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FBI arrests member of rightwing militia accused of detaining migrants
« Reply #12480 on: April 20, 2019, 04:10:13 PM »
Larry Mitchell Hopkins accused of illegal weapons possession after videos apparently showed men stopping migrants in New Mexico


 Men including Jim Benvie, a spokesman for the militia calling itself the United Constitutional Patriots, share cigarettes while patrolling the US-Mexico border in Sunland Park, New Mexico last month.

A member of an armed rightwing militia group accused of illegally detaining migrants at the US-Mexico border has been arrested, officials said on Saturday.

The FBI arrested Larry Mitchell Hopkins, 69, for alleged unlawful possession of firearms and ammunition , days after his group posted videos that appeared to show armed men stopping migrants at the border in New Mexico, ordering them to sit on the ground and coordinating with US border patrol agents to have them taken into custody.

“Today’s arrest by the FBI indicates clearly that the rule of law should be in the hands of trained law enforcement officials, not armed vigilantes,” the New Mexico attorney general, Hector Balderas, said in a statement.

On Thursday, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) called for an investigation into the pro-Trump, anti-immigrant men who have been patrolling the border and calling themselves the United Constitutional Patriots (UCP).

The ACLU in New Mexico described the group as “an armed fascist militia organization” made up of “vigilantes”, saying they were working to “kidnap and detain people seeking asylum” and had directly made illegal arrests and held migrants at gunpoint.

Hopkins’ role in the group was unclear, and it was also not clear if he was facing any charges directly related to the videos of the men stopping migrants. The New Mexico attorney general’s office described Hopkins as a “dangerous felon who should not have weapons around children and families” and labeled him an “armed individual detaining migrants at the border”.

An FBI statement on the arrest did not mention the militia group or the detention of migrants, but noted that Hopkins has also gone by the name Johnny Horton Jr and that he was due to appear in court on Monday.

In one video posted last Monday night by Jim Benvie, a member of the armed group, it appeared the men were ordering around dozens of migrants, including many children, and telling them to sit. Benvie narrated: “There’s no border patrol here. This is us.”

The men appeared to call border patrol agents, who later were seen. The ACLU, in a letter to state officials, said the group had targeted nearly 300 migrants in Sunland Park, New Mexico, which is along the Mexico border and adjacent to El Paso, Texas.

The militia members advocated for Trump’s proposed border wall on the video streams and echoed the president’s anti-migrant rhetoric, warning of an “invasion”.

There have also been concerns that the men, who wear military-style clothes, could be misrepresenting themselves as border patrol agents. In another video, Benvie filmed himself stopping a group of four adults and three children and said “border patrol” as he approached, before calling for another member of his group to join him. In an apparent call to border patrol, one man said: “Hello, I’ve got seven over here.”

The UCP has previously presented itself as a group of “volunteers” aiding border patrol and supporting Trump. In recent years, there have been numerous reports of an increase in paramilitary groups and xenophobic activists surveilling the border, working with US agents and targeting undocumented people.

The UCP has not responded to the Guardian’s requests for comment.

On Thursday, a Customs and Border Protection spokesperson said border patrol “welcomes assistance from the community” but “does not endorse private groups or organizations taking enforcement matters into their own hands”.

The Daily Beast reported that Hopkins has a history of pushing far-right conspiracies and has a conviction for impersonating an officer and felony firearm possession. He could not be reached on Saturday and it was not immediately clear if he had a lawyer.

Stephanie Corte, an immigrant rights campaign strategist with the ACLU in New Mexico, said her group was still trying to make contact with the detained migrants and was uncertain if any had been released.

“Our next focus is to try to get their story and making sure they feel safe to tell their story of being held at gunpoint,” she told the Guardian, adding that the ACLU would explore legal options.

She said she hoped authorities would work to make sure this does not happen again.

“We absolutely believe that this was completely unlawful,” she said. “We’re hoping those involved will be brought to justice.”

https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2019/apr/20/fbi-arrests-member-of-rightwing-militia-accused-of-detaining-migrants
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Oregon's Multnomah County Pays $100K in Lawsuit Over Blue Lives Matter Flag
« Reply #12481 on: April 20, 2019, 04:26:32 PM »

FILE - In this July 28, 2016, file photo, a flag with a blue and black stripes in support of law enforcement officers, flies at a protest by police and their supporters outside Somerville City Hall in Somerville, Mass.

PORTLAND, Ore. — An Oregon county has agreed to pay $100,000 to a black employee who sued alleging she was harassed after asking that a Blue Lives Matter flag not be displayed in the office.

Karimah Guion-Pledgure said in her January lawsuit against Multnomah County that the flag demeans the Black Lives Matter movement, The Oregonian/OregonLive reported Saturday. She said she was harassed by others in the office after she and other black co-workers complained.

The settlement, reached Thursday, was first reported by Portland’s alternative bi-weekly newspaper, The Portland Mercury.

Black Lives Matter is an activist movement formed in 2013 that campaigns against violence and systemic racism toward black people.

Proponents of Blue Lives Matter say it’s meant to support and honor the work and sacrifices of law enforcement officers. The Blue Lives Matter flag is a black-and-white American flag with a blue stripe replacing one white stripe in the middle. Thin Blue Line USA, which sells the flags, says the thin blue line represents offices in the line of duty and the black represents fallen officers.

Guion-Pledgure’s lawsuit said the Blue Lives Matter movement “co-opts” the Black Lives Matter movement and “repurposes it to shift focus to law enforcement — a chosen profession, not a racial identity — and thus denigrates, dilutes, and demeans the purpose of the Black Lives Matter movement.”

About a month before the probation officer put up the Blue Lives Matter flag in 2017, white supremacist demonstrators displayed that same flag alongside Confederate flags during a “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, the lawsuit notes.

One person died and dozens of others were injured when a man deliberately rammed his car into the crowd of counter-protesters. Members of Blue Lives Matter condemned the use of their flag at the rally.

After the probation officer’s flag had been on the wall for more than six months, Guion-Pledgure erected an “equity wall” that displayed photos of minorities killed by police, the suit stated.

Managers told her to take down the photos, the lawsuit says, but she refused because the Blue Lives Matter flag remained.

That same day, Guion-Pledgure found two sticky notes affixed to her equity wall reading “Thanks a lot” and “Bitch,” according to the lawsuit.

Guion-Pledgure alleged that her supervisor in the Department of Community Justice didn’t require the flag to be taken down and the conflict caused her extreme stress and health issues.

A week later, managers responded with a new rule that all personal photos displayed needed to be smaller than 5-by-7 inches (13-by-18 centimeters), according to the suit.

Managers are now developing a countywide policy on personal displays of photos and other items in response to the lawsuit, said Multnomah County spokeswoman Jessica Morkert-Shibley.

As part of the agreement, Guion-Pledgure had to resign by Friday but can reapply for a county job.

“She’s disappointed that she has to leave there and that they couldn’t make it a safe and welcoming work environment,” said her attorney, Ashlee Albies. “They say they’re working on that, and we hope they really are.”

Guion-Pledgure had worked for the department since 2011 as a corrections technician.

She originally sought $420,000 in the lawsuit.

http://time.com/5574678/oregon-county-100k-blue-lives-matter-flag/?utm_source=reddit.com

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The Latest: French protesters demand attention from Macron
« Reply #12482 on: April 20, 2019, 04:44:56 PM »
27 pics , can't copy

PARIS (AP) — The Latest on the yellow vest protests in France (all times local):

9:55 p.m.

French yellow vest protesters have set fires along a march through Paris to drive home their message to the government that rebuilding the fire-ravaged Notre Dame Cathedral isn’t the only problem France needs to solve.

Like the high-visibility vests the protesters wear, the scattered small fires in Paris appeared to be a collective plea to French President Emmanuel Macron’s government to “look at me — I need help too!”

Police fired water cannon and sprayed tear gas to try to control radical elements rampaging on the margins of the largely peaceful march.

The protests marked the 23rd straight weekend of yellow vest actions against Macron’s centrist government, which they see as favoring the wealthy and big business. Protesters view themselves as standing up for beleaguered French workers , students and retirees who have been battered by high unemployment, high taxes and shrinking purchasing power.

____

6:35 p.m.

