the rule, it's the tip of the spear."

The extent to which local Democratic motivation can translate into votes in marquee races—as it did in the Virginia governor’s race and Alabama special Senate race late last year—will again be put to the test Tuesday, this time in Pennsylvania. President Donald Trump won the state’s 18th district by a large margin, but Republicans are now worried about the special election there, pouring in millions of dollars to avoid defeat in a deeply conservative area.

But well ahead of Tuesday’s special election, Republicans were already seeing fresh warning signs at the hyper-local level elsewhere in the country, especially in suburban areas that have long formed the backbone of the GOP but that are now drifting from the Trump brand at the local and state legislative level—from Warren County to the suburbs of Philadelphia, St. Louis and Sarasota, Fla.

“There are local cases you could write off to weird circumstances, but it would be a mistake for Republicans to write off, ignore, the movement going on in the suburbs,” said Scott Jennings, a veteran GOP strategist.

Previously sleepy Democratic parties are revving up, with each small local victory stoking enthusiasm for the next bigger contest.

Certainly, few people expect Warren County, which backed Trump with 66.5 percent of the vote in 2016, to turn blue in the 2018 elections. Democrats have historically been so beleaguered there that in both 2012 and 2016, they confronted piles of manure dumped in front of their headquarters.

But the startling results from last fall have remained top of mind for some operatives in the area who took the outcome as evidence of space for more Democratic pick-up opportunities in the midterms, especially in the suburbs. And for some Republicans, it’s served as an urgent alarm bell.

“If Republicans don’t look at this and take it as a warning sign, they’re burying their heads in the sand,” said one Ohio Republican operative familiar with the county, granted anonymity to candidly assess the GOP’s landscape. "You cannot look at that many Democratic victories in that much of a reliably Republican area and conclude anything other than, there’s an overall problem for Republicans.”

The excitement generated by those unexpected victories has sparked more interest in future races. According to the Ohio Democratic Party, an unusually high number of Democrats are now planning runs for precinct executive positions in Warren County – low-profile roles, but a sign of grassroots enthusiasm—and the GOP-held First District of Ohio, which includes Warren County and other corners of moderate suburban Cincinnati, is also increasingly considered competitive.

“It shows, at every level, from statehouse to Congress and now the precinct level, Democrats are raising their hands and saying, ‘I’m ready to go,’” said Ohio Democratic Party Chairman David Pepper.

Bethe Goldenfield, the chair of the Warren County Democratic Party, said that at least a few disillusioned Republicans have reached out to her, expressing alarm over the polarizing direction of their party under Trump, whose hardline, controversial style has alienated some moderates.

“I just got off the phone with a woman an hour ago who wants to become involved in the party,” she said in a recent interview. “It’s about Donald Trump. She’s never voted Democratic in her life.”

“On a cumulative basis,” she said, “it’s going to get us more votes, plus with our people more motivated—because what happens, sadly, is fear and anger motivate people a lot.”

Jeff Monroe, the GOP chairman in Warren County, is skeptical. Party ID wasn’t included on the ballot last November, muddying the argument that those races were a referendum on the GOP (though it’s usually not included, and Republicans typically win, a local report noted), and contests like a township race were litigated over ultra-local issues.

“Did it happen? Yeah, it did. It was driven by a very, very localized development,” Monroe said, going on to add, “I personally don’t think Warren County is going to be any different than it has been in the past. Warren County is going to show up, the vote count is going to be roughly 70 percent or better for most Republican candidates. That’s just where we are.”

Overall, he said, the vast majority of Republicans in the county are happy with the president, reflecting national polling that shows vibrant GOP support for Trump, especially after he signed the tax reform measure, which is also increasingly viewed favorably.

But national polls aside, the same trend of historic local Democratic gains in longtime GOP strongholds is playing out across the country.

Consider Chester County, Pa., in suburban Philadelphia, where for the first time in the county’s centuries-long history, according to local news reports, Democrats won a series of local positions called county row offices.

Democratic Chair Brian McGinnis described the victories as “surreal,” adding that they have given “a lot of hope to people.” And an “unprecedented” number of Democrats have now filled local party committee slots, he said.

“We were second-class political citizens in Chester County,” he said. “Now we have a real opportunity to win some of these races.”

It was a similar story elsewhere in the Philadelphia suburbs, including in nearby Bucks County, where in November Democrats had their strongest showing for county row seats in more than 50 years.

“It is largely driven by mainstream voters, mainstream Republicans and independents, being displeased by the tone and style of the administration, coupled with a historic off-year intensity by Democratic voters who wanted to make a statement,” Rep. Ryan Costello, a Republican whose highly competitive district is anchored in Chester County, told McClatchy at the time.

Since then, Republican voters in the area have been enthused by the tax reform measure—but a host of other developments, from a deadly mass shooting and new suburban-rooted pushes for gun control, to Trump’s war with many in his own party over tariffs, have overshadowed that issue.

“Republican performance is concerning, it’s something the party has got to be worried about ahead of all of these congressional races that feature suburban populations,” Jennings, the GOP strategist, said. “The way back home in these suburbs is through the economy: the economy is getting better, selling tax cuts, making people in suburbs feel Republicans are executing promises…but for the last several weeks, that has certainly not been the prevailing message of the day, on any given day.”

There is plenty of time between now and the midterm elections for Republicans to get back on message—and outside groups and campaigns are planning expensive television ad campaigns to do just that. And Democrats are hardly a sure bet in some of these more moderate congressional districts, especially as they deal with their own divisive primaries and an energetic progressive base that is inclined toward candidates that could be too left-leaning in a general election.

