AuthorTopic: Knarf's Knewz Channel  (Read 1941006 times)

Offline knarf

  • Global Moderator
  • Master Chef
  • *****
  • Posts: 15344
    • View Profile
Trump predicts UK election 'a harbinger of what's to come' in US
« Reply #14880 on: December 13, 2019, 02:39:34 PM »
President Trump on Friday predicted that the resounding victory for British Prime Minister Boris Johnson in the United Kingdom's elections this week could be a precursor for Republican success in the U.S.'s 2020 elections.

"I want to congratulate Boris Johnson on a terrific victory. I think that might be a harbinger of what’s to come in our country. It was last time," Trump told reporters in the Oval Office during a meeting with the president of Paraguay.

Johnson and his Conservative Party won a sizable majority in the British Parliament, clearing a path for the British prime minister to secure a deal to leave the European Union, a movement known as Brexit. The Conservative Party won 365 seats in the House of Commons compared to 203 for the Labour Party, with several smaller parties earning seats as well.

Trump said Friday that he expected Johnson's victory would benefit the U.S. if the two sides are able to negotiate a bilateral trade deal once Brexit is completed.

Political pundits in the U.S. were quick to try to draw parallels between the results across the pond and what it could mean for the 2020 presidential race, despite notable differences.

Some took Johnson's win as a sign of good things to come for Trump. The president is a close ally of Johnson's, and he won his 2016 election just months after voters in the U.K. approved the Brexit referendum, with both riding a wave of populist sentiment.

Some Democrats, including presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden, viewed the Labour Party's defeat as a warning that the Democratic Party should not drift too far left when picking a nominee in 2020.

“You’re also going to see people saying, 'my god, Boris Johnson, who is kind of a physical and emotional clone of the president, is able to win,'” Biden said at an event in San Francisco.

But experts noted some key differences in the outcome of the vote in the United Kingdom and the one coming next November in the U.S.

Brexit was a major focus in the special election on Thursday, an issue that won't factor into the U.S. race. And Johnson has pledged to increase government spending to improve the government-run National Health Service, an issue that does not align with the U.S. Republican Party.
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

  • Global Moderator
  • Master Chef
  • *****
  • Posts: 15344
    • View Profile
The government’s explanatory memo outlines how the bill’s far-reaching effects will change public life dramatically – in medical services, schools, offices and hospitals

The second draft religious discrimination bill will have wide-ranging effects on many areas of public life including access to medical services, schooling, employment, social media, aged care, hospitals and even some commercial services.

As well as an explainer about the bill’s provisions, we have collected examples from the government’s explanatory memorandum (EM) and stakeholders about what people would be allowed to say or do if the bill passes.

Statements of religious belief
Protection received: statements of religious belief will not be found to breach other federal, state and territory discrimination laws.


A Christian may say that unrepentant sinners will go to hell, an example cited in the EM which mirrors the facts of Israel Folau’s case
A doctor may tell a transgender patient of their religious belief that God made men and women in his image and that gender is therefore binary (EM)
A single mother who, when dropping her child off at daycare, may be told by a worker that she is sinful for denying her child a father (Public Interest Advocacy Centre)
A woman may be told by a manager that women should submit to their husbands or that women should not be employed outside the home (PIAC)
A student with disability may be told by a teacher their disability is a trial imposed by God (PIAC)
A person of a minority faith may be told by a retail assistant from another religion that they are a “heathen destined for eternal damnation” (PIAC).
Caveats – statements must be made in good faith; not be malicious or harass, vilify or incite hatred against a person or group; not advocate for the commission of a serious criminal offence.

Religious activity
Protection received: discrimination against a person on the basis of religious activity is unlawful.

Example: public evangelising/street-preaching – even where this is in contravention of council bylaws (EM, Just Equal).

Medical services
Protection received: unless it is against the law to refuse treatment, health practitioners are allowed to conscientiously object to providing a health service and no professional rules can override that right.


A Catholic doctor refusing to provide contraception to all patients (EM) or to prescribe hormone treatment for gender transition (Equality Australia, Just Equal, LGBTI Health Alliance)
A Catholic nurse who refused to participate in abortion procedures (EM) or to provide the morning-after pill to a woman admitted to hospital after a sexual assault (Equality Australia)
A pharmacist refusing to provide the pill to women for contraceptive use (EM), or hormone treatment (Public Interest Advocacy Centre, LGBTI Health Alliance)
A doctor could refuse to prescribe post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) within the required 72-hour window to a patient whose condom broke during a sexual encounter on the basis of religious beliefs that forbid sexual activity outside of marriage (Equality Australia)
A psychiatrist could say to a woman with depression that “she should be looking forward to the kingdom of heaven”. Under the proposed laws, the psychiatrist could challenge their deregistration as religious discrimination, while the patient could have her disability discrimination complaint refused (Equality Australia)
A law passed by a state parliament that banned the promotion of programs that seek to “convert” LGBTIQ people could be overridden by the federal attorney general as an infringement on “statements of belief” (Just Equal).
Although the primary aim of the bill is to prohibit religious discrimination there are a range of exemptions that will allow religious discrimination to continue:

Religious hospitals, aged care providers or accommodation providers such as retirement villages may discriminate against their staff on the basis of religion both in terms of hiring and to set codes of conduct requiring them to act in accordance with that faith
A religiously affiliated business may require senior leaders to hold or engage in a particular religious belief or activity where that is an inherent requirement of those positions (EM)
An Anglican public benevolent institution could require its employees, including volunteer workers, to uphold and act consistently with Anglican doctrines and teachings at work (EM)
Domestic duties – a person hiring a live-in nanny or in-home carer services may require that they be of the same religious belief or activity as that person (EM)
An employer can ask a prospective employee whether they observe any holy days during which they can’t work to determine if they can fulfil the inherent requirements of the work (EM).