Masked protesters and helmeted riot police have clashed repeatedly in Paris amid tensions on the edges of a yellow vest protest.

Tear gas hung in the air throughout the afternoon Saturday around the Place de la Republique plaza in eastern Paris.

Radical protesters hurled paving stones and flares, attacked at least one boarded-up store, and set fire to a few vehicles. Police repeatedly charged as they tried to contain the crowd.

Associated Press reporters saw at least two journalists injured in the melee.

Meanwhile a separate, smaller crowd of yellow vests marched peacefully toward the cordoned-off neighborhood around the fire-damaged Notre Dame Cathedral. Young women skipped down a street along the Seine River with drummers and singers.

They are urging the French government not to forget the troubles of the poor even as it gathers millions to rebuild the cathedral.

___

3 p.m.

A car, motorbikes and multiple barricades are ablaze in eastern Paris as a yellow vest protest has degenerated into scattered violence.

Paris firefighters are battling multiple small but impressive fires Saturday around the Place de la Republique. The smell of tear gas mixed with black smoke choking the air.

Associated Press reporters saw a car and motorbikes on fire and multiple volleys of tear gas and dispersion grenades, as riot police worked to control the crowd. Several protesters also set flares.

French television showed images of volunteer medics treating a yellow-vested protester lying on the ground.

While that neighborhood was tense, overall Saturday’s yellow vest actions have been peaceful. Many protesters are frustrated that the international effort to help fire-damaged Notre Dame Cathedral has eclipsed the five-month-old yellow vest movement against wealth inequality.

___

2 p.m.

Protesters have set small fires and police have fired tear gas on the sidelines of yellow vest demonstrations in the French capital.

The Paris police headquarters said authorities detained 126 people by early afternoon and carried out spot checks of more than 11,000 people trying to enter the capital for Saturday’s protests.

Police fired tear gas amid tensions at a march of several thousand people from France’s Finance Ministry toward the Place de la Republique plaza in eastern Paris. Barricades were set ablaze at one spot, and branches set on fire elsewhere. Firefighters quickly responded to extinguish the flames.

The march was one of several actions around Paris and other French cities Saturday.

The protesters are angry at high taxes and economic injustice, and are largely peaceful. Some are also frustrated that the effort to save fire-damaged Notre Dame Cathedral is eclipsing the yellow vest movement’s demands.

___

10:15 a.m.

French yellow vest protesters are marching anew to remind the government that rebuilding the fire-ravaged Notre Dame Cathedral isn’t the only problem the nation needs to solve.

Multiple protest events are planned around Paris and other cities Saturday for the 23rd weekend of the yellow vest movement against wealth inequality and President Emmanuel Macron’s leadership.

One group wants to march on the presidential palace despite bigger-than-usual police presence. Another is aimed at showing yellow vest mourning over the Notre Dame blaze while also keeping up pressure on Macron.

Many protesters were deeply saddened by the fire at a national monument. But many are angry at the $1 billion in Notre Dame donations that poured in from tycoons while their own demands remain largely unmet and they struggle to make ends meet.

https://apnews.com/3f73191f04054488b810371bc5e6cd35
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There were no immediate claims of responsibility for the bomb blasts Sri Lanka which was at war for decades with Tamil separatists until 2009 during which bomb blasts in the capital were common.


Sri Lankan elderly woman is helped near St. Anthony's Shrine after a blast in Colombo on Sunday after the multiple explosions that rocket the city.

Easter Day bomb blasts at three Sri Lankan churches and three luxury hotels killed 160 people, including 35 foreigners, and wounded more than 400, hospital and police officials said, following a lull in major attacks since the end of the civil war 10 years ago.

In just one church, St. Sebastian’s in Katuwapitiya, north of Colombo, more than 50 people had been killed, a police official told Reuters, with pictures showing bodies on the ground, blood on the pews and a destroyed roof.

Media reported 25 people were also killed in an attack on a church in Batticaloa in Eastern Province.

The three hotels hit were the Shangri-La Colombo, Kingsbury Hotel and Cinnamon Grand Colombo. It was unclear whether there were any casualties in the hotels.

Nine foreigners were among the dead, the officials said.

There were no immediate claims of responsibility for the attacks in a country which was at war for decades with Tamil separatists until 2009 during which bomb blasts in the capital were common.

Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe called a national security council meeting at his home for later in the day.

One of the explosions was at St Anthony’s Church in Kochcikade, Colombo.

“Our people are engaged in evacuating the casualties,” a source with the bomb squad said.

St. Sebastian’s church posted pictures of destruction inside the church on its Facebook page, showing blood on pews and the floor, and requested help from the public.

Last year, there were 86 verified incidents of discrimination, threats and violence against Christians, according to the National Christian Evangelical Alliance of Sri Lanka (NCEASL), which represents more than 200 churches and other Christian organisations.

Follow updates here

This year, the NCEASL recorded 26 such incidents, including one in which Buddhist monks allegedly attempted to disrupt a Sunday worship service, with the last one reported on March 25.

Out of Sri Lanka’s total population of around 22 million, 70 percent are Buddhist, 12.6 percent Hindu, 9.7 percent Muslim, and 7.6 percent Christian, according to the country’s 2012 census.

In its 2018 report on Sri Lanka’s human rights, the U.S. State Department noted that some Christian groups and churches reported they had been pressured to end worship activities after authorities classified them as “unauthorized gatherings.”

The report also said Buddhist monks regularly tried to close down Christian and Muslim places of worship, citing unidentified sources.

https://www.hindustantimes.com/world-news/blasts-at-two-churches-in-sri-lanka-during-easter-mass-report/story-4ZGmnFNZ0l9JMgZVutYyTJ.html
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At least 5 dead after 3-day severe weather outbreak slams southern, eastern US
« Reply #12484 on: April 21, 2019, 04:56:38 AM »
3 Short videos

A string of violent storms that spawned possible tornadoes on Friday capped off a wild week of severe weather across the southern and eastern U.S.

Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant declared a state of emergency on Friday in response to the tornadoes that left behind a trail of destruction on Thursday. This is the second time in less than a week that a state of emergency has been declared in Mississippi due to tornadoes.

As of Friday afternoon, at least five fatalities had been reported due to the storms. The latest fatality is from a traffic incident involving hydroplaning in Fort Gordon, Georgia, on Friday evening.

Earlier Friday morning, the storm caused the death of an 8-year-old girl in Leon County, Florida. The Leon County Sheriff’s Office report that a tree fell into a house in Woodville, located south of Tallahassee, killing the girl and injuring a 12-year-old boy.


Melissa Constanzer
‏Verified account @ConstanzerWx

Three days of severe weather...



81
10:37 PM - Apr 19, 2019

Three deaths occurred on Thursday - one in Alabama and two in Mississippi.

A 42-year-old woman was killed Thursday night in St. Clair County, Alabama. Monica Clements died when a tree fell on her home, St. Clair County Sheriff’s Office told local news station WRBC. According to officials, Clements’ 10-year-old son was also home at the time of the incident. He sustained minor injuries.

In Mississippi, Amite County Coroner Campbell Sharp told local news station WLBT that 24-year-old Kenderick Magee was killed while driving in the severe weather. Magee's car crashed on Bean Road in the Gillsburg Community. He died as a result of his injuries.

A tree fell onto a vehicle Thursday afternoon in Neshoba County, Mississippi, leaving one person dead, according to the Neshoba Democrat.

There have been widespread power outages as the storms blasted eastward. Over 200,000 electric customers were without power on Friday evening from Mississippi to Florida and northward through Virginia, according to PowerOutage.us. North Carolina topped the list with over 70,000 outages. These numbers started to decline on Friday night.

Travel delays mounted as fallen trees and flooding made some roads impassable. Atlanta's Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport had over 1,000 delays on Friday, and airline delays and cancellations will continue to have ripple effects for travelers across the nation.

Flash flood, severe thunderstorm and tornado warnings clashed in regions of Mississippi and Louisiana Thursday afternoon as a line of vigorous thunderstorms swept through the region. One tornado just missed striking Jackson, Mississippi, but instead passed through the nearby town of Clinton. Cars lay strewn across a Walmart parking lot, knocked over onto their sides while rain continued to fall.

