AuthorTopic: Knarf's Knewz Channel  (Read 1371379 times)

Offline agelbert

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Trailer Trash Trump's Tweets
« Reply #9240 on: November 24, 2017, 11:43:26 AM »
Turkey Day usually represents a late-season reset for pro football, but myriad controversies portend a more serious tone this year.

//The top storyline in the NFL this season has not been Tom Brady’s continued excellence or Carson Wentz’s timely emergence or the surprising Rams and Jaguars. It has instead been the dozens of players across the league who have knelt, sat, or raised their fists during the national anthem in protest of police brutality and racial injustice. //

The former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick will not be anywhere near Thursday’s action, as he remains unsigned after initiating the wave of protests last fall, but his name will echo through living rooms every time, say, the Vikings quarterback Case Keenum throws an incomplete pass. Why, Kaepernick’s defenders will wonder, do retreads like Keenum continue to receive opportunities while a former NFC-champion quarterback sits at home?


Meanwhile, no one will loom over the NFL’s Thanksgiving more than the Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, who has spent this fall sowing chaos on numerous fronts. //

As the protest issue simmers, Jones has feuded with the NFL commissioner Roger Goodell over Ezekiel Elliott’s suspension, which the running back began serving last week after months of injunction requests and appeals. ESPN reported that a furious Jones told Goodell he would “come after [him] with everything I have,” then later threatened to sue the league to hold up the commissioner’s contract negotiations.

On Thursday afternoon, Jones’s Cowboys will play the Los Angeles Chargers, who face a crisis of the existential variety. The franchise relocated this past summer from San Diego, a year after the Rams arrived in L.A. from St. Louis.

Meanwhile, since this article was published, Dolt 45 has rage-tweeted repeatedly, attempting to redefine the players' BLM-inspired protests into dishonoring the flag, or the troops, or some other manifestation of stolen valor. The point has always been about social injustice on African Americans and police brutality, to say nothing of open season/no bag limit on black Americans.

Case Keenum is inexplicably having an all star season. In the only football I watched yesterday, he led the Vikings to a convincing victory and played far better than a "game manager." Pretty good for a comparatively "old guy." Who knew?

jerry Jones' threatened lawsuits have folded like a tent, much like popular support for this Potempkin President... or the Cowboys, for that matter. They were beaten convincingly by the near-orphaned, aforementioned Chargers, as karma had a holiday. Even though I wasn't paying attention, I was pleased with the result.

And in other news, John Schplatter still makes shitty pizza. May worms take up residence in his head.

Trailer Trash Trump just does what he does.

Recent photo of Trailer Trash Trump having his morning Joe:

Leges         Sine    Moribus      Vanae   
if it has not works, is dead, being alone.

Offline knarf

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Mysterious Booms Are Being Recorded Across the Country
« Reply #9241 on: November 24, 2017, 04:04:53 PM »
Loud booming noises have startled people across the United States, but it's not clear what actually is happening or if the separate events are even related.

Residents in a number of states—Alabama, California, Idaho, Michigan and New Jersey—have reported hearing similar, mysterious sounds. Most recently, the noises also were heard in Colorado, CBS Denver reports.

The Monday sounds left CBS Denver’s meteorologist Chris Spears baffled. The only possible explanation Spears could conclude was that meteors from the Leonid meteor shower were bursting in the sky, creating the loud noises. However, Ron Hranac, an astronomy expert, struck down his theory saying that the meteors produced by the Leonids are way too small for this to happen, according to CBS Denver.

A day after the explosion-like noises, officials believed they had a better answer of what happened on Monday night, but they still aren’t certain.

An empty oil storage tank over-pressurized near the region where residents were calling in about the boom, Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC) officials told The Denver Channel. Due to the pressure, the lid was blown from the tank, “potentially resulting in a loud noise,” officials explained.

Following the incident, the oil and gas production company went on to file an accident report, which stated “that a malfunction of a production vessel led to an over-pressurization of a new and empty … storage tank, which resulted in the lid of the tank being compromised,” The Denver Post reports.

Furthermore, the report notes that no one was hurt and there were no environmental impacts or property damage outside of the boundaries of their property. The COGCC is now looking into the event to further understand what happened.

“The wells at the site will be closed in until equipment repairs have been made and a more thorough review of the incident has been completed,” the report said, according to The Denver Post.

Although the cause of the Colorado noises may have been discovered, other noises from across the country remain a mystery. A recent boom heard in Alabama left the National Weather Service in Birmingham taking many guesses as to what happened.

"Re: loud boom heard: we do not see anything indicating large fire/smoke on radar or satellite; nothing on USGS indicating an earthquake," the agency wrote on Twitter. "We don't have an answer, and can only hypothesize with you. 1) sonic boom from aircraft; 2) meteorite w/ current Leonid shower?"

However, the November 14 incident has still yet to be solved.
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Offline knarf

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Drilling Reawakens Sleeping Faults in Texas, Leads to Earthquakes
« Reply #9242 on: November 24, 2017, 04:08:10 PM »
For 300 million years faults showed no activity, and then wastewater injections from oil and gas wells came along

Quakes have been common in Texas and Mississippi since 2008. But Texas jolts are on faults that had been silent for millions of years, unlike Mississippi, indicating recent human activity set them loose.

Since 2008, Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas and a handful of other states have experienced unprecedented surges of earthquakes. Oklahoma’s rate increased from one or two per year to more than 800. Texas has seen a sixfold spike. Most have been small, but Oklahoma has seen several damaging quakes stronger than magnitude 5. While most scientists agree that the surge has been triggered by the injection of wastewater from oil and gas production into deep wells, some have suggested these quakes are natural, arising from faults in the crust that move on their own every so often.  Now researchers have traced 450 million years of fault history in the Dallas-Fort Worth area and learned these faults almost never move.  “There hasn’t been activity along these faults for 300 million years,” says Beatrice Magnani, a seismologist at Southern Methodist University in Dallas and lead author of a paper describing the research, published today in Science Advances. “Geologically, we usually define these faults as dead.”

Magnani and her colleagues argue that these faults would not have produced the recent earthquakes if not for wastewater injection. Pressure from these injections propagates underground and can disturb weak faults. The work is another piece of evidence implicating drilling in the quakes, yet the Texas government has not officially accepted the link to one of its most lucrative industries.

Magnani and her colleagues studied the Texas faults using images of the subsurface similar to ultrasound scans. Known as seismic reflection data, the images are created by equipment that generates sound waves and records the speeds at which the waves bounce off faults and different rock layers deep within the ground. Faults that have produced earthquakes look like vertical cracks in a brick wall, where one side of the wall has sunk down a few inches so the rows of bricks no longer line up. Scientists know the age of each rock layer—each row of bricks--based on previous studies that have used a variety of dating techniques.

The seismologists compared images of faults in north Texas with images of other faults that have been active throughout geologic history. These active cracks are in the New Madrid Seismic Zone that encompasses parts of Missouri, Arkansas, Kentucky and Tennessee along the Mississippi River. New Madrid-area faults produced earthquakes as large as 7 or 8-magnitude in the early 1800s and have produced smaller quakes since then.

When Magnani and her colleagues examined the New Madrid faults, they saw evidence of earthquakes—the horizontal rows of bricks were offset at the fault line--from the distant past into the present. But images of the north Texas faults showed zero disturbances in the last 300 million years.

The scientists then took another step to refine their results. Their seismic reflection data cannot pick up vertical offsets smaller than 15 meters, or about 49 feet. Yet the recent north Texas earthquakes were so small they caused offsets of just a fraction of a centimeter. The seismologists wanted to be sure these faults had not been producing this kind of tiny earthquake all along. They were able to do this because the offsets representing rock moved by quakes are cumulative:  each new quake adds more distance. The researchers took the 300-million-year time span and calculated the maximum number of small to medium sized quakes it would take to produce a cumulative offset just shy of 15 meters. That fell into the range of 3,800 to 6,000 earthquakes – or, roughly, an earthquake every 50,000 to 79,000 years. Even if temblors occurred that frequently, the probability of a natural earthquake sequence occurring in north Texas in the previous 10 years was only one in 6,000 and the probability of two sequences was one in 60 million.  Since north Texas has had five earthquake sequences during that 10-year span, the scientists write that it is “exceedingly unlikely” that the recent quakes were natural.

 Mark Zoback, an expert on induced seismicity at Stanford University, says he agrees with the paper’s conclusions that the recent Texas quakes are likely tied to oil and gas production. But he would not describe the faults as completely dormant. A fault that produces earthquakes every 60,000 years is still an active fault, just one that ruptures very rarely, Zoback says. He also notes that the energy released in an induced earthquake comes from the earth – the result of tectonic stresses building up at the fault over geologic time – and not from the wastewater injections themselves. “The injections can’t put energy into the ground,” said Zoback. “The energy has to be there already and the injection just triggers its release.”
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Offline knarf

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Amazon Merchants Continue to Find Ways to Cheat
« Reply #9243 on: November 24, 2017, 04:10:01 PM »
Mike Molson Hart, who sells toys on Inc.’s marketplace, realized earlier this month something was amiss. His company’s popular disc-shaped plastic building set, called Brain Flakes, had dropped precipitously in the ranks of Amazon’s best-selling toys as the critical gift-giving season approached.