Social media
An office worker could declare on social media that a fellow employee is in a wheelchair because they are sinful and urge them to attend a faith healer. The workplace inclusion policy would be overridden by such a “statement of belief” and any action taken against the offender could be appealed to the Human Rights Commission as “religious discrimination” (Just Equal).
A Jewish school may require that its staff and students be Jewish and accordingly refuse to hire or admit someone because they were not Jewish (EM)
A student attends the same religious school through their primary and secondary education. At 16 they lose faith in the religion of the school and tell a teacher that they are now agnostic. The school would be able to expel, suspend or otherwise punish, for example, give detention to the student (PIAC).
Accommodation, camps and conference sites
Rule: religious camps and conference sites may discriminate against another person on the ground of religious belief or activity in the provision of accommodation.

This is an exemption lobbied for by the Sydney Anglican church with reference to this example: Anglican Youthworks should be able to reject an application for the First Church of Satan to hold a black mass at one of its campsites.

There is also an exception for the provision of accommodation so that a homeowner seeking a tenant for their spare room may require that the tenant be of the same religious belief or activity as the homeowner (EM).
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

  • Global Moderator
  • Master Chef
  • *****
  • Posts: 15344
    • View Profile
« Reply #14882 on: December 13, 2019, 08:14:36 PM »
<a href="" target="_blank" class="new_win"></a>

<a href="" target="_blank" class="new_win"></a>

<a href="" target="_blank" class="new_win"></a>
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

  • Master Chef
  • *****
  • Posts: 18654
    • View Profile
    • Doomstead Diner
Re: Entermission
« Reply #14883 on: December 14, 2019, 04:11:54 AM »
<a href="" target="_blank" class="new_win"></a>

<a href="" target="_blank" class="new_win"></a>

<a href="" target="_blank" class="new_win"></a>

Much appreciated, knarf.
"...reprehensible lying communist..."

Offline knarf

  • Global Moderator
  • Master Chef
  • *****
  • Posts: 15344
    • View Profile
Anger erupts at U.N. climate summit as major economies resist bold action
« Reply #14884 on: December 14, 2019, 07:53:20 AM »
MADRID (Reuters) - Major economies resisted calls for bolder climate commitments as a U.N. summit in Madrid limped toward a delayed conclusion on Saturday, dimming hopes that nations will act in time to stop rising temperatures devastating people and the natural world.

With the two-week gathering spilling into the weekend, campaigners and many delegates slammed Chile, presiding over the talks, for drafting a summit text that they said risked throwing the 2015 Paris Agreement to tackle global warming into reverse.

“At a time when scientists are queuing up to warn about terrifying consequences if emissions keep rising, and school children are taking to the streets in their millions, what we have here in Madrid is a betrayal of people across the world,” said Mohamed Adow, director of Power Shift Africa, a climate and energy think-tank in Nairobi.

The annual climate marathon had been due to conclude on Friday, but dragged on with ministers mired in multiple disputes over implementing the Paris deal, which has so far failed to stem the upward march of global carbon emissions.

Long-time participants in the talks expressed outrage at the unwillingness of major polluters to show ambition commensurate with the gravity of the climate crisis, after a year of wildfires, cyclones, droughts and floods.

The European Union, small island states and many other nations had been calling for the Madrid decision to signal that the more than 190 countries participating in the Paris process will submit bolder pledges to cut emissions next year.

The agreement enters a crucial implementation phase in 2020, when countries are supposed to ratchet up their ambitions ahead of the next major round of talks in Glasgow.

If big economies such as China, India, Japan, Brazil, Australia and others fail to agree more meaningful climate action soon, then scientists say already slim hopes of averting catastrophic temperature rises will all but vanish.

Although no advanced economy is yet on track for the kind of action scientists say is needed to steer the climate onto a safer path, all the EU’s 28 member states, bar Poland, agreed in Brussels on Thursday to target net zero emissions by 2050.

Krista Mikkonen, Finland’s environment minister, speaking on behalf of the EU, told the talks it would be “impossible to leave” without agreeing a “strong message” on the need to redouble pledges to cut emissions next year.

Ministers broke into groups on Saturday for eleventh-hour negotiations on a tangle of issues, including finance for climate-vulnerable countries, carbon markets, and the all-important issue of the strength of the summit’s final text.

With the clock ticking, Andrés Landerretche, Chile’s summit coordinator, said the goal was to conclude on Saturday. “The vast majority of delegations are asking for a more ambitious text, and that’s what we’re aiming at,” he told reporters.

Campaigners had said a draft text circulating earlier was among the worst they had seen at climate negotiations.

“The approach Chile has taken on this text shows how it has listened to the polluters and not to the people,” said Jennifer Morgan, executive director of Greenpeace International.