In Utica, Mississippi, authorities reported a Hinds County school bus trapped by two trees on the road. Officials confirm that the driver and children are okay. According to officials, homes have been destroyed in Morton, Mississippi, after severe storms and a potential tornado moved through the area.

Storms ravaged Mississippi, Alabama and the Florida Panhandle before moving into western Georgia on Thursday night. Having seen the destruction that played out in the Mississippi Valley over the past few days, many school districts in central Georgia canceled class for Friday as part of storm preparation tactics.



The multi-day outbreak began on Wednesday afternoon when powerful thunderstorms developed from the Texas Panhandle to central Iowa. One tornado was confirmed near Higgins, Texas, Wednesday evening. Two EF0 tornadoes also struck Missouri, one near Greenfield and another near Meinert.

A rare phenomenon occurred on Wednesday as twin tornadoes – two tornadoes appearing near each other at the same time – touched down 4 miles west-northwest of Shattuck, Oklahoma.

Among Friday's tornadoes, the one that significantly damaged structures in Franklin County, Virginia, was classified as an EF-3.

Download the free AccuWeather app to get severe weather alerts sent directly to your phone. Keep checking back for updates on AccuWeather.com and stay tuned to the AccuWeather Network on DirecTV, Frontier and Verizon Fios.

https://www.accuweather.com/en/weather-news/at-least-5-dead-after-3-day-severe-weather-outbreak-slams-southern-eastern-us/70008025
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Pope admits clerical abuse of nuns including sexual slavery
« Reply #12485 on: April 21, 2019, 05:25:07 AM »

Pope Francis made the admission while visiting the Middle East

Pope Francis has admitted that clerics have sexually abused nuns, and in one case they were kept as sex slaves.

He said in that case his predecessor, Pope Benedict, was forced to shut down an entire congregation of nuns who were being abused by priests.

It is thought to be the first time that Pope Francis has acknowledged the sexual abuse of nuns by the clergy.

He said the Church was attempting to address the problem but said it was "still going on".

Last November, the Catholic Church's global organisation for nuns denounced the "culture of silence and secrecy" that prevented them from speaking out.

The Pope's comments come amid long-running cases of sexual abuse of children and young men by priests at the Church.

What did Pope Francis say?

Speaking to reporters while on a historic tour of the Middle East on Tuesday, the pontiff admitted that the Church had an issue, and the roots lay in society "seeing women as second class".

He said that priests and bishops had abused nuns, but said the Church was aware of the "scandal" and was "working on it", adding that a number of clerics had been suspended.

"It's a path that we've been on," he said.

"Pope Benedict had the courage to dissolve a female congregation which was at a certain level, because this slavery of women had entered it - slavery, even to the point of sexual slavery - on the part of clerics or the founder."

Pope Francis said sexual abuse of nuns was an ongoing problem, but happened largely in "certain congregations, predominantly new ones".

"I think it's still taking place because it's not as though the moment you become aware of something it goes away."
Where is the abuse said to have taken place?

The female congregation dissolved in 2005 under Pope Benedict was the Community of St Jean, which was based in France, Alessandro Gisotti of the Vatican press office told CBS News.

In 2013, the Community of St Jean admitted that priests had behaved "in ways that went against chastity" with several women in the order, according to the French Roman Catholic newspaper La Croix.

In a separate case in India last year, a bishop was arrested over allegations that he raped a nun 13 times between 2014 and 2016.

Bishop Franco Mulakkal, who headed the diocese in Jalandhar in the northern state of Punjab, has denied the accusations.

In Chile, reports of abuse of nuns carried out by priests led the Vatican to launch an investigation last year. The women were reportedly removed from the order after highlighting the abuse.

Last year, the Associated Press news agency reported cases of abuse in Italy and Africa.
What have women in the Church said?

Just days ago the Vatican's women's magazine, Women Church World, condemned the abuse, saying in some cases nuns were forced to abort priests' children - something Catholicism forbids.

The magazine's editor, Lucetta Scaraffia, said Pope Francis's acknowledgement of the abuse "can be of some help", but warned that the Church needs to act.

"If the Church continues to close its eyes to the scandal... the condition of oppression of women in the church will never change," she wrote.

The magazine said the #MeToo movement meant more women were now coming forward with their stories.

Last year, French website Le Parisien reported the case of "Christelle" (in French), a former nun whose name was changed to preserve anonymity.

Christelle said she had suffered sexual abuse at the hands of a priest of her congregation in France between 2010 and 2011.

"His gestures became more and more inappropriate," she said, adding: "But he kept going... until the day he raped me.

"He was unable to control himself... he had a split personality."

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-47134033
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U.S. intelligence says Huawei funded by Chinese state security: report
« Reply #12486 on: April 21, 2019, 05:32:51 AM »
(Reuters) - U.S. intelligence has accused Huawei Technologies of being funded by Chinese state security, The Times said on Saturday, adding to the list of allegations faced by the Chinese technology company in the West.

The CIA accused Huawei of receiving funding from China’s National Security Commission, the People’s Liberation Army and a third branch of the Chinese state intelligence network, the British newspaper reported, citing a source.

Earlier this year, U.S. intelligence shared its claims with other members of the Five Eyes intelligence-sharing group, which includes Britain, Australia, Canada and New Zealand, according to the report bit.ly/2KT7ztd.

Huawei dismissed the allegations in a statement cited by the newspaper.

“Huawei does not comment on unsubstantiated allegations backed up by zero evidence from anonymous sources,” a Huawei representative told The Times.

The company, the CIA and China’s Foreign Ministry did not respond immediately to requests for comment.

The accusation comes at a time of trade tensions between Washington and Beijing and amid concerns in the United States that Huawei’s equipment could be used for espionage. The company has said the concerns are unfounded.

Authorities in the United States are probing Huawei for alleged sanctions violations.

Meng Wanzhou, Huawei’s chief financial officer and daughter of its founder, Ren Zhengfei, was arrested in Canada in December at the request of the United States on charges of bank and wire fraud in violation of U.S. sanctions against Iran.

She denies wrongdoing and her father has previously said the arrest was “politically motivated”.

Amid such charges, top educational institutions in the West have recently severed ties with Huawei to avoid losing federal funding.

Another Chinese technology company, ZTE Corp 0763.HK, 000063.SZ, has also been at the center of similar controversies in the United States.

U.S. sanctions forced ZTE to stop most business between April and July last year after Commerce Department officials said it broke a pact and was caught illegally shipping U.S.-origin goods to Iran and North Korea. The sanctions were lifted after ZTE paid $1.4 billion in penalties.

Reuters reported earlier this week that the United States will push its allies at a meeting in Prague next month to adopt shared security and policy measures that will make it more difficult for Huawei to dominate 5G telecommunications networks.

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-trade-china-huawei/u-s-intelligence-says-huawei-funded-by-chinese-state-security-report-idUSKCN1RW03D?utm_source=reddit.com
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How do you make sense of the end of the world?
« Reply #12487 on: April 21, 2019, 05:52:30 AM »
The Uninhabitable Earth paints a terrifying picture


Wallace-Wells convincingly makes the case that we aren’t going to do what’s necessary to curb climate change, and that we are headed for at least 2 degrees of warming.

Here’s the question I’ve been thinking about for the past few weeks: How do you make sense of the end of the world? That is what David Wallace-Wells tries to do in The Uninhabitable Earth (Tim Duggan Books, 320 pages), his recent book, which is profound, beautiful and terrible. “It is worse, much worse, then you think,” he writes in the opening sentence.

It, of course, is climate change. And to be more exact about the state of the problem, the planet will survive; it is people that could disappear. This is Wallace-Wells’s conclusion after a few years reading the research and talking with climate scientists. In the best case, Earth is facing scenarios that we can only frame as unpredictable but catastrophic. “We are entering a new realm,” he writes, “unbounded by the analogy of any human experience.”

But never mind the long term. What is likely to happen in the next two generations is scary enough. It’s not just sea-level rise – although Singapore could well be underwater by the time my great-grandchildren are born. It is death by wildfires in California and British Columbia. It is healthy older people dropping dead of heat stroke in their European apartments. It is children felled by asthma attacks aggravated by smog. It is death by flooding for hundreds of thousands, as Bangladesh returns to the sea. It is more “Snowmageddons” to bury us in temperate climes. And it is more death and suffering at human hands, as we murder and assault and battle each other more often on the hot days that are, now, more intense and more common.