But back in Warren County, Monroe, the GOP chairman there, didn’t dispute that Democrats are energized.

“Democrats are fired up in the suburbs of Cincinnati,” he acknowledged. “Whether or not they’re able to pull more than what we typically see, is 30 percent of the vote—I just don’t see that happening in Warren County. However, they are fired up, obviously, Democrats everywhere are fired up about what’s going on.”

http://www.charlotteobserver.com/news/politics-government/article204576259.html
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Administration recently terminated temporary protected status for all individuals from El Salvador, Haiti, Nicaragua and Sudan


 Many of the TPS-holders have resided in the US for 20 or more years, but will be forced to leave the country if the administration’s new policy remains in effect.

A lawsuit is being filed on Monday to overturn Donald Trump’s decision to end immigration protections for more than 200,000 people from four Central American and African nations the president reportedly called “shithole countries”.

The legal action is the first to challenge the terminations on behalf of the American children of temporary protected status (TPS) holders, and the first to challenge all four TPS terminations imposed by the White House.

TPS is an immigration status granted to certain countries experiencing dire conditions such as an armed conflict, epidemic or natural disaster, and protects individuals from deportation and authorizes them to work in America for extended periods.

But the Trump administration recently adopted a far narrower interpretation of the federal law governing TPS, then used it to terminate TPS status for all individuals from El Salvador, Haiti, Nicaragua and Sudan.

Salvadorans make up about two thirds of the total beneficiaries. In January, the Department of Homeland Security said it cancelled TPS for them because the dangerous conditions created by earthquakes in 2001, which killed more than a thousand people, no longer exist. The country has rebuilt from the damage but continues to suffer drought, gang violence and economic strife.

Orlando Zepeda, 51, a father of two and member of the National TPS Alliance, a coalition established and led by TPS holders, said: “I have lived here almost twice as long as I ever lived in El Salvador. My home and family are here. The decision to end TPS for El Salvador and other countries was devastating. Today we join together to say that it was also illegal.”

Many of the TPS-holders have resided in the US for 20 or more years, but will be forced to leave the country if the administration’s new policy remains in effect. Tens of thousands of US citizen children will then be forced to either separate from their parents or leave the only country they have ever known.

The lawsuit is brought by nine people with TPS rights and five US citizen children of TPS holders. It will be filed in US district court in San Francisco by the ACLU Foundation of Southern California, the National Day Laborer Organizing Network (NDLON) and the law firm of Sidley Austin.

Ahilan Arulanantham, advocacy and legal director of the ACLU of Southern California, said: “These American children should not have to choose between their country and their family.”

A draft complaint seen by the Guardian makes the argument that the “new rule violates the constitutional rights of school-age United States citizen children of TPS holders, by presenting them with an impossible choice: they must either leave their country or live without their parents.”

The complaint also contends that the administration’s restrictive view of the TPS laws was unconstitutional as it was adopted to further the administration’s anti-immigrant, white supremacist agenda. Earlier this year, during a negotiation over the fate of people who have TPS status, Trump allegedly referred to the affected nations as “shithole countries”.

Emi MacLean, staff attorney for NDLON, said: “With the stroke of a pen, this administration upended the lives of hundreds of thousands of people lawfully residing in the United States for years and sometimes decades. But in terminating TPS in the way that it did, this administration was exercising authority it did not have.”

The plaintiffs are members of organisations fighting to defend TPS including the National TPS Alliance, Carecen-Los Angeles, the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades (IUPAT), Unite-Here, and African Communities Together.

https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2018/mar/12/trump-lawsuit-tps-immigration-deportation
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Betsy DeVos Struggles To Answer Simple Questions In ’60 Minutes’ Interview
« Reply #11749 on: March 12, 2018, 04:27:38 PM »
Education Secretary Betsy DeVos sat down with CBS’ Lesley Stahl for a “60 Minutes” interview that aired Sunday evening, and DeVos repeatedly stumbled as she faced simple yet pointed questions from Stahl.

DeVos is known for her advocacy for school choice, but she was unable to say whether her push to allow students to obtain vouchers and use taxpayer money to attend private schools has improved the public school system. Facing questions about her school choice advocacy from Stahl, DeVos cited a Florida study that she claims shows that the voucher system does improve the public schools that children flee.

“Now, has that happened in Michigan?” Stahl asked, referencing DeVos’ home state.

“Yes, well, there’s lots of great options and choices for students here,” DeVos replied.

The education secretary was unable to say whether the number of false accusations of sexual assaults in schools was higher than the number of assaults.

“Are you in any way, do you think, suggesting that the number of false accusations are as high as the number of actual rapes or assaults?” Stahl asked.

“Well, one sexual assault is one too many, and one falsely accused individual is one too many,” DeVos replied.

“Yeah, but are they the same?” Stahl pressed.

“I don’t know. I don’t know,” DeVos answered. “But I’m committed to a process that’s fair for everyone involved.”

DeVos also said that states should have the “option” of allowing teachers to carry guns but admitted she had trouble picturing her first grade teacher carrying a weapon.

https://talkingpointsmemo.com/livewire/devos-60-minutes-interview

“Have the public schools in Michigan gotten better?” Stahl followed up.

DeVos couldn’t say.

“I don’t know. Overall, I, I can’t say overall that they have all gotten better,” she said.

