AuthorTopic: Knarf's Knewz Channel  (Read 1925404 times)

Offline knarf

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For the first time in the history of the United States, the federal government has spent more than $3 trillion in the first eight months of the fiscal year, according to the Monthly Treasury Statement released today.

The record $3,013,541,000,000 that the federal government spent in October through May of fiscal 2019 was $181,157,920,000 more than the previous record of $2,832,383,080,000 (in constant May 2019 dollars) that the federal government spent in October through May of fiscal 2009.

Total federal tax revenues in the first eight months of fiscal 2019 hit $2,274,902,000,000, which fell $5,612,990,000 short of the record $2,280,514,990,000 (in constant May 2019 dollars) that the Treasury collected in total tax revenues in the first eight months of fiscal 2016.

Even with the second highest tax revenues ever collected in the first eight months of the fiscal year, the federal government still ran a deficit for those eight months of $738,639,000,000.

Table 3 of the Monthly Treasury Statement, which summarizes federal receipts and outlays for the current fiscal year to date, indicated the Department of Health and Human Services cost the most money, accounting for $834,346,000,000 in federal spending in the first eight months of the fiscal year. The Social Security Administration cost the second most, accounting for $730,000,000,000 in federal spending during the period.

The Department of Defense was third, accounting for $439,289,000,000 in federal spending.

The combined $1,564,346,000,000 the federal government spent on HHS and the Social Security Administration during the first eight months of the fiscal year equaled 51.9 percent of the record total of $3,013,541,000,000 in federal spending during the period.

The combined $1,564,346,000,000 spent on HHS and Social Security was 3.56 times as much as the $439,289,000,000 spent on the Defense Department.
« Last Edit: June 12, 2019, 06:22:59 PM by knarf »
NECROCAPITALISM at ‘Rolling thunder. Shock. A noble one in fear and dread sets things in order and is watchful.’ I-Ching (Hex.51)

Offline Surly1

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(BIRMINGHAM, Ala. WIAT) -- Jessica is a 32-year-old woman from Dekalb County. She says the state's laws have forced her to face the man she says raped her again and again.

This story, along with the police investigating themselves and finding 55 rounds from six cops in 3.5 seconds is a good shoot, illustrate the depths of this country's depravity and the departure of common sense.

Just want you to know that even though I don't often comment on these stories, I really appreciate the fact that you post them.
"...reprehensible lying communist..."

Offline knarf

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(BIRMINGHAM, Ala. WIAT) -- Jessica is a 32-year-old woman from Dekalb County. She says the state's laws have forced her to face the man she says raped her again and again.

This story, along with the police investigating themselves and finding 55 rounds from six cops in 3.5 seconds is a good shoot, illustrate the depths of this country's depravity and the departure of common sense.

Just want you to know that even though I don't often comment on these stories, I really appreciate the fact that you post them.

Oh, Gracious Diver for Truth, you have answered the Koan correctly.  :pirate: :wav:
NECROCAPITALISM at ‘Rolling thunder. Shock. A noble one in fear and dread sets things in order and is watchful.’ I-Ching (Hex.51)

Offline knarf

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US military emits more CO2 than some industrialised countries
« Reply #13038 on: June 13, 2019, 06:10:09 AM »

A new study has revealed that the United States creates more planet-warming greenhouse gas emissions through its military operations alone than industrialised countries such as Sweden and Portugal.

Researchers say the Pentagon released about 59 million metric tonnes of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases in 2017, according to the first study to compile such comprehensive data, published by Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island.

Using and moving troops and weapons accounted for about 70% of its energy consumption, mostly due to the burning of jet and diesel fuel.

The Pentagon remains the world's single largest consumer of oil.

The Pentagon's emissions were "in any one year ... greater than many smaller countries' greenhouse gas emissions," the study said.

If it were a country, its emissions would make it the world's 55th largest contributor, said Professor Neta Crawford, the study's author and a political scientist at Boston University.

"There is a lot of room here to reduce emissions," she said.

The Pentagon called climate change "a national security issue" in a January report to the US Congress and it has launched multiple initiatives to prepare for its impact.

Prof Crawford said the Pentagon had reduced its fuel consumption significantly since 2009, including by making its vehicles more efficient and moving to cleaner sources of energy at bases.

It could reduce them further by cutting fuel-heavy missions to the Persian Gulf to protect access to oil, which were no longer a top priority as renewable energy gained ground, she said.

"Many missions could actually be re-thought, and it would make the world safer," she added.
NECROCAPITALISM at ‘Rolling thunder. Shock. A noble one in fear and dread sets things in order and is watchful.’ I-Ching (Hex.51)

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States ramp up pressure on federal regulators to rein in Big Tech
« Reply #13039 on: June 13, 2019, 06:21:38 AM »
States are turning up the pressure on federal regulators to police the biggest tech companies and give consumers more control over their personal data.

Attorneys general in several states have already opened or are preparing investigations into Facebook, Apple and Google over concerns about privacy and anti-competitive practices. They lobbied the Justice Department to take action last fall, and on Wednesday, they are meeting with the Federal Trade Commission in Nebraska to discuss antitrust enforcement.

In a letter to the agency sent Tuesday night, the AGs called for tougher reporting requirements for tech acquisitions and a new clearinghouse for data brokers. The letter was signed by 39 states, along with the District of Columbia, Guam and Puerto Rico.

“Each one of those companies, individually, needs to be looked at and overlaid against our consumer protection and antitrust laws to determine whether or not the activity each one is engaged in would render a breakup or not,” Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry, who heads the National Association of Attorneys General, told CNBC. “Whenever nascent industries come about, and they gain economic power and they gain monopolistic control over that market, we’ve seen our government come in and break those particular companies up.”

Washington is starting to take notice. The House Judiciary Committee kicked off a broad investigation into the dominance of the tech giants this week. Federal regulators have open inquiries into Facebook, Google, Apple and Amazon, according to a person familiar with the probes. And the Justice Department’s top antitrust official is pushing back against criticism that the agency has been slow to respond to a rapidly changing industry.