Some of this is already here, in Canada, and it is accelerating. The rest of it, and more, is coming.

We aren’t already talking enough about this, because it is almost impossible to talk about. As Wallace-Wells suggests, the nature of the story defies human imagination and defies our most common narrative tropes. If you wrote a movie about this, “Whom would the heroes battle against? Themselves?”

Then how, as a thinking human being, do you respond to this dilemma? Some privileged folks have decided to only drive electric vehicles, or gone so far as to not have children – a choice that Wallace-Wells dismisses, I think unkindly, as pointless asceticism.

But it’s too late for me: My two sons are already here. And maybe for that reason, my insistent response in reading The Uninhabitable Earth was to ask: How do we fix it? What is the solution? There are, in fact, things we can do. Reducing the impact of climate change, what specialists call “mitigation,” means “nothing short of a complete overhaul of the world’s energy systems,” right now. And eating less beef. And more. We have, as a United Nations report recently reminded us, 12 years to rebuild the world, if we want to keep climate change to an average of 1.5 degrees.


We aren’t already talking enough about climate change, because it is almost impossible to talk about, says Wallace-Wells.

This isn’t likely to happen. Wallace-Wells convincingly makes the case that we aren’t going to do what’s necessary, and that we are headed for at least 2 degrees of warming. In fact, those of us alive right now have made the situation steadily worse: Most of humanity’s carbon emissions have occurred in just the past generation. “The majority of the burning has come since the premiere of Seinfeld,” he writes. “We have engineered as much ruin knowingly as we ever managed in ignorance."

It’s hard not to be angry. It’s hard not to be alarmed. The responsibility for all this is borne by all of us. By Albertans who profit from the tar sands, and by Ontarians who drive their F-150 pickups from their energy-inefficient houses to their air-conditioned offices. On this subject, Canadian politics provides infuriating spectacle: Jason Kenney cruising in his two-ton Dodge Ram, complaining about the cost of the federal carbon tax. Ontario Conservative politicians frowning at gas pumps, multimillionaires concerned about the extra few bucks that “folks” might have to pay – even as local transit fares rise. How do you make sense of this: setting the world on fire?

Wallace-Wells suggests another route for us all, emotionally and politically: He settles on hope. We created this problem, as a species, and we can address it. I’m not sure that I can comfortably join him in this sentiment. But maybe you can: Maybe once you’ve seen the smoke and become alarmed enough about what’s burning, we will in fact find a way to come together and to avoid the very worst.

https://www.theglobeandmail.com/arts/art-and-architecture/article-how-do-you-make-sense-of-the-end-of-the-world-the-uninhabitable-earth/
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Re: Pope admits clerical abuse of nuns including sexual slavery
« Reply #12488 on: April 21, 2019, 06:53:02 AM »

Pope Francis made the admission while visiting the Middle East

Pope Francis has admitted that clerics have sexually abused nuns, and in one case they were kept as sex slaves.

He said in that case his predecessor, Pope Benedict, was forced to shut down an entire congregation of nuns who were being abused by priests.

It is thought to be the first time that Pope Francis has acknowledged the sexual abuse of nuns by the clergy.

He said the Church was attempting to address the problem but said it was "still going on".

Last November, the Catholic Church's global organisation for nuns denounced the "culture of silence and secrecy" that prevented them from speaking out.

The Pope's comments come amid long-running cases of sexual abuse of children and young men by priests at the Church.

What did Pope Francis say?

Speaking to reporters while on a historic tour of the Middle East on Tuesday, the pontiff admitted that the Church had an issue, and the roots lay in society "seeing women as second class".

He said that priests and bishops had abused nuns, but said the Church was aware of the "scandal" and was "working on it", adding that a number of clerics had been suspended.

"It's a path that we've been on," he said.

"Pope Benedict had the courage to dissolve a female congregation which was at a certain level, because this slavery of women had entered it - slavery, even to the point of sexual slavery - on the part of clerics or the founder."

Pope Francis said sexual abuse of nuns was an ongoing problem, but happened largely in "certain congregations, predominantly new ones".

"I think it's still taking place because it's not as though the moment you become aware of something it goes away."
Where is the abuse said to have taken place?

The female congregation dissolved in 2005 under Pope Benedict was the Community of St Jean, which was based in France, Alessandro Gisotti of the Vatican press office told CBS News.

In 2013, the Community of St Jean admitted that priests had behaved "in ways that went against chastity" with several women in the order, according to the French Roman Catholic newspaper La Croix.

In a separate case in India last year, a bishop was arrested over allegations that he raped a nun 13 times between 2014 and 2016.

Bishop Franco Mulakkal, who headed the diocese in Jalandhar in the northern state of Punjab, has denied the accusations.

In Chile, reports of abuse of nuns carried out by priests led the Vatican to launch an investigation last year. The women were reportedly removed from the order after highlighting the abuse.

Last year, the Associated Press news agency reported cases of abuse in Italy and Africa.
What have women in the Church said?

Just days ago the Vatican's women's magazine, Women Church World, condemned the abuse, saying in some cases nuns were forced to abort priests' children - something Catholicism forbids.

The magazine's editor, Lucetta Scaraffia, said Pope Francis's acknowledgement of the abuse "can be of some help", but warned that the Church needs to act.

"If the Church continues to close its eyes to the scandal... the condition of oppression of women in the church will never change," she wrote.

The magazine said the #MeToo movement meant more women were now coming forward with their stories.

Last year, French website Le Parisien reported the case of "Christelle" (in French), a former nun whose name was changed to preserve anonymity.

Christelle said she had suffered sexual abuse at the hands of a priest of her congregation in France between 2010 and 2011.

"His gestures became more and more inappropriate," she said, adding: "But he kept going... until the day he raped me.

"He was unable to control himself... he had a split personality."

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-47134033
 

     You have given me ammunition,” the Dalai Lama tells Buddhist abuse victims


   

     
  The Dalai Lama admitted in an interview on Dutch public television on Sept. 15 that he’s been aware of accusations of sexual abuse by Buddhist teachers for decades. Still, he thanked victims he met with on Sept. 14 in the Netherlands for coming forward and encouraged others to speak out.

“You have given me ammunition,” the Dalai Lama reportedly told the group, according to Oane Bijlsma, one of the four victims who met with him. The Buddhist magazine Lion’s Roar reports that Bijlsma also said that the spiritual leader vowed to address victims’ concerns. The meeting was held after a petition by victims of sexual abuse by prominent Buddhist teachers—at this point signed by more than 1,850 people and promoted with the hashtag #MeTooGuru—urged the Dalai Lama to take a stand.

During the gathering, he reportedly agreed to a list of their demands. They asked him to request that the Mind & Life Institute, the US-based nonprofit that hosts dialogues with scientists and Buddhists, hold a meeting on human sexuality, abuse by religious teachers, and sexual trauma. The victims want the topic of teacher abuse on the agenda of a gathering of religious leaders and representatives of the major Tibetan schools in Dharamsala in November, as well. Finally, they want the Dalai Lama to publicly reaffirm that Buddhist teachers who commit criminal offenses, just like any other citizen, are liable to prosecution and civil action.

“He was very clear about the three points in our petitions,” Bijlsma told Lion’s Roar. “He more or less immediately agreed that putting it on the agenda of the meeting in Dharamsala was a very good plan. He also agreed that making it a spearpoint theme during a Mind Life gathering was a very good plan… [and] he said that no Tibetan teacher is above the law. He reaffirmed that.”

In the TV interview, the Dalai Lama didn’t explain how no action had been taken for a quarter century since he first heard the abuse allegations.  He did note, however, that abusers “don’t care about the Buddha’s teaching” and encouraged Tibetan spiritual leaders to discuss the issue at the gathering planned in Dharmshala this November. He also said, “I think the religious leaders should pay more attention.”

Whether or not this was an intended allusion to the Catholic Church—roiled with sexual-abuse scandals for decades  and is still coming to terms with extent of its institutional coverups—it’s difficult not to see the statement that way. The Dalai Lama is encouraging victims to take a stand and speak out, perhaps in an effort to differentiate Buddhist institutions.