Later, Stahl asked DeVos if she had visited the schools performing the worst.

“I have not, I have not, I have not intentionally visited schools that are underperforming,” DeVos replied.

“Maybe I should,” DeVos then said when Stahl suggested she visit those schools.
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Trump: Without me 'Olympics would have been a total failure'
« Reply #11750 on: March 12, 2018, 04:29:44 PM »
President Trump took credit for the success of the 2018 Winter Olympic Games in South Korea at a rally in Pennsylvania on Saturday.

During a campaign rally for state Rep. Rick Saccone (R), who is running for Congress, Trump also took credit for a lessened threat of nuclear attack surrounding the games.

"I'll tell you, we did a great job on the Olympics," Trump said. "President Moon of South Korea said without Donald Trump the Olympics would have been a total failure."

"It's a little hard to sell tickets when you think you are going to be nuked," he added. "But when North Korea called and said they wanted to be in the Olympics, everybody said let's get tickets and go."

Trump also touted his decision to accept a meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un to talk about denuclearization, something which Trump said previous administrations would not or could not have attempted.

"When the South Korean representatives who just left North Korea came outside, a big throng of press, they announced Kim Jong-un would like to meet with President Trump," the president told the crowd.

"Well, they say well, Obama could have done that. Trust me, he wouldn't have done it. By the way, neither would bush or Clinton," he added, continuing: "Anybody could have done it. Obama could have done it. Obama had his chance."

Trump shocked many in Washington and around the world this week when he announced that he had accepted a meeting with North Korea's Kim on the grounds that North Korea would cease missile tests in the weeks leading up two the two leaders' historic talks.

"The deal with North Korea is very much in the making and will be, if completed, a very good one for the World," Trump tweeted Friday. "Time and place to be determined."

https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/politics/trump-without-me-olympics-would-have-been-a-total-failure/ar-BBK5Pqq
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School Daze - Kunstler
« Reply #11751 on: March 12, 2018, 04:34:43 PM »
Sunday night was Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos’s turn through the CBS 60-Minutes wringer of censure with a visibly frustrated inquisitor Lesley Stahl trying to hector her into self-incrimination. The sad truth about American schools is that they’re a mirror for the painful collapse of the society they supposedly serve — a process ongoing for decades before Ms. DeVos came on the scene.

The expectation that some uber-regent can or ought to fix public education is bound to disappoint a news media searching for saviors. The further we leave the 20th century behind, the more anomalous its organizing principles look, especially the idea of preparing masses of young people for mass, regimented work at the giant corporate scale.

There’s a big divergence underway between the promises of schooling and the kind of future that the 21st century is actually presenting — of no plausible careers or vocations besides providing “therapy” and policing for the discontented masses stewing in anomie and compensatory pleasure-seeking, with all its nasty side effects. In the meantime, we’re stuck with wildly expensive, out-of-scale, giant centralized schools where the worst tendencies of human status competition are amplified by smart phones and social media to all but eclipse classroom learning.

Education in the years to come is destined to become more of a privilege than a right, and it will probably depend more on how much an individual young person really desires an education than just compelling masses of uninterested or indisposed kids to show up everyday for an elaborate and rather poorly supervised form of day-care. But it’s difficult to let go of old habits and obsolete arrangements, especially when we’ve spent countless billions of dollars on them.

I call the future a World Made By Hand because it is going to be entirely unlike the sci-fi robotic fantasy that currently preoccupies the thought-leaders in this culture. A lot of what will be required in this time-to-come will be physical labor and small-scale skilled work in traditional crafts. There never were that many job openings for astronauts, not even in the 1960s, but in the decades ahead there will be none — notwithstanding Elon Musk’s wish to colonize Mars.

Even if you believe the current model of education must be defended and “fixed,” two issues stood out in Ms. DeVos’s interrogation. One was the question of behavior in the classroom. The Dept of Education under Mr. Obama put out a directive to reduce suspensions of black and Hispanic students because they were being punished at a greater rate than whites and Asians and it looked bad.

Lesley Stahl tried to put over this idea as if it were just a matter of racial animus.

“…let’s say there’s a disruption in the classroom,” she said, “and a bunch of white kids are disruptive and they get punished, you know, go see the principal, but the black kids are, you know, they call in the cops. I mean, that’s the issue: who and how the kids who disrupt are being punished.”

I doubt that it happens that way. Rather, it’s probably the case that there is more disruption among the black student demographic, and probably more violent disruption. The reasons may range from bad parenting (especially absent fathers), inability of students to express themselves (and subsequent frustration) due to poor language skills that are not corrected in school, and the victim narrative that emanates from the universities and distorts culture everywhere else. But to actually state that would be branded as “racist,” so the authorities have to dissemble acrobatically to evade the truth, and in the end it’s learning that suffers.

The other issue was the Obama-era directive (“guidance,” they call it) that sexual misconduct be prosecuted more aggressively by colleges and universities. That led to an era of campus kangaroo courts in which due process of law was cast aside in favor of medieval-style star chambers where the accused had no right to a lawyer, or cross-examination of their accusers, and other established legal protections. Apparently, the producers of 60-Minutes thought that was a good idea, and that Betsy DeVos should not attempt to change it.

Of course, school shootings are the most shocking symptom that something has gone terribly wrong in the system we’ve set up for occupying children and teens. It will be very hard to do anything about that without turning the buildings into something like medium security prisons. We’ve already managed to design them to look like that, but now we’re seriously talking about turning teachers into armed guards. And I’m sure we’ll be spending additional billions to fortify the entrances with metal detectors and officers to mind them. That will only shove the school districts a little closer to bankruptcy.