He visited the product page on and suspected he was the victim of "sniping," when one merchant sabotages another by hiring people to leave critical reviews of their goods and then voting those reviews as being helpful, making them the most prominent feedback seen by shoppers. Freelancers in China and Bangladesh willing to do this for $10 an hour are easily found online. Even though the toy has a 4.8 star rating out of 5 based on more than 1,100 reviews, shoppers first see a string of critical one-star reviews and many may get scared away.

Maintaining order on Amazon -- where 2 million merchants compete to win billions of dollars in business from 300 million shoppers -- has become a running problem for the online giant and it only heats up during the busy holiday season. Some merchants engage in black-hat tactics with precise timing, trying to maximize their own sales when shoppers spend most before their tricks are detected. When Amazon clamps down on one exploit, they regroup and find a new one.

"This stuff has been going on nonstop since we started selling on Amazon," said Hart, president of VIAHART in New York City. "It’s still the Wild West. There are tons of scams and they constantly evolve to keep gaming the system."

Amazon said it “does not tolerate fraud or abuse of our policies.” In a statement, the company said it’s “constantly working to improve the ways we detect and prevent abuse from impacting customers.” Amazon said it suspends or blocks “bad actors” suspected of illegal behavior or infringing on others’ intellectual property rights.

The trickery escalates during the holidays when the stakes are highest. U.S. online spending in November and December will top $107 billion this year, with the five-day period between Thanksgiving and Cyber Monday the busiest, according to Adobe Systems Inc. Merchants who are targets of sniping stand to lose the most. If shoppers are dissuaded by fake reviews or ratings, they’ll just move on to another product and Amazon still gets its commission on the sale. The targeted vendors have few other options since Amazon is the world’s biggest online retailer.

Manipulation of reviews has been increasing the past several months and Amazon doesn’t appear to be fixing the problem, said Chris McCabe, a former employee who now runs a consulting business to help Amazon merchants. The gamesmanship on the site is so bad he has created new teams to help merchants fight review manipulation, he said.

"It’s a massive problem and until it’s more publicly known I don’t think they’ll do anything about it," McCabe said. "There’s blood in the water and everyone knows they can get away with it, so it’s a free-for-all."

The threat to Amazon is faith in its customer reviews, which it has used to boost confidence of shoppers buying something online they may not have touched or seen first-hand.

Two years ago, Amazon filed lawsuits against more than 1,000 people it alleged were writing fake product reviews for money through the online marketplace for small tasks, saying they were diminishing consumers’ trust. Last year, Amazon filed lawsuits against merchants it accused of selling counterfeit products, acknowledging it couldn’t police the problem on its own.

The Seattle-based company also clamped down on "incentivized" reviews written by people who received free or discounted products. Amazon initially saw such posts as a way to help new products get discovered and required those receiving free and discounted items to make disclosures. It has since realized the practice of offering freebies for reviews was being abused.

The lawsuits and crackdowns are proving to be little more than speed bumps to those looking to game the system, who keep finding new tactics. Fake product reviews are now offered on the classified website Craigslist, with posters offering $10 through PayPal for each 5-star review. Finding a freelancer in Bangladesh to write fake reviews or up vote the negative reviews on a competitors page is as simple as visiting the online marketplace Upwork and searching "Amazon up vote."

Product review forums on Facebook are a common place merchants can search for accomplices, sending them Amazon gift cards so they can get a free item in exchange for a positive review, while eluding detection from Amazon.

Some merchants seeking to game the system also take advantage of Amazon’s heightened sensitivity toward counterfeits. Cheaters can file a false trademark infringement claim against a competing merchant, getting a legitimate business suspended in Amazon’s guilty-until-proven-innocent vetting system. Even if the target of the false complaint gets its selling privileges reinstated, the process can take days or weeks, giving the competitor valuable time to win sales.

Another scam is to relentlessly click on the Amazon advertisements of a competitor’s product without buying anything, which drains their advertising account. Amazon issued refunds to multiple merchants this year after discovering "invalid" advertising clicks, which merchants suspect was gamesmanship by rivals.

Hart said he’s frustrated with Amazon’s response to his complaints about his products’ reviews getting manipulated. He said he fears retribution for speaking publicly, but the stakes are high as he estimates he could lose $1 million in sales this season. Hart has been going back and forth with the company via e-mail and phone calls since Monday. Amazon has said they’re examining his concerns. Meanwhile, Hart has dropped his prices and sales are still sluggish.

"Amazon knows about this problem and it has become their policy to not do anything about it," he said.
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Offline knarf

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Canada Prepares for a New Wave of Refugees as Haitians Flee Trump’s America
« Reply #9244 on: November 24, 2017, 04:14:13 PM »
Near the town of Lacolle, Quebec, just across the border in upstate New York, a cluster of blue-trimmed beige trailers has just arrived to provide temporary shelter for the unending wave of refugees, many of them from Haiti, who walk up on foot from Trump’s America. Inside the new heated trailers are beds and showers, ready to warm up frozen hands and feet, while processing and security checks take place.

Last winter, after Donald Trump’s inauguration, there was a sharp increase in “irregular border crossings” all across the Canada-U.S. border: people sidestepping official ports of entry and trying to reach safety by walking through the woods, across clearings, or over ditches. Since January 2017, Canadian authorities intercepted nearly 17,000 migrants from the U.S. (and others crossed without detection). The applications for asylum begin once migrants are safely in Canada, rather than at border crossings, where they would likely be turned back under a controversial cross-border agreement between the two countries.

The risks of the irregular crossings are especially great in winter, and this one looks to be a cold one. Last year, during the coldest months, there were wrenching reports of frostbitten toes and fingers having to be amputated on arrival in Canada. Two men from Ghana lost all their fingers after they walked across to Manitoba — one told reporters he felt lucky that he had managed to keep one of his thumbs.

Despite these hazards, there is every reason to believe the flow of migrants making their way to those trailers near Lacolle will continue even as the temperature drops. Indeed, the luggage-laden foot traffic may well speed up in the coming weeks and months.

That’s because on Monday, November 20, the Trump administration made good on its threats to remove more than 50,000 Haitians from a program that currently allows them to live and work legally in the United States. In 20 months, they will be stripped of all protection and subjected to deportation. The administration has already announced it will be kicking Nicaraguans out of the same program and has suggested it may do the same to Hondurans next year. In September, Sudanese people got word that they’re getting the boot as well. Salvadorans are expected to be next.

The program, called Temporary Protected Status, gives special legal status to people from select countries that have been hard-hit by wars and natural disasters while their homelands recover (they need to be in the United States when the disaster strikes). After its devastating 2010 earthquake, the Obama administration added Haiti to the TPS list.

In the years since, thousands of Haitians gained status under the program, allowing them the freedom to build lives in the U.S. — to go to college, work in health care, construction and hotels, pay taxes, and have children who are U.S. citizens. A total of more than 300,000 people — from Sudan, Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Somalia, and more — are similarly covered by TPS. The program was originally designed as a way of “throwing a bone to a country that has had a disaster until that country is back on its feet,” as Sarah Pierce at the Migration Policy Institute puts it. Yet in some cases, as with war-torn Somalia, the designation has been renewed so many times that it has been in place for 26 years, turning it into a kind of unstable, de facto refugee program (albeit one that is no help to Somalis fleeing current violence or persecution, only those who have been in the United States for decades).

During his presidential campaign, Trump dropped strong hints that he supported the program, at least when it came to Haitians. Courting the vote in Miami’s Little Haiti, he told a crowd that, “Whether you vote for me or don’t vote for me, I really want to be your greatest champion, and I will be your champion.”

All that changed quickly. As part of its broader anti-immigrant crusade, the Trump administration soon began casting TPS as a scam, a backdoor way for foreigners to stay in the U.S. indefinitely (never mind that many of the countries covered remain ravaged by war and disaster and rely heavily on money sent home by workers covered by TPS for whatever slow reconstruction is underway).

It started just a few months into the Trump administration. First, James McCament, then-acting director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, urged that Haiti’s inclusion under the program be “terminated.” Then a memo from the Department of Homeland Security suggested that Haitians “prepare for and arrange their departure from the United States.” And in May, John Kelly, then-DHS secretary, said Haitian TPS recipients “need to start thinking about returning” to Haiti.

Overnight, tens of thousands of people were forced to choose from an array of high-risk options: Stay and hope for the best? Join the underground economy? Return to Haiti, where life is far from safe, and the cholera epidemic still claims hundreds of lives each year? Or walk across the border to Canada, where the country’s young prime minister had been making bold proclamations about welcoming refugees?