The Independent reports that Tseten Samdup Chhoekyapa, who represents the Dalai Lama in Europe, defended the leader, saying he’s “consistently denounced” abuses by teachers against students and long decried them as “irresponsible and unethical behavior.”

https://qz.com/1392837/the-dalai-lama-to-buddhist-sex-abuse-victims-you-have-given-me-ammunition/

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No, Bernie’s not anti-war
« Reply #12489 on: April 21, 2019, 05:21:38 PM »


    A number of lefties are softening their criticism and some are even announcing their support for Bernie Sanders. Yet: Those who have watched Sanders for years – e.g., anti-war activists from Vermont – know better than to trust Bernie “Chavez is [a] dead, communist dictator” Sanders. When push comes to shove, he will side with imperialist power – e.g., voting against the invasion of Iraq but voting to fund the occupation.”
    –Phil Rockstroh (2/27/19)

    “One keeps looking for the moral clarity of Gene McCarthy, Wayne Morse or Mike Gravel from Bernie Sanders on issues of war and peace. Yet what we are offered is mush and drivel. One might be tempted to blame it on his age. But like Reagan, he knows exactly what he is saying and why.”
    –Jeffrey St. Clair (2/23/19)

The Democratic Party has an undeserved reputation for being anti-war. The last time the party ran an anti-war candidate for president was George McGovern in 1972. The 1980’s was the last decade when it was typical of candidates to pledge “defense” cuts or nuclear arms reductions. Dennis Kucinich has been the only exception to that rule this century. In fact, the most successful anti-war candidate of the last twenty years was a Republican: Ron Paul, who made a notable splash in both 2008 and 2012.

Though he is not a member of the political party that writer Paul Street regularly refers to as the “dismal, dollar-drenched Dems,” Vermont’s Senator Bernie Sanders is once more seeking its presidential nomination and has signed the requisite “loyalty oath.” Sanders is often considered anti-war, but this is wishful thinking. His decades-long record in office demonstrates otherwise.

It’s telling that Sanders has been more likely to cast a vote that could be deemed anti-war when a Republican is president. That betrays an allegiance more to partisanship than principle. Given this pattern, one can rightly wonder if he would have pushed his resolution against US support of Saudi Arabia’s war on Yemen if Hillary had been elected. (Also note that the resolution would not end the US’s role even if Trump does not veto it, as he is expected to do.)

(Props: I must acknowledge that the biggest source for this piece was Counterpunch editor Jeffrey St. Clair’s 2016 book, “Bernie & the Sandernistas: Field Notes from a Failed Revolution,” which I quote frequently. Page numbers in brackets refer to that volume.)

IRAQ

Sanders’ vote against the Iraq war authorization in 2002, like Obama’s (and unlike Hillary’s) is held up as some real anti-war cred, but as St. Clair writes:

    “More problematic for the Senator in Birkenstocks is the little-known fact that Bernie Sanders himself voted twice in support of regime change in Iraq. In 1998 Sanders voted in favor of the Iraq Liberation Act of 1998, which said: ‘It should be the policy of the United States to support efforts to remove the regime headed by Saddam Hussein from power in Iraq and to promote the emergence of a democratic government to replace that regime.’

    “Later that same year, Sanders also backed a resolution that stated: ‘Congress reaffirms that it should be the policy of the United States to support efforts to remove the regime headed by Saddam Hussein from power in Iraq and to promote the emergence of a democratic government to replace that regime.’ These measures gave congressional backing for the CIA’s covert plan to overthrow the Hussein regime in Baghdad, as well as the tightening of an economic sanctions regime that may have killed as many as 500,000 Iraqi children. The resolution also gave the green light to Operation Desert Fox, a four-day long bombing campaign striking 100 targets throughout Iraq. The operation featured more than 300 bombing sorties and 350 ground-launched Tomahawk cruise missiles, several targeting Saddam Hussein himself” [pp. 37-38].

St. Clair adds: “Recall that over the 8 years of Clinton Time, Iraq was bombed an average of once every four days.”

SERBIA

The Bosnian War was the largest armed conflict in Europe since the end of World War II and caused over 100,000 deaths. The involvement of the USA and NATO in the war was a matter of controversy. Certainly, there was an anti-war stance to take, but Bernie didn’t rise to the occasion. As St. Clair writes,

    “[Sanders] voted in favor of the war on Serbia: once, twice… and on April 28, 1999, he did it again. This was the astounding 213-213 tie vote, which meant that the House of Representatives repudiated the war on Serbia launched by Clinton in violation of Article One of the US Constitution., which reserves war-making powers to Congress. So if the ‘socialist progressive’ ‘anti-war’ Sanders had voted in line with the anti-war sentiments he has forged a career upon, the result would have been a straight majority for the coalition of Republicans and radical Democrats” [p. 2].

GEORGE W.’S WARS

Sanders voted for the 2001 Authorization for Unilateral Military Force Against Terrorists (AUMF), which, in St. Clair’s words, “pretty much allowed Bush to wage war wherever he wanted” [p. 37].

Not at all an anti-war vote, and one that had – and continues to have – far-reaching consequences.

VENEZUELA

On few other subjects of foreign policy are people in the USA more misled – including most liberals, and including Bernie – than on Venezuela. Most people here seem to think it’s some kind of authoritarian regime (while ignoring that the US is, to use Jimmy Carter’s words, an “oligarchy with unlimited political bribery”). Wrote St. Clair in 2015:

    “In the wake of Jeremy Corbyn’s smashing victory as the new leader of Britain’s Labour Party, Hillary’s super-PAC, Correct the Record, tarred Sanders as a Corbyn-like renegade who had cozied up to untouchable figures like Hugo Chavez.

    “About a decade ago, Sanders was part of a delegation that negotiated a sensible deal to bring low-cost heating oil from Venezuela to poor families in the northeastern United States. But instead of defending his honorable role in this ex parte negotiation, Sanders wilted. In a fundraising email to his legions of Sandernistas, Bernie fumed at being ‘linked to a dead Communist dictator.’

    “Of course, Hugo Chavez represented everything that Bernie Sanders claims to be. Chavez is an independent socialist whose immense popularity in his own country led to his Bolivarian Party winning 18 straight hotly-contested elections since 1996, not to mention surviving several coup attempts backed by the CIA and the editorial board of the New York Times, plots that elicited not a squeak of dissent from Bernie the Red” [p. 21].

Hugo Chávez was very popular in Venezuela for good reasons. As Gabriel Hetland wrote in “The Truth about Chávez,” Chávez’s policies “led to vast improvements in access to health care, education, housing, and pensions. Poverty in Venezuela was cut in half between 2003 and 2008, with extreme poverty falling by 72%. …By 2012 Venezuela was the most equitable country in Latin America.”

Bernie’s recent remarks about Venezuela were hardly a strong statement against US meddling. Rather, after mischaracterizing the nation’s governance, economy and actions towards dissent, all Bernie could tepidly condemn was “a long history of inappropriately intervening in Latin American countries” [my emphasis] as if there is way of “appropriately” intervening. No, this is not an anti-war sentiment.

Ajamu Baraka put it well when he said:

    “There will be no peace as long as we allow the mythology to persist that the U.S. is a benevolent nation committed to human rights and democracy. This is [the] basis of arrogance that allows the U.S. to trample on international law & invade and destroy nations and peoples.”

The common fallacy Baraka describes here is one that Bernie seems to subscribe to, as well as many of his supporters. This idea has no place in an anti-war platform. As long as it is embraced or accepted, the true nature of the U.S. cannot be seen clearly, which is imperialism.

RUSSIA

The Cold War between the US and the USSR ended thirty years ago, but was revived against the Russian Federation by Hillary and the Democrats during the 2016 presidential race. This dangerous development has pushed the world closer to nuclear conflict, an unimaginably terrifying prospect. It has also resulted in a new McCarthyism that, with the enthusiastic help of big tech giants like Facebook, Google and Twitter, has led to the marginalization of leftist alternative media and activism online.

Sanders has been totally on board. He has consistently supported sanctions against Russia (notwithstanding one particular vote against them, which he cast because of the bill’s stance on Iran). He voted for the 2014 $1 billion package to support the anti-Russian, neo-Nazi forces in Ukraine, another provocative move. He has also professed confidence in the Russia/Trump/collusion conspiracy theories, the pursuit of which has only ratcheted up tensions more, and served to distract the populace from reasons to oppose Trump that are not at all difficult to prove.