I felt a little sorry for Ms. DeVos. She seems to understand, at least, that the trend is taking us away from the system we currently know to some uncharted territory of social organization.

http://kunstler.com/clusterfuck-nation/school-daze/
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Nestle, Coca-Cola to Privatize World's Second Largest Aquifer
« Reply #11752 on: March 12, 2018, 04:40:39 PM »


A concerted push is underway in South America that could see one of the world’s largest reserves of fresh water soon fall into the hands of transnational corporations such as Coca-Cola and Nestle. According to reports, talks to privatize the Guarani Aquifer – a vast subterranean water reserve lying beneath Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, and Uruguay – have already reached an advanced stage. The deal would grant a consortium of U.S. and Europe-based conglomerates exclusive rights to the aquifer that would last over 100 years.

Named after the Guarani indigenous people, the Guarani Aquifer is the world’s second largest underground water reserve and is estimated to be capable of sustainably providing the world’s population with drinking water for up to 200 years. Environmental groups, social movements, and land defenders warn that the exploitation of the freshwater reserve could see the 460,000-square mile (1.2 million sq. km.) reservoir sacrificed for the short-term profits of agribusiness, energy, and food-and-drink giants.

For global behemoths like U.S.-based Coca-Cola and Swiss Nestle, the extraction and sale of drinking water – a finite resource and a basic necessity for all living beings – is especially lucrative. Water intended for public use is enriched with various minerals or combined with cheap sweeteners and other ingredients before being bottled and sold at a massive profit.

The plunder of South America’s water

In Brazil, intense lobbying has been underway since at least 2016 to tap into the aquifer. These efforts fell under the spotlight late last month at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, where private talks were reported between Brazil’s President Michel Temer and a range of top executives with interests in the aquifer, including Nestle CEO Paul Bulcke, Anheuser-Busch InBev CEO Carlos Brito, Coca-Cola CEO James Quincey, and Dow Chemical CEO Andrew Liveris.

As leading Brazilian water-rights activist Franklin Frederick noted in Brasil de Fato, these companies belong to the 2030 Water Resources Group (2030WRG), a transnational consortium that includes AB Inbev, Coca-Cola, Dow, Nestle and PepsiCo. 2030WRG bills itself as “a unique public-private-civil society collaboration” and hides its intention to privatize developing nations’ water supplies by claiming to “facilitate open, trust-based dialogue processes to drive action on water resources reform in water-stressed countries in developing economies” and “close the gap between water demand and supply by the year 2030.”

According to corporate accountability advocates, in truth the group is “an unmistakably activist campaign by the private water industry to gain funding and credibility for a radical power grab.”

Temer’s coup and the “new Brazil”

Brazil’s unelected President Temer is no stranger to radical power grabs: the deeply unpopular head of state came to power himself in August 2016 through a legislative coup that deposed his predecessor, Dilma Rousseff. Since then, his government has implemented a broad-ranging restructuring of Latin America’s largest economy and rolled back progressive policies established by the previous Workers Party government, such as environmental protections, poverty reduction programs, labor protections, and barriers to the privatization of natural resources.

According to Correio do Brasil, negotiations between coup figures and transnational conglomerates regarding the privatization of the Guarani Aquifer kicked off before the impeachment trial of former elected President Rousseff had even begun. In an article from August 2016 titled “Multinationals want to privatize water use and Temer negotiates,” a senior official in Brazil’s National Water Agency noted that a public hearing on the privatization of water was postponed on the same day the impeachment process began, because talks between Temer, Coca-Cola and Nestle were already “striding forward” at a rapid pace.

The newspaper noted:

"Representatives of [Nestle and Coca-Cola] have held meetings with government authorities to formulate procedures for exploitation by private companies of water sources, especially in the Guarani Aquifer, in concession contracts for over 100 years — [the senior official] added.”

At the Davos forum, Temer trumpeted his government’s 20-month track record of transforming Brazil into a readily-exploitable country rich with opportunities for transnational capitalist elites:

"The new Brazil that is back in business … is a more prosperous, a more open country – a country with more opportunities for investment, more opportunities for trade and business … In this short timespan we have succeeded in drastically changing the face of Brazil.”

Brazil’s water wealth has long been a source of profit for the country’s export industries, which deal in such commodities as beef, biofuels, rice, and oil and gas extracted through hydraulic fracturing. However, the deregulation of public control over land use and resource management has resulted in the reckless plunder of water resources, major pollution, and land grabs affecting indigenous nations and the rural poor in the region.

While a third of the Guarani Aquifer lies beyond Brazil’s borders, the right-wing governments in neighboring Argentina and Paraguay have also reportedly agreed to grant 100-year concessions to companies wishing to exploit the aquifer, with only Uruguay’s left-of-center government refusing to grant approval.

Militarization and the imperialist theft of Latin America’s resources

The push to privatize the Guarani Aquifer comes amid an increased militarization of the region by the Pentagon.

In May of 2016, the neoliberal government of Argentine President Mauricio Macri agreed to grant permission to the U.S. military to build a base in the jungle region known as the Triple Border, which lies directly on top of the Guarani Aquifer on the borders of Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay. U.S. officials and media figures have long claimed that the area is a hotbed of alleged criminal activity, such as drug trafficking and counterfeiting intended to raise funds for Lebanese resistance movement Hezbollah.

