AuthorTopic: Knarf's Knewz Channel  (Read 1370556 times)

Offline knarf

  • Global Moderator
  • Master Chef
  • *****
  • Posts: 10763
    • View Profile
Trump administration afraid of competition in international arena
« Reply #10515 on: January 15, 2018, 04:36:42 AM »
The current administration is afraid of competition in the international arena in a number of directions, and behaves tougher than the Obama administration, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said on Monday.

"It seems to me that despite President Trump's line during the election campaign, this legacy, unfortunately, has been preserved in the actions of the current US administration, becoming even more saturated, more assertive in some ways, and there is a fear of fair competition in a number of areas: energy, gas supplies to Europe,” Lavrov said.

The US and the “historical West” are losing their dominant positions in the world, Lavrov said.

“As the United States and the entire historical west are losing their utterly dominant positions, which they have enjoyed for at least five centuries, and as the new centers of economic growth, financial power, political influence emerge as a result of the natural evolution of history… the United States, unfortunately, resorts to methods that are illegitimate and with which they try to stop the decline of their role in international politics,” Lavrov told reporters, highlighting the importance “equal dialogue” between the different parties involved.
HUMANS ARE STILL EVOLVING! Our communities blog is at

Offline knarf

  • Global Moderator
  • Master Chef
  • *****
  • Posts: 10763
    • View Profile
McDonald's is polluting our oceans
« Reply #10516 on: January 15, 2018, 04:44:58 AM »
McDonald's uses millions of plastic straws every single day. Used for just a few seconds, then thrown away, many end up polluting our oceans.


Small, light, and hard to avoid, it’s no wonder plastic straws dumped into the sea get stuck in sea turtles’ nostrils, lodged in the stomachs of baby seabirds, and end up in our food chain after being eaten by fish. 


If we can get McDonald's to ditch its dirty habit we can stop millions of plastic straws clogging up our oceans and killing the animals that live in them.

Tell McDonald's to stop using plastic straws that pollute our oceans today.

Plastic pollution is one of the biggest threats to our oceans, and straws are one of the most common plastic items found in beach cleanups, according to Greenpeace.

A total of 8 million tonnes of plastic ends up in our seas every year -- that’s the equivalent to five shopping bags of waste on every foot of coastline in the world! As a result it’s estimated that every year a million seabirds and 100,000 marine animals -- such as sea turtles -- die.

Plastic doesn’t degrade, but is broken up into ever smaller pieces. So if that straw isn’t swallowed whole by a large bird or turtle, the bits it breaks into can be eaten by fish or fed to chicks starving to death with stomachs full of plastic.

Taking millions of plastic straws out of use would be a major step towards cleaning up our seas and protecting wildlife from this plastic menace.

Take action now, tell McDonald's to stop using plastic straws that pollute our oceans.

We know that when SumOfUs members like you stand up for what’s right, together we can force them to change. After all we’ve done it before.

We’ve forced McDonald's -- along with companies like Starbucks, and KFC -- to commit to sourcing 100% responsible palm oil. When we expose the ugly side of corporate giants -- like McDonald's -- they take action to protect their brand. And in doing so we score a massive victory for our planet.

Take action now, tell McDonald's to stop using plastic straws that pollute our oceans.
HUMANS ARE STILL EVOLVING! Our communities blog is at

Offline knarf

  • Global Moderator
  • Master Chef
  • *****
  • Posts: 10763
    • View Profile
The Damage Done by Trump’s Department of the Interior
« Reply #10517 on: January 15, 2018, 04:48:38 AM »
Under Ryan Zinke, the Secretary of the Interior, it’s a sell-off from sea to shining sea.

On his first day as Secretary of the Interior, last March, Ryan Zinke rode through downtown Washington, D.C., on a roan named Tonto. When the Secretary is working at the department’s main office, on C Street, a staff member climbs up to the roof of the building and hoists a special flag, which comes down when Zinke goes home for the day. To provide entertainment for his employees, the Secretary had an arcade game called Big Buck Hunter installed in the cafeteria. The game comes with plastic rifles, which players aim at animated deer. The point of the installation, Zinke has said, is to highlight sportsmen’s contribution to conservation. “Get excited for #hunting season!” he tweeted, along with a photo of himself standing next to the game, which looks like a slot machine sporting antlers.

Nowadays, it is, in a manner of speaking, always hunting season at the Department of the Interior. The department, which comprises agencies ranging from the National Park Service to the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, oversees some five hundred million acres of federal land, and more than one and a half billion acres offshore. Usually, there’s a tension between the department’s mandates—to protect the nation’s natural resources and to manage them for commercial use. Under Zinke, the only question, from the redwood forests to the Gulf Stream waters, is how fast these resources can be auctioned off.

One of Zinke’s first acts, after dismounting from Tonto, was to overturn a moratorium on new leases for coal mines on public land. He subsequently recommended slashing the size of several national monuments, including Bears Ears, in Utah, and Gold Butte, in Nevada, and lifting restrictions at others to allow more development. (In December, acting on these recommendations, President Donald Trump announced that he was cutting the area of the Bears Ears monument by more than three-quarters and shrinking the Grand Staircase-Escalante monument, also in Utah, by almost half.) Zinke has also proposed gutting a plan, years in the making, to save the endangered sage grouse; instead of protecting ten million acres in the West that had been set aside for the bird’s preservation, he’d like to see them given over to mining. And he’s moved to scrap Obama-era regulations that would have set more stringent standards for fracking on federal property.

All these changes have been applauded by the oil and gas industries, and many have also been praised by congressional Republicans. (Before Zinke became Interior Secretary, he was a one-term congressman from Montana.) But, to some members of the G.O.P., Zinke’s recent decision to open up great swaths of both coasts to offshore oil and gas drilling represents a rig too far.

Last week, Zinke backtracked. Following a brief meeting with the governor of Florida, Rick Scott, at the Tallahassee airport, the Secretary said that he was removing that state’s coastal waters “from consideration for any new oil and gas platforms.” The move was manifestly political. In the past, Scott has supported drilling for oil just about everywhere, including in the Everglades, but, with Trump’s encouragement, he is now expected to challenge Florida’s senior senator, Bill Nelson, a Democrat, in November.

“Local voices count” is how Zinke explained the Florida decision to reporters, a remark that was greeted with jeers from elected officials in other states, who noted that some “local voices” were more equal than others. “Virginia’s governor (and governor-elect) have made this same request, but we have not received the same commitment,” Senator Tim Kaine, Democrat of Virginia, tweeted. “Wonder why.” Walter Shaub, the former head of the Office of Government Ethics, noted that the Florida coast happens to be home to Mar-a-Lago, Trump’s winter White House cum dues-collecting club. He suggested that the Secretary “look up ‘banana republic’ ” and then “go fly a Zinke flag to celebrate making us one.”