“The antitrust division will not shrink from the critical work of investigating and challenging anticompetitive conduct and transactions where justified,” Assistant Attorney General Makan Delrahim said in a speech Tuesday in Israel.
“Whenever nascent industries come about, and they gain economic power and they gain monopolistic control over that market, we’ve seen our government come in and break those particular companies up.”
Jeff Landry
Louisiana attorney general

But state attorneys general say they are not waiting for Washington — and sometimes that puts them at odds with federal regulators. That tension was on display Tuesday when nine states and the District of Columbia joined forces in a lawsuit aimed at blocking the $26 billion merger of wireless carriers T-Mobile and Sprint, even though the DOJ is still reviewing the case.

Landry, who was not a part of the suit to stop the merger, would not comment on whether states are considering similar coordinated action around tech. But he said attorneys general should “band together” to find ways to address the dominance of Big Tech alongside federal authorities.

In the letter to the FTC, the AGs argued that the biggest players cement their positions by creating barriers to entry for smaller firms. They also urged the agency to consider factors beyond price — including quality, privacy and innovation — in assessing whether consumers are harmed by company practices.

One solution the states are calling for would force companies to disclose a potential acquisition if the firm being bought is relatively young. And companies that are settling complaints with federal authorities should be forced to seek approval before buying any other firms, the states said.

On privacy, states are seeking a new data-broker clearinghouse that would allow consumers to opt out of data collection and limits on how long companies keep user information.

“Platforms’ collection of consumer data creates privacy concerns touching on consumer protection,” the letter states. “But the scale and volume of the collection of that data also raises competition concerns.”

Landry has been one of the most vocal critics of the tech giants, telling CNBC there’s an “antitrust flavor” to Google’s advertising business and the way it handles consumer data.

In New York, Attorney General Letitia James has opened investigations just this year into Facebook over the way it handles users’ contact lists and Apple over concerns about privacy within the FaceTime app. Earlier this month, the District of Columbia won a key court ruling allowing its lawsuit against Facebook over the Cambridge Analytica scandal to proceed. Pennsylvania is looking into the massive data breach revealed by the social media giant last fall.

In California, state regulators are gearing up to enforce an online privacy law — the first in the U.S. — designed to rein in technology companies and give consumers more control of their data. Attorney General Xavier Becerra said the promise of the tech revolution — new jobs, enhanced efficiency, greater innovation — lured the federal government into treating the industry with “kid gloves.”

“They’re not children anymore. They’re adults, and they should be treated like adults,” he told CNBC. “And we’ll see where that takes us.”
NECROCAPITALISM at ‘Rolling thunder. Shock. A noble one in fear and dread sets things in order and is watchful.’ I-Ching (Hex.51)

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Child migrants could lose access to recreational activities, while conditions at adult facilities pose health and safety risks

In the Adelanto detention facility in California, inspectors found nooses in detainee cells, the segregation of certain detainees in an overly restrictive way and inadequate medical care, the report said.

As the number of Central American families and children approaching the US-Mexico border continues its dramatic rise, the US is failing to provide adequate care to those already in detention.

Reports this week from the US Department of Homeland Security watchdog, the Office of Inspector General (OIG), and leaked documents, have revealed distressing conditions for migrants in the custody of US immigration agencies.

Child migrants could soon lose access to recreational activities and English lessons, while conditions at adult detention facilities were found to pose immediate risks to immigrant health and safety.

These damning reports came the same week the US announced that the border patrol arrested an unprecedented number of families at the border in May. Though the number of families attempting to enter the US has spiked, the overall total of attempted border crossings is below the records hit in the early 2000s when most people entering were adult males from Mexico.

In May, Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agents apprehended 132,887 people at the southern border and 11,391 people arrived at ports of entry but did not have the documents required to enter the US. They are mostly Central Americans fleeing poverty, violence and the climate crisis.

“We are bursting at the seams,” said Randy Howe, CBP’s executive director of operations. “This can’t continue.”

Citing budget pressures because of the influxof children at the border, the health department agency that cares for children who arrive at the border on their own, the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR), has started to end funding for activities such as soccer and English classes for children in its custody. Children can spend months in ORR shelters, including tent cities.

A health department official emailed shelters last week explaining the funding for those programs was “unallowable”, according to an email obtained by the Washington Post.

Denise Bell, researcher for refugee and migrant rights at Amnesty International USA, said the move was “unconscionable”.

“Locking up children and then denying them legal aid, education, and even playtime is all part of this administration’s cruel efforts to dehumanize people who have come to the US seeking safety,” Bell said in a statement. “Children’s human rights must be protected by ensuring they receive proper care while in government custody and are released as soon as possible.”

The homeland security and health departments were also under pressure this week because of an alarming NBC report that revealed the government had kept immigrant children in a van for 39 hours while waiting to reunite them with their parents.

In July last year, 37 migrant children aged between five and 12 years old were held for two nights in the van after a federal judge ordered the Trump administration to reunite families it had separated at the border, according to the report.

The Republican leader of the House energy and commerce committee, Oregon representative Greg Walden, said the report’s findings were “unacceptable” and “indefensible”.

“This is not who we are as Americans,” Walden said in a statement. “I expect a prompt explanation from the Departments of Homeland Security and Health and Human Services about this failure.”

As advocates for migrant children raised concerns about these reports, the DHS inspector general released a report showing “egregious” conditions in four adult detention facilities across the US, including nooses found in detainee cells.

In 2018, immediate health and safety risks were observed at two of the facilities, Adelanto Ice Processing Center, referring to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (Ice), in California, and Essex County Correctional Facility, in New Jersey. At Essex, inspectors found open packages of raw chicken that had leaked blood over refrigeration units – the kitchen manager was replaced during the inspection. At Adelanto, chicken smelled foul and appeared to be spoiled. At both locations, inspectors found bathrooms in poor condition with unusable toilets and mold on ceilings, mirrors and vents.

Three of the facilities were owned and operated by the private prison firm GEO Group: Adelanto in California, LaSalle Ice Processing Center in Louisiana and Aurora Ice Processing Center in Colorado. The fourth facility, Essex, was operated by the local corrections department. Together, they house nearly 5,000 detainees.

“Our observations confirmed concerns identified in detainee grievances, which indicated unsafe and unhealthy conditions to varying degrees at all of the facilities we visited,” the inspector said.