The Paris process has been weakened by a move by U.S. President Donald Trump to begin withdrawing the world’s largest historical emitter from the agreement last month, making it easier for other big countries to backslide.
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

  • Global Moderator
  • Master Chef
  • *****
  • Posts: 15344
    • View Profile

I saw thousands of these on Drakes Beach on Dec. 6, after the recent storm. What happened? -David Ford

You could be forgiven for being offended by the above photo: thousands of 10-inch wiggly pink sausages strewn about Drakes Beach. The same phenomenon has been reported over the years at Pajaro Dunes, Moss Landing, Bodega Bay, and Princeton Harbor. I’ve heard my share of imaginative theories from beachcombers, such as flotsam of a wrecked bratwurst freighter. In truth, these are living denizens of our beaches rudely, yet also mercifully, mostly called “fat innkeeper worms.”

What in the name of Secretariat is a fat innkeeper worm? The fat innkeeper worm (Urechis caupo) is a type of spoonworm (Echiuroidea), an order of non-segmented marine worms identified by a spatula-shaped proboscis used for feeding and sometimes grasping or swimming. The fat innkeeper’s family (Urechidae) contains only four species worldwide, collectively known as either innkeeper worms or, well, penis fish. This is why we prefer scientific names. U. caupo is the sole representative in North America, found only from Southern Oregon to Baja, with the bulk of sightings between Bodega Bay and Monterey. So, whether or not you feel privileged by its presence, U. caupo is an almost uniquely California experience, perhaps having the best claim for State Worm. 

Yes, the physical design of the fat innkeeper worm has some explaining to do. But the fat innkeeper is perfectly shaped for a life spent underground. Within a beach or mudflat, it digs a U-shaped burrow extending a few feet in length but no wider than the worm itself. The burrow’s front entrance pokes up like a little sand chimney. These can be seen clustered around the low tide line of a mudflat or sandy beach. The backdoor is marked by a pile of worm castings, which get projected out the end of the tunnel with a blast of water from the worm’s hindquarters.

When the tide is in, the worm slides up to the chimney of its burrow and exudes a sticky mucous net from a ring of glands. Sometimes you can see these mucous nets, looking like decaying jellyfish, draped around the burrow entrance. The worm continues to secrete as it slips lower into the burrow, generating a slime-net that stretches from the chimney to the worm’s mouth. Using contractions (peristalsis) to pump water through its burrow, the worm sucks plankton, bacteria, and other bits into this net. When, like any vacuum, the net gets clogged, the worm slurps it all back into its mouth, taking in the particles it wants to eat and discarding the rest into the tunnel.

The residual bits don’t go to waste. These leftovers are taken by a cast of freeloaders who live in the innkeeper’s burrow: a clam (Cryptomya californica); a “sequined” scale-worm (Hesperonoe adventor); a pea crab (Scleroplax granulata or Pinnixa franciscana); a hooded shrimp (Betaeus longidactylus); and even a fish, the arrow goby (Clevelandia ios). The first three are residents in the U-shaped Hotel California, whereas the shrimp and goby come and go, the latter mooching off other industrious invertebrates. The goby may even bring food to the crab, who minces it into smaller pieces, which the goby steals.  In turn, these tenants give the fat innkeeper its preferred name.

Apparently, the fat innkeeper takes no (or little) issue in being the one team player amongst a bunch of clingers-on. In fact, it’s the textbook example of commensalism – a relationship in which (simply put) one organism forms a dependency on another, the latter being neither helped nor severely hurt in the relationship. Lucky it.

The innkeeper is a survivor with fossil evidence of U-shaped burrows dating back 300 million years. They are quite long-lived, recorded up to 25 years old. That said, the fat innkeeper has many threats. They are preyed on by otters, flounders, sharks, rays, gulls, and humans.

And then there are phenomena such as the one depicted in this photo. So how did thousands of fat innkeeper worms get strewn across Drakes Beach? Well, we’re seeing the risk of building your home out of sand. Strong storms – especially during El Niño years – are perfectly capable of laying siege to the intertidal zone, breaking apart the sediments, and leaving their contents stranded on shore. Do these high-energy storm events have a long-term impact on fat innkeepers? So far as I know, there are no programs explicitly taking stock of the worms. However, you can help monitor this and other species by continuing to use citizen science to report mass strandings, noting when and where they took place, and roughly how many stranded worms you see.
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

  • Global Moderator
  • Master Chef
  • *****
  • Posts: 15344
    • View Profile
Climate change: UN talks in Madrid hit rough waters
« Reply #14886 on: December 14, 2019, 01:14:29 PM »
UN climate talks appear to be in trouble as they head into extra time.

Fault lines have re-appeared between different negotiating blocs, with one delegate describing a new draft text as "totally unacceptable".

Alden Meyer from the Union of Concerned Scientists said the situation in Madrid was unprecedented since climate negotiations began in 1991.

Negotiators are working towards a deal for countries to commit to new carbon emissions cuts by the end of 2020.

Saturday saw the release of a new draft text from the meeting, designed to chart a way forward for the parties to the Paris agreement.

The Paris pact came into being in 2015, with the intention of keeping the global average temperature rise to well below 2C. This was regarded at the time as the threshold for dangerous global warming, though scientists subsequently shifted the definition of the "safe" limit to a rise of 1.5C above pre-industrial levels.

But Mr Meyer commented: "The latest version of the Paris Agreement decision text put forward by the Chilean presidency is totally unacceptable. It has no call for countries to enhance the ambition of their emissions reduction commitments.