Two days after his trip to Tallahassee, Zinke proposed a complete reorganization of the Interior Department, which currently has some seventy thousand employees. (In September, he told attendees of an oil-industry meeting that thirty per cent of the employees were “not loyal to the flag,” by which he seemed to mean himself.) “Now is the time to be transformative,” the Secretary said in a video message that showed him sitting next to a blazing fire. The plan would require congressional approval, but it seems to have been put together without consulting lawmakers. “Neither Zinke nor his assistants have opened the specifics of their proposed reorganization to public or congressional input,” Representative Raúl M. Grijalva, an Arizona Democrat, wrote recently in an op-ed in the Durango Herald, which ran under the headline “RYAN ZINKE IS DESTROYING THE INTERIOR DEPARTMENT.”

Zinke is, in many ways, a typical Trump appointee. A lack of interest in the public interest is, these days, pretty much a precondition for running a federal agency. Consider Betsy DeVos, the Secretary of Education, or Scott Pruitt, the head of the Environmental Protection Agency, or Rick Perry, the Secretary of Energy. Nearly all Trump’s Cabinet members have shown disdain for the regulatory processes they’re charged with supervising. And, when it comes to conflicts of interest, they seem, well, unconflicted. In October, the Interior Department’s inspector general opened an investigation into Zinke’s travel expenses, which include twelve thousand dollars for a charter flight from Las Vegas to Kalispell, Montana, on a plane owned by executives of a Wyoming oil-and-gas company.
HUMANS ARE STILL EVOLVING! Our communities blog is at

Offline knarf

  • Global Moderator
  • Master Chef
  • *****
  • Posts: 10763
    • View Profile

Timothy Cardinal Dolan’s high-road tweet did not mention the President by name, but his reference was clear.

 Timothy Cardinal Dolan used Monday’s Martin Luther King Jr. holiday to denounce President Trump’s reported comments about immigrants from “shithole countries.”

“Rev. King, my fellow pastor, we miss you more than ever,” New York’s Archbishop tweeted. “You so powerfully upheld the dignity of every human person, made in God’s image and likeness. You would remind us today that no country is a `hole,’ no person unworthy of respect.”

Dolan’s high-road tweet did not mention the President by name, but his reference was as clear as any homily he has ever delivered from St. Patrick’s Cathedral.

Dolan’s tweet wasn’t the first time the cardinal has been critical of the President. Dolan has spoken out against Trump’s immigration policies, including the President’s decision to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, which has shielded immigrants brought to the United States illegally as children from deportation and allowed them to work.

 Trump has been widely condemned for the “shithole” remark, which lawmakers said he made during an Oval Office meeting last week on immigration.

Trump has denied he used the term.

“I’m not a racist,” told reporters Sunday outside his Florida resort in Mar-a-Lago. “I’m the least racist person you will ever interview.”
HUMANS ARE STILL EVOLVING! Our communities blog is at

Offline knarf

  • Global Moderator
  • Master Chef
  • *****
  • Posts: 10763
    • View Profile
The battle to shut down Obama's presidential center
« Reply #10519 on: January 15, 2018, 03:49:43 PM »

The Obama Foundation originally said it would house a presidential library on the property and vowed to have the National Archives oversee the facility because of its placement on public land. But that's no longer the case, and some are balking at the change in plans.

The Obama Foundation released plans last week for the presidential center it plans to build in Chicago's Jackson Park, but behind the scenes, a battle is taking place to keep the former Democratic president from building on that specific lot of land, and there's still a chance that it gets delayed when it seeks federal approval.

What initially started out as a library has morphed into a 20-acre private "center," and some environmentalists and historians are unhappy with the Obama Foundation's plans to swoop in and take over a national historic place.

The Obama Foundation originally said it would house a presidential library on the property and vowed to have the National Archives oversee the facility because of its placement on public land. But that's no longer the case, and some are balking at the change in plans.

"Here’s our bottom line. If the Obama Foundation wishes to construct this center on Chicago’s South Side, that’s fine, but not on parkland held in public trust. The University of Chicago, which orchestrated the winning bid for the project, has plenty of land on the South Side that they could and should use. Instead, they’ve been adamant since day one that they must have historic public parkland for the purpose," Charles Birnbaum, president and founder of D.C.-based nonprofit, the Cultural Landscape Foundation, told the Washington Examiner in a written statement Saturday.

The foundation is not alone. The group is working alongside a number of others, including Friends of the Parks, Jackson Park Watch, Openlands, National Association for Olmsted Parks, Save the Midway, Landmarks Illinois, and Preservation Chicago, all of whom have raised concerns about the project.

In addition, 200 faculty members from Obama's former employer, the University of Chicago, issued a formal letter last Monday stating its opposition to the presidential center being built at this location.

As a first step, the center's proposal must be approved by Chicago's planning department and the city council. That process is not expected to sit any snags, as Obama's former chief of staff Rahm Emanuel is Chicago's mayor.

"If past is prologue, municipal officials will rubber-stamp their approvals," Birnbaum said.

But the federal process will be more complicated, and that's where Birnbaum's argument becomes especially relevant.

The Obama Foundation will have to get approval from the Environmental Protection Agency under the National Environmental Policy Act and Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act. A spokesperson for Birnbaum's group said it is difficult to predict how the Trump administration's EPA will handle it.

The first verification process will determine if the Obama Presidential Center would have "adverse effects" on Jackson Park. The State Historic Preservation Office will ask "official consulting parties" to provide opinions.

"This will play out over 2018 and involve several meetings of the 'official consulting parties' along with extensive written input from those parties," Birnbaum explained in an email. "A determination could be made that this are no adverse effects and the OPC would proceed (highly unlikely); a determination could be made that there are adverse effects and a process of mitigation could be developed and approved by all of the consulting parties in a formal Memorandum of Agreement (MOA); a determination could be made that there are adverse effects, but the consulting parties don’t agree on mitigation, then this would likely end in litigation."

From the perspective of the landscape foundation, Jackson Park and the surrounding parklands are quintessential examples of historic property.

"This isn’t just any public open space; this is historic parkland originally designed by Frederick Law Olmsted, Sr., and Calvert Vaux (of New York’s Central Park fame)," the organization's website states. The park system was designed in 1871, and Olmsted wrote in 1895 that the Museum of Science and Industry was intended to be the only "dominating object of interest" in the park.

In 2012, Jackson Park was at the center of another Section 106 compliance review, and officials decided it should not be touched.