THE F-35 FIGHTER JET

The F-35 fighter jet program is notoriously expensive and the plane itself infamously buggy. With a price tag of $1.5 trillion, and a development process that started in 2001, it is considered one of the single most profligate Pentagon projects ever (see Scientific American, the Atlantic and yes, Fox). Even war-monger John McCain called it an “incredible waste of the taxpayers’ dollars.” Yet Bernie has been a staunch supporter since the beginning. Says St. Clair of the Senator’s enthusiasm:

    “He’s a Cold War Liberal lost in a post-Cold War world. [He] clings to his death-dealing supersonic relics, most fervently to the F-35 Lightning II fighter jet. As Andrew Cockburn reported in Harper’s, Sanders and his Vermont colleague Patrick Leahy waged a fierce bureaucratic fight to bring the jet to the Burlington Air Base as the premier weapon of the Green Mountain Boys, the 158th Fighter Wing of the Vermont Air National Guard. At $191 million per aircraft, the F-35 represents a technological wish-fulfillment for the defense lobby. Larded with the latest high-tech thanatic gizmos, the porcine and unstable Stealth fighter will prowl cloud-free skies (too dainty to fly in rain) on an endless quest to confront an enemy that no longer exists, and perhaps never did” [p. 22].

Activist Carl Gibson put Bernie on the spot about this topic in person, and Bernie said: “for better or worse, that is the plane of record right now, and it is not gonna be discarded. That’s the reality.” But that wasn’t a good answer to Gibson, who wrote:

    “So, while Bernie Sanders is saying we should cut military spending to fund free college for everyone, his defense of the F-35 means that despite everything else, Sanders is still just a politician. Sooner or later, the F-35 will eventually be replaced by something even more expensive, while the F-35 joins the thousands of other unused fighter jets in the boneyard. But rather than lying to people and saying the program is already a done deal and that there’s nothing he can do, Sanders could stand by his principles and introduce an amendment in the next National Defense Authorization Act to strip the F-35 program of its funding. That remaining $700 billion could make college tuition-free for everyone for at least a decade.”

CAMPAIGN CONTRIBUTIONS FROM “DEFENSE INDUSTRY”

According to opensecrets.org, in the 2016 race, Sanders took $366,458 from the Defense Industry, only 8% less than Trump and about 1/3 as much as Hillary accepted. Given that even peacenik Jill Stein is down for $26,395 in this category, one might wonder how it is defined, but that’s just too much to be called anti-war.

WHY DOES IT MATTER?

    “This is the bottom-line, if you support imperialist politicians, no matter what ‘freebies’ they are promising, you support murder. We cannot, or should not, have ‘nice things’ here in [this] country when we are bombing so many more. Something has to give, and it has to be imperialism.”
    – Cindy Sheehan

First, there are ethical considerations. That is, the idea that war is intrinsically wrong on moral grounds, and that conflicts should be settled by other means that are non-violent (with exceptions for legitimate self-defense). Pacifism has been preached and practiced by religious and secular people alike during the entire history of the US. Certainly, it has been more or less popular during different periods – and seems to be suffering a nadir at the moment, at least as a visible and vocal cultural force – but it has never completely withered. Such people and organizations operate as a vital conscience for the nation. From this standpoint, Sanders is flatly unacceptable.

    Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children. This is not a way of life at all in any true sense. Under the cloud of threatening war, it is humanity hanging from a cross of iron.
    –Eisenhower

Secondly, there is the financial reality that war-making is bleeding the US dry. Every dollar for bomb-building is money that cannot be spent on projects that actually keep people safe, housed, fed, healthy and productive for the common good. Think of the bridges falling down, the homeless on the streets, the children who need free school lunches, the prohibitive cost of “healthcare” and the amount of creativity and labor sucked up by industries that are destructive (resource extraction, defense, big ag), soul crushing (the service industry, advertising, tech) or unnecessary (the FIRE sector: finance, insurance and real estate). (1) This is a profoundly sick society indeed. In his speech announcing his entry into the 2020 race, Sanders called for cuts to military spending that have been described as “deep” but have not been quantified so far. Given the contradictions in his record, Peace activists Medea Benjamin and Nicolas J. S. Davies rightly ask: “’Which Bernie would we see in the White House?’ Would it be the one who has the clarity and courage to vote ‘No’ on 84% of military spending bills in the Senate, or the one who supports military boondoggles like the F-35…?”

St. Clair, again:

    “It is one of the great failures of the Sanders campaign that he didn’t try to puncture some of the comforting illusions about American foreign policy. As cruelly as we treat our own citizens, Americans like to believe, in fact must believe, that our country remains a force of light and goodness in the most troubled precincts of the world. We are reluctant warriors, heroes for humanity. Sanders had a rare chance to expose America’s savage imprint on the world to his followers. With more than 800 military bases sprawling across the globe, the American military machine keeps the unruly living under a constant state of nuclear terror, each transgression against the imperial order disciplined and punished by SEAL team assassins, cruise missiles and drone strikes out of the clear blue skies” [pp. 2-3].

Last, but not least, is the stark reality of the planet’s dire environmental condition. Pollution is poisoning virtually all living things and climate change is threatening the existence of a large percentage. This has been the legacy of agriculture and industrialization. To address this challenging situation, we need global cooperation. But such teamwork is impossible while the USA is such a bellicose bully. A tremendous amount of the world’s energy, resources and time go into fending off or paying off the USA and its resource-extracting corporate overlords. This current state of affairs must end and be replaced with a real camaraderie in spirit and in labor. (And by the way, the Pentagon is also the world’s largest institutional polluter.)

So, given the existential crisis that humanity is facing at this moment in history, to demand that the president of the USA be dedicated to a real anti-war platform is not a “purity test.” It is an entirely practical matter. Nothing less will do than a drastic reduction in “defense” spending and a complete turn-around of US foreign policy.

I’m not naive. I realize that no such candidate would be allowed to run on either major party ticket, and that third parties don’t have a chance. So, it is not into candidates or elections that we should put our efforts, but movements. An anti-war movement of sufficient size and energy could successfully guide the actions of whomever lives at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.

So let us put our hopes not in heroes but ourselves.

 

Editor’s note
(1) Author Sonnenblume is absolutely right in all his criticisms of Sanders and the prevailing hypocrisies defining America’s self image and actions across the world. His lucidity and integrity are to be commended. Not many people would choose to take on the Sandernista beehive to point out what is indispensable to keep this politician on an acceptably honest course. While reminding us of the outrageous amounts diverted to the Pentagon, in a country already boasting the largest and most criminally intrusive (by far) military in modern history, Kollibri argues that such outlays are an obstacle to truly beneficial investments in the public good, including infrastructure, free college education, a robust universal healthcare system, and so on. This is a common assumption among leftist critics (which I myself embraced until recently) but a closer look may yield a different conclusion. In fact,  the argument may rest on a fallacy. The US government does not need to “balance” the books like a regular household to have “guns and butter”.  (See this topic examined in full here, by Jim Kavanagh, Behind the Money Curtain: A Left Take on Taxes, Spending, and Modern Monetary Theory). Second, the assumption that plutocratic regimes will spend on domestic needs and evident necessities when the money is available is also not supported by the historical record. The bourgeoisie‚ like previous regimes resting on deep social inequality, rarely allocates funds according to popular need, but according to its own narrow and self-serving priorities. If they did, revolutions would hardly appear in history. It is always the constant abuses of the entrenched right that create the left.  Thus, while the US is notorious for the disgusting amounts thrown every year at the imperial war machine (and to feed the self-perpetuating warmongering lobbies), other affluent nations where such extravagance is not so pronounced, or does not exist all, also practice “austerity” and glaring neglect of citizens’s needs in varying degrees. They may have the money, but they will not use it for the good of the majority. In conclusion, ultimately, what determines the actual balance between truly justifiable and questionable expenditures is the degree of true democracy, the existence of a well-informed and mobilised citizenry, and the resulting government oversight exhibited by the polity. The more democratic, the less likely the appearance of such grotesque disparities.

https://www.greanvillepost.com/2019/04/17/no-bernies-not-anti-war/
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Ukraine enters uncharted new era after comedian wins presidency
« Reply #12490 on: April 22, 2019, 03:54:30 AM »
KIEV (Reuters) - Ukraine entered uncharted political waters on Monday after near final results showed a comedian with no political experience and few detailed policies had dramatically up-ended the status quo and won the country’s presidential election by a landslide.