"If world leaders fail to increase ambition in the lead up to next year's climate summit in Glasgow, they will make the task of meeting the Paris agreement's 'well below 2C' temperature limitation goal - much less the 1.5 degrees Celsius goal - almost impossible."

His view was echoed by David Waskow, international climate director for the World Resources Institute (WRI). "If this text is accepted, the low ambition coalition will have won the day," he said.

The conference in the Spanish capital has become enmeshed in deep, technical arguments about a number of issues including the role of carbon markets and the financing of loss and damage caused by rising temperatures.

Responding to the messages from science and from climate strikers, the countries running this 26th conference of the parties (COP) meeting are keen to have a final decision here that would see countries put new, ambitious plans to cut carbon on the table.

According to the UN, 84 countries have promised to enhance their national plans by the end of next year. Some 73 have said they will set a long-term target of net zero by the middle of the century.

But earlier in the meeting, negotiators from the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS) pointed the finger of blame at countries including Australia, the United States, Canada, Russia, India, China and Brazil.

They had failed to submit revised plans that would help the world keep the rise in global temperatures under 1.5C this century.

At a "stock-taking" session on Saturday morning, Tina Stege, a negotiator with the Marshall Islands delegation, said: "I need to go home and look my kids in the eye and tell them we came out with an outcome that will ensure their future."

She added: "The text must address the need for new and more ambitious NDCs and long-term goals. We can't leave with anything else."

Reinforcing the sense of division, India, supported by China, Saudi Arabia and Brazil, has been taking a hard line on promises made by richer countries in previous agreements before the Paris pact was signed in 2015.

The deal saw every country, India included, sign up to take actions.

This was a key concession to the richer nations who insisted that the deal would only work if everyone pledged to cut carbon, unlike previous agreements in which only the better off had to limit their CO2.

But India now wants to see evidence that in the years up to 2020, the developed world has lived up to past promises.

For many delegates, the deadlock is intensely frustrating in light of the urgent need to tackle emissions.

"I've been attending these climate negotiations since they first started in 1991. But never have I seen the almost total disconnect we've seen here at COP25 in Madrid between what the science requires and the people of the world demand, and what the climate negotiations are delivering in terms of meaningful action," said Alden Meyer.

"The planet is on fire and our window of escape is getting harder and harder to reach the longer we wait to act. Ministers here in Madrid must strengthen the final decision text, to respond to the mounting impacts of climate change that are devastating both communities and ecosystems all over the world."

Jake Schmidt, from the US-based Natural Resources Defense Council, said: "In Madrid, the key polluting countries responsible for 80% of the world's climate-wrecking emissions stood mute, while smaller countries announced they'll work to drive down harmful emissions in the coming year.

"The mute majority must step up, and ramp up, their commitments to tackle the growing climate crisis well ahead of the COP26 gathering."
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

  • Global Moderator
  • Master Chef
  • *****
  • Posts: 15344
    • View Profile
Trump impeachment vote underscores a harshly partisan era
« Reply #14887 on: December 14, 2019, 06:17:39 PM »
This coming week’s virtually certain House impeachment of President Donald Trump will underscore how Democrats and Republicans have morphed into fiercely divided camps since lawmakers impeached President Bill Clinton.

Twenty-one years ago this Thursday, a Republican-led House approved two impeachment articles against Democrat Clinton. While that battle was bitterly partisan, it was blurrier than the near party-line votes expected this week when the House, now run by Democrats, is poised to impeach Republican Trump.

Two of the four Clinton impeachment articles were killed — something party leaders today would jump through hoops to avoid for fear of highlighting divisions. All four Clinton articles drew GOP opposition, peaking at 81 on one vote. That’s an unthinkable number of defections today.

“Obviously it was partisan, but it wasn’t as intensely partisan as today is,” said Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., one of four Republicans who opposed all the Clinton impeachment articles and the last remaining member of that group in Congress. “So you could basically argue conscience, you could say you looked at it and didn’t think this was the way to go.”

In the upcoming votes on impeaching Trump, Democrats expect support from all but a few — two to perhaps five — of their members. Republican leaders envision no GOP desertions.

Underscoring the intensity of the partisanship, Rep. Jeff Van Drew of New Jersey, one of the Democrats planning to oppose impeachment, intends to switch parties and join the GOP. That’s according to a Republican official who said top House Republicans have been told of Van Drew’s plans and described the conversations on condition of anonymity.

Few defections are expected by either party when the GOP-run Senate holds a trial, probably in January, on whether to oust Trump from office. No one expects Democrats to muster the two-thirds Senate majority needed for removal over charges that he leveraged U.S. military aid and a White House meeting coveted by Ukrainian leaders to pressure them to announce investigations of his Democratic political foes.

Most Democrats were dismissive of the GOP’s impeachment charges that Clinton lied to a grand jury and others about his affair with White House intern Monica Lewinsky.

“The Constitution is really to protect the nation against the abuse of presidential power. Any husband could lie under oath about an affair. It doesn’t take presidential powers to do that,” Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D-Calif., who opposed the Clinton impeachment and is still in Congress, said in an interview Friday.

Clinton was a lame duck but widely popular president who was presiding over a booming economy, and polling showed that impeachment had little support. That gave Democrats little reason to back the effort to remove him and made many Republicans think twice about backing impeachment.

Back then, each party had scores of moderate lawmakers who would cross party lines on issues such as abortion, taxes and spending.

That helps explain why 81 Republicans opposed one defeated Clinton impeachment article. The other three articles drew 28, 12 and 5 GOP “no” votes. No more than five Democrats backed any of the articles impeaching Clinton.