"As currently designed, the park retains a great deal of its integrity. While some of the original features have been modified, or removed, the remaining defining characteristics such as the overall plan … depicted on the 1905 map must be respected," the document stated.

The foundation is expected to spend much of this year engaged in federal-related approval processes. The Chicago City Council will take up the issue this week.

Meanwhile, Obama's team last week released more information about the center it hopes to open soon. In July 2016, the Obamas announced the selection of Jackson Park, a 500-acre park on Chicago's South Side next to the University of Chicago, as their preferred site for his presidential library.

The spot is near the Museum of Science and Industry, Lake Michigan and the eastern edge of the university campus, where Obama used to teach constitutional law. The location is also near Woodlawn, a low-income black neighborhood that recently has begun to gentrify. The Obamas are longtime Chicago residents, and sought a part of their hometown that needed revitalization but could also benefit from the addition.

This week, the Obama Foundation shared dozens of changes to its proposal, including road closures within the park, a revamping of the picturesque landscaping, and a newly designed main building would stretch 23 stories high at 235 feet tall.
HUMANS ARE STILL EVOLVING! Our communities blog is at

Offline knarf

  • Global Moderator
  • Master Chef
  • *****
  • Posts: 10763
    • View Profile
Alibaba's AI Outguns Humans in Reading Test
« Reply #10520 on: January 15, 2018, 03:52:18 PM »
Alibaba has developed an artificial intelligence model that scored better than humans in a Stanford University reading and comprehension test.

Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. put its deep neural network model through its paces last week, asking the AI to provide exact answers to more than 100,000 questions comprising a quiz that’s considered one of the world’s most authoritative machine-reading gauges. The model developed by Alibaba’s Institute of Data Science of Technologies scored 82.44, edging past the 82.304 that rival humans achieved.

Alibaba said it’s the first time a machine has out-done a real person in such a contest. Microsoft achieved a similar feat, scoring 82.650 on the same test, but those results were finalized a day after Alibaba’s, the company said.

The Chinese e-commerce titan has joined the likes of Tencent Holdings Ltd. and Baidu Inc. in a race to develop AI that can enrich social media feeds, target ads and services or even aid in autonomous driving. Beijing has endorsed the technology in a national-level plan that calls for the country to become the industry leader 2030.

So-called natural language processing mimics human comprehension of words and sentences. Based on more than 500 Wikipedia articles, Stanford’s set of questions are designed to tease out whether machine-learning models can process large amounts of information before supplying precise answers to queries.

“That means objective questions such as ‘what causes rain’ can now be answered with high accuracy by machines,” Luo Si, chief scientist for natural language processing at the Alibaba institute, said in a statement. “The technology underneath can be gradually applied to numerous applications such as customer service, museum tutorials and online responses to medical inquiries from patients, decreasing the need for human input in an unprecedented way.”
HUMANS ARE STILL EVOLVING! Our communities blog is at

Offline knarf

  • Global Moderator
  • Master Chef
  • *****
  • Posts: 10763
    • View Profile
Wheelchair athlete honoured for rock climb
« Reply #10521 on: January 15, 2018, 03:56:28 PM »
 Wheelchair-bound Lai Chi-wai could be the first Chinese athlete to win the Laureaus World's Best Sporting award, after he was nominated for climbing Hong Kong's Lion Rock.

1 minute video

Lai Chi-wai, the first Chinese athlete to be nominated for the Laureaus World's Best Sporting award, hopes his success will inspire both athletes with disabilities and Chinese people that there are no limits to pursuing your dreams.

A four-time champion of the Asian Rock Climbing Championships and the world's first Chinese winner of the X-Game's extreme sports, 35-year-old Lai had a bright career ahead of him until a car accident left him paralysed hip down in 2011.

Despite his physical limitations, Lai pushed on, trying a range of wheelchair sports including boxing, fencing and table tennis. But nothing could replace his love for rock climbing,.

It took months for Lai to get used to his new limitations and, as he described, it was one of his lowest moments - falling from the top as Asia's best climber to becoming wheel-chair bound. But it was on the fifth anniversary of the accident, on December 9, 2016, that he decided to climb one Lion Rock - a 495 metre tall mountain and a symbol of Hong Kong's spirit, persistence, resilience and unity.

"To me climbing to the top was accomplishing a dream of mine and it also - by climbing the mountain - meant that I could show to my friends and supporters that I have overcome one of the lowest points in life: even though I'm in a wheelchair I can challenge other sports and still be able to do what I love most," Lai told Reuters.

Lai, a part time motivational speaker, was recently nominated for the global sporting Laureus award's World's Best Sporting moment for his climb up Lion Rock. He hopes his story of rehabilitation will inspire others with disabilities and show that nothing should stand in the way of fulfilling dreams.
HUMANS ARE STILL EVOLVING! Our communities blog is at

Offline knarf

  • Global Moderator
  • Master Chef
  • *****
  • Posts: 10763
    • View Profile
What's the Matter with California?
« Reply #10522 on: January 15, 2018, 04:00:57 PM »

This just in from what was once the best state in the Union:

    Guess which state has the highest poverty rate in the country? Not Mississippi, New Mexico, or West Virginia, but California, where nearly one out of five residents is poor. That’s according to the Census Bureau’s Supplemental Poverty Measure, which factors in the cost of housing, food, utilities and clothing, and which includes noncash government assistance as a form of income.

    Given robust job growth and the prosperity generated by several industries, it’s worth asking why California has fallen behind, especially when the state’s per-capita GDP increased approximately twice as much as the U.S. average over the five years ending in 2016 (12.5%, compared with 6.27%).

The Left's first, last and only instinct is to throw more money at the problem, but California's already done that. and guess what?

    It’s not as though California policymakers have neglected to wage war on poverty. Sacramento and local governments have spent massive amounts in the cause. Several state and municipal benefit programs overlap with one another; in some cases, individuals with incomes 200% above the poverty line receive benefits. California state and local governments spent nearly $958 billion from 1992 through 2015 on public welfare programs, including cash-assistance payments, vendor payments and “other public welfare,” according to the Census Bureau. California, with 12% of the American population, is home today to about one in three of the nation’s welfare recipients.

    The generous spending, then, has not only failed to decrease poverty; it actually seems to have made it worse.

The progressives who control every aspect of the state's government are not necessarily stupid people, but they are malign. They understand that increasing welfare spending only encourages the arrival of more recipients on whom to spend it, and the high likelihood that those new constituents will vote Democrat as soon as they are able, legally or otherwise. Already, some 55 percent of "immigrants" receive means-tested benefits, while only 30 percent of native Californians do so.