As far back as 2004, critics like Elsa Bruzzone of Argentina-based progressive veterans’ group CEMIDA noted accused the U.S. of alleging a “terrorist presence” in the region “so they can install a military base and exert control over the water.”

Relating a common perception, observer Vincent Lofaso of the Council on Hemispheric Affairs also notes that Washington’s interest in the Triple Border may have more to do with the aquifer’s abundant water reserves than with so-called “international terrorism,” and says that the new U.S. base will deprive local indigenous communities of access to clean water supplies, fishing, and the freedom to navigate their region.

Under Temer, as well, the defense establishments of the United States and Brazil have formed an increasingly close relationship, recalling close ties between Washington and Sao Paolo during the 21-year military dictatorship that ruled the country following 1964’s right-wing coup. Last November, U.S. military personnel took part in military drills in the Brazilian Amazon involving 2,000 troops from Brazil, Colombia and Peru – all countries that have right-wing governments that have pushed forward hard-line corporate policies.

As the so-called “pink tide” of progressive elected governments in Latin America recedes and the U.S. reasserts a Monroe Doctrine claiming sovereignty over the Americas, the world faces an ever-increasing danger that our priceless shared environment will fall like ripe fruit into the hands of transnational corporations obsessed with short-term gains rather than protecting humanity’s basic needs for present and future generations.

https://steemit.com/news/@mintpressnews/nestle-coca-cola-to-privatize-world-s-second-largest-aquifer
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Re: 3 deadly package explosions in Austin appear connected, police say
« Reply #11753 on: March 12, 2018, 07:07:20 PM »

Authorities in Austin investigate a package explosion Monday that left one person dead and another injured.

Two package bombs that exploded Monday at residences in Austin, Texas, killing a teenage boy and critically injuring an elderly woman, appear to be linked to a March 2 bomb that killed a man, police said at a news conference.
Here's what we know so far:
• The bombs killed a 39-year-old African-American man on March 2, killed a 17-year-old African-American male early Monday morning, and severely injured a 75-year-old Hispanic woman midday Monday. A woman also was injured in the Monday morning blast.
• The residents found the packages outside their houses, but none was delivered by the Postal Service or delivery services like UPS or FedEx, police said.

• Police also have not decided if these are hate crimes, but said that's a possibility because of the victims' races.
• "The evidence makes us believe these incidents are related," Austin Police Chief Brian Manley said.

All residents of Austin should be careful about packages, Manley said. Investigators have not come up with a motive, and he did not say if anybody has claimed responsibility. It's not known if the victims knew each other or if they were targeted, he said.
"If you've received a package that has been left on your doorstep or left in your yard or left on your driveway that you were not expecting or that was not from someone you know, then give us a call," Manley said.
Likewise, he urged the thousands of visitors in town -- many at the South by Southwest Conference and Festivals -- to be cautious. "Enjoy yourself, have a good time," he said. "But be aware, be suspicious."
SXSW began Friday in downtown Austin, bringing in thousands of people to the state capital. The explosions were not in the immediate vicinity of the festival and authorities say the bombings don't appear connected to the festival.

Authorities have identified one victim. Anthony Stephan House, 39, died from injuries in the March 2 explosion, police said. The elderly woman injured Monday afternoon suffered life-threatening injuries, Manly said.
In describing the Monday morning blast that killed the teenager, the chief said: "What we understand at this point is that early this morning is that one of the residents went out front and there was a package on the front doorstep. They brought that package inside the residence and as they opened that package, both victims were in the kitchen, and the package exploded, causing the injuries that resulted in the young man's death and the injuries to the adult female."
That woman's injuries were not life-threatening, he said.

In the second Monday explosion, the package exploded when the elderly woman picked up the package, the chief said.
The March 2 explosion was first regarded as an isolated incident. Police now classify it as a homicide.
The March 2 blast was reported about 6:55 a.m. in the 1000 block of Haverford Drive. The first Monday blast was reported at 6:44 a.m. in the 4000 block of Oldfort Drive and the second Monday blast was around noon in the 6700 block of Galindo Street.
Police were processing the scene at the first Monday explosion when the second occurred.
Manley said the packages are "average sized delivery boxes, not exceptionally large" that the residents found outside their houses.
"These are very powerful devices," he said, declining to be specific. "There's a certain level of skill required to move a device like this."
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton urged all Texans to be cautious. "With three reported explosions in the Austin area, I want to urge all Texans to report any suspicious or unexpected packages arriving by mail to local law enforcement authorities. Call 911 immediately if you receive something suspicious," he said on Twitter.

Local police, as well as agencies including the FBI, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, are working on the case.
The ATF is processing evidence from the first device at its lab and evidence from the second device will also be sent to an ATF lab for consistency.
Gov. Greg Abbott announced a $15,000 reward for information leading to the identification and arrest of the person or persons involved in the package blasts.

https://www.cnn.com/2018/03/12/us/texas-austin-blasts/index.html

That is such an unlikely crime here. If they figure out who did these bombs , I'm guessing it will turn out to be someone who came to town for South-By-Soutwest. All kinds of crazy shit happens then. Lot's of girls always get rufied and end up in the ER having been sexually assaulted but not remembering. It happened to someone who worked for me.
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Re: 3 deadly package explosions in Austin appear connected, police say
« Reply #11754 on: March 12, 2018, 07:13:04 PM »
That is such an unlikely crime here. If they figure out who did these bombs , I'm guessing it will turn out to be someone who came to town for South-By-Soutwest. All kinds of crazy shit happens then. Lot's of girls always get rufied and end up in the ER having been sexually assaulted but not remembering. It happened to someone who worked for me.