Former Rep. Tom DeLay, R-Texas, was chief House GOP vote counter in 1998 and was known as “The Hammer” for his effectiveness in lining up support. In an interview Friday, he said he urged wavering Republicans to read evidence gathered by Ken Starr, the independent counsel who headed the investigation into Clinton that led to the impeachment.

DeLay said party leaders “cannot break arms” on an impeachment vote because it is too important. That echoes current Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., who has said she’s not lobbying Democrats on the upcoming Trump votes.

“I knew where the votes were all along, and why they were wavering and why they were struggling,” DeLay said. “The questions they had, we wanted to make sure that we got answers for them.”

The numbers of moderate House Democrats and Republicans have dwindled dramatically, especially among the GOP. Only three House Republicans represent districts that Democrat Hillary Clinton carried in the 2016 presidential election, yet all three are expected to oppose Trump’s impeachment.

Trump faces reelection next year and has a strong track record of weaponizing Twitter to demolish the political careers of Republicans who oppose him. Retired GOP Sens. Jeff Flake of Arizona and Bob Corker of Tennessee left Congress following running battles with Trump, and South Carolina Rep. Mark Sanford lost a party primary last year after running afoul of him.

“If you cross Trump, you’re a short-timer when it comes to politics,” said John Feehery, a GOP consultant and former House leadership aide.

In contrast, several House Republicans who opposed at least one Clinton impeachment article saw their political careers prosper. They include John Thune of South Dakota, now the No. 2 Senate GOP leader; John Kasich, who became a two-term Ohio governor and challenged Trump for the 2016 presidential nomination; and current Sens. Rob Portman of Ohio and Richard Burr of North Carolina.

Sanford rose to South Carolina governor, but abandoned the job after admitting to an extramarital affair. He returned to the House but was defeated after clashing with Trump.

Clinton’s impeachment came four years after Republicans led by Rep. Newt Gingrich of Georgia captured House control for the first time in four decades.

Gingrich became speaker and embraced aggressive confrontations with Democrats. That culminated in the House impeachment of Clinton, which the GOP-led Senate later rejecting. But even the Gingrich era’s battles were tamer than today’s fights, with Clinton’s impeachment a case in point.

The calendar of both impeachment votes also helps explain why party divisions will be sharper this time than they were for Clinton.

The House’s Clinton impeachment votes came a month after congressional elections, giving incumbents two years — a lifetime in politics — until they next faced voters.

This year’s Trump impeachment votes will come as the 2020 primary season is about to begin, putting recalcitrant Republicans at risk of facing Trump-backed primary challengers.
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

  • Global Moderator
  • Master Chef
  • *****
  • Posts: 15344
    • View Profile
Iraq protests: The women rising up on Baghdad's walls
« Reply #14888 on: December 14, 2019, 06:24:41 PM »

Since October, a wave of anti-government protests has swept across Iraq. The protesters represent a cross-section of society and, unusually for a traditionally patriarchal country, women have taken a leading role.

Their prominence is celebrated in murals which have sprung up across the capital, Baghdad.

Often produced by women, the artwork highlights their increasingly active role in seeking to shape their future.
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

  • Global Moderator
  • Master Chef
  • *****
  • Posts: 15344
    • View Profile
'Post-chemical world' takes shape as agribusiness goes green
« Reply #14889 on: December 14, 2019, 06:32:32 PM »
CHICAGO – Agribusiness is increasingly turning to natural and sustainable alternatives to chemicals as consumers rebuff genetically modified foods and concerns grow over Big Ag’s role in climate change.

At the heart of the trend are innovations that harness beneficial microorganizms in the soil, including seed-coatings of naturally occurring bacteria and fungi that can do the same work as traditional chemicals, from warding off pests to helping plants flourish, according to a global patent study by research firm GreyB Services.

Much of the research in crop biotech is centered in the United States, China, Germany, Japan and South Korea, according to the U.N. agency WIPO.

“Both entrepreneurs and investors are saying, ‘Hey, the writing is on the wall, we’re entering a post-chemical world,'” said Rob LeClerc, chief executive officer of AgFunder, an online venture-capital platform. “The seed companies who have billions in market cap are like ‘We need to do something,’ and everyone recognizes the opportunity.”

Much of the handwringing over farm chemicals stems from the recent fate of glyphosate, the most ubiquitous weedkiller ever. Regulators around the world are tightening up rules around using the chemical, including Europe and Mexico. Meanwhile, thousands of lawsuits that could result in billions of dollars in penalties are pending against Bayer AG over whether its glyphosate-containing product, Roundup, caused cancer. Bayer insists it’s safe, and some government agencies such as the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency say it isn’t likely to cause cancer in humans.

The global fertilizer and pesticide market is around $240 billion, and grows 2 percent to 3 percent a year, according to Ben Belldegrun, a managing partner at Pontifax AgTech, a company that invests in food and agriculture technology. While so-called biologicals including biofertilizers, biopesticides and biostimulants are just 2 percent of that market, those have been growing closer to 15 percent a year for the past five years, Belldegrun said.

Pressure for less chemical-intensive farming methods is coming from retailers like Walmart Inc., nongovernmental organizations and consumers, who are throwing more dollars toward organic and other niche foods with environmental or animal welfare claims.