Since June, that last option is the one a great many Haitians have chosen, as many as 250 of them a day during the summer months. They packed what they could carry, boarded a plane or a bus to Plattsburgh, New York, transferred to a taxi for the 30-minute ride to the end of Roxham Road, near Lacolle, then got out and walked across the ditch that divides Trump’s America and Justin Trudeau’s Canada.

Breathing Different Air

“The minute I arrived here, I felt as if was breathing different air. I used to have this sharp pain in my shoulder and suddenly it was gone. I asked myself ‘What happened?’ I realized that it was a product of the stress.”

Agathe St. Preux, a middle-aged woman wearing a modest, shin-length skirt and a black blazer, tells me how it felt to finally arrive in Canada after 12 years of trying and failing to get permanent legal status in the United States.

It was mid-October and we were gathered in a packed room in Montreal’s Maison d’Haïti, a hub for the city’s deep-rooted Haitian community. Dozens of people who made “irregular” border crossings since the anti-TPS threats began had agreed to come and share their migration stories.

The experiences were hugely varied, and several people asked to remain anonymous. There was a mother of three who had been working legally at JFK Airport and decided that her family could only stay intact if she left it all and walked across the border at Lacolle.

There was a man who ran a successful campaign for mayor of a small Haitian city but was “attacked by three thugs” from a rival political faction. “It was a miracle that he survived,” observed a woman who herself had spent three years working in the U.S. but fled when she heard news of friends — fellow Haitians — already being deported under Trump.

A man in his late 20s told the room that he had been in the U.S. for 15 years, went to college, then worked for seven years. “I was part of the economy. I paid taxes.” But with Trump, “the stress was enough to kill me. So I flew to Plattsburgh, took a cab, and walked across.”

Here too was a mother of six who lived for eight years in Miami, studied to become a nurse while working night shifts, and slept at bus stops until the sun rose — all so that she could finally get a job caring for sick Americans and pay taxes to the U.S. government. “We work like animals,” Manie Yanica Quetant told me, through a Creole interpreter. “And then he says, ‘Get out.’”

“He,” of course, is Trump — or “Chomp,” as his name is consistently pronounced here.

For the vast majority of Haitians gathered at the Maison, the route they took to the United States was not the relatively direct one from Haiti to Florida by boat, a passage that has been heavily patrolled for decades by the U.S. Coast Guard. Seeking jobs and more welcoming immigration policies, their journeys were far more circuitous: from Haiti to other Caribbean islands, then to Brazil, where jobs were promised in the lead-up to the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Olympics. Then, as those opportunities fizzled, travels continued up through South and Central America until finally reaching California.

Several people in the room had crossed 10 or 11 countries before reaching their destination. Years spent running and hiding, hunted by authorities, preyed upon by thieves.

Rosemen François, a young woman with spiral curls streaked with purple, told me that what happened in Panama still haunts her. “I was crossing a river and I fell three times in the water, and at one point I couldn’t feel my feet because the skin was coming off. That feeling has marked me.”

Responding to François’s testimony, a man who had been quiet up until then put his hand up. “When we were in Panama, we had to sleep in the forests. … We saw people die. We saw women get raped. We spent six days in the forest in Panama without eating, sleeping outside, in the rain.” With harrowing echoes of the Underground Railroad, he said they heard sounds and “thought there were wild animals and we ran, we lost our belongings, our luggage, everything.”

“But we still had faith and we still had the United States in our minds. We thought that when we arrived, there would be paradise for us.” After all, ever since the earthquake, there had been a special program in place — TPS — that recognized their country’s suffering and allowed them to live and work out of the shadows.

But for many, it didn’t work out that way. As François recalled: “When I arrived in California [three years ago], I thought that would be the end of my journey. Instead I got arrested and put in a detention center, and I couldn’t see daylight or make out the difference between days and night. I was there for seven days. No shower. The food was not edible.” Convinced she had been forgotten in a black hole, “I started screaming … and that’s how I got out.”

For a few years, things started to normalize. She got a work permit. She studied. But then last summer, “my friends got deported and sent back to Haiti, and that’s when I decided to come to Canada.”

Asked why this was happening, her answer is simple: “It was Mr. Trump. Chomp … Chomp took my dream and turned it upside down.”

Quetant, the nurse from Miami, describes her shock at the news that Haitians, who had come to feel a measure of security thanks to TPS, were suddenly being hunted once again. “You turn on the radio and the news is ‘Hey, they are catching the Haitians.’” And so “you have to start running, and you are out of breath, and where are you going to run to?”

The stress, she said, was unbearable. “You don’t know why they are coming to catch you and when you look around, you don’t know how people are seeing you or what to do. You want to stop running.”
Trump Refugees

For those who arrived in the U.S. after Trump was elected, the experience was even more extreme. Dieuliphète Derphin, a young man who made the journey up through Brazil, arrived just before inauguration. “I was astonished to get arrested and spend six days in a detention center. I was asking myself, ‘How come they’re treating black people in an inhuman way? How come you’re not giving me a toothbrush? How come I don’t have access to water? Why are they doing this to us? Is it because we are black?”

“After that, I didn’t want to stay in the States. Not even for a second. That’s why I got the idea of coming to Canada.” He crossed the border in August, after just eight months in the U.S.

Many in the room echoed Agathe St. Preux’s description of “breathing different air” upon arrival in Quebec. The room broke out in applause when Quetant said of Trump, “I hope he never comes here because the Canadian land is a blessed land.”

And yet it soon became clear that despite a brief surge of relief that came with escaping Trump’s crackdown, the search for safely and stability is far from over. Many Haitians came to Canada because they heard that Justin Trudeau’s government would welcome them with open arms. They knew about Trudeau’s famous tweet, sent on the same day protests against Trump’s first Muslim travel ban kicked off across the country. “To those fleeing persecution, terror & war, Canadians will welcome you, regardless of your faith. Diversity is our strength #WelcomeToCanada.”

One man spoke of that and similar messages broadcasting from the north as “a divine sign that God was showing the way, saying, ‘Come to Canada.’”

What they discovered, however, is that the situation was far more complex. In recent months, Canadian officials have been frantically discouraging immigrants in the U.S., Haitians in particular, from attempting the crossing, pointing out that warm-and-fuzzy tweets notwithstanding, Canada’s immigration policies are restrictive, and hundreds of Haitians have been deported since January. Marjorie Villefranche, director of the Maison d’Haïti, says that about 60 Haitians are still crossing the border every day; she estimates that 50 percent will get refugee status and another quarter will get some other kind of status. The others may well be deported.

Moreover, Canada and the U.S. are part of the Safe Third Country agreement, which states that asylum-seekers “are required to request refugee protection in the first safe country they arrive in.” Since the United States is classified as “safe” under the accord, if Haitians currently based in the States go to a Canadian border crossing and say they want to make a refugee claim, they will most likely be turned back.

If, however, they magically appear in Canada, their claims can be processed. This is the primary reason that Haitians, as well as thousands of other immigrants fleeing rising anti-immigrant sentiment and policies in the U.S., have crossed the border by foot, which carries both physical risks and legal ones. As Quetant put it, to have a chance of getting legal status in Canada, “you have to break the law. You don’t want to do it, it’s not your first choice, but you have to.”

Only one woman in the room was willing to say that before crossing on foot, she attempted to enter Canada at an official port of entry. She was officially denied, a fact that is now on her record. This puts her in the weakest legal position of the group. “I can’t get a working permit because I was deported,” she says. Another woman shakes her head. “This is what everyone here is trying to avoid.”

Canada has not exactly been an antiracist utopia for this wave of black migrants either. White supremacists have held rallies at the Lacolle border crossings and unfurled an anti-immigrant banner outside Montreal’s Olympic Stadium, which has been converted into a temporary shelter for Trump refugees. And so far, Haitians have not been greeted with the same flood of grassroots generosity as Syrian refugees to Canada famously experienced.

But many Montrealers have been moved to help the Haitian arrivals, and there have been expressions of incredible warmth. “We want it to feel like home,” Villefranche said of the building where we were gathered, the Maison d’Haïti. The center first opened in 1972, amid an earlier surge of Haitian immigration during the brutal years of the Duvalier dictatorships. Last year, after decades at the heart of the city’s Haitian life, they celebrated a move to a modern, sun-filled new building in Montreal’s Saint-Michel neighbourhood. Floor-to-ceiling windows face the street, community members chat in a cafe, and vibrant Haitian art hangs on every available patch of wall.

The new space arrived just in time to cope with Hurricane Trump. As with the immediate aftermath of the 2010 earthquake, teams of volunteers now help the new arrivals fill out forms for temporary work permits. Staff members work to make sure children register for school, setting them up with uniforms and cheerful notebooks. There are French classes for adults and ongoing drives to collect clothing, furniture, and other supplies.

Most importantly, there are other Haitians, many who have been in Montreal for decades and have built stable and thriving lives. “They tell us, ‘Don’t be afraid. Just as the sun is shining on us today, it will be shining on you one day in the future,’” explained one recent Trump refugee. Philogene Gerda, a young mother of three who spent 15 days at the Olympic Stadium, said that the Maison “felt like home, especially the women’s space every Friday night, when you can bring your kids.”