Other problems inspectors observed included the Essex facility providing detainees with clothing only in extra large sizes, 3x and 4x, which detainees said they could not keep on. And three of the facilities were found to be violating homeland security department standards by inappropriately using handcuffs and strip searches without documenting a justification for doing so.

And in a separate inspector general report last week, officials found “dangerous overcrowding” at a border patrol processing facility in El Paso, Texas.

In May, inspectors found the processing center, which has a capacity of 125 people, held between 750 and 900 people. A cell meant to hold 12 people held 76 people and another with capacity for 35 held 155, according to the report.

Donald Trump has not directly addressed the problems uncovered in US detention facilities.

On Wednesday night, the president blamed Democrats and Mexico for the influx of immigrants at the border. His immigration policies have so far failed to reduce the number of people making the dangerous journey north.
NECROCAPITALISM at ‘Rolling thunder. Shock. A noble one in fear and dread sets things in order and is watchful.’ I-Ching (Hex.51)

Offline knarf

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Welfare Money Is Paying for a Lot of Things Besides Welfare
« Reply #13041 on: June 13, 2019, 06:41:29 AM »
Instead of giving cash assistance to poor families, states are widening the racial divide.

What do a Christian overnight camp, abstinence-only sex education, and pro-marriage advertisements all have in common? They’ve all been funded with money that used to provide cash assistance for low-income families.

In the U.S., the federal Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program—often known simply as “welfare”—is administered by the 50 states, which have considerable leeway about how to spend the money. The choices states make are unmistakably correlated with race. The higher the proportion of African Americans in a state, the more likely officials are to try to change the way poor families run their lives, rather than simply help them with basic expenses.

Many know TANF as the nation’s primary cash assistance program for low-income families. But depending on which state you live in, TANF may provide barely any cash assistance at all.

In a new study published in the journal Socio-Economic Review, I find that a state with a higher share of black families is less likely to allocate TANF funds toward the provision of cash assistance, but more likely to allocate TANF funds toward efforts to “encourage the formation of two-parent families” and “reduce the incidence of out-of-wedlock pregnancies.” The stated assumption behind these initiatives is that strengthening the family unit has greater long-term benefits than simply giving money to needy people.
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In practice, though, the diversion of TANF funds away from cash support and toward programs meant to influence family formation has likely exacerbated racial differences in poverty. A clear pattern emerges: a black family in poverty is more likely than a white family to be offered a “Healthy Marriage Initiative” in place of direct cash support.

These racial inequities in states’ use of TANF funds turn out to have important consequences for racial differences in child poverty. I find, for example, that closing the racial differences in states’ use of TANF funds would narrow the black-white child poverty gap by up to 15 percent.

Arkansas’s experience epitomizes these findings. The state has a large African-American population and no shortage of poverty. Yet in 2017, Arkansas spent only 4 percent of its total TANF budget on cash assistance. Instead, the state allocated two-thirds of its TANF budget toward the “formation of two-parent families” and the “reduction of out-of-wedlock pregnancies.”

But Arkansas is hardly alone in spending less on cash support. From the introduction of TANF in 1997 to 2017, total spending on cash assistance across all states has declined from $14 billion to $7 billion per year. (In constant dollars, the amount of money spent on cash assistance has fallen by two-thirds.) While cash support has waned, however, states’ TANF budgets haven’t changed: the federal government provides states the same chunk of money each year to run their TANF programs. Thus, every dollar that a state does not spend on cash assistance should generally be spent on another program or service that, at least in theory, will support low-income families.

So, where is the money? In Mississippi, a state that spends comparatively little on cash support, TANF funds have been used to finance an abstinence-only sex education curriculum that “teaches the social, psychological, and physical effects of engaging in sexual activities.” Officials in Louisiana, where only 4 percent of poor families with children receive cash support, redirect TANF funds toward an Alternatives to Abortion program that discourages low-income families from terminating pregnancies. Southern states aren’t the only ones using the money for moral uplift. In Maine, children were bused off to a TANF-funded Christian summer camp. In Connecticut, TANF money was diverted toward compulsive gambler assistance.

To be sure, not all of the excess TANF funds are spent on summer camps and sex ed. Many states use the resources to fund childcare programs, earnings subsidies for the working poor, and other efforts to promote or incentivize employment. Some states, such as Georgia, have spent the largest chunk of their TANF funds on child welfare services and foster care support. Both are worthy purposes, but other states pay for these services out of general revenues rather than TANF funds.

Meanwhile, fewer and fewer families in need are receiving direct cash support—an essential resource for reducing levels of child poverty.

To understand why a state’s racial composition is the strongest predictor of how it allocates TANF resources, consider that academic research has shown time and time again that many Americans tend to view black families as lazy, unworthy of help, and receiving “more than they deserve” from the state. Whether researchers are exploring “Why Americans Hate Welfare,” as Martin Gilens did in his 1999 book, or asking “Why Doesn’t the U.S. Have a European Welfare State?”, as Alberto Alesina and colleagues asked in 2001, the answer nearly always begins and ends with evidence of racialized perceptions of the beneficiaries of social assistance. These perceptions have often crept into policymaking decisions, including those relating to TANF. Indeed, my results show that—unlike race—the share of single mothers in the state, a state's wealth, or which political party has control of its legislature explain little of the variance in states' cash assistance spending.

Removing the racial inequities in states’ TANF allocations would mark a large step in reducing racial differences in child poverty. For context, the estimated 15 percent reduction in the black-white child poverty gap is comparable to the effect of moving all children from single-mother households into two-parent households (while keeping all other characteristics of the households as is).

This is not to say that single motherhood is unimportant—more children growing up in two-parent households would surely be a good thing. But if a state’s purported goal is to reduce the number of its residents living in poverty, offering cash support coupled with pro-employment incentives is likely to be more effective than sex education courses or ad campaigns “promoting the value of healthy marriage.”

TANF is not the only social program in the U.S. that stratifies low-income families based on state boundaries and skin color. In Jamila Michener’s new book, “Fragmented Democracy: Medicaid, Federalism, and Unequal Politics,” the Cornell political scientist depicts in vivid detail how state differences in Medicaid policies “tether health policy even more deeply to race and poverty.”