The Tragic Decline of California

California's army of bureaucrats contributes as well, as does the state's highly restrictive land-use ordinances and environmental restrictions, which drive up the cost of housing in what is already the nation's most expensive real-estate market:

    With 883,000 full-time-equivalent state and local employees in 2014, California has an enormous bureaucracy. Many work in social services, and many would lose their jobs if the typical welfare client were to move off the welfare rolls.

    Further contributing to the poverty problem is California’s housing crisis. More than four in 10 households spent more than 30% of their income on housing in 2015. A shortage of available units has driven prices ever higher, far above income increases. And that shortage is a direct outgrowth of misguided policies.

They're not "misguided" -- in fact, they're doing exactly what the progressives designed them to do. Higher housing prices means more money in the pockets of Angelenos and San Franciscans when they go to sell, high energy prices have a disproportionate impact on the poor, generous welfare "benefits" mean an endless supply of new Democrats and permanent employment for the public-employee unions who actually run the state.

It's a perfect racket, and one that will continue unless and until the California Republicans get their act together and begin vigorously contesting what has become a one-party state designed to enrich those at the top, beggar the middle class, and keep those on the bottom in permanent penury.
HUMANS ARE STILL EVOLVING! Our communities blog is at

Offline knarf

  • Global Moderator
  • Master Chef
  • *****
  • Posts: 10763
    • View Profile
PERRIS, Calif. (KABC) --
Thirteen victims, ranging in age from 2 to 29 years old, were kept shackled to their beds amid foul surroundings in a Perris home by their parents, sheriff's officials said.

Early Sunday morning, a 17-year-old girl escaped from the residence, located in the 100 Block of Muir Woods Road and called 911 from a cellular device she managed to take from the home, investigators said.

That teen told the 911 operator that she and her 12 siblings were being held captive in their home by their parents.

David and Louise Turpin allegedly kept 13 victims confined in filthy conditions in Perris home.

When investigators from the Perris Police Department and the Riverside County Sheriff's Department met with the girl, they said she looked emaciated and only 10 years old, though she was 17.

After interviewing the girl, investigators contacted her parents, 57-year old David Allen Turpin and 49-year old Louise Anna Turpin at the home from which the teen escaped.

Further investigation revealed several children shackled to their beds with chains and padlocks in dark and foul-smelling surroundings. However, the parents were not able to immediately provide a reason why their children were restrained in that manner.

Deputies located what they believed to be 12 children inside the house - but were shocked to discover that seven of them were actually adults, ranging in age from 18 to 29.

The victims appeared to be malnourished and very dirty.

There were 13 victims total -- 12 in the house, and one who escaped and called 911. The victims, who ranged in age from 2 to 29 years old, were transported to the Perris Station and interviewed.

Both parents were detained and transported to the station for further investigation. Child Protective Services and Adult Protective Services arrived to assist in the investigation. The victims were provided with food and beverages after they claimed to be starving.

Both parents were interviewed and subsequently transported to the Robert Presley Detention Center. They were arrested on suspicion of torture and child endangerment.

Bail was set at $9 million each.

If you have any relevant information about this ongoing investigation, you're urged to contact Investigator Tom Salisbury at the Perris Station by calling (951) 210-1000 or emailing
HUMANS ARE STILL EVOLVING! Our communities blog is at

Offline knarf

  • Global Moderator
  • Master Chef
  • *****
  • Posts: 10763
    • View Profile
Penthouse mag files for protection
« Reply #10524 on: January 15, 2018, 04:10:00 PM »

Penthouse Global Media is the current company behind the iconic adult magazine founded five decades ago by publisher Bob Guccione.

Penthouse Global Media, the company behind the legendary adult magazine created five decades ago by Bob Guccione, has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, according to court documents filed Thursday in a California federal court.

The filing represents the latest setback for the publisher, which has been struggling financially for years as the print advertising market has declined and the adult entertainment industry has migrated online.

In addition to putting out a monthly magazine, Penthouse oversees several adult cable and satellite channels that reach more than 100 countries. It also runs a licensing business for its intellectual property and iconic brand.

Chatsworth-based Penthouse Global Media was formed in 2016 when it was acquired by Chief Executive Kelly Holland in a management buyout from parent company FriendFinder Networks. The Florida-based online dating site had merged with the company in 2007 and explored the idea of shutting down the print magazine. FriendFinder itself filed for bankruptcy protection in 2013.

Penthouse didn’t respond to a request for comment.

Thursday’s filing in U.S Bankruptcy Court’s Central California division offered few details about the full extent of the company’s debt. Penthouse listed estimated liabilities between $10 million and $50 million. Its top two creditors are the law firms Greenberg Traurig and Bayard P.A.

Penthouse took on debt during the 2016 management buyout, which was financed by ExWorks Capital, a Chicago investment firm, for an undisclosed amount.

“They’re levered and when you’re levered sometimes small changes in your revenue stream can cause distress,” said Adam Stein-Sapir, co-managing partner at Pioneer Funding Group, a New York-based investment firm that specializes in bankruptcy claims.

He said that Penthouse would most likely attempt to restructure its debt as it works toward emerging from Chapter 11. Other options include selling the company or liquidating assets.

During the last years of his life, Guccione faced mounting financial problems. His company General Media filed for bankruptcy protection in 2003, and the publishing mogul was later forced to sell personal property to repay debts. He died in 2010 at 79.

Penthouse’s latest financial woes come at a time when rival Playboy Enterprises is also facing difficulties. The Wall Street Journal reported this month that Playboy is considering ending its print magazine, which was started more than six decades ago by Hugh Hefner, who died in September.
HUMANS ARE STILL EVOLVING! Our communities blog is at

Offline knarf

  • Global Moderator
  • Master Chef
  • *****
  • Posts: 10763
    • View Profile
This Town Is So Toxic, They Want It Wiped off the Map
« Reply #10525 on: January 15, 2018, 04:17:26 PM »
“Every single neighbor I’ve had has died of cancer.”

Annetta Coffman can name 35 people in her neighborhood who have recently died from cancer—and that includes her own family. Coffman’s mother died of cancer in 2007, and three years ago her 18-year-old son was diagnosed with cancer. “Every single neighbor I’ve had has died of cancer,” Coffman told Mother Jones.

Coffman lives in Minden, West Virginia, an impossibly small town of roughly 250 people in the heart of Appalachia, where coal mining once made it a thriving community. Now, all that remains are dilapidated homes and toxic waste that residents say is making them sick at an alarming rate. Fayette County, where Minden is located, struggles with high unemployment and poverty; the county of more than 44,000 people had an unemployment rate of nearly 8 percent in 2016, while 19 percent of the population lives in poverty.

The story of Minden is yet another example of how toxic pollution harms the poorest and vulnerable communities the most.