Package Bomb-Making is not a common skill among the typical psychos.  You gotta be pretty intelligent to hook up the trigger mechanism, and you have to get hold of the ingredients.   It appears that Blacks are being targeted as the victims.  I would say it's likely a White Supremacist.  There are plenty of those around Austin.

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Re: School Daze - Kunstler
« Reply #11755 on: March 12, 2018, 10:36:01 PM »
Sunday night was Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos’s turn through the CBS 60-Minutes wringer of censure with a visibly frustrated inquisitor Lesley Stahl trying to hector her into self-incrimination. The sad truth about American schools is that they’re a mirror for the painful collapse of the society they supposedly serve — a process ongoing for decades before Ms. DeVos came on the scene.

//
I felt a little sorry for Ms. DeVos. She seems to understand, at least, that the trend is taking us away from the system we currently know to some uncharted territory of social organization.


Of course this fucker feels sorry for her and DeVos' hoot widdle fee-fees.
OF COURSE any problems stem from  absent fathers and other artifacts of race. NOT A WORD on how charter schools have turned Michigan's schools into a fetid mess. And Leslie Stahl may have looked exasperated, but only. because her subject's ignorance was exceeded only by her hauteur.

Once again, JHK reveals how unreliable he is becoming as an observer, as he sinks into race-based white male comfort, surrounded by his gardens, books and artwork. De Vos positively faceplanted on 60 Minutes-- an utter FAIL on national television. She revealed herself emblematic of Trumpism rolled out in its governing form: a plutocrat with limited expertise but unlimited, entrenched ideology and an bottomless bankroll.

The ever-flexible DeVos on guns (You're recall that during confirmation, she thought guns in the school might not be a bad idea because grizzlies.): "I have actually been asked to head up a task force that will really look at what states are doing. See there are a lot of states that are addressing these issues in very cohesive and coherent ways."

Uh-huh.

That "task force" is a commission established by President Trump. What are the odds it will be an honest attempt to find solutions to the gun violence epidemic in this country? And besides, soon afterwards last Saturday night at a campaign rally Trump derided the same commission:
"We can't just keep setting up blue ribbon committees with your wife and your wife and your husband, and they meet and they have a meal and they talk."

DeVos is one of those true believers unshakably committed to the concept of "school choice," which involves using public, taxpayer money to get public-school students into private charter or parochial schools. Private profit everywhere! Huzzah! When DeVos said, "We have invested billions and billions and billions of dollars from the federal level, and we have seen zero results," Leslie Stahl replied, "But that really isn't true. Test scores have gone up over the last 25 years."

For what that is worth.

In Michigan DeVos and her family have invested tons of Amway money to lobby for school choice, but on Sunday night DeVos claimed not to know how the state's public school system was doing. Asked if the public schools in Michigan gotten better, DeVos replied, ""I don't know. Overall, I—I can't say overall that they have all gotten better." Her solution for failing schools is to take their money away. A true believer, indeed. When asked if she visits underperforming schools, her answer was no, and she seemed to be looking around for the exits.

This interview illustrates what the Trump administration is all about. Educational data, studies, even in-person observation—any verification of whether a policy has worked or will work—don't matter. What MATTERS is justifying the ideology, as quickly as possible to plunder the public purse.

DeVos represents those who believe that privatizing public education is the solution to all our problems. DeVos championed school choice for years in her home state, and public schools there are now doing worse, but that has not impacted her calculus at all. The solution remains more school choice, just as the solution to gun violence is MOAR GUNZ.

And Kunstler thinks Stahl looked exasperated. Fuck, yeah. You would have as well.

JHK waxes increasingly unreliable as an observer.
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Re: School Daze - Kunstler
« Reply #11756 on: March 12, 2018, 10:46:25 PM »
Sunday night was Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos’s turn through the CBS 60-Minutes wringer of censure with a visibly frustrated inquisitor Lesley Stahl trying to hector her into self-incrimination. The sad truth about American schools is that they’re a mirror for the painful collapse of the society they supposedly serve — a process ongoing for decades before Ms. DeVos came on the scene.

//
I felt a little sorry for Ms. DeVos. She seems to understand, at least, that the trend is taking us away from the system we currently know to some uncharted territory of social organization.


Of course this fucker feels sorry for her and DeVos' hoot widdle fee-fees.
OF COURSE any problems stem from  absent fathers and other artifacts of race. NOT A WORD on how charter schools have turned Michigan's schools into a fetid mess. And Leslie Stahl may have looked exasperated, but only. because her subject's ignorance was exceeded only by her hauteur.

Once again, JHK reveals how unreliable he is becoming as an observer, as he sinks into race-based white male comfort, surrounded by his gardens, books and artwork. De Vos positively faceplanted on 60 Minutes-- an utter FAIL on national television. She revealed herself emblematic of Trumpism rolled out in its governing form: a plutocrat with limited expertise but unlimited, entrenched ideology and an bottomless bankroll.

The ever-flexible DeVos on guns (You're recall that during confirmation, she thought guns in the school might not be a bad idea because grizzlies.): "I have actually been asked to head up a task force that will really look at what states are doing. See there are a lot of states that are addressing these issues in very cohesive and coherent ways."