Most concretely, Michener points out that eight of the 11 states with the largest share of the nation’s black population are among those that have failed to implement Medicaid expansion. Even among Medicaid beneficiaries, access to dental treatment, hearing or vision support, and end-of-life services vary by state. If a person eligible for Medicaid “got sick in the wrong state during the wrong year,” Michener writes, “the consequences of policy fragmentation could be life altering.”

Other examples of “policy fragmentation” abound. Today, roughly half of the 50 states offer a supplement to the federal Earned Income Tax Credit, but the average black family is less likely than the average white family to live in one of those states. States vary in levels of the minimum wage, paid leave policies, and investments into early childhood education, but again, regional and racial inequities are large. And perhaps most damaging, states have long varied with respect to their criminal justice policies. In 11 states, at least one in 20 black men is incarcerated. Ironically, the states most likely to chide black women for raising children alone—and to promote marriage as the key to poverty reduction—tend to be the same states that incarcerate the largest share of black men. Including the incarcerated population into our estimates of poverty in the U.S. would only widen racial divides.

“Federalism,” as Michener poignantly writes, “is a primary channel through which the geography of opportunity is shaped in America.” The question of in which state a low-income family lives is associated more and more with how well that family is able to live. And more often than not, low-income families of color tend to find themselves living within the borders of a more punitive state.

We often perceive policymakers as defenders of economic opportunity, and social policy as a set of tools to alleviate inequalities. But as Michener’s work shows, and as the data on TANF suggest, state governments often function as a source of inequality rather than its cure. Rather than narrowing gaps between the advantaged and disadvantaged, social policy can, when deployed unevenly across the country, act to deepen them instead.
NECROCAPITALISM at ‘Rolling thunder. Shock. A noble one in fear and dread sets things in order and is watchful.’ I-Ching (Hex.51)

Offline knarf

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All the Ways Austerity Has Ruined the Lives of Disabled People
« Reply #13042 on: June 13, 2019, 07:07:36 AM »
We spoke to Frances Ryan about her new book, 'Crippled: Austerity and the Demonisation of Disabled People'.

Protesters demonstrating against the bedroom tax.

Austerity's impact on disabled people has been brutal and unrelenting. The much-maligned bedroom tax, the abolition of disability living allowance, an ongoing social care crisis – disabled people have been let down and discarded by a state that views them simply as a drain.

A new book, Crippled: Austerity and the Demonisation of Disabled People, lays this anguish bare. It's a devastating look at both the policies that impact disabled people and the toxic rhetoric behind them – and what needs to change to make it right.

I spoke to author Frances Ryan about why the book is so necessary right now.

VICE: How did the book come about?
Frances Ryan: I've been reporting on the way disabled people have been disproportionately affected by austerity for years. I wanted to put together a book that spoke to the magnitude of what's happening – it's a proper public policy crisis, both in the number of people affected by it and the level of hardship that they’re going through. It's not just about austerity – it's bigger than that. We have this idea we're a compassionate and fair country; we position ourselves as a global leader in disability rights. Actually, that's a bit of a myth. We still have huge problems in how we perceive disability.

In the introduction, you say life was "full of promise" for disabled people when you were growing up. How much has that changed?
I was a teenager in the 1990s, which was a really exciting time; it took until then for people to have proper civil rights recognition in law. There was a feeling that disabled people finally had this moment that campaigners had fought so long for. But there's a feeling that we’re losing those gains. Cuts to social care have pushed back disabled people's ability to live independently, cuts to benefits have pushed back gains in lifting disabled people out of poverty. People fought for these basic rights and dignities and opportunities, and very quickly the last decade has pushed that back in a very worrying way.

Are people aware of how much disabled people are losing their independence in particular, do you think?
The benefits stuff has had a lot of coverage; the bedroom tax really reached that public awareness level. But when a politician talks about social care, you rarely hear them talk about young disabled people. A third of all social care users are working age disabled people – not talking about us means it's really easy for our needs to not be addressed.

Social care is painted as the basics – going to the toilet, getting dressed. That's obviously key, and there are many people who are having to sit in adult nappies because the person who helps them go to the toilet has been cut. That is real and inhumane. But it's so much more than that. It's your ability to live the sort of life that a non-disabled person takes for granted; going to the pub with friends, to a job interview, going on a trip to see your sister in a different city. You take social care away and disabled people are treated in a way that just wouldn't be acceptable otherwise.

You're expected to just survive, rather than have a life that's joyful and fulfilling.
That's it. There's a view that certain people are supposed to live on this subsistence level of existence, and others are allowed to have hopes and dreams and opportunity and fulfilment. But life isn't just survival – all of us should be having that. If you don't think disabled people have sex or want a career, it becomes much easier to pull that support from us. You have to tackle the attitudes that make those cuts easy as much as the cuts themselves.

How has austerity impacted women specifically?
Austerity has penalised women more than men, but within that group, ethnic minority women and disabled women have been particularly hardest hit. Writing the book, it was one of the things that made me stop and feel this real disgust at how badly people are being let down. One of the things I look at is disabled mums who aren't getting support to look after their children. It’s resulting in really brutal consequences – not just disabled women, but ethnic minority and working class women, too, are having real difficulty keeping custody.

How has the ableist rhetoric of politicians and the media impacted disabled people?
One thing that's struck me about the surge in anti-disability rhetoric is that it isn't a problem that's consigned to the fringes. Yes, we’re seeing toxic examples from fringe elements – i.e. the Swindon mayor who was in the press for calling disabled people "mongols" who shouldn't be allowed to have sex. But the alarming thing is that it isn't just the fringes. Ministers have worked with the right-wing press to spread the myth that disabled people are a drain on the public purse – Iain Duncan Smith backing the Sun's campaign to track down so-called "benefits cheats", Esther McVey telling the Mail she's going after the "bogus disabled", Philip Hammond blaming the economy stalling on the increase of disabled workers. That's the really scary bit.

How much has this sentiment trickled down?
It definitely has an impact. People internalise the idea they're a problem. People I interviewed for the book wanted to tell me they’d worked their whole lives, that they weren’t a "drain", basically. Others talked about being yelled at when they're out in their wheelchair: "Why aren't you at work, you're lazy." At the same time, there is hope – polls show an improvement in the public's willingness to use tax money to support disabled people. It's a crucial time: it could go either way.