As population increases worldwide, the demand for agricultural products is projected to grow 15 percent over the next decade with no change in the amount of land available for farming, according to a joint report by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development and the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization.

“There’s a growing world population and how are we going to feed all of these people?” asked Craig Forney, assistant director for licensing and business development at Iowa State University in Ames, Iowa. “At the same time, we want to protect the environment. We need to use land better and use the resources better.”

The answer, Forney said, is “intensified agricultural production to increase productivity of land and do it with minimal chemical support.”

Patents give owners the exclusive right to an invention, and can indicate both where research funding is being spent and where companies or universities expect to generate revenue in the future.

Companies like BASF SE, Bayer and Syngenta AG have patents on products using naturally-occurring microbes to help crops flourish even when there is low water availability, according to GreyB’s analysis. The microbes can act as catalysts to encourage growth. Biological-based fungicides and insecticides can also help reduce crop damage from insects, slugs and fungi.

“Seed-applied biological products can extend the window of disease and pest protection, while some also provide alternate modes of action that can reduce the build-up of resistance, aid with nutrient management and reduce plant stress,” said Chris Judd, BASF’s global strategic marketing manager for Seed Treatment, Inoculants and Biologicals.

Evonik Industries AG, Altair Nanotechnologies Inc., Covestro AG and startup Indigo AG have been active in obtaining patents and publishing research in the area of using microbes, as have universities like China’s Zhejiang University and Nanjing Agricultural University, according to GreyB.

Likewise, thousands of patents are being issued to companies like BASF, Bayer and Dow Inc. for more natural ways of managing pests including pheromones that deter breeding and reflective mulches, instead of chemical-based insecticides.

Germany’s Bayer, which bought agriculture chemical giant Monsanto Co. in 2018, sees “high growth potential” for biologicals, citing a challenging regulatory environment for chemicals and a growing emphasis on sustainability in agriculture. Bayer has a research and development team solely focused on them. The company also is hunting for partnerships to boost its portfolio. Benoit Hartmann, head of biologics at Bayer, said the increased investments show how the science around microbes has matured in recent years.

In 2013, BASF acquired seed-treatment supplier Becker Underwood, which helped the company become a leader in biological agents to fight bacteria and fungi. Judd said the company sees demand for biologicals increasing but maintains that they need “to be compatible with an increasing array of chemistries and to have the ability to survive on the seed for adequate periods.”

The increased patenting reflects a trend of researchers looking for ways to help promote organic and non-GMO farming, said Nicole Kling, a patent agent with Nixon Peabody who specializes in the biotechnology field.

With biologicals, “You’re not introducing chemicals with the scare quotes around it,” Kling said. “You’re not doing anything that would harm the agricultural workers.”

Researchers and companies are looking for new solutions for farming with less chemicals because organic farming, the most popular alternative to modern conventional farming, often results in lower yields. Still, demand for food continues increasing. Iowa State and other universities around the world, using government funding or in partnership with companies, are rushing to deal with those competing demands.

“The hope is someday in the future they will merge and you will have organic and non-GMO products that are just as productive as Big Ag,” Forney said.

That’s where things like precision agriculture to tailor the application of nutrients, artificial intelligence to monitor soil conditions and the development of new plant hybrids come in.

Other emerging techniques that could boost yields while helping farmers use less chemicals is artificial intelligence, which is being used to analyze which seeds and crops can yield the most based on changing soil conditions and weather patterns on a farm. The promise of quantum computers would let companies use massive computing power to develop and analyze new seeds and fertilizers.

Scientists also are developing new plant varieties, with applications for new varieties up 9 percent in 2018, according to the World Intellectual Property Organization. China led the growth, with more than a quarter of the applications for new varieties.

Much of the research in crop biotech is centered in the U.S., China, Germany, Japan and South Korea, though it’s being adapted to meet local conditions in Africa, Latin America and Asia, according to WIPO, an agency of the U.N.

Demand for more food will be greatest in Africa, India and the Middle East. In the developing world, there is little food scarcity because “we did good things with all that ‘better living through chemistry,’ ” Kling said, referring to a play on an old DuPont motto. It has come at a cost, though.

“We’re starting to see some of the effects of that — all of this wonderful industrialization has contributed to climate change,” Kling said. “We’re starting to see people swing back in the other direction.”
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

  • Global Moderator
  • Master Chef
  • *****
  • Posts: 15344
    • View Profile
New Orleans Under CyberSecurity Attack, Declares State Of Emergency
« Reply #14890 on: December 14, 2019, 06:44:53 PM »
Mayor LaToya Cantrell has declared a state of emergency in New Orleans, which has ordered the shutdown of most of the city’s computer network following a ransomware attack.

The attack started at 5 a.m. CST on Friday, according to the City of New Orleans’ emergency preparedness campaign, NOLA Ready, managed by the Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness. The organization tweeted a warning that “suspicious activity was detected on the City’s network.”

At that point, the City’s IT department required the city’s servers to be powered down, with all employees to turn off computers and disconnect from Wi-Fi.

No ransom request has yet been made, and the Mayor indicated emergency services were still operating, with fire and police responding as needed.

State and federal agencies are assisting the city in its recovery and investigation of the attack. There was no word on when full network services would be restored.
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

  • Global Moderator
  • Master Chef
  • *****
  • Posts: 15344
    • View Profile
After dancer strips at Seattle conference on homelessness, agency director suspended
« Reply #14891 on: December 14, 2019, 07:07:02 PM »
The director of King County’s coordinating agency for homelessness is on paid leave following a dancer’s strip show at the agency’s annual conference on Monday.