From 1970 to 1984, the Minden-based Shaffer Equipment Company built electrical equipment for the coal industry. Oil that contained polychlorinated biphenyls, or PCBs were used in the transformers and other equipment that was later disposed of into an abandoned mine site in Minden. PCBs, which are highly toxic and have been linked to certain types of cancer, were banned by the Environmental Protection Agency in 1979. But the chemical is stubbornly persistent.

In September 1984, the West Virginia Department of Natural Resources inspected the Shaffer site and found that old equipment dumped at the mine was contaminating the soil at Arbuckle, a nearby creek. The state asked the EPA to come in and investigate. In two separate clean-ups over the course of seven years, a team led by Bob Caron from the regional EPA office removed contaminated soil at the Minden site. The first took place between December 1984 and December 1987, while the second one lasted from November 1990 to January 1991.

One year later, the federal government sued the Shaffer Equipment Company and two other defendants that had disposed of materials at the site in order to recoup the $5 million it lost cleaning up the site—a common practice under these circumstances. There was just one problem: Bob Caron had lied about his credentials. The so-called hazardous waste expert claimed to have a Bachelor of Science degree from Rutgers University in New Jersey and a master’s degree in organic chemistry from Drexel University in Pennsylvania.

He had neither.

Shaffer was able to get the suit dismissed and distrust grew among the remaining Minden residents. A lot of people believed that because Caron was a fraud, “the work he was doing was subpar,” says Richardson. Meanwhile, residents say their health continued to suffer.

In 1997, an arsonist set the remaining building that contained contaminated materials on fire. The EPA returned to do another assessment and the US Army Corps of Engineers designed a cap for the toxic soil and building debris, which was completed in 2002. “The cap is a Band-Aid over a bullet wound,” Brandon Richardson, the founder of Headwaters Defense, a local environmental group, says. “Here we are years later, and it’s still toxic.”

Though residents feel as if the EPA has been ignoring their issues for years,  Roy Seneca, the EPA Region 3 press officer, told Mother Jones that “EPA’s responsibility to Minden is no different than any other city,” which suggests that the agency doesn’t believe it has failed the town.

Coffman began hearing stories about toxic waste issues when she was a young girl in the 1980s, but initially she didn’t give it a second thought. After her mother’s death from uterine, breast, and ovarian cancer in 2007, however, she began to wonder if all the cancer in her community wasn’t just a coincidences. Last year, she created a Facebook page where people can message her about their experiences with cancer in the area. “This isn’t a recent emergency,” Coffman says. “This is long-term neglect.” On the Facebook page, Coffman posts the photos and stories from the loved ones of cancer victims.

Today, many people are on edge. Coffman has two nephews, aged 11 and 12, who come to visit her, but because they live so close to Arbuckle Creek,  “I don’t feel comfortable letting them go outside and be normal kids.”

Corman and others in the community began to pressure the EPA to return to their area, and finally, last  June, the agency went back to Minden to do more testing of the Shaffer Equipment site and Arbuckle Creek to determine if further action is required. According to the Fayette Tribune, of the 20 total sites tested, only one was done in the predominantly black neighborhood closest to the contamination site.

That same month, Dr. Hassan Amjad began going door-to-door to do a survey of cancer diagnoses in town. Dr. Amjad, who passed away unexpectedly in August, believed there was a link between the contaminated site and cancers.

Richardson’s environmental group conducted similar surveys. “We counted 110 people in the last four years who have been diagnosed or have died from cancer,” he says.

Residents think their cancer problem is being ignored. “EPA has no evidence of that,” of a cancer cluster in Minden. Seneca said. “However, technically that is not our determination.” In July, West Virginia Bureau of Public Health spokesman Toby Wagoner said the data does not support a cancer cluster in Minden.

Still, the numbers seem to reveal a different reality, and residents say they feel slighted when officials tell them they’re not living in a cancer cluster. “It’s hurtful and it’s disappointing,” Coffman says. “I feel like if it was a community with better socioeconomics, it would be looked at differently.”

In October, the EPA announced it had found a “troubling” amount of PCBs at the sites it tested, but more testing needed to be done in order to determine next steps. In an email, Seneca said the agency is “examining the ongoing protection of the cap” placed over the site in 2002 and will “conduct cleanup” if any EPA sampling warrants it. 

Meanwhile, Minden residents have been lobbying to be put on the EPA’s Superfund National Priorities List. Superfund is a program that identifies and cleans up toxic sites around the country. West Virginia currently has 10 such sites, but in order to be added to the list, the EPA must decide if the site is eligible and the state of West Virginia must agree with the listing. “Those events have not occurred,” Seneca said. “They may in the future.”

Since being appointed, EPA head Scott Pruitt has angered environmentalists with his broad attempts to roll back regulations designed to protect humans and the environment. But he has said cleaning up toxic sites are one of his main priorities.

Community members have also asked Republican Gov. Jim Justice to help move the residents of the entire town to another area. “Minden is so toxic,” Richardson says, “the majority of people want to leave.”

Relocating residents of toxic communities is not without precedent. Mossville, Louisiana, a historically black town in the state’s heavily polluted area known as Cancer Alley, faced its own potential demise in 2014, after a massive chemical plant sought to expand. The South African company polluted the air, water, and soil and made the overwhelming majority of residents fall ill with central nervous system disorders. By 2015, nearly all the residents had taken buyouts and moved away.

And that’s what Coffman wants for her community. “I love our community,” Coffman says. “I love the neighbors I’ve known since I was a little girl.” But still, she can’t fathom staying in her hometown for much longer. “I don’t want to wonder if I’m going to be the next person who gets cancer.”
HUMANS ARE STILL EVOLVING! Our communities blog is at

Offline knarf

  • Global Moderator
  • Master Chef
  • *****
  • Posts: 10763
    • View Profile
In May 2016, Taylor Weyeneth was an undergraduate at St. John’s University in New York, a legal studies student and fraternity member who organized a golf tournament and other events to raise money for veterans and their families.

Less than a year later, at 23, Weyeneth, was a political appointee and rising star at the Office of National Drug Control Policy, the White House office responsible for coordinating the federal government’s multibillion dollar anti-drug initiatives and supporting President Trump’s efforts to curb the opioid epidemic. Weyeneth would soon become deputy chief of staff.

His brief biography offers few clues that he would so quickly assume a leading role in the drug policy office, a job recently occupied by a lawyer and a veteran government official. Weyeneth’s only professional experience after college and before becoming an appointee was working on Trump’s presidential campaign.

Weyeneth’s ascent from a low-level post to deputy chief of staff is the result, in large part, of staff turnover and vacancies. The story of his appointment and remarkable rise provides insight into the Trump administration’s political appointments and the troubled state of the drug policy office.