So what needs to change? How can we do better when it comes to supporting disabled people?
Representation is really important. There are so few disabled people leading the conversation – disability charities not led by disabled people, the fact that when governments do reforms they don't invite disabled-led organisations to the table. There are very few disabled politicians, so there are fewer disabled people at the decision-making table.

And there’s practical stuff. There are many recommendations for change – ending the use of private companies to do benefits assessments, for example. Things like that would have a huge impact on disabled people's lives. Progress is complex; it goes back and forward again. But it's well within our capability to make the changes that would make life better for disabled people.

Thanks, Frances.

NECROCAPITALISM at ‘Rolling thunder. Shock. A noble one in fear and dread sets things in order and is watchful.’ I-Ching (Hex.51)

Offline knarf

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 Josh McClatchy knew finding water would be a problem if he was to survive after getting lost in the Arkansas woods last week. He did not anticipate the ants.

"When it comes to the wildlife, I learned very quickly that the ants were my nemesis," McClatchy told ABC's "Good Morning America" in an interview airing Friday. "Ants that were an inch long, the stinger as large as the head."

McClatchy, 38, had planned his hike in the in the Caney Creek Wilderness region, near Mena, Arkansas, for weeks. But somehow the Dallas native managed to get off the beaten trail and disoriented. He texted his mother June 1 to say he needed help, but due to spotty cellphone service he couldn't reconnect with her.

 He was reported missing by his mother the same day.

But he wasn't seen for six more days, when a search-and-rescue helicopter finally managed to locate McClatchy in heavily wooded Polk County.

Josh McClatchy, 37, was rescued after six days in the Arkansas woods on Friday, June 7, 2019, after he got lost on a hike in Polk County.

 "I wasn't anticipating on being stranded; there's no way I could have anticipated being stranded," he said. "I don't feel ashamed for being stranded. Reason being is that I've learned not only in that area, just hiking in general, people get stranded all the time."

He said he spent a few days near the top of Katy Mountain, on the Buckeye Trail, hoping the elevation would help him be seen. But the location also proved detrimental.

"When you're in the mountains and everyone is yelling, everything echoes so you can't tell where the original sound is coming from," McClatchy said.

 And then there were the ants.

"I immediately got swarmed by ants, so I dropped everything and got out of there," he said. "When I say I got out of there, I was around the general area, just trying to avoid the ants."

"Thankfully I was in long sleeves," McClatchy said. "That first night I learned to tuck everything in, so I had my wool socks and had my pants tucked in to my wool socks. I had long sleeves, I tucked everything in. It could have been much worse."

 He stuck to following streams so he knew he would have a source of water. In the end, he came out in fairly good shape -- for someone who spent almost a week on the mountain with no supplies.

He was dehydrated when he was finally found and had suffered a cut on his head necessitating stitches. But otherwise, he was able to communicate with the rescue team and wear a smile as he was loaded into an ambulance.

t took about four hours for the rescuers to carry him out the 3 miles on a one-wheeled rescue cart.

"To be honest, when it comes to lost hope and despair, that had already set in by Monday," McClatchy said. "The reason being, is because I was stranded Saturday night. Sunday was coming around, I wasn't losing hope at that point, but I was definitely scared."

 McClatchy called his rescuers "heroes" and thanked the hospital staff for being "absolutely amazing." McClatchy, who has bipolar disorder, was without his medication for almost a week.

"I'm in one of the best spots mentally that I've been in for a long time," he said. "I have an incredible support team around me and I'm fortunate because not everyone has that," he said. "My outlook is so different now, I'm so grateful."
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Dozens of Endangered, Threatened Ice Seals Washing Up Dead on Alaska's Coasts
« Reply #13044 on: June 14, 2019, 05:13:25 AM »
At least 60 dead seals have been reported on the coast of the Bering and Chukchi seas, NOAA Fisheries said in a news release.

The first reports of dead ice seals came in early May when the carcasses of eight young bearded seals were found on St. Lawrence Island in the northern Bering Sea.

Multiple reports of dead bearded, ringed and spotted seals were made Monday. Many of them were in southwest Norton Sound, including 18 north of Kotlik, Alaska, and dozens on Stuart Island, north of Stebbins.

About 225 miles to the north, a National Park Service biologist reported six dead seals near Kotzebue, Alaska. Another 75 miles up the coast of the Chukchi Sea, as many as 30 dead seals were reported between Kivalina and Point Hope.

Some of the seals showed signs of hair loss, a symptom that was seen during a rash of seal and walrus deaths from 2011 to 2016, NOAA Fisheries said. The agency estimated that 657 seals were affected over those six years, the Associated Press reported. Biologists confirmed 233 dead and stranded ringed, bearded, spotted and ribbon seals.

Bearded and ringed seals are listed as threatened or endangered under the Endangered Species Act. They and spotted seals all are protected under the Marine Mammal Protection Act.

Ice seals are a food source for Alaska Native communities, and there are some fears of contamination, the news release said.

Sea-surface temperatures along the coasts of the Bering and southern Chukchi seas were as warm as 8.1 degrees Fahrenheit above normal last month and remained well above normal as of this week, Reuters reported, citing NOAA data.

The loss of sea ice could be a factor in the seal deaths. Seals use sea ice to rest and give birth. In spring, algae underneath the ice blooms dies and sinks, sending food to clams, snails and sea worms that become prey for gray whales, walruses and bearded seals, the AP reported.

The seal deaths coincide with an unusual increase in the number of dead gray whales found on West Coast beaches, the AP also said.

So far this year, about 70 gray whales have been found dead on the coasts of California, Oregon, Washington and Alaska.
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Researchers probe the link between climate change and global conflict
« Reply #13045 on: June 14, 2019, 05:19:01 AM »
Experts say that as temperatures rise, so will tensions.

Climate change is expected to exacerbate armed conflict, even as military efforts themselves serve as a driving source of global warming. This is the conclusion of multiple reports published this week probing the relationship between climate change and global conflict.