There is also political work being done within the broader immigrant rights movement to push the Trudeau government to live up to its pro-refugee marketing. Heated trailers on the border help, but they are not enough. Thousands of Canadians have written letters calling for an end to the Safe Third Country Agreement with the United States. Other campaigns are calling for significant new resources to speed up the processing of asylum claims, so migrants aren’t left in legal limbo for years.

At the Maison d’Haïti, the overwhelming feeling is one of resolve. Having traversed the length of the Americas to arrive at this pocket of calm, there is, quite literally, nowhere left to run, no further north to flee. As Derphin put it to me, “This is it, the end of the road. … Our life should be here. And to be protected here. That’s it. I don’t want to go through all this turmoil again.”

For Villefranche, this is all the more crucial in light of the DHS announcement that 50,000 Haitians in the U.S. are now living on borrowed time. “We are expecting a lot of people to come,” she told me this week. But she hopes that anyone planning to attempt a foot crossing will take advantage of the 20-month delay to avoid the winter, with all of its risks. “Crossing in winter is not a good idea. It’s very hard, but we are ready to welcome them. The trailers are there. And at the Maison d’Haïti, we are here.”

Of course, not all the Haitians facing the loss of their protected status will choose the Canadian option. There had been fears that this week’s announcement would cut people off as soon as January, as Kelly had threatened in May. By adding 18 months to that, hopes have been raised that before the clock runs out, one of the efforts to win permanent legal residency could gain traction, including proposed bipartisan legislation that would provide TPS recipients who have been in the country for five years or more with a path to permanent residency.

The most likely outcome, however, is that tens of thousands of Haitians currently living and working legally in the U.S. will stay put and slip through the cracks. As Patricia ?Elizée, a Miami lawyer with Haitian clients, points out, Haitians “will not all get on a boat and go home. They will go on the black market.” Many will still be able to work — but now, if they complain about mistreatment, they will face deportation and incarceration, a business opportunity for private immigration prisons with parent companies rejoiced at Trump’s election.

For many, going back to Haiti seems the hardest option of all. It’s true, as DHS officials point out, that the earthquake in Haiti was seven years ago, and TPS is supposed to be temporary. But the earthquake was hardly the end (or the beginning) of the country’s overlapping crises. Corrupt and inept foreign-sponsored reconstruction from the quake set the stage for the cholera outbreak, and Haiti was pounded by Hurricane Matthew last year. When Hurricane Irma looked poised to douse the island with heavy rains this year (it did), some islanders expressed a kind of disaster fatigue that may well become the norm in a near future when shocks and crises are so frequent they take on a kind of macabre normalcy.

“I guess we are worried,” one Port-au-Prince resident pointedly told a journalist, “but we are already living in another hurricane, Hurricane Misery. … So, they say I should board up my house? With what? Wood? Who’s going to pay? With what money will I buy it? Ha! I don’t even have a tin roof. If the winds come, I can’t do anything but hope to live.”

The Climate Connection

On one level, Trump’s attacks on TPS are politically baffling. There was no great outcry demanding the deportation of Haitians and Central Americans. And many employers are frustrated to lose reliable workers (according to the union Unite Here, Disney World alone employs approximately 500 Haitian TPS workers).

Moreover, for Republicans, all of this carries significant political risks: Haitian TPS recipients can’t vote, but many of their friends and family members can. And given that many live in Florida, a swing state that is also experiencing an influx of Puerto Ricans who are not at all pleased with how they have been treated by Republicans (and who can vote once they establish residency), this latest anti-immigrant move could well backfire at the ballot box.

But perhaps there is a bigger picture to be seen here, one that has less to do with Haiti or Honduras and more to do with our warming world. Because TPS — which singles out “environmental disaster” as one of the key reasons a country would receive this designation — is currently the most significant policy tool available to the U.S. government to bring a modicum of relief to the countless people worldwide who are already being displaced as a result of climate change-related crises, with many more on the way. Little wonder, then, that Trump officials are rushing to slam this policy door shut.

Of the 10 countries currently covered by TPS, environmental disasters are cited as the primary reason or a major contributing factor in seven of them.

The program was not created as a response to climate change — it began as a way to respond to displacement from civil war. And yet as the world has warmed, it has evolved into a primary means by which the United States has granted limited rights to many thousands of people when their countries are hit by natural disasters. Indeed, one of the only things governments can currently do when a superstorm or drought devastates their country is lobby to get their citizens in the U.S. covered under TPS (or equivalent programs in other wealthy nations).

Jane McAdam, director of the Kaldor Centre for International Refugee Law at University of New South Wales, told me that problematic as it is, “TPS is the strongest, or even the only, existing mechanism” for climate change migrants under U.S. law. “It does at least provide some kind of temporary protection.” Which is why several scholars have suggested that TPS’s importance will grow as climate change accelerates.

Of course, not all the disasters that have triggered a TPS designation have been linked to climate change (the earthquakes in Haiti and Nepal are unconnected). But other disasters that have been cited in TPS designations — hurricanes, mega-floods, droughts — are precisely the kind of extreme weather events that are becoming more frequent and severe as the world warms.

Honduras and Nicaragua, both targeted by the Trump administration, first received TPS coverage after Hurricane Mitch. Somalia was originally included under TPS because of armed conflict, but when its status was extended under Obama, one of the reasons given was “extensive flooding and severe drought” impacting food and water security. Yemen, similarly, was originally designated for armed conflict, but its most recent renewal adds cyclones and heavy rains that “caused loss of life; injuries; flooding; mudslides; damage to infrastructure; and shortages of food, water, medical supplies, and fuel.”

Granting the right to live and work in the United States to some migrants from these countries has been an acknowledgement that people in lands rocked by sudden environmental crises have the human right to seek safety.

As a humanitarian tool able to cope with our era of serial disasters, TPS is terribly limited. Even for the relatively small number of people who meet its stringent requirements, it’s still only a recipe for perpetual insecurity. Beneficiaries need to renew their status every six to 18 months, paying approximately $500 each time, and TPS is temporary by definition.

It’s also arbitrary: Many countries hit by mega-disasters have been denied the designation. Perhaps most important, the program is only designed to deal with sudden, large-scale disaster events; slow-motion climate impacts like desertification, sea-level rise, and land erosion are a more awkward fit. And there’s another hitch: As Koko Warner, an expert on environmental migration at United Nations University, put it, with TPS, “It is always assumed that people will be able to return to their place of origin” once the disaster passes. That’s a distinctly unrealistic assumption in our age of drowning island nations and vanishing coastlines.

The reason Trump’s attacks on TPS are still relevant despite all these caveats is simple: Besides discretionary measures, for climate change migrants stranded in the U.S., there is nothing else. The 1951 U.N. Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees does not include environmental disasters or climate change as grounds on which to grant refugee status. There has to be the risk of persecution.

This gaping hole in international law comes up every time governments gather to tackle the intersecting challenges of climate disruption, most recently at the U.N. climate summit in Bonn, Germany, that ended last week. Many have argued that the convention should be amended, but the solution may not be that simple. At a moment when the governments of so many wealthy nations are fortressing their borders, opening up the refugee convention to try to include climate migrants could not only fail, it could result in markedly weaker agreement than we have currently.

So TPS is what is left. Which is why the Trump administration’s rapid-fire round of attacks on the program — for Central Americans, Haitians, Sudanese, and maybe more  — means that even this weak tool is in jeopardy as well. It’s a move that should be seen in the context of a pattern of actions that is simultaneously deepening the climate crisis (by granting the fossil fuel industry its wildest wish list), while eliminating programs designed to cope with the impacts of warming.

In short, this isn’t only about Trump’s antipathy toward non-white immigrants (though it’s about that too); we may also be witnessing a particularly brutal form of climate change adaptation.

The logic is simple enough: Trump officials know that in the years to come, there are going to be many more people with a powerful claim to protection under TPS — just look at this summer of record-breaking disasters, from flooding in Southeast Asia and Nigeria, to Barbuda’s total evacuation, to the exodus from Puerto Rico. Whether they publicly deny the science or not, the generals surrounding Trump are well aware that the future is going to see many more people on the move. If compassion is extended for one natural disaster (like Haiti’s monster earthquake or the hurricanes that followed), why not another? And another? From the Trump administration’s “America First” perspective, TPS is simply too dangerous a precedent.

As the only U.S. immigration program that grants legal rights to migrants in response to environmental disasters, the fate of the program should be seen as a de facto test case for how the world’s wealthiest country, and its largest historical emitter of greenhouse gases, is going treat the coming waves of climate refugees.