13 min video

The emphatic victory of Volodymyr Zelenskiy, 41, is a bitter blow for incumbent Petro Poroshenko who tried to rally Ukrainians around the flag by casting himself as a bulwark against Russian aggression and a champion of Ukrainian identity.

With 95 percent of votes counted, Zelenskiy had won 73 percent of the vote with Poroshenko winning just under 25 percent, the central election commission said.

Zelenskiy, who plays a fictitious president in a popular TV series, is now poised to take over the leadership of a country on the frontline of the West’s standoff with Russia following Moscow’s annexation of Crimea and support for a pro-Russian insurgency in eastern Ukraine.

Declaring victory at his campaign headquarters to emotional supporters on Sunday night, Zelenskiy promised he would not let the Ukrainian people down.

“I’m not yet officially the president, but as a citizen of Ukraine, I can say to all countries in the post-Soviet Union look at us. Anything is possible!”

Zelenskiy, whose victory fits a pattern of anti-establishment figures unseating incumbents in Europe and further afield, has promised to end the war in the eastern Donbass region and to root out corruption amid widespread dismay over rising prices and sliding living standards.

But he has been coy about exactly how he plans to achieve all that and investors want reassurances that he will accelerate reforms needed to attract foreign investment and keep the country in an International Monetary Fund program.

“Since there is complete uncertainty about the economic policy of the person who will become president, we simply don’t know what is going to happen and that worries the financial community,” said Serhiy Fursa, an investment banker at Dragon Capital in Kiev.

WEST WATCHING CLOSELY

The United States, the European Union and Russia will be closely watching Zelenskiy’s foreign policy pronouncements to see if and how he might try to end the war against pro-Russian separatists that has killed some 13,000 people.

U.S. President Donald Trump phoned Zelenskiy and pledged to support Ukraine’s territorial integrity, while European Council President Donald Tusk congratulated the Ukrainian people on what he called a show of democratic maturity.

Zelenskiy said on Sunday he planned to continue European-backed talks with Russia on a so far largely unimplemented peace deal and would try to free Ukrainians imprisoned in Russia, which is holding 24 Ukrainian sailors among others.

Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, who only last week signed a decree limiting exports of some Russian coal, crude oil and oil products to Ukraine, said Moscow and Kiev now had a chance to improve what he called their destroyed economic relationship, but said he was not harboring any illusions that it would necessarily happen.

Writing on social media, Medvedev asked what was needed to achieve better relations between the two countries. “Honesty. And pragmatism and a responsible approach,” he said.

Zelenskiy has pledged to keep Ukraine on a pro-Western course, but has sounded less emphatic than Poroshenko about possible plans for the country of 42 million people to one day join the European Union and NATO.

Poroshenko, who conceded defeat but said he planned to stay in politics, said on social media he thought Zelenskiy’s win would spark celebrations in the Kremlin, which has yet to comment on the comedian’s victory.

Critics accuse Zelenskiy of having an unhealthily close working relationship with a powerful oligarch called Ihor Kolomoisky, whose TV channel broadcasts his comedy shows.

Zelenskiy has rejected those accusations and promised not to be unduly influenced by Kolomoisky.

One of the most important and early tests of that promise will be the fate of PrivatBank, Ukraine’s largest lender, which was nationalized in 2016.

The government wrested PrivatBank from Kolomoisky as part of a banking system clean-up backed by the IMF, which supports Ukraine with a multi-billion dollar loan program.

But its fate hangs in the balance after a Kiev court ruled days before the election that the change of PrivatBank’s ownership was illegal.

Zelenskiy has repeatedly denied he would seek to hand PrivatBank back to Kolomoisky if elected or help the businessman win compensation for the ownership change.

The IMF will be watching closely too to see if Zelenskiy will allow gas prices to rise to market levels, an IMF demand but a politically sensitive issue and one Zelenskiy has been vague about.

Zelenskiy’s unorthodox campaign traded on the character he plays in the TV show, a scrupulously honest schoolteacher who becomes president by accident after an expletive-ridden rant about corruption goes viral.

He has promised to fight corruption, a message that has resonated with Ukrainians fed up with the status quo in a country that is one of Europe’s poorest nearly three decades after breaking away from the Soviet Union.

(Election graphic - tmsnrt.rs/2EEQ22R)

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-ukraine-election/comedian-zelenskiy-wins-ukrainian-presidential-race-by-landslide-exit-polls-idUSKCN1RX01N?il=0&utm_source=reddit.com

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Woman carrying a gun and a baby tackled after threatening to blow up church
« Reply #12491 on: April 22, 2019, 04:04:56 AM »
Church members on Sunday tackled a woman carrying a baby and handgun, as she threatened to blow up the church during Easter service, San Diego Police said.
The incident occurred as law enforcement and houses of worship were on heightened alert following deadly Easter Sunday bombings in churches and hotels in Sri Lanka.
San Diego Police arrived within two minutes of the first call and took the woman into custody, the department said in a statement.
The woman, in her late 20s or early 30s, walked into the auditorium of Mt. Everest Academy around noon, San Diego Police Officer Dino Delimitros said.

Church Tsidkenu, a non-denominational church, leases Mt. Everest for church services.
The woman walked onto the auditorium's stage and waved the handgun while she "made threats that she was going to blow up the church," police said.
"She was saying stuff that was kind of delusional. I was more worried about getting my family out of there," churchgoer Ronald Farmer said.
Churchgoers were able to take the baby from the woman's arms and pry the gun from her hands before tackling her to the ground, Delmitros said.
A bomb-sniffing dog found nothing in a sweep of the building and the suspect's car, police said. Police said her gun was not loaded.
Authorities later found the woman's 5-year-old daughter "healthy and unhurt," police said. The two children are in protective custody.
Earlier Sunday, San Diego Police Chief David Nisleit announced that the department was stepping up patrols while it monitored the situation in Sri Lanka.
"At this time, there is nothing to indicate a connection to San Diego. However, in an abundance of caution, you will see extra patrols at houses of worship," Nisleit said on Twitter.

More than 200 people were killed in coordinated bombing attacks in Sri Lanka.
Though it's not clear who's behind the eight explosions that forced the country of 21 million people into lockdown, they are "certainly acts of terror," said Manisha Gunasekera, high commissioner of Sri Lanka to the UK.

https://www.cnn.com/2019/04/21/us/san-diego-church-woman-tackled/index.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+rss%2Fcnn_latest+%28RSS%3A+CNN+-+Most+Recent%29
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Who Do Americans Believe Is the Most Objective News Source?
« Reply #12492 on: April 22, 2019, 04:19:48 AM »
Following the reveal of Pres. Trump’s “Fake News Awards,” we have the results of a more scientific study into the public’s perception of the news media.

The good news, according to the Gallup/Knight Foundation Survey on Trust, Media and Democracy, Americans believe the news media have an important role to play in society, with more than eight in 10 U.S. adults believing the news media are critical or very important to our democracy. But they say it’s harder (58 percent) rather than easier (38 percent) to be informed with the sheer about of information and news sources available.

And Americans still have a more negative (43 percent) than positive (33 percent) perception of the media.

Fox News ranks as the most objective information source (24 percent) followed by CNN (13 percent), and NPR (10 percent). When broken down by political affiliation, 60 percent of Republicans say Fox is most objective, but just 3 percent of Democrats say that. CNN is most objective with 21 percent of Democrats and just 4 percent of Republicans. Fox is deemed most objective among older Americans (65+) garnering 35 percent, while CNN found that millennials, with 15 percent, believe it is most objective.



https://www.adweek.com/tvnewser/who-do-americans-believe-is-the-most-objective-news-source/355232/
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Offline knarf

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    Globalization’s critics are wrong when they say trade agreements have been unfair to the United States and Europe, says Nobel-prize winning economist Joseph Stiglitz.
    But globalization’s advocates are also wrong when they say that trade deals played no role in stagnant incomes in much of the developed world.
    The problem, Stiglitz says, is that trade agreements advanced corporate interests at the expense of workers in both developed and developing countries.