The dynamic between climate change and global stability has been a source of contention for years, with experts largely agreeing that a link between the two does exist, even if on a minute level. But a series of reports released this week indicate that the connection between rising temperatures and conflict is becoming increasingly clear.

According to one of the studies, global warming that rises beyond the dangerous 2 degrees Celsius threshold is likely to substantially escalate clashes and conflicts within countries. These findings echo another report this week that warns climate change will harm global peace and stability within the next decade.

Both of these studies come as some 2020 Democratic presidential candidates are increasingly discussing the connection between climate change and national security. That relationship goes both ways in the United States, where research has repeatedly emphasized the military’s long-running status as a major polluter.

Experts have long argued over the extent to which climate change impacts national and international conflicts. Other stressors, they agree, also play a significant role, like socioeconomic and political factors.

But a Stanford-led study published in Nature on Wednesday moves beyond that ongoing debate. The study takes an unorthodox approach: 11 experts in fields related to climate and conflict participated in individual interviews and group discussions about the relationship between those things. They concluded that climate has already influenced between 3% and 20% of armed conflicts over the past century.

That wide range includes the possibility that only a very small percentage of past conflicts can be linked to climate change. Despite this, the experts agreed that as temperatures rise, the impact on conflicts within nations would grow. Conflicts between nations were not included in the study as they are less common — but notably many international conflicts have initiated as domestic disputes.

According to the study, with 2 degrees Celsius of global warming above pre-industrial temperatures — which the Paris climate agreement seeks to prevent — the influence of climate change on armed conflict could rise to at least 13%. In a far more dire scenario of 4 degrees Celsius of warming, there would be a 26% chance of “a substantial increase in conflict risk.”

The rationale is that as climate change gets worse, it impacts weather and disasters — making hurricanes and wildfires more intense, droughts drier, and rainfall wetter. This in turn can greatly influence economies — impacting crops, livestock, and fisheries — subsequently hindering livelihoods and reinforcing social divides.

That has played out in countries like Syria, where reports have shown that climate change exacerbated already poor conditions, with a drought and water scarcity adding to political tensions and ultimately leading to civil war. Experts have similarly argued that climate change is worsening conditions in many parts of Central America, prompting many residents to migrate elsewhere.

“Knowing whether environmental or climatic changes are important for explaining conflict has implications for what we can do to reduce the likelihood of future conflict, as well as for how to make well-informed decisions about how aggressively we should mitigate future climate change,” Marshall Burke, an assistant professor of Earth system science and a co-author on the study, said in a statement.

The study heavily stipulates that direct connections between climate change and armed conflict are hard to establish, largely because so many other social and political factors are in play. But the researchers’ findings align with other emerging conclusions about the relationship between global warming and violence.

According to an annual peace index released Wednesday by the Australia-based Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP), climate change poses a severe threat to global harmony over the next 10 years. Competition over resources and migration, along with economic impacts, are seen as the key drivers behind the climate-driven instability.

That index found that almost a billion people are already at high risk from climate change based on where they live; of those, 40% are in countries struggling with conflict.

Steve Killelea, executive chairman of the IEP, told Reuters that the trends are alarming. “Going forward, climate change is going to be a substantial problem,” he said, calling climate impacts a “tipping point” that can exacerbate conflicts and escalate them.

That connection hasn’t been overlooked by national security experts in the United States. The Pentagon has warned that climate impacts are imperiling around half of all U.S. military sites. In a hearing before the House Intelligence Committee last week, top government intelligence experts, including Rod Schoonover, a State Department intelligence official, testified that climate change is a top global threat.

But military and intelligence experts have faced pushback from the White House and officials appointed by President Donald Trump when trying to call attention to the security threat posed by climate change.

William Happer, appointed by Trump to the National Security Council (NSC), has sought in particular to undermine the connection between climate change and national security. When Schoonover testified last week, Trump advisors withheld his testimony from the Congressional Record. The New York Times later published the NSC’s responses to Schoonover’s prepared comments, in which someone believed to be Happer accused the State Department official of “climate-alarm propaganda” and largely panned the expert’s testimony.

That division between experts and the Trump administration has spilled onto the campaign trail, where climate action has already proven to be a hot-button issue for Democrats. Several candidates have already released sweeping climate plans and a number have also highlighted the link between global warming and national security.

Gov. Jay Inslee (D-WA), who has devoted his campaign entirely to climate action, has argued repeatedly that addressing climate change is critical to ensuring national safety. He has even gone so far as to warn global warming is “a clear and present danger to the United States.” Both Inslee and former Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-TX) have also cited climate change as a factor in destabilizing countries in Central America, prompting an influx of migrants at the U.S.-Mexico border.

Another growing conversation for 2020 contenders is the extent to which national security itself contributes to global warming. A study released this week by Brown University found that from 2011 to 2017, the Pentagon’s emissions totaled some 766 million metric tons — a distinction the report says makes the Department of Defense “the world’s largest institutional user of petroleum,” and “the single largest producer of greenhouse gases” in the world.

At least one candidate has a plan addressing that issue. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) has called for decarbonizing U.S. non-combat bases and infrastructure by 2030, an approach that would greatly reduce global greenhouse gas emissions. While some have labeled Warren’s “green military” approach hawkish, the Brown study’s findings show that war itself makes up only around half of the military’s emissions, with “military industry” contributing significantly more.

The complicated dynamic posed by a military concerned about climate change that nonetheless serves as a major source of emissions is likely to gain further scrutiny as Democratic candidates vie for votes. Polls increasingly show that U.S. voters consider climate change a leading issue and national security has historically been a major talking point for candidates on both sides of the aisle.

And teasing out the circular relationship between security and instability will likely mean addressing long-established military norms. Another climate change factor highlighted by the Brown report is U.S. dependence on fossil fuels, particularly foreign oil. While the Pentagon is worried about climate change, the authors note, the U.S. military is meanwhile driving up emissions to safeguard oil in areas like the Persian Gulf.

“The Pentagon focuses their efforts on adapting to climate change and preparing for climate caused insecurity, even as they continue to ensure that Americans continue to have relatively inexpensive access to imported oil,” the report notes.