So far, the message is clear: Go back to a hell of our making.
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US Workers Competing With $4.70 a Day Mexican Workers
« Reply #9245 on: November 24, 2017, 04:19:04 PM »
Which is One of the Reasons Why US Wealth and Income Inequalities Are At Historic Levels

CNN reports that “Nearly 25 million Mexicans are getting a pay raise next week. From $4.25 to $4.70 — a day. Mexican government and business leaders agreed on Tuesday to raise the country’s minimum wage starting on December 1 to 88.36 pesos from 80.04 pesos. The 10% raise is good news for 24.7 million Mexicans who work either one or two minimum wage jobs. But it also resurfaces a key complaint by American workers who voted for President Trump, in part because of his pledge to renegotiate NAFTA, the trade pact between the U.S., Canada and Mexico. Trump blames NAFTA for the loss of many American jobs. Cheap labor has attracted American companies to Mexico for decades.”

Trump, of course, is correct. Millions of US jobs have been exported to Mexico since before Nafta, and millions more have been created there by US corporations rather than here because the terms of Nafta paved the legal road to do so. Generally, the numbers have been egregiously understated by researchers because the methodology they use limits

What Trump doesn’t want US citizens to know, which is also what the billionaires who run the Republican Party and the billionaires who run the Democratic Party don’t want you to know, is that worldwide and US income and wealth inequalities have been fueled by Nafta, and the stock markets have been booming since Nafta, precisely because Nafta has allowed US corporations to export millions of US jobs to Mexico. The difference between the old higher US wages and benefits and the new lower Mexican wages with no benefits goes straight into the already super-sized and ultra-fat wallets of the uber-rich via higher corporate profits, surging share prices and rising dividends.

Do you ever wonder how Warren Buffett, Phil Knight, the Koch Brothers, Steve Jobs, Bill Gates and others ever got so much richer than they should be? These wonder boys are all big-time supporters of cheap Mexican and cheaper Chinese and cheaper Vietnamese wages and even cheaper Bangladesh wages with no benefits and fewer worker safety and relaxed or nonexistent environmental controls. They also have prospered because of these things.

So these rich folks owe quite a debt to the record income and wealth inequality they have created to Bill Clinton, Hillary Clinton, George W. Bush, Paul Ryan, and Wall Street Senator Ron Wyden. The rest of us pay the price of the massive political corruption they have created.
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How the village feast paved the way to empires and economics
« Reply #9246 on: November 24, 2017, 04:22:02 PM »

Feasts helped to transform egalitarian hunters and gatherers into the kinds of societies that laid the foundations for early states and even industrial empires. They created hierarchies and inequalities, the advantaged and the disadvantaged. Feasts might well have been the catalyst for the agricultural revolution, some 10,000 years ago. But just how did feasts bring about such dramatic transformations in cultures? In the ethnographic research that my students and I conducted among traditional tribal and chiefdom societies, feasts turned out to be very different kinds of events than your average turkey and cranberry Thanksgiving.

The most lavish traditional feast that I participated in during my research was a Torajan funeral feast in Sulawesi, Indonesia. It took more than five years to amass the assets and resources required. During this time, the deceased man was not buried but stayed wrapped up in a cocoon of fabrics in the corner of his house where he eventually dried out, and was still considered part of the family until he was buried. A small army of workers and organisers was formed to build an enclosed courtyard of temporary verandas around the house of the deceased, replete with sleeping and eating quarters, even kitchens. Invitations were sent to far-flung kin and allied families. Hundreds of guests attended.

When the time came for the funeral ceremonies, groups of allied lineages entered the courtyard in formal processions dressed in their finest, all bringing baskets of rice and other gifts as demonstrations of their support. Over the following three days, dozens of water buffaloes and pigs were sacrificed in the centre of the funeral area. The slaughtered animals were destined for huge feasts of meat and rice and palm wine – feasts that could last for weeks.

Each contribution, especially of animals, was duly recorded because all such contributions were seen as debts that had to be repaid by the kin or allies of the surviving family. The person who contributed the most to the funeral inherited the valuable rice paddies of the deceased upon which wealth and power were ultimately based. Political power, then, was partly based upon debts incurred through feasts.

Feasts tend to be competitive because the underlying motive for feasting is to secure advantageous relationships via debts (for marriage, defence or economic endeavours). This competitiveness pressures organisers to produce or acquire enormous amounts of foods, especially meat, starches and alcohol. In fact, given the competition based on gifts (that is, debts) of food and prestige items, there could never be enough food since someone was always trying to produce more in order to out-compete his rivals. It is these competitive feasting pressures that, I argue, resulted in the domestication of plants and animals.

Feasts are often very expensive events, sometimes requiring up to 10 years of work and saving. Those who are paying for them expect to obtain some benefit from all their efforts and expenditures. And this is the important part about traditional feasts: those who are invited, and who often receive gifts, are considered obligated to reciprocate the invitation and gifts within a reasonable amount of time. By accepting invitations to feasts, individuals enter into relationships of alliance with the host. Each of them supports the other in political or social conflicts as well as in economic matters. Such support is critical because social and political conflicts are rife in tribal villages, with many accusations of infidelity, theft, sorcery, inheritance irregularities, unpaid bills, ritual transgressions and crop damage from other people’s domestic animals. In order to defend oneself from such accusations and threats of punishment, individuals need strong allies within the community. Feasts are a way to get them.

Moreover, in times of famine, it is essential to have a network of support in order to borrow food. Famine can occur for many reasons: adults might be unable to work the fields due to accident or illness, crops might fail as a result of flooding or drought or plague. Feasting is the way that people created and maintained reliable social support networks – and they are effective in this because of the reciprocal debts they entailed. Once embroiled in the debt system, it is almost impossible to extricate oneself, and failing to reciprocate feasts and gifts often meant murder and warfare.

The networks and debts that feasting systems created gave great political power to certain individuals. This is how traditional feasting created the first economically based (ie, surplus-based) hierarchies. Ambitious individuals profited from the feasting system by involving others in reciprocal debts. The use of feasts in this fashion is, of course, tied to the ability of hosts to produce food surpluses, and then to convert these surpluses into advantages. This kind of energy-conversion adaptation probably emerged only in the Upper Paleolithic of Europe among the more complex hunter/gatherers, around 30,000 years ago. Feasting became common elsewhere only about 15,000 years ago during the Mesolithic or Epipaleolithic.

In the Near East, where wheat, lentils, goats and cattle were first domesticated, feasting and socioeconomic inequalities appeared in the Natufian culture (12,500-14,500 years ago), just before any domesticates appeared during the Pre-Pottery Neolithic (12,500-10,000 years ago). Similar sequences occurred in the Far East with rice and pigs, and in the New World. Even today, it is remarkable that domestic animals in the tribal villages are almost never used for normal meals: they are universally reserved for sacrifice and consumption at feasts. Such a strong ethnographic pattern seems to imply that this was the original purpose for keeping and domesticating animals. Hill-tribe villages in Southeast Asia explicitly view the raising of domestic animals as similar to putting money in the bank. People use surpluses to raise animals that will profit them in the future through feasting benefits.

The reliance on feasting to convert surpluses into power continued after the domestication of plants and animals into the Neolithic, the Bronze Age and the Iron Age. Feasting was also integral to the early Sumerian city states as well as to Classical Roman elite culture and politics. It virtually ran the Incan Empire in South America. Far different from the gustatory and social entertainment of modern feasting, traditional feasts were entertainment with ulterior motives and binding debts that have produced the kind of surplus-based industrial society with all its inequalities that much of the world lives in today. Where would we be without feasts? I believe we would still be hunters and gatherers.
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U.S. Black Friday, Thanksgiving online sales climb to record high
« Reply #9247 on: November 25, 2017, 04:16:25 PM »
Black Friday and Thanksgiving online sales in the United States surged to record highs as shoppers bagged deep discounts and bought more on their mobile devices, heralding a promising start to the key holiday season, according to retail analytics firms.

U.S. retailers raked in a record $7.9 billion in online sales on Black Friday and Thanksgiving, up 17.9 percent from a year ago, according to Adobe Analytics, which measures transactions at the largest 100 U.S. web retailers, on Saturday.

Adobe said Cyber Monday is expected to drive $6.6 billion in internet sales, which would make it the largest U.S. online shopping day in history.

In the run-up to the holiday weekend, traditional retailers invested heavily in improving their websites and bulking up delivery options, preempting a decline in visits to brick-and-mortar stores. Several chains tightened store inventories as well, to ward off any post-holiday liquidation that would weigh on profits.

TVs, laptops, toys and gaming consoles - particularly the PlayStation 4 - were among the most heavily discounted and the biggest sellers, according to retail analysts and consultants.

Commerce marketing firm Criteo said 40 percent of Black Friday online purchases were made on mobile phones, up from 29 percent last year.

No brick-and-mortar sales data for Thanksgiving or Black Friday was immediately available, but Reuters reporters and industry analysts noted anecdotal signs of muted activity - fewer cars in mall parking lots, shoppers leaving stores without purchases in hand.

Stores offered heavy discounts, creative gimmicks and free gifts to draw bargain hunters out of their homes, but some shoppers said they were just browsing the merchandise, reserving their cash for internet purchases. There was little evidence of the delirious shopper frenzy customary of Black Fridays from past years.