Uh-huh.

That "task force" is a commission established by President Trump. What are the odds it will be an honest attempt to find solutions to the gun violence epidemic in this country? And besides, soon afterwards last Saturday night at a campaign rally Trump derided the same commission:
"We can't just keep setting up blue ribbon committees with your wife and your wife and your husband, and they meet and they have a meal and they talk."

DeVos is one of those true believers unshakably committed to the concept of "school choice," which involves using public, taxpayer money to get public-school students into private charter or parochial schools. Private profit everywhere! Huzzah! When DeVos said, "We have invested billions and billions and billions of dollars from the federal level, and we have seen zero results," Leslie Stahl replied, "But that really isn't true. Test scores have gone up over the last 25 years."

For what that is worth.

In Michigan DeVos and her family have invested tons of Amway money to lobby for school choice, but on Sunday night DeVos claimed not to know how the state's public school system was doing. Asked if the public schools in Michigan gotten better, DeVos replied, ""I don't know. Overall, I—I can't say overall that they have all gotten better." Her solution for failing schools is to take their money away. A true believer, indeed. When asked if she visits underperforming schools, her answer was no, and she seemed to be looking around for the exits.

This interview illustrates what the Trump administration is all about. Educational data, studies, even in-person observation—any verification of whether a policy has worked or will work—don't matter. What MATTERS is justifying the ideology, as quickly as possible to plunder the public purse.

DeVos represents those who believe that privatizing public education is the solution to all our problems. DeVos championed school choice for years in her home state, and public schools there are now doing worse, but that has not impacted her calculus at all. The solution remains more school choice, just as the solution to gun violence is MOAR GUNZ.

And Kunstler thinks Stahl looked exasperated. Fuck, yeah. You would have as well.

JHK waxes increasingly unreliable as an observer.

I smell a blog article in here.

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A Company Is Building 3D-Printed Homes For Just $10,000
« Reply #11757 on: March 13, 2018, 03:17:14 AM »
A Texas-based company is using 3D printing technology to find a solution to the growing problem of affordable housing around the world.

Austin startup ICON unveiled a new method of mass producing small homes with a massive 3D printer in a process that the company says takes just 12 to 24 hours. At the annual film and innovation festival known as SXSW, the company showed off how it could construct a 650-square-foot house out of cement in one day.

<a href="http://www.youtube.com/v/SvM7jFZGAec&fs=1" target="_blank" class="new_win">http://www.youtube.com/v/SvM7jFZGAec&fs=1</a>

Partnering with housing solutions nonprofit New Story, the Texas builders are hoping to achieve their vision of creating sustainable, “quality homes accessible to everyone.” ICON isn’t just focused on building homes fast, but is aiming to make them extremely affordable as well.

Using an industrial sized Vulcan printer, ICON says it can currently build their single-story home for $10,000 but is working to drop that cost to just $4,000. “It’s much cheaper than the typical American home,” ICON co-founder Jason Ballard told The Verge. In comparison, some Americans have chosen to downsize into “tiny homes” which can cost nearly $40,000 and are only between 200 and 400-square-feet in size.

“(ICON) believes, as do I, that 3D printing is going to be a method for all kinds of housing,” New Story co-founder Alexandria Lafci added. The presentation at SXSW comes after a report from the World Resources Institute estimated that 1.2 billion people live in cities without affordable or secure housing.

The partners are hoping to build a community of 100 3D-printed homes in El Salvador next year.

http://denver.cbslocal.com/2018/03/12/3d-printed-homes-10000-dollars/
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Microplastic pollution in oceans is far worse than feared, say scientists
« Reply #11758 on: March 13, 2018, 03:21:42 AM »
A study reveals highest microplastic pollution levels ever recorded in a river in Manchester, UK and shows that billions of particles flooded into the sea from rivers in the area in just one year


 Plastic pollution is known to harm marine life and can enter the human food chain via our food and water.

The number of tiny plastic pieces polluting the world’s oceans is vastly greater than thought, new research indicates.

The work reveals the highest microplastic pollution yet discovered anywhere in the world in a river near Manchester in the UK. It also shows that the major floods in the area in 2015-16 flushed more than 40bn pieces of microplastic into the sea.

The surge of such a vast amount of microplastic from one small river catchment in a single event led the scientists to conclude that the current estimate for the number of particles in the ocean – five trillion – is a major underestimate.

Microplastics include broken-down plastic waste, synthetic fibres and beads found in personal hygiene products. They are known to harm marine life, which mistake them for food, and can be consumed by humans too via seafood, tap water or other food. The risk to people is still not known, but there are concerns that microplastics can accumulate toxic chemicals and that the tiniest could enter the bloodstream.

“Given their pervasive and persistent nature, microplastics have become a global environmental concern and a potential risk to human populations,” said Rachel Hurley from the University of Manchester and colleagues in their report, published in Nature Geoscience.

The team analysed sediments in 10 rivers within about 20km of Manchester and all but one of the 40 sites showed microplastic contamination. After the winter floods of 2015-16, they took new samples and found that 70% of the microplastics had been swept away, a total of 43bn particles or 850kg. Of those, about 17bn would float in sea water.

“This is a small to medium sized catchment in the north of England, it is one flood event, it is just one year – there is no way that [5tn global] estimate is right,” said Hurley. The researchers said total microplastic pollution in the world’s oceans “must be far higher”.