That enduring cycle and other drivers of global warming mean escalating climate impacts. And per this week’s reports, that in turn means an increasingly unstable world.
NECROCAPITALISM at ‘Rolling thunder. Shock. A noble one in fear and dread sets things in order and is watchful.’ I-Ching (Hex.51)

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The DNC chair opposes holding a climate change debate, but activists and 15 presidential contenders want one.

The climate crisis has rocketed up the polls and is now a top-tier issue for Democratic primary voters. A CNN survey this week found that three-quarters of Iowa Democratic caucus participants said that their candidate must treat climate change as the greatest threat to humanity.

Environmental campaigners like Greenpeace and the Sunrise Movement as well as most Democratic presidential candidates are now calling for a televised primary debate centered on climate change, hoping to create the first-ever debate focused on a single issue.

The Democratic National Committee, however, isn’t swayed. This week, Tom Perez, head of the DNC, ruled out an official presidential primary debate centered on climate change in a post on Medium. Perez said that climate change is just one of several high-priority topics, and that it would be unfair to host a debate revolving around it, particularly when one candidate, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, has centered his entire campaign on the issue.

    If we change our guidelines at the request of one candidate who has made climate change their campaign’s signature issue, how do we say no to the numerous other requests we’ve had? How do we say no to other candidates in the race who may request debates focused on an issue they’ve made central to their own campaigns?

But the fact that a senior party official had to shoot down a climate debate shows just how much more active voters are around climate change in this election, especially compared to previous cycles.

Environmental activists were displeased with Perez’s pronouncement. On Wednesday, protesters gathered at the DNC headquarters in Washington to continue to pressure the committee to hold a climate change debate.

And it’s not just one Democratic presidential contender that wants a climate change debate; it’s 15, including the frontrunner, former Vice President Joe Biden.

The debate over the debate is ultimately a microcosm of how Democrats could tackle climate change: as the tentpole of their agenda or as an element of every policy.

Climate change is long overdue for a prime-time discussion

The consequences of increasing average temperatures, rising seas, more rainfall and heat waves, and drier forests that fuel wildfires have already proved to be costly and deadly. Yet for years, climate change received conspicuously little attention in these televised events for presidential candidates. In 2016, the presidential debates almost completely ignored climate change. It’s a surprising omission, especially since questions about climate change in presidential and vice presidential debates date back decades.

Now climate change is a high priority for Democratic voters and elected officials. Some of the strongest activist energy in this election cycle is targeted at limiting greenhouse gases through proposals like the Green New Deal.

“A lot has changed over the past few years as climate change has increasingly become a voting issue,” Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) told Vox in an email. “The DNC is deservedly feeling pressure to do a far better job on climate than in the last primary debates.”

So a presidential climate change debate would be a strong step toward correcting this imbalance in attention. Former New York Times environmental reporter Justin Gillis argued that such an event would not just be a messaging exercise but a useful way to test a candidate’s mettle for the job with a real-world crisis:

    All the candidates want to curb fossil fuel emissions, but there is far from a consensus on how to do it. Should nuclear power be part of the solution? A tax on carbon emissions? Tougher regulations? The candidates disagree. Let’s hear what they have to say. If we do, we’ll also see which candidate, under competitive pressure, displays the rhetorical skills the party needs to make this a winning issue in a national election. If the DNC continues with this ludicrous position of stamping out climate discussion in the primaries, we’ll never find out.

One of the first and biggest proponents of a climate change debate is Inslee. He’s made climate change the overarching theme of his campaign. A climate debate would likely put the lesser-known candidate at center stage, and he’s not too pleased with the DNC’s resistance to such an event.

But other Democratic candidates for president have called for such a debate as well, including Bernie Sanders, Beto O’Rourke, and Elizabeth Warren.
Democratic party leaders don’t think a climate debate is useful or necessary

The argument over whether or not to hold a climate change debate is a central question in a larger discussion among Democrats over how to tackle climate change. Should it be the centerpiece of policy-making, or should climate considerations be an element of other issues of concern?

We’re seeing this play out in how Inslee’s climate strategy compares to that of Warren. In the proposals she’s released so far, Warren has addressed climate change through her plans for public lands, domestic manufacturing, and the military.

So do Democrats really need a climate debate, or can climate change be adequately addressed in other policy discussions? Perez said that even without a climate change-specific debate, it will be an issue that’s impossible to ignore. “I have the utmost confidence that, based on our conversations with networks, climate change will be discussed early and often during our party’s primary debates,” he wrote.

The first Democratic debates will be held June 26 and 27 in Miami, a venue where climate change is already threatening coastal properties and where even Republicans want to tax carbon dioxide emissions.

And while there are a lot of things to discuss about how to fight climate change, almost all Democrats agree on the fundamentals, namely that the United States will have to zero-out its greenhouse gas emissions by at least the middle of the century, if not sooner. Many contenders have also pledged to refuse money from fossil fuel interests.

Meanwhile, Democratic presidential candidates, including Inslee, Biden, Warren, Beto O’Rourke, and Michael Bennet have all taken the initiative to offer their own climate policies. It’s likely more candidates will put out their own proposals or sign on to one of the existing plans. And as Robinson Meyer pointed out at the Atlantic, it’s clear that the Green New Deal has lifted the floor for what passes as an acceptable climate policy for Democrats. So any debate among Democrats on climate policy would scarcely illuminate the small and shrinking divides among the two dozen presidential hopefuls.

“Whoever becomes the Democratic nominee will have the most serious climate change proposal and policy plans ever in American history,” said Paul Bledsoe, a former climate adviser to President Bill Clinton and a strategic adviser at the Progressive Policy Institute.

He added that centering a debate entirely on climate change could carry a political cost. “To somehow make a fetish of climate change as the sine qua non of the 2020 election would in fact fall into a trap which the Republicans are trying to create, which is a view of Democrats as concerned only about non-pocketbook issues,” Bledsoe said. “I applaud the DNC for having the political common sense not to have a debate devoted to a single topic, whatever the topic.”

The DNC has created a long list of rules to govern who qualifies for the debate stage, setting thresholds for polling and fundraising. (Vox’s Andrew Prokop put together an excellent explainer about Democratic debate rules.) Among the rules is that a candidate who appears at an unofficial debate will be barred from the official debates. So even if a candidate decides to create their own debate event, be it about the climate crisis or otherwise, they stand to be excluded from the main stage (climate change “forums” and “town halls” are still permitted).