However, retail research firm ShopperTrak said store traffic fell less than 1 percent on Black Friday, bucking industry predictions of a sharper decline.

"There has been a significant amount of debate surrounding the shifting importance of brick-and-mortar retail," Brian Field, ShopperTrak's senior director of advisory services, said.

"The fact that shopper visits remained intact on Black Friday illustrates that physical retail is still highly relevant and when done right, it is profitable."

The National Retail Federation (NRF), which had predicted strong holiday sales helped by rising consumer confidence, said on Friday that fair weather across much of the nation had also helped draw shoppers into stores.

The NRF, whose overall industry sales data is closely watched each year, is scheduled to release Thanksgiving, Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales numbers on Tuesday.

U.S. consumer confidence has been strengthening over this past year, due to a labor market that is churning out jobs, rising home prices and stock markets that are hovering at record highs.
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Leaning on the Stars to Make Sense of the World
« Reply #9248 on: November 25, 2017, 04:21:51 PM »

Eric Francis Coppolino, once an investigative reporter, is now the horoscope columnist for The Daily News. He described his writing as “news astrology,” or reporting on current events through the lens of planets, houses and signs.

When Saturn moves to Capricorn from Sagittarius in December — an occurrence that happens only once every 29 years — Eric Francis Coppolino, a writer for The Daily News, will need to explain to readers what that shift means for their lives and how the larger world might be affected.

“It’s like a carefully timed fortune cookie,” he said of the horoscope column he would write, “only a little longer. When it’s meaningful, when it answers something that you’re wondering, it can light up your mind.”

Astrology has long had its believers and its cynics, but for a craft so often criticized for being nonscientific and, in some cases, fraudulent, horoscopes still cover the pages and websites of publications in New York and across the globe.

The New York Times is not one of them. But The Daily News, The New York Post and Vice have dedicated astrology writers or daily horoscopes, as do The Los Angeles Times, The Chicago Tribune and The Philadelphia Inquirer, to name just a few.

So why, in an age of information overload and in a news-saturated city like New York, are written horoscopes still so popular?
Continue reading the main story

One appeal is that they offer some order in an otherwise chaotic city and volatile world, said Galit Atlas, a clinical assistant professor in New York University’s postdoctoral program in psychotherapy and psychoanalysis.

“What makes us feel safe in the world is order, boundaries and sequence, and those three things are things that astrology can give us,” Ms. Atlas said. “Especially in a time when the world doesn’t feel safe, we tend to search for an order that makes sense.”

“That’s not a negative thing,” she added. “The more secure we feel in the world, the more we’re able to be productive — to live fully, to love and to work.”

Astrology is believed to have first appeared in ancient Babylon some 4,000 years ago. But as a written art in newspapers and magazines, the practice is comparatively new — about a century old. (The first horoscope column in a major newspaper graced the pages of The Sunday Express in London in 1930.)

There is no formal schooling to be an interpreter of the stars. But there are well-known newspaper horoscope columnists, like the English astrologer Patric Walker, who have mentored New York writers. Mr. Walker, who died in 1995 and was widely considered the most eloquent wordsmith in the history of horoscope writing, trained Sally Brompton, his successor and the current astrologer for The Post. His work also inspired Mr. Coppolino to shift from shoe-leather reporting to covering the planets in his online magazine Planet Waves and later at The Daily News.

“I had no interest in astrology; I couldn’t see the use of it and it didn’t seem practical,” Mr. Coppolino said. “But when I started reading Patric Walker in The New York Post, I suddenly found myself with a guy who wrote like Steinbeck.”

He added: “By day I was covering toxic tort litigation, and at night I would hang out in my girlfriend’s room in Woodstock and pore through the ephemeris and the New York Post horoscope with a red pencil and tarot deck, and I hacked the Patric Walker horoscope, like Julian Assange.”

For 23 years, Mr. Coppolino, who grew up in Marine Park, Brooklyn, and went to John Dewey High School, has been writing what he describes as “news astrology,” or reporting on current events through the lens of planets, houses and signs. The first major story he covered using astrology was the impeachment of former President Bill Clinton in the 1990s.

More recently, he has used astrology to help him interpret news of three hurricanes, Harvey Weinstein, North Korea, the mass shooting in Las Vegas and the terrorist attack in Lower Manhattan. Mr. Coppolino studied the time and place of the New York truck attack (an “event chart”) to examine questions about the driver, Sayfullo Saipov, and how the tragedy happened. The chart, “like an objective map to the situation,” pointed to “sexual agony, loneliness and a sense of being homesick,” as part of Mr. Saipov’s motivation, Mr. Coppolino wrote in Planet Waves. And when looking at the time and place of Mr. Saipov’s birth (a “natal chart”), Mr. Coppolino saw “a person under extreme inner pressure, but also with the ability to be innovative.”

“I really try to avoid rationalization,” Mr. Coppolino said. “We’re not here to blame the planets, but rather, to take some guidance and use this technique for an expanded perspective.”

He added: “Most people are shellshocked right now. They’re in pain. The world is devastating. People are exhausted. And a purpose of the horoscope at that point becomes a spiritual touchstone.” (Mr. Coppolino views his audience as the everyday New Yorker, “human beings on the D train” or “people on their way to work.”)

But not everyone sees horoscopes as providing comfort or legitimate answers to life’s questions. John Marchesella, president of the New York City chapter of the National Council for Geocosmic Research, a nonprofit group that promotes astrological education for professional astrologers, dismissed horoscope writing as amateur, comparing it to “junk food,” or “a crumb” of astrology.

“To call it even a slice is giving it too much credence,” he said. “The sun sign column is only a sliver of what astrology can provide to people.”

But Rebecca Gordon, the astrology columnist for Harper’s Bazaar and founder of My Path Astrology School in New York 12 years ago, disagrees. She described horoscope columns as a way to promote astrology.

“That’s how most people find out that astrology exists,” she said, which is why “it’s so important that we give quality literature, quality interpretation, quality astronomy and astrology.”

Ms. Gordon explained how astrology writing is moving away from “your grandmother’s monthly horoscope” to something more modern that can serve a savvier readership.

Saturn’s move from a fire sign to an earth sign next month, for example, will usher in a sobering period, according to Ms. Gordon. Mr. Marchesella said the shift would represent “significant changes in governmental administration.” Mr. Coppolino said “we are entering the biggest point in reckoning in American history since the Civil War.”

“Between different astrologers, describing a chart is like poets describing a tree,” Mr. Coppolino said. “You’re going to get 20 different poems.”

“But the conversion from that to that,” he added, waving a finger from his astrology table to a draft of his next horoscope column, “that’s where the mystery is. That’s where the art is.”
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Here’s your leftover turkey: The case for Hillary Clinton 2020
« Reply #9249 on: November 25, 2017, 04:25:23 PM »
What better way to honor the holiday than with a spiteful argument for yet another Clinton candidacy?

Are you sick of Republicans? Or just right-wingers in general? Do you want to send a message to Washington that you aren't going to buy into their racist, sexist, xenophobic, homophobic and classist nonsense for one second longer?

Then do the very thing that Donald Trump unintentionally encouraged in a recent tweet: Encourage Hillary Clinton to run for president in 2020!

 Donald J. Trump


Crooked Hillary Clinton is the worst (and biggest) loser of all time. She just can’t stop, which is so good for the Republican Party. Hillary, get on with your life and give it another try in three years!
7:31 AM - Nov 18, 2017

    78,700 78,700 Replies
    51,317 51,317 Retweets

I'm sure this is the part where the Clinton-haters — be they Trumpers, Bernie Bros or anything in between — will say something to the effect of, "Of course he wants her to run again. That's the only way he'll get re-elected!"

Slow your roll there. Clinton's poll numbers aren't too good right now (OK, they're downright atrocious), but there are still four great reasons to consider choosing her as the Democratic nominee in 2020. Even better, all but one of them has to do with an emotion that has no place in this season (which is why I absolutely had to write this article for Thanksgiving weekend): Spite. Delicious, nutritious spite.

1. Hillary Clinton is the Winston Churchill to Vladimir Putin's Adolf Hitler.

I agree with the basic principle of Godwin's Law: The first person to invoke Hitler in a political debate should normally lose. The exception, of course, has to be when someone has genuine Hitler-like qualities. A foreign despot who has invaded neighboring countries and has a right-wing nationalist agenda is about as Nazi-like as you can get.

This is where Clinton offers a quality that no politician in America can beat. While Republicans are trying to tar her with a bogus scandal connecting her to Russia (and anyone who believes Clinton did something wrong in the Uranium One deal lacks credibility on all matters political), the reality is that no candidate can be better described as Russia's nemesis than Clinton. Putin has always hated Clinton because of his innate sexism, which has manifested in his policies, and she certainly didn't endear herself to him by publicly criticizing Russian corruption in 2011. As the ample connections between the Trump campaign and Russia or its water-carriers like WikiLeaks clearly demonstrate, the one person we know we can trust more than anyone is the candidate who Putin very obviously did not want to see as America's president.