Trump has pledged to marshal federal government talent and resources to address the opioid crisis, but nearly a year after his inauguration, the drug policy office, known as ONDCP, lacks a permanent director. At least seven of his administration’s appointees have departed, office spokesman William Eason said. Among them was the general counsel and acting chief of staff, some of whose duties were assumed by Weyeneth, according to a memo obtained by The Washington Post.

This Jan. 3 memo to staffers at ONDCP shows Weyeneth, the deputy chief of staff, was taking on more responsibility after the departure of the office’s acting chief of staff.

“ONDCP leadership recognizes that we have lost a few talented staff members and that the organization would benefit from an infusion of new expert staff,” said the Jan. 3 memo from acting director Richard Baum, a civil servant. “The functions of the Chief of Staff will be picked up by me and the Deputy Chief of Staff.”

Weyeneth, 24, did not respond to requests for an interview.

After being contacted by The Post about Weyeneth’s qualifications, and about inconsistencies on his résumés, an administration official said Weyeneth will return to the position he initially held in the agency, as a White House liaison for ONDCP, a job that typically involves working with outside interest groups. The official, who agreed to speak only on the condition of anonymity, said that Weyeneth has been primarily performing administrative work, rather than making policy decisions, and that he had “assumed additional duties and an additional title following staff openings.”

The office hired Weyeneth in March “after seeing his passion and commitment on the issue of opioids and drug addiction,” the official said. The official and Weyeneth’s mother both said Weyeneth was moved by the death of a relative several years ago from a heroin overdose.

The Office of National Drug Control Policy was started by Congress in 1988 with passage of the Anti-Drug Abuse Act. Part of the White House executive office, the ONDCP director, often referred to as the “drug czar,” is supposed to be the president’s main adviser on issues relating to illicit drugs, including manufacturing, smuggling and addiction.

In addition to its responsibilities for coordinating drug programs at other federal agencies, ONDCP is supposed to produce the National Drug Control Strategy, an annual blueprint for drug policy. The office also administers grants to law enforcement and drug-free community programs.

For the budget year that began in October, the White House budget plan called for $18.4 million in spending for 65 employees at ONDCP, excluding people detailed from the military and other areas of government, and program spending of $350 million.

Last year, the Office of Management and Budget proposed cuts that would have effectively eliminated the ONDCP for the fiscal year that began in October. The White House abandoned the plan after objections from a bipartisan group of senators.

In October, Trump’s nominee to lead the office, Rep. Tom Marino (R-Pa.), withdrew from consideration after a joint investigation by The Post and 60 Minutes found he had sponsored legislation favoring opioid makers and curbing the ability of the Drug Enforcement Administration to investigate abuses.

Current and former ONDCP officials who have served under Democratic and Republican presidents said in interviews that the turmoil, including the elevation of Weyeneth, hinders efforts to rally the government at a time when the nation is going through the worst opioid crisis in its history.

“It sends a terrible message,” said Gil Kerlikowske, a former Seattle police chief who ran the office during the Obama administration and is a former commissioner of Customs and Border Protection. “It’s a message that we’re not taking this drug issue seriously.”

John Walters, the office’s director in the administration of George W. Bush, declined through a spokeswoman to comment.

The circumstances of Weyeneth’s appointment and rapid rise at ONDCP have not been reported previously.

Two résumés he submitted to the government were obtained through open records requests by Democratic-leaning organizations American Bridge 21st Century and American Oversight, which shared them in response to inquiries. The White House released a third résumé to The Post.

When he was in high school, Weyeneth was “Director of Production” for Nature’s Chemistry, a family firm in Skaneateles, N.Y., that specialized in processing chia seeds and other health products. One résumé said he served in that job from 2008 to 2013, and two others indicate he stopped working there in September 2011.

In the summer and fall of 2011, the firm was secretly processing illegal steroids from China as part of a conspiracy involving people from Virginia, California and elsewhere in the United States and one person in China, federal court records show. Weyeneth’s stepfather, Matthew Greacen, pleaded guilty to a felony conspiracy charge last year and received two years probation and a fine.

Weyeneth was not charged in the investigation, known as Operation Grasshopper. His mother, Kim Weyeneth, said in an interview that neither she nor her son knew about the steroid production and that he provided information to help the federal prosecutors.

“We didn’t know anything that was going on,” Kim Weyeneth said, adding that she and Taylor were excluded by Greacen from a part of the facility where the steroids were kept. “It’s a very humongous plant.”

Kim Weyeneth said that she and Taylor were becoming estranged from Greacen and that she is now seeking a divorce.

Greacen’s attorney, Robert Austin, said he relayed interview requests from The Post, but Greacen did not respond. In court last year, Greacen said he did not understand the gravity of the scheme at the time but had come to appreciate that it was wrong, according to a court transcript.

The actor Alec Baldwin, a cousin of Greacen’s, wrote a letter to a judge asking for leniency. Baldwin said in an interview that Greacen helped raise Taylor Weyeneth. He said he was surprised Weyeneth went into politics because, as far as he could tell from family gatherings, there wasn’t “a single molecule of political DNA” in the household.

In these excerpts from two of Taylor Weyeneth’s résumés, he refers to a master’s degree from Fordham University. A university spokesman said Weyeneth has not finished his coursework.

Weyeneth attended St. John’s University in Queens, according to his résumés. He joined a fraternity, worked part time in various jobs and volunteered at the Passionist Monastery in Queens. He enrolled in a master’s program at Fordham University in the Bronx.

All three résumés say “MA Political Science” at Fordham’s Center for Electoral Politics and Democracy. The first résumé he submitted to the government provides no dates for his graduate studies, and the other two say he did his course work from 2016 to June 2017.

Fordham University spokesman Bob Howe told The Post that “a student named Taylor Weyeneth is enrolled in the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences at Fordham, in a Master’s program for electoral and campaign management. He has not completed his degree yet.”

In the first résumé, Weyeneth said he volunteered for more than 275 hours at the monastery between 2012 and 2016. The second résumé he submitted to the government said it was more than 150 hours. The résumé provided by the White House does not mention volunteer work at the monastery.

Two monastery rectors, one current and one former, contacted by The Post did not dispute that Weyeneth volunteered there but said they had no memory of him and no paperwork related to his volunteer work.

The administration official who spoke on the condition of anonymity acknowledged that the first résumé contained errors. He said in later résumés Weyeneth included dates referring to a master’s degree as projections of when he expected to receive it.