Joseph Stiglitz

Globalization sits at the center of America’s economic crisis. On one side, critics of globalization blame it for the plight of America’s suffering middle class. According to President Trump, our trade negotiators got snookered by those smart negotiators from other countries. We signed bad trade deals that led to the loss of American industrial jobs. This criticism of globalization has found enormous resonance, especially in the parts of the country that experienced deindustrialization.

By contrast, globalization’s advocates claim that all of this is sheer nonsense. America has benefited from globalization. Protectionist policies put at risk all that has been gained through trade. In the end, they say, protectionism will not help even those who’ve lost their jobs due to globalization or seen their wages collapse. They, the U.S., and the entire world will be worse off. Globalization’s advocates shift the blame for deindustrialization and the American malaise elsewhere: the real source of job loss and low wages for unskilled workers has been improved technology, and globalization is getting a bum rap.
It might seem that President Trump and I are on the same side of this battle against globalization, but that is wrong. Fundamentally, I believe in the importance of the rule of law — of a rules-based system for governing international trade.
Joseph Stiglitz
Nobel-winning economist

For more than twenty years, I’ve been criticizing the way that globalization has been managed — but from a completely different angle. From my perch as chief economist at the World Bank, it was obvious that the global rules of the game were tilted — not against, but in favor of the United States and other advanced countries at the expense of developing countries. The trade agreements were unfair — to the benefit of the U.S. and Europe and to the detriment of developing countries.

The idea that our trade negotiators got snookered is laughable: we got almost everything we wanted in late-twentieth-century trade negotiations. Over the opposition of those from developing countries, we secured strong intellectual property protections — which protected the intellectual property of the advanced countries, but not that of developing countries. We’ve succeeded in forcing countries to open up their markets to our financial firms — and even to accept those highly risky derivatives and other financial products that played a central role in our own financial collapse.

https://www.cnbc.com/2019/04/22/joseph-stiglitz-us-trade-deals-helped-corporations-and-hurt-workers.html
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Offline knarf

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This perversion of capitalism is causing the zombieficiation of our economy
« Reply #12494 on: April 22, 2019, 04:43:16 AM »


Capitalist productivity, the most powerful source of economic and social advancement in human history, is now becoming capitalist financialization. The result? A zombiefication of our economy and an oligarchification of our society.

Financialization is profit margin growth without labor productivity growth.

That sounds like a small thing, but I tell you it is EVERYTHING.

Financialization is squeezing more earnings from a dollar of sales without squeezing at all, but through tax arbitrage or balance-sheet arbitrage.

Financialization is the zero-sum-game aspect of capitalism, where profit-margin growth is both pulled forward from future real growth and pulled away from current economic risk-taking.

Financialization is the smiley-face perversion of Adam Smith’s invisible hand and Joseph Schumpeter’s creative destruction.

Financialization is a global phenomenon. In China, it’s transmitted through the real-estate market. In the U.S., it’s transmitted through the stock market.



This is a 30-year chart of total S&P 500 earnings divided by total S&P 500 sales. It’s how many pennies of earnings S&P 500 companies get from a dollar of sales … earnings margin, essentially, at a high level of aggregation. So at the lows of 1991, $1 in sales generated a bit more than $0.03 in earnings for the S&P 500 SPX, +0.16%  . Today in 2019, we are at an all-time high of a bit more than $0.11 in earnings from $1 in sales.

It’s a marvelously steady progression up and to the right, temporarily marred by a recession here and there, but really quite awe-inspiring in its consistency. Yay, capitalism!

It’s a foundational chart for this note because I believe that the WHY of earnings-margin growth in the 1990s and early 2000s is fundamentally different than the WHY of earnings- margin growth since then.

WHY do we get three times as much in earnings out of a dollar of sales today than we did 30 years ago, and twice as much than we did 10 years ago?

The common-knowledge answer is technology.

I used to believe this. I used to believe that corporate management was getting better and smarter over time, that they were making constant process improvements and technology-based productivity enhancements to squeeze more and more profits out of the same sales dollar.

And I think this used to be true. I think that during the 1990s and early 2000s — the so-called Great Moderation of the Fed’s Golden Age — when we actually had significant advancements in labor productivity year after year after year, corporate management was, in fact, able to drive earnings margins higher for the right reasons. I think the driver of profit margin growth over this period was actual technology, as opposed to the meme of technology!.

But I don’t believe this is true anymore. I don’t believe that technology and productivity advancements have been responsible for earnings-margin improvements for the past decade … for some years before the Great Financial Crisis, in fact.

Here, take a look for yourself.

See, the Fed was convinced that an easy-money policy would lead to corporate management investing more in technology and plant and equipment … you know, all of those things you need to drive productivity. All of those things you need to drive a 1990s-style recovery, with earnings-margin accretion for the right reasons.

Instead, corporate management took the quick buck.

They always do. It’s the smart move.



his is a chart of labor productivity growth in the U.S. for the past 30 years. It’s how much more stuff we make or services we provide from a unit of labor. It’s how much we’re growing for the right reasons, by applying capital investment in plant and equipment and technology to work smarter and more efficiently. It’s how we generated earnings efficiency and margin growth for the right reasons in the 1990s and early 2000s. It’s how we’ve been reduced to squeezing wages and ZIRP-supported balance sheets for earnings efficiency ever since. (Zirp is zero interest-rate policy.)

This chart IS the failure of monetary policy for the past decade.

This chart IS the zombiefication and oligarchification of the U.S. economy.

Why do I rail at the Fed? THIS.

Trillions of dollars in quantitative easing, or QE, and all we got for it was this lousy T-shirt. Yes, I’m going to get this productivity chart put on a T-shirt.

But wait, there’s more …



This is a chart of the S&P 500 price-to-earnings ratio in yellow, the belle of the narrative ball, together with its forgotten cousin, the price-to-sales ratio in blue.

When we grow profits through productivity growth — when our “supply” of earnings is directly connected to the same operations that generate sales — P/E and P/Sales multiples go up and down together. When we extract excess earnings through financialization — when our “supply” of earnings increases for no operational reason connected with sales — the P/E multiple becomes depressed relative to the P/Sales multiple. As the kids say, it’s just math.

Why is this important? Because a P/E multiple deflated by financialization doesn’t mean what you think it means.

How many times in the past 10 years have you heard that the market is not expensive on a valuation basis? And what you’ve heard is right, as far as it goes.

Because the market narrative of valuation is completely dominated by the vocabulary of earnings, not the vocabulary of sales.

Sure, the S&P 500 P/Sales ratio is near an all-time high, but who cares about that? The S&P 500 P/E ratio today is right at 19 … neither crazy low nor crazy high … and we ALL care about that. But here’s the thing:

Without financialization, my guess is that the S&P 500 P/E ratio today would be 28.

Good luck selling that to a value investor, Wall Street.

But wait, still more …



This is a chart of S&P 500 buybacks per share (in blue) imposed over the ratio of S&P 500 earnings-to-sales in green. You’ll see that share buybacks spike after profit margins spike. You’ll see that share buybacks spike before and during recessions.

When do stock buybacks accelerate dramatically?

In 2006 and 2007, when management is rolling in record profits and profit margins, despite meager productivity growth.

In 2018 and 2019, when management is rolling in record profits and profit margins, despite meager productivity growth.

This is not an accident.

Here’s the past five years so you can see the temporal relationship more clearly.



Stock buybacks are what you DO with the excess earnings you’ve made from financialization.

Why? Because stock buybacks are part and parcel of the financialization Zeitgeist. They’re part and parcel of the tax-advantaged issuance of stock to management, which is then converted into tax-advantaged income for management through stock buybacks.

What does Wall Street get out of financialization? A valuation story to sell.

What does management get out of financialization? Stock-based compensation.

What does the Fed get out of financialization? A (very) grateful Wall Street.

What does the White House get out of financialization? Re-election.

What do YOU get out of financialization?

You get to say “Yay, capitalism!”

https://www.marketwatch.com/story/this-perversion-of-capitalism-is-causing-the-zombificiation-of-our-economy-2019-04-22
HUMANS ARE STILL EVOLVING! Our communities blog is at https://openmind693.wordpress.com