2. Hillary Clinton being elected president (at last) would monumentally piss off misogynistic trolls, and what's not to like about that?

I can't think of a single political figure in recent American history who has been hated as deeply, or for as long, as Hillary Clinton. From the moment she emerged on the national stage in 1992 as a distinctly feminist prospective first lady, she has been the target of right-wing wrath woefully out of proportion to anything she has ever said or done.

The reason for this is sexism. It's not the chic thing to say right now, but no other explanation really makes sense. Yes, Hillary Clinton is more centrist than either party likes these days, but why is she singled out for opprobrium here when her husband — who actually served as president — remains popular despite holding the exact same views? The same point can be made about the claim that she is corrupt or too establishment. To the extent that these accusations are valid, they are no more true of Clinton than of the vast majority of politicians from both parties (especially Trump).

At the very least, the next Democratic presidential candidate needs to be a woman — perhaps not Clinton specifically, but certainly a woman, to offset the symbolic gut-punch of the first female candidate getting cheated by an overt misogynist. And speaking of cheating ...

3. By winning the popular vote convincingly in 2016, Hillary Clinton has earned the right to be considered the presumptive nominee in 2020.

As I wrote in September, Clinton is the first defeated presidential candidate to win the popular vote without being automatically considered a frontrunner in the next election. Two of the previous four popular vote-winning also-rans were actually elected in the subsequent cycle (Andrew Jackson in 1828 and Grover Cleveland in 1892), while two others were widely regarded as frontrunners before dropping out for personal reasons (Samuel Tilden and Al Gore).

Let us not forget that, for all of the smack talk about how poorly Clinton ran her campaign, she bested Trump by nearly 3 million votes. This was no razor-thin margin of victory, but a decisive expression of the American public's preference. In terms of percentage points, her margin of victory was roughly comparable to that by which Jimmy Carter beat Gerald Ford in 1976 or George W. Bush beat John Kerry in 2004. She also held Trump to a lower percentage of the popular vote than that garnered by Mitt Romney in 2012.

4. We can expect her to be a good president.

Frankly, the worst thing that can be said about a potential 2020 Clinton candidacy, especially in America's current cultural and political climate, is that her husband still hasn't answered for the numerous sexual abuse accusations against him. While it may seem unfair for Hillary to be held accountable for Bill's alleged predations, it can plausibly be argued that she played a role in helping him cover them up. If that is ever proved beyond a reasonable doubt, she should be given the heave-ho.

Then again, Bill Clinton is also widely associated with the economic, social and foreign policy conditions of the beloved 1990s, and is greatly missed for that reason. And since few dispute that Hillary was her husband's co-president during that halcyon decade, that association can still remain a giant advantage.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, Clinton demonstrated through the 2016 Democratic National Committee platform that she would work with progressives on pursuing a policy agenda very close to their own goals. On issues ranging from raising the minimum wage and fighting global warming to scaling back the war on drugs, she would stand exactly where the majority of grassroots activists in the party want her to be. Plus — while this has been noted countless times before, it deserves repetition — she has ample experience as a U.S. senator and secretary of state in actually getting things done.

That ability to get things done, by the way, is why Clinton had high approval ratings as secretary of state (usually in the 60s), even proving more popular than President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden in 2011 and 2012. Her stock may be low now, but it's been low in the past (such as when she "ran" to be first lady in 1992), and it has always recovered. Arguably the big political question facing a potential Hillary 2020 campaign will be whether that bounce occurs at a fortuitous moment for her. It very well could, and wouldn't that be a giant helping of the dish best served cold?
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Great Barrier Reef: Scientists use new technology to regenerate Australian icon
« Reply #9250 on: November 25, 2017, 04:34:07 PM »
Scientists are regrowing coral from larvae on damaged patches of the Great Barrier Reef in a project that could change the management of reef systems worldwide.

Professor Peter Harrison from Southern Cross University has been collecting coral spawn off Heron Island on the Great Barrier Reef (GBR), and maturing it in tanks.

"It's really exciting, this essentially is the rebirth of the reef," Professor Harrison said.

A team of scientists has deposited millions of coral larvae back onto damaged areas that may not regenerate naturally.

They created large enclosures around the coral using mesh curtains and special tiles to monitor growth.

Days later, photographs reveal coral polyps had survived, and were settling into their new home.

It is the first time this technique has been used in Australia, and it follows a successful trial in the Philippines that transformed reefs devastated by blast fishing.

"We can grow these corals from microscopic larvae to dinner-plate size, breeding corals in just three years," Professor Harrison said.

"It's a new way of looking at the problem and it's probably the only hope for the future in terms of larger scale restoration using hundreds of millions of coral larvae."

Photo: This tiny Platygyra coral, or brain coral, has been successfully resettled onto the reef.

'The reef is battered and bruised'

Chief scientist at the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA), Dr David Wachenfeld, said the size of the coral was important.

"It's not just about having any coral. It's about getting coral big enough to reproduce," he said.

The mesh curtains cover a hundred square metres of damaged coral, and the next challenge will be covering several kilometres.

"Then we've really cracked this problem, because we've kickstarted the natural recovery process of the reef," Dr Wachenfeld said.

This project is not designed to restore the vast network of more than 3,000 reefs over 344,000 square kilometres.

But it has huge potential for smaller, "feeder reefs" that supply coral to other areas and support the broader marine ecosystem.

Photo: Brain coral spawning.

    "I think that this could be something that changes management of reefs worldwide. All of the reefs, everywhere in the world, are suffering at the moment," Dr Wachenfeld said.

"In the past, the Marine Park Authority has had a philosophy of basically getting out of nature's way.

"But climate change is really changing that. The reef is battered and bruised. It's more impacted than it's ever been before."

Professor Harrison was part of the team that discovered the mass coral spawning on the Great Barrier Reef in the early 1980s.

    "I don't know of any reef system on the planet that is now healthier than it was 35 years ago, and that's really sad," he said.

"In South-East Asia, which is the centre of marine biodiversity on the planet, it's estimated that 95 per cent of those reefs are highly degraded and are facing serious threats in the coming decades."

Scientists call for 'reality check'

Dr Wachenfeld said it had never been more urgent to tackle climate change.

"This is a moment for a reality check about the condition of the reef. But it's also a call to action. This is a time for us to do more and act now to save the Great Barrier Reef," he said.

Federal Environment Minister Josh Frydenberg announced $400,000 for Professor Harrison's research, and said he was excited by its potential and would consider more funding if it was successful.

An additional $200,000 is being spent by the GBRMPA to identify the best sites to roll out the technology, which is also supported by the Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service (QPWS) and the Great Barrier Reef Foundation.

But Mr Harrison said another $1 to $2 million a year is needed over the next five to 10 years to expand the project on a meaningful scale.

The ABC was escorted to the test site by senior ranger with the QPWS, Andrew Congram, who has worked on these waters for more than 30 years.

"The GBR is the largest coral reef system in the world," he said.

    "It's unique. There's vast quantities that we don't know about it still. To lose it would be an absolute travesty of justice."

Photo: Coral growth on a Philippines reef that was damaged by blast fishing, after four years of the project.
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'Very succinctly, they claimed we are increasing homelessness'

Malibu says it has a growing problem with homelessness

A church in upmarket Malibu has decided to stop providing free meals for those in need after claiming they were told by officials they were attracting too many homeless people.

The United Methodist Church, one of many churches that provides food and help, has been offering free meals twice a week. But it said it was going to stop after being told the meal service was luring too many homeless people.

Dawn Randall, a member of the church, said it recently received an email from city officials. “Very succinctly, they claimed we are increasing homelessness,” she told CBS.

Reports suggest that the California city of Malibu, famed for its gorgeous beaches and multi-million dollar homes, has a growing problem with homelessness, an issue that was met with both charity and taxpayer money.

The Los Angeles Times said the city, which has a population of 13,000, has roughly 180 homeless residents, but no shelter or housing for poor people.

The United Methodist Church and Standing on Stone, a Christian group, had been hosting twice-weekly homeless dinners on Wednesdays and Thursdays.

But the newspaper said once the metro line to Santa Monica opened last year, a number of residents complained that mentally-ill and other homeless people were camping at the beach and entering schools.

“A homeless person was taking a shower in the girls locker room in middle school - that wasn’t real good,” Gary Peterson, a retired developer, told the newspaper. “Providing dinner is a nice thing to do and a good thing, but it’s the location.”

At a public hearing this week, Malibu Mayor Skylar Peak denied making the order and apologised for any miscommunication.

“No they were never formally asked to stop feeding the homeless,” said Mr Peak. “Not at all.”

Neither the church or Mr Peak immediately responded to inquiries.
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Police: Jeremey Sterling sprayed apartments with bullets trying to kill woman
« Reply #9252 on: November 25, 2017, 04:43:01 PM »

Jeremey Sterling, charged in Thursday's shooting in Manchester, seen in a photo on his Facebook page.