The worst hotspot, on the River Tame, had more than 500,000 microplastic particles per square metre in the top 10cm of river bed. This is the worst concentration ever reported and 50% more than the previous record, in beach sediments from South Korea. But Hurley said there may well be worse places yet to me measured: “We don’t have much data for huge rivers in the global south, which may have so much more plastic in.”

“There is so much effort going into the marine side of the microplastic problem but this research shows it is really originating upstream in river catchments,” she said. “We need to control those sources to even begin to clean up the oceans.”

About a third of microplastics found by the team before the flooding were microbeads, tiny spheres used in personal care products and banned in the UK in January. This high proportion surprised the scientists, who said the beads may well also derive from industrial uses, which are not covered by the ban.

Erik van Sebille, at Utrecht University in the Netherlands and and not part of the research team, said the work does support a much higher estimate of global microplastic pollution in the oceans: “I’m not surprised by that conclusion. In 2015, we found that 99% of all plastic in the ocean is not on the surface anymore. The problem is that we don’t know where that 99% of plastic is. Is it on beaches, the seafloor, in marine organisms? Before we can start thinking about cleaning up the plastic, we’ll first need to know how it’s distributed.”

Anne Marie Mahon, at the Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology in Ireland and also not part of the research team, said: “I am actually glad to see the estimate going up a bit, just to show there is this huge contribution coming from the freshwater system.” However, she cautioned that not all the microplastics shown in the study to be flushed out by the floods necessarily entered the sea – some may have been washed over the floodplain instead.

“It is very difficult to tell how this plastic may be affecting us,” Hurley said. “But they definitely do enter our bodies. The missing gap is we need to know if we are getting contaminants inside us as a result of plastic particles.”

The smallest particles that could be analysed in the new research were 63 microns, roughly the width of a human hair. But much smaller plastic particles will exist, and Hurley said: “It is the really small stuff we get worried about, as they can get through the membranes in the gut and in the bloodstream – that is the real fear.”

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/mar/12/microplastic-pollution-in-oceans-is-far-greater-than-thought-say-scientists
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National Geographic acknowledges past racist coverage
« Reply #11759 on: March 13, 2018, 03:24:05 AM »


National Geographic acknowledged on Monday that it covered the world through a racist lens for generations, with its magazine portrayals of bare-breasted women and naive brown-skinned tribesmen as savage, unsophisticated and unintelligent.

“We had to own our story to move beyond it,” editor-in-chief Susan Goldberg told The Associated Press in an interview about the yellow-bordered magazine’s April issue, which is devoted to race.

National Geographic first published its magazine in 1888. An investigation conducted last fall by University of Virginia photography historian John Edwin Mason showed that until the 1970s, it virtually ignored people of color in the United States who were not domestics or laborers, and it reinforced repeatedly the idea that people of color from foreign lands were “exotics, famously and frequently unclothed, happy hunters, noble savages_every type of cliché.”

For example, in a 1916 article about Australia, the caption on a photo of two Aboriginal people read: “South Australian Blackfellows: These savages rank lowest in intelligence of all human beings.”

In addition, National Geographic perpetuated the cliche of native people fascinated by technology and overloaded the magazine with pictures of beautiful Pacific island women.

This examination comes as other media organizations are also casting a critical eye on their past. The New York Times recently admitted that most of its obituaries chronicled the lives of white men, and began publishing obituaries of famous women in its “Overlooked” section.

In National Geographic’s April issue, Goldberg, who identified herself as National Geographic’s first woman and first Jewish editor, wrote a letter titled “For Decades, Our Coverage Was Racist. To Rise Above Our Past, We Must Acknowledge It.”

“I knew when we looked back there would be some storytelling that we obviously would never do today, that we don’t do and we’re not proud of,” she told AP. “But it seemed to me if we want to credibly talk about race, we better look and see how we talked about race.”

Mason said he found an intentional pattern in his review.

“People of color were often scantily clothed, people of color were usually not seen in cities, people of color were not often surrounded by technologies of automobiles, airplanes or trains or factories,” he said. “People of color were often pictured as living as if their ancestors might have lived several hundreds of years ago and that’s in contrast to westerners who are always fully clothed and often carrying technology.”

White teenage boys “could count on every issue or two of National Geographic having some brown skin bare breasts for them to look at, and I think editors at National Geographic knew that was one of the appeals of their magazine, because women, especially Asian women from the pacific islands, were photographed in ways that were almost glamour shots.”

National Geographic, which now reaches 30 million people around the world, was the way that many Americans first learned about the rest of the world, said professor Samir Husni, who heads the Magazine Innovation Center at the University of Mississippi’s journalism school.

Making sure that kind of coverage never happens again should be paramount, Husni said. “Trying to integrate the magazine media with more hiring of diverse writers and minorities in the magazine field is how we apologize for the past,” Husni said.

Goldberg said she is doing just that, adding that in the past, the magazine has done a better job at gender diversity than racial and ethnic diversity.

“The coverage wasn’t right before because it was told from an elite, white American point of view, and I think it speaks to exactly why we needed a diversity of storytellers,” Goldberg said. “So we need photographers who are African-American and Native American because they are going to capture a different truth and maybe a more accurate story.”

National Geographic was one of the first advocates of using color photography in its pages, and is well known for its coverage of history, science, environmentalism and the far corners of the world. It currently can be found in 172 countries and in 43 languages every month.

https://apnews.com/52098332431c4ef1be3046487451684e/National-Geographic-acknowledges-past-racist-coverage
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