After graduating from St. John’s in May 2016, Weyeneth worked in a number of jobs for Trump’s presidential campaign, including coordinating voter services, and arranging travel and temporary housing for senior campaign officials. He also worked directly with Rich Dearborn, then director of Trump’s transition team, on “special projects,” according to one of his résumés.

A spokesman said Dearborn was not available for comment.

On Jan. 23, 2017, Weyeneth joined the administration as an assistant at the Treasury Department. He was a “General Schedule 11” employee, according to data maintained by ProPublica. In the Washington area, a federal worker at that level last year generally earned between $66,510 and $86,459, according to government data.

He moved to ONDCP in March, his résumés show, and was named deputy chief of staff in July, according to his LinkedIn page.

Under the Clinton, Bush and Obama administrations, the office has attracted some prominent law enforcement, public health and military experts. Some recent deputy chiefs of staff had years of experience working in government or public policy before being appointed.

Among them was Regina LaBelle, a lawyer who served as deputy chief of staff, senior policy adviser and chief of staff at ONDCP during the Obama administration. She had previously served a multiyear stint as legal counsel to the Seattle mayor and taught public policy and legislative ethics at Seattle University.

LaBelle said the office must run well because nowhere else in government do law enforcement and public health officials come together to develop ways to confront drug-related problems. With the opioid crisis, the office should be vital, she said.

“It requires an all-hands-on-deck approach, and that kind of approach can only be coordinated through the Office of National Drug Control Policy,” she said.
HUMANS ARE STILL EVOLVING! Our communities blog is at

Offline knarf

  • Global Moderator
  • Master Chef
  • *****
  • Posts: 10763
    • View Profile
The Death Cult of Trumpism
« Reply #10527 on: January 15, 2018, 04:30:19 PM »
Through racism and nationalism, Trump leverages tribal resentment against an emerging manifest common destiny.

Why now? in trying to make sense of Trump’s effective use of racism to win the presidency, many have pointed to a long tradition of dog-whistling, reaching back decades. Trump is the nationalization of Nixon’s Southern strategy, the shadow cast forward by Reagan’s welfare queens and George H.W. Bush’s Willie Horton. Writing before the general election, Slate’s Jamelle Bouie linked Trump’s politicized racism to his predecessor’s upending of the racial hierarchy. After the vote, Ta-Nehisi Coates described Trump as the country’s first white president, in that whiteness is a negation of blackness, and Trump’s driving passion seems to be a desire to negate the legitimacy and legacy of Barack Obama, the country’s first African-American president.

Coates’s point is profound, especially when read against those moral philosophers who say the right to political sovereignty can be claimed only by those who possess emotional sovereignty. “Self-command, self-possession,” Woodrow Wilson wrote in 1889, are the pillars of America’s exceptionalism. Setting Trump aside for the moment, Wilson—the man who segregated the federal civil service, celebrated the Ku Klux Klan, and launched a racist counterinsurgency in Haiti—must be considered among the whitest of white presidents. He believed that individuals qualified for political self-rule through personal self-rule, demonstrating that they could use virtue and reason to regulate passion and impulse. “Government as ours is a form of conduct,” he said, “and its only stable foundation is character.” Along with his predecessors and contemporaries, Wilson associated the virtue of self-regulation with white skin, contrasting property-possessing, self-commanding sovereigns with their opposites: unself-governable people of color. They imagined—in fantasies that fishtailed wildly between nostalgia and wrath—that African Americans, Native Americans, Mexican Americans, and Mexicans were immature, childlike in their emotions and unable to distinguish between true liberty and licentiousness, between the pursuit of happiness and lust.

In a way, then, according to America’s color-coded guide to political virtue and vice, Barack Obama might be considered the country’s only white president, in the sense that he served almost as a Platonic ideal of ancient moral philosophy. In office, he was preternaturally self-governed and self-regulated—Vulcan-like, as some said, and in control of his emotions, especially his anger. This self-regulation is a burden of race, which must have weighed heavily on Obama, being not just the first African-American president in US history but also one who took the office during a moment of extraordinary economic and military crisis.

Trump, by contrast, is all id and pure appetite, unspooling raw, insatiable, childish hunger every night on Twitter. He’s the most unregulated, unself-governed president this country has ever had, an example of what happens to the psyche of rich white people after four decades of economic deregulation. But white folks—at least powerful ones—get to decide the exception to the rule. (“Some of the virtues of a freeman would be the vices of slaves,” as one 1837 defense of slavery explained.) And that’s what makes Trump the whitest of white presidents: He can openly tweet-mock moral conventions that hold that only those who demonstrate self-sovereignty are worthy of political sovereignty and still be the sovereign.

But to get back to Trump’s psychic deregulation and Obama’s overregulation: Both are responses to what came before. Why now? Because the frontier is closed, the safety valve shut. Whatever metaphor one wants to use, the ongoing effects of the ruinous 2003 war in Iraq and the 2007–08 financial meltdown are just two indicators that the promise of endless growth can no longer help organize people’s aspirations, satisfy their demands, dilute the passions, contain the factions, or repress the extremes at the margins. We are entering the second “lost decade” of what Larry Summers calls “secular stagnation,” and soon we’ll be in the third decade of a war that Senator Lindsey Graham, among others, says will never end. Beyond these compounded catastrophes, there is a realization that the world is fragile and that we are trapped in an economic system that is well past sustainable or justifiable. As vast stretches of the West burn, as millions of trees die from global-warming-induced blight, as Houston and Puerto Rico flood, the oceans acidify, and bats and flying insects disappear in uncountable numbers, any given sentence from Cormac McCarthy’s The Road could be plucked and used as a newspaper headline. (“A Vast Landscape Charred, and a Sky Full of Soot” ran the headline for a New York Times report on California’s wildfires.)

In a nation like the United States, founded on a mythical belief in a kind of species immunity—less an American exceptionalism than exemptionism, an insistence that the nation was exempt from nature, society, history, even death—the realization that it can’t go on forever is traumatic. “You forget what you want to remember,” McCarthy wrote in The Road, to capture the torment of living in the postapocalypse, “and you remember what you want to forget.” It’s a good description of how those steeped in a definition of freedom as freedom from restraint must have felt living in Obama’s America, when they rejected with a racist fury even conservative, corporate-friendly policy solutions to the multiple crises of health care, climate change, inequality, and immigration.

This ideal of freedom as infinity was only made possible through the domination of African Americans, Mexican Americans, Mexicans, Native Americans, and Chinese, as slave and cheap labor transformed stolen land into capital, cutting the tethers and launching the US economy into the stratosphere. And now, as we are all falling back to a wasted earth, the very existence of people of color functions as an unwanted memento mori, a reminder of limits, evidence that history imposes burdens and life contracts social obligations. That many Latino migrants come from countries where democracy means social democracy—and that, once here, they revitalize cities and join unions—only inflames the right-wing backlash. Social rights, within the libertarian framework of American freedom, symbolize much more than mere economic restraint. They invoke the ultimate restraint: death. An implied conflation of social rights, race, and mortality was what made, for some, the “death panel” line of attack on Obamacare effective.