MANCHESTER — A Maine man calmly admitted to Manchester police on Thursday that he was trying to kill a woman he shot at least twice on Thanksgiving afternoon, believing the 39-year-old had smashed out his car’s rear window the previous night, according to court papers.

Jeremey Sterling, 25, of Deering Ridge Road in East Waterboro, Maine, faces a charge of attempted first-degree murder in the shooting of Shannon Presutti. She appears to also go by the name Shannon Nelan.

Presutti is in critical condition at Catholic Medical Center, having been shot in the left breast and upper-left arm and shoulder, said Assistant County Attorney Patrice Casian.

During an arraignment, Casian said the shooting may have had something to do with a previous fight between Sterling and Presutti’s son.

Or he may have believed she was responsible for the damage to his car window.

He used a Glock 27, a .40 caliber handgun with an extended 22-round clip, Casian said.

“This was a senseless act of violence,” Casian said.

Sterling also faces two felony reckless conduct charges for shooting in a heavily populated residential area; one of the bullets went through a bedroom window where children were playing.

Sterling’s Facebook profile photo from 2015 shows him shooting an Uzi-sized firearm with an extended clip. He’s got a handgun tucked into his belt in the photo.

The shooting took place at Elmwood Gardens, a public housing complex in south Manchester.

According to a police affidavit, Sterling told police he spent the night at the home of his girlfriend, Djemi Lazarre, 27, at 145 O’Malley St.

In the morning, he noticed his rear window had been smashed, he told police. About noon, he left to get Chinese takeout for lunch.

When he returned he was sitting at the parking lot of 355 Brown Ave. when his driver-side door was opened, and Presutti stood in front of him.

She pointed at the window and asked if Sterling liked that, he told police.

He then got out of the car, pulled the gun out of his waistband and pointed it at her.

“Presutti backed up and he started shooting at her with the intent to kill her,” the affidavit reads. Sterling shot her at least once in the chest, police said, and she was driven by another person to Catholic Medical Center.

CMC briefly went into a lockdown as a precaution.

Arsenio Santiago, who lives at 355 Brown Ave., said his 13-year-old nephew was looking out a second-floor bedroom window when he saw the shooting.

“The girl was telling him ‘no, please, stop,’” Santiago said.

A bullet went through the bedroom window of Santiago’s daughter, JazMarie Santiago, 3. It lodged in the wall, just above her crib. She was in the room at the time, he said.

Fifteen family members were in the apartment at the time of the shooting.

Another bullet entered the upstairs bedroom of Akur Malith and his family, who live at 359 Brown Ave.

The shooting took place around 2:45 p.m., police said.

During a police interview, Sterling said he got into a fight with Presutti’s son a few weeks prior. He said he believed that Presutti stole from Lazarre and he believed that Presutti’s boyfriend was sending him threatening text messages. A week ago, his front windshield was damaged after he stayed overnight at Lazarre’s apartment.

Superior Court Judge Kenneth Brown entered a not guilty plea for Sterling during his video arraignment from Valley Street jail. He set bail at $500,000 cash. If convicted of attempted murder, he faces a possible term of life in prison.

A subsequent bail hearing is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. Monday.
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"Donkeys as young as five-months-old are bashed on the head and die a slow, agonising death, all for an ingredient no one needs"

At least 1.8 million donkey hides are traded a year

New footage released by animal rights group PETA shows donkeys in Chinese farms being hit on the head with a sledgehammer in a bid to make ejiao, a medicine made from donkey skin.

Ejiao has become increasingly popular among affluent Chinese people who believe it as a cure for poor circulation, an anti-ageing treatment or a remedy for insomnia.

However, PETA says they've released the footage to dissuade consumers and highlight the cruel deaths suffered by some of the estimated 1.8 donkeys killed for their hides each year.

“In the ejiao trade, donkeys as young as five months old are bashed in the head and die a slow, agonising death, all for an ingredient no one needs,” said PETA Director of International Programmes Mimi Bekhechi. “PETA Asia is calling on kind people everywhere to reject ejiao and encourage their friends and family members to do the same.”

In a press release, PETA Asia said many of the donkeys seen by their observer were locked in filthy pens and standing in their own faeces or urine. They were killed with a sledgehammer because it was the cheapest method, the rights group said.

Last year, several African countries banned China from buying donkeys from them, saying the demand was proving unsustainable. Burkina Faso also banned them from buying donkey skins specifically.

“[Ejiao] is quite a popular ingredient in China that people may self-prescribe,” Chinese medicine expert Mazin Al-Khafaji told The Independent at the time. “But there is a shortage, and there are fakes around as it’s very expensive.”

“It’s what we call a blood tonic, so it stops bleeding and strengthens the blood. It’s used for anemia or low blood cell count,” he said.

“It’s a hard gel, made from donkey hide, which is then dissolved in hot water or alcohol. It’s also used topically in a cream, for leg ulcers for instance.”
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Chemical company’s response to water worries: Silence
« Reply #9254 on: November 25, 2017, 04:48:56 PM »
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — Americans have grown accustomed to hearing apologies from everyone from cheating car-makers to cheating presidents, but a Fortune 500 chemical company with a pollution problem in North Carolina is following a different model: don’t apologize, don’t explain.

For six months, Wilmington, Delaware-based Chemours Co. has faced questions about an unregulated chemical with unknown health risks that flowed from the company’s plant into the Cape Fear River, which provides drinking water for hundreds of thousands of people.

The company has said virtually nothing in its own defense about chemicals it may have discharged for nearly four decades, and it skipped legislative hearings looking into health concerns.

Earlier this month, North Carolina environmental regulators said they might fine Chemours, revoke its license to discharge treated wastewater into the nearby river and open a criminal probe. State officials said the company chose silence over reporting a chemical spill last month as required.

In a rare response, Chemours said it’s committed to operating the plant, which employs about 900, “in accordance with all applicable laws and in a manner that respects the environment and public health and safety.”

New tests have detected the chemical GenX, used to make Teflon and other industrial products, at levels beyond the state’s estimated but legally unenforceable safety guidepost in 50 private water wells near Chemours’ Fayetteville plant and at a water treatment plant in Wilmington, about 100 miles (62 kilometers) downstream. There are no federal health standards addressing GenX and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency classifies it as an “emerging contaminant” to be studied.

Lack of information about the chemical, its prevalence and health effects has disturbed people across eastern North Carolina.

John Fisher, 77, said when he moved into his home 20 years ago the company’s predecessor, DuPont, would invite neighbors through the gates for picnics and plant tours. But the only contact he’s had with Chemours was a notice a couple of weeks ago that his water well needed testing, and its outside vendor arranging to drop off bottled water.

“They haven’t officially gotten a hold of us saying, hey, we feel sorry for you, this is what we’re going to do for you,” Fisher said.

Fisher said he wonders whether GenX or other chemicals in his well water caused the cancer deaths of his dog and his daughter’s dogs next door.

“They would get big balls hanging off their bellies and they were all cancerous,” Fisher said. “We couldn’t figure out why all our dogs were dying of cancer.”

DuPont began using GenX to replace another fluorinated compound after neighbors of the company’s Parkersburg, West Virginia, plant claimed in more than 3,500 lawsuits that the compound made them sick. DuPont spun off Chemours into a separate company two years ago. A jury in July 2016 found the two companies liable for a man’s testicular cancer that he said was linked to a chemical emitted by the West Virginia plant.

The two companies this year agreed to pay nearly $671 million to settle further lawsuits.

Chemours’ zipped-lip strategy is likely a defensive crouch against the threat of costly lawsuits at a time when its financial future looks bright, said Geoffrey Basye, a public affairs consultant and former Federal Aviation Administration spokesman under President George W. Bush. Bond rating agency Moody’s has upgraded its opinion of the company and Chemours’ stock price has more than doubled since the start of the year.

“Not only can a stock’s performance play a pivotal role in how a company chooses to respond, or not respond, major shareholders and the board can also influence a company’s public affairs posture,” Basye said.

The company’s caution could make people think it’s hiding something, he said, but he noted that industrial companies like Chemours tend to have a different culture from enterprises that deal directly with consumers.

“Companies who tend to operate in the shadows before a crisis occurs have a tendency to stay in the shadows once the crisis hits,” Bayse said.

Chemours’ silence runs contrary to legal lessons and social science research that suggest addressing mistakes eases hard feelings and saves corporations money, said Maurice Schweitzer, a Wharton business school professor who teaches negotiation and corporate decision-making.

Studies have found an apology for medical mistakes can be enough to satisfy aggrieved patients, leading to fewer malpractice actions, greater willingness to settle lawsuits and lower demand for damages, Schweitzer said.

“The natural tendency to keep a low profile, hope things blow over, is exactly what anyone who’s been harmed by some action doesn’t want,” he said.'s-response-to-water-worries:-Silence
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