Performer Beyoncé Black St. James danced topless in a sheer bodysuit, gave lap dances and kissed attendees, according to a staffer at a local housing nonprofit who attended the conference in South Seattle.

Kira Zylstra, organizer of the conference at South Seattle College, has been placed on leave as of Thursday, according to Denise Rothleutner, chief of staff for the King County Department of Community and Human Services.

The department declined to comment further because of the active investigation, Rothleutner said in the email. Zylstra was not available for comment. Her suspension was first reported by journalist Erica C. Barnett on her website.

Zylstra has led All Home, King County’s coordinating agency homeless services, since January 2018. But her job could soon become obsolete as Seattle and King County prepare to replace All Home, which has been criticized as weak and ineffective, with a new regional authority on homelessness. Zylstra was paid about $123,000 a year, according to a county spokesperson.

The performance was in the same room as a catered lunch at All Home’s annual conference, this year at South Seattle College with the theme of “Decolonizing our Collective Work.”

The only note on the agenda was “Lunch with Cultural Presentation,” and there was no other warning or announcement about the nature of the performance, according to the staffer, who was surprised but not uncomfortable with the performance.

In a short video, St. James, a Spokane-based entertainer who identifies as a trans woman on her Facebook page, can be seen doing high kicks in a revealing bodysuit and with silver pasties.

“No one expected it,” the staffer said. “So I think some people felt uncomfortable.” The first person St. James kissed seemed surprised, according to the staffer, but the ones following seemed more enthusiastic.
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

  • Global Moderator
  • Master Chef
  • *****
  • Posts: 15344
    • View Profile
Rohingya leaders condemn 'liar' Aung San Suu Kyi after she denies Myanmar genocide
« Reply #14892 on: December 15, 2019, 06:51:48 AM »

Rohingya refugees have accused Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi of lying after she appeared at the International Court of Justice and denied that her country's armed forces are guilty of genocide against the Muslim minority group.

Suu Kyi, whose fall from grace as a pro-Democratic Nobel Peace Prize recipient to being "complicit" in a genocide has been well documented.

She told the court that the mass exodus of over one third of the Rohingya community to neighboring Bangladesh is not the result of a systematic purge but rather the unfortunate result of a battle with insurgents.

Rohingya leaders have condemned Suu Kyi's comments at the ICC, including Mohammed Mohibullah, chairman of the Arakan Rohingya Society for Peace and Human Rights.

"The world will judge their claim of no genocide with evidence," he said.

"A thief never admits he is a thief, but justice can be delivered through evidence. The world has obtained evidence from us," he said at the Kutupalong refugee camp in Bangladesh's Cox Bazar district.

"Even if Suu Kyi lies, she won’t be spared. She will certainly face justice. The world should take steps against her."

Nur Kamal, a refugee at Kutupalong, also rejected Suu Kyi's testimony.

"The military cordoned off people and killed them by opening fire, setting them ablaze – isn’t this genocide? Will this be justified if Suu Kyi says so?" he told AP.

   The world will not accept that. The whole world has seen the level of torture of us. It is still going on.      
Their comments come after the small West Africa country of The Gambia launched a case against Myanmar.

Its legal team, acting on behalf of the 57-country Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, asked the International Court of Justice in The Hague to take "all measures within its power to prevent all acts that amount to or contribute to the crime of genocide".

The Gambia allege that genocide is still being committed against the Rohingya in the Buddhist-majority country.

Suu Kyi appeared in court as part of a three-day hearing and accused Gambia of providing a misleading and incomplete account of events that occurred in Myanmar’s Rakhine state in August 2017.

Ironically, Suu Kyi defended the same military that put her under house arrest for 15 years.

Earlier this year, the UN Independent International Fact-Finding Mission on Myanmar said rapes of Rohingya by Myanmar's security forces were systemic and demonstrated the intent to commit genocide.

It said in a report the discrimination that Myanmar practiced against the Rohingya in peacetime aggravated the sexual violence toward them during times of conflict.

Bangladesh and Myanmar have signed an agreement to start repatriation of Rohingya refugees from Bangladesh, but two attempts failed when no one came forward to return voluntarily, citing continuing security concerns in Myanmar.
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

  • Global Moderator
  • Master Chef
  • *****
  • Posts: 15344
    • View Profile
London has spent billions, but no one can escape climate change
« Reply #14893 on: December 16, 2019, 12:19:03 PM »
The stark reality of climate change is that even the cities that seem best defended against rising sea levels face the potential of catastrophic flooding.

Take London, capital of the UK.
It's in a strong position: Wealthy, with a government that recognizes the danger of climate change, and a river that can -- for now -- be shut off from dangerous tidal and storm surges.

And yet, no city or person is immune from climate change.
At least 1 million Londoners live in the estuary's natural floodplain and 16% of the city's properties -- 84,000 -- are considered to be at "significant or moderate risk."
Humans have already put so much greenhouse gas into the earth's atmosphere that some amount of sea level rise is inevitable.
"Even if we reduce our emissions to negative now, we will see at least a meter of sea level rise," the oceanographer Ivan Haigh told CNN.
Clearly, quitting all emissions immediately is off the table.
So how soon will we have a meter of sea level rise? And how much higher will it go?
'The highest I've seen'
That's a question that Haigh, associate professor at the UK's University of Southampton, has devoted much of his career to studying.
CNN caught up with him in November on a rainy day along the Thames, a short walk from the Houses of Parliament. High tide was approaching.
"I have to admit, I come up to London quite a lot, and this is one of the highest I've seen it (the river)," Haigh said.
It's easy to go through your day in this city and not notice the river. But it just took crossing a short sea wall that runs along the promenade for the water to rush over our feet.