Ultimately, debates are theater. They may only move poll numbers by small amounts, and their perception is shaped often as much by media coverage as the contents of the debates themselves. A meaningful climate policy debate could still be had without a two-hour block of exclusive airtime.
NECROCAPITALISM at ‘Rolling thunder. Shock. A noble one in fear and dread sets things in order and is watchful.’ I-Ching (Hex.51)

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Francesca Martinez's Impassioned Speech About Impact Of Austerity Goes Viral
« Reply #13047 on: June 14, 2019, 05:31:07 AM »
She accused the Tory government of having "blood on its hands".

An impassioned speech about austerity by comedian Francesca Martinez has gone viral and been called the “best ever moment” on Question Time.

Martinez, who was a panelist on the BBC’s flagship political debate show, said the Conservative government had “blood on its hands”, citing research which showed over 130,000 people had died from austerity.

The comedian, who has cerebral palsy, said it was “absolutely outrageous”.

“That’s 130,000 mums, dads, daughters, sons, uncles and aunts who have died because the Tories and the Lib Dems decided to make ordinary people pay for a crash that was caused by bankers, who we bailed out.”

She also drew attention to the plight of people with disabilities in the UK, who she argues have been stigmatised by the government’s work assessment system.

Martinez said: “As a ‘wobbly woman’, I really have to highlight the tens of thousands of disabled and sick people who have died after being found fit for work.

“We are one of the richest countries in the world and this is absolutely outrageous. Even the UN has called Tory welfare reform a violation of disabled people’s rights.”

She continued: “Anyone can become disabled or sick at any time and right now this government is taking away the safety net that we have fought for collectively over decades to help those in need.

A clip of the speech was shared widely on social media with one Twitter using posting a tweet which read: “What a hero. Martinez said it like it is. Round of applause.”

Another wrote: “Best ever moment on least for a very long time.”
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Perfectly preserved head of Ice Age wolf found in Siberia
« Reply #13048 on: June 14, 2019, 05:40:26 AM »

MOSCOW (AP) — Russian scientists have found the furry head of an Ice Age wolf perfectly preserved in the Siberian permafrost.

The head of a wolf, which died 40,000 years ago, was discovered in the Russian Arctic region of Yakutia.

Valery Plotnikov, a top researcher at the local branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences, said the animal belonged to an ancient subspecies of wolf that lived at the same time as the mammoths and became extinct alongside them. Scientists said it was an adult, about 25% bigger than today’s wolves, but did not say whether it was male or female.

Plotnikov called the discovery unique because scientists previously only had found wolf skulls without tissues or fur, while this head has ears, a tongue and a perfectly preserved brain.
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DNC names 20 candidates who will appear on stage for first Democratic debate
« Reply #13049 on: June 14, 2019, 05:49:19 AM »
The Democratic National Committee set two ways for the candidates to qualify — fundraising and polling.

The two-night debate, hosted by NBC News, MSNBC and Telemundo, will take place on June 26 and 27 in Miami.

The Democratic National Committee on Thursday named the 20 presidential candidates who qualified to appear on stage later this month in the first primary debate of the 2020 campaign.

They are:

    Sen. Michael Bennet of Colorado
    Former Vice President Joe Biden*
    Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey*
    South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg*
    Former Housing Secretary Julián Castro*
    New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio
    Former Rep. John Delaney of Maryland
    Rep. Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii*
    Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York*
    Sen. Kamala Harris of California*
    Former Gov. John Hickenlooper of Colorado
    Gov. Jay Inslee of Washington*
    Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota*
    Former Rep. Beto O'Rourke of Texas*
    Rep. Tim Ryan of Ohio
    Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont*
    Rep. Eric Swalwell of California
    Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts*
    Author Marianne Williamson*
    Entrepreneur Andrew Yang*

The DNC, which is sanctioning the debate, set two ways for candidates to qualify — fundraising and polling. To make the stage, candidates needed to have either at least 1 percent support in three qualifying polls, or provide evidence of at least 65,000 unique donors, with a minimum of 200 different donors in at least 20 states.

The candidates marked with an asterisk qualified through both polling and grassroots fundraising thresholds, the DNC said. The others qualified through polling only.

Those who did not meet the threshold for the first debate include: Montana Gov. Steve Bullock; former Alaska Sen. Mike Gravel; Miramar, Florida Mayor Wayne Messam; and Rep. Seth Moulton of Massachusetts.

Bullock told NBC News' Chuck Todd Thursday in an interview on "Meet the Press Daily" that he was "disappointed" with the DNC's decision but declined to say if he would challenge it.

"I certainly knew getting in at the time I did would give me fewer opportunities to be on shows with youand others, but I had a job to do," said Bullock, who announced his bid in mid-May. "And if it ultimately ever came down to choosing between getting Medicaid reauthorized, getting 100,000 Montanans health care versus getting in earlier just to try to bump up on yet another poll, I would make that same choice time and time again."

He added that he is an "important voice" in the field, since Montana voted overwhelmingly for President Donald Trump in 2016, and noted that there will be more opportunities to introduce himself to voters before the first primary next year, including future debates.

"I am the only one in the field that won in a Trump state and we need to win back some of the places we've lost," he said.

The two-night debate, hosted by NBC News, MSNBC and Telemundo, will take place on June 26 and 27 at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts in downtown Miami. The event will air live across all three networks from 9 p.m. to 11 p.m ET both nights.

Ten candidates at a time will appear on stage, but the lineup for each night has not been determined, nor has where the candidates will stand. Both nights will have the same format, NBC News previously announced. It is the first of 12 primary debates the DNC has planned.

Lester Holt, Savannah Guthrie, Chuck Todd, Rachel Maddow and José Diaz-Balart will moderate the debate, NBC announced Tuesday.

The debate will also stream online free on NBC News' digital platforms, including,, the NBC News Mobile App and OTT apps, in addition to Telemundo's digital platforms.
NECROCAPITALISM at ‘Rolling thunder. Shock. A noble one in fear and dread sets things in order and is watchful.’ I-Ching (Hex.51)