Londoners have long been aware of the threat from the water that brought them so much wealth as the city grew around the Thames.
After years of deliberation, a giant flood defense system was built across the river, completed in 1982.
Spanning 520 meters (1,706ft) across the Thames, the barrier uses 10 enormous steel gates to shut the city off from tidal surge. Each gate, which rotates into position, stands more than five stories high.

It can be used to protect against both tidal flooding and that from raining, "fluvial," which bloats the river.
The UK Environment Agency, which operates the barrier, says that as climate change necessitates more closures, its use "will need to be conserved for tidal flood risk management -- the purpose for which it was designed."
With only 30 years of barrier usage, anomalous years drown out clear trends. In 2013-14, it was closed 50 times, mostly for river flooding -- far more than any other year before or since.
"Sea level rise is a relatively slow process," Haigh said. "But it's starting to accelerate. So although we don't see a trend now, with sea levels accelerating after 2050, or even before, that trend should become apparent."

The last week of November in which we met Haigh saw an unusually high tide.
Those who run the barrier said it was a close call whether to close it that day. The tide got to about 40 centimeters (16 inches) away from the trigger point -- a complex calculation depending on the type and location of high water.
The barrier, Haigh said, gives an "artificial" sense of protection.
"A lot of people living in the flood plains don't realize they're living in the flood plains."

If we keep increasing emissions into the future -- the "business as usual" scenario -- temperatures are almost certain to rise more than two degrees over pre-industrial level.
That is the maximum target set out by the Paris Climate Accords, to avoid the most catastrophic impacts of climate change.
That means we will likely see a meter of sea level rise by 2100, from a combination of warmer water, which expands, and melting ice sheets in Greenland and Antarctica.

The Thames Barrier is only expected to last until 2070.
"The crunch point actually is not so much the height of sea level rise, it's how many times you have to close the barrier," Haigh said. "If we get to a point where we're closing too much, then the costs don't stack up and we will need a new system."
The math is simple: The more the Thames Barrier is used, the faster it will age, and the greater the need for a replacement.
The UK Environment Agency has developed a detailed plan to deal with the reality that London's collective flood defenses "will require replacement or major repair at a cost of several billion pounds."
Already, the agency anticipates spending £300 million ($395 million) between 2010 and 2034 on protecting London's floodplain.

Among the front-runners for the long term, when the Thames Barrier is no longer usable, is the construction of an entirely new barrier, much further downstream towards the sea, near the town of Dartford in Kent.
But that one meter of sea rise is a best-case scenario.
Bamber's numbers predict that by 2300, the sea level in the Thames Estuary is likely to reach more than three meters -- and could go even higher, if emissions and temperatures continue to rise unabated.
"We have several billion pounds of coastal defense infrastructure," Haigh said. "Other places in the world are not going to be as prepared."
Just how bad will it be?
"That's very much dependent on whether we follow the Paris Agreement or not," he added.
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

  • Global Moderator
  • Master Chef
  • *****
  • Posts: 15344
    • View Profile
After Uyghur Muslims, Christians are being hunted in China - Bible banned
« Reply #14894 on: December 16, 2019, 01:25:44 PM »
China in recent months unleashed a major crackdown on the "booming house churches" where raids were carried out by the government officials.

The worshippers were told that as per the law, Christians are not allowed to read the Bible as it comes under banned books.

Religous freedom is merely an illusion inside the iron curtain. In the past months, even as Beijing continued with its policy of repression against the Uyghur Muslims, the United States approved a bill to impose severe sanctions on China over its treatment of Uyghur Muslims in Xinjiang province.

Since 2017, reports of detention of at least a million Uyghur Muslims have continued to make headlines, and it has now emerged that China systematically has been repressing even the Christians in China.

Its most recent crackdown has been focused on "house churches" aka the underground churches that operate mostly without legal approval from the government.

The report that first appeared in Bitter Winter, a magazine focused on religious freedom and human rights in China, revealed that since August, a dozen home churches have been raided. Besides that, the government officials also barged into the homes of several congregation members and destroyed pictures and books.

The anti-church squad officials also told the locals that the government was carrying out raids on the home churches as part of a "clean up" drive against gang crime or anything that was "evil."

"They turn a blind eye on evil-doers and criminals but persecute us Christians," an elderly member of a banned House Church told Bitter Winter.

The crackdown in recent months has mainly been concentrated around Shandong - a coastal province located in East China region and Yunnan province in Southwest China.

Christianity appeared in China in the 7th century and even though the People's Republic of China has been strict against those practising the faith, it is estimated that there are at least 31 million Christians in China. International Christian organizations claim that number is much higher as many do not publicly profess their faith.

Since 1949 after the rise of the Communist Party, the Christian communities in the country were ordered to attend government-approved churches. The government, however, asks the church-goers to a church that is located miles away from their respective towns.
NECROCAPITALISM at ‘Rolling thunder. Shock. A noble one in fear and dread sets things in order and is watchful.’ I-Ching (Hex.51)