Maybe, then, Obama’s personal overregulation served as an intolerable aide-mémoire for the social destruction wreaked by years of financial and trade deregulation presided over by his white predecessors. The collective response (by a minority of voters) was to transmute the fear of death into a drive unto death, electing a president whose psyche is decomposing before our eyes to finish the job of deregulation. The tax bill is Trump’s Enabling Act—or, better, Disabling Act—ensuring that whoever comes next can’t reverse course.

Trumpism is a death cult. It counts among its priests a sheriff who tortured the poorest among us. Its saints are the victims of colored crime, and its sinners are African Americans (living reminders that American freedom was made possible only by American slavery), Latino migrants (themselves the victims of decades of trade deregulation, who come bearing a political tradition that says health care, education, and human dignity are human rights), and refugees from regions devastated by US militarism. But the cult has proved so confounding—which partly explains why those who dismiss it as immoral buffoonery find it hard to come up with an effective alternative—because what came before was also a death cult.

Trump’s national chauvinism is often presented as the opposite of postwar internationalism, which it is. But US-led internationalism during its golden age was profoundly skewed. It held up an ideal of formal universal equality among nations even as, according to the Sierra Club’s calculations, the United States, “with less than 5 percent of world population,” consumed “one-third of the world’s paper, a quarter of the world’s oil, 23 percent of the coal, 27 percent of the aluminum, and 19 percent of the copper.” Our “per capita use of energy, metals, minerals, forest products, fish, grains, meat, and even fresh water,” which all increased by a factor of 17 between 1900 and 1989, “dwarfs that of people living in the developing world.” It took an enormous amount of violence—in Southeast Asia, Africa, the Middle East, and Latin America—to maintain those numbers, and the pretense of calling this arrangement “universalism” could only be maintained so long as the promise of endless economic growth remained credible.

Trump won by running against the entire legacy of the postwar order: endless war, austerity, “free trade,” unfettered corporate power, and inequality. A year into his tenure, the war has expanded, the Pentagon’s budget has increased, and deregulation has accelerated. Tax cuts will continue the class war against the poor, and judicial and executive-agency appointments will increase monopoly rule.

Unable to offer an alternative other than driving the existing agenda forward at breakneck speed, Trumpism’s only chance at political survival is to handicap Earth’s odds of survival. Trump leverages tribal resentment against an emerging manifest common destiny, a true universalism that recognizes that we all share the same vulnerable planet. He stokes an enraged refusal of limits, even as those limits are recognized. “We’re going to see the end of the world in our generation,” a coal-country voter said in a recent Politico profile, explaining what he knows is his dead-end support for Trump.
HUMANS ARE STILL EVOLVING! Our communities blog is at

Offline knarf

  • Global Moderator
  • Master Chef
  • *****
  • Posts: 10763
    • View Profile
Here Are All the Ways Climate Change Presents a Threat to National Security
« Reply #10528 on: January 15, 2018, 04:38:44 PM »
Donald Trump's decision to omit climate change from his National Defense Authorization Act caused quite a stir.

Over 100 bipartisan members of the House of Representatives urged President Donald Trump to reconsider the omission of climate change as a national security threat in his 2018 National Defense Authorization Act. In the letter, sent on Thursday, the members called Trump's omission "a significant step backwards" in recognizing the "geopolitical threat" of climate change.

The Trump administration's stance marks a significant divergence from the Obama White House, which created a Climate Action Plan in an effort to curb rising emissions levels in 2013. Evidence continues to mount that climate change not only exists, but is having a detrimental effect on public health, the environment, and world economies.

In their letter, the House members wrote that fluctuating and erratic temperatures have affected communities worldwide, along with eroding beaches and pieces of land chipped away by rising sea levels. "Landscape military installations and our communities are increasingly at risk of devastation," they wrote. "Climate change is indeed a direct threat to America's national security and to the stability of the world at large."

With the Trump administration ushering in an era of climate skepticism (and in some cases climate denial), the White House has significantly loosened policies and legislation addressing the environmental impact of climate change, leaving citizens and communities even more vulnerable to the inevitable consequences of pollution.

Here are just a few ramifications and growing potential climate-change threats already on their way:

    Potential health risks are estimated to rise significantly due to higher temperatures and complications of natural disasters. An estimated additional 250,000 people will die every year between 2030 and 2050 as a result of these health risks, according to the World Health Organization.
    Climate change-induced malnutrition could affect nearly half a million adults globally by 2050 due to food and nutrition scarcity.
    The economies of the states in the South, Midwest, and mid-Atlantic are expected to suffer from predicted gross domestic product losses of up to 28 percent due to greenhouse-gas emissions effects on field production.
    Women and girls in developing regions may be impacted more from global warming than men and boys, due to social and economic inequalities.
    A potential decline in profit for marine fisheries globally, which have been estimated to support the livelihoods of 10 to 12 percent of the world's population.
    Islands, inhabited by hundreds of residents, such as the Tangier Islands in the Chesapeake Bay, could be entirely consumed by rising sea levels by 2050, or sooner.
    Even minor climate change-caused flooding leads to road closures, plumbing failure, and other significant daily disruptions.
    Rising climate disruption could bring about new global poverty, possibly resulting in an "additional 100 million people living in extreme poverty by 2030."
    Species' failure to adapt to human-caused environmental changes will result in extinction and many species' disappearance. Other species, such as birds in North America and sea animals, will change habitats over the next several decades.
    Entirely new climates and weather patterns introduced to ecosystems will cause a shuffling of biodiversity and animal communities.

The effects of climate change are not myths. In fact, the consequences of climate change are already in motion.
HUMANS ARE STILL EVOLVING! Our communities blog is at

Offline knarf

  • Global Moderator
  • Master Chef
  • *****
  • Posts: 10763
    • View Profile
After 30 years in U.S., metro Detroit immigrant deported to Mexico
« Reply #10529 on: January 16, 2018, 03:28:21 AM »
His arms wrapped around his wife and two teenage children, Jorge Garcia's eyes welled up Monday morning as he looked into their eyes one last time near the entrance to the airport security gate at Detroit Metro Airport.

Jorge Garcia, 39, of Lincoln Park hugs his wife, Cindy Garcia, and their two children at Detroit Metro Airport on Jan. 15, 2018, moments before boarding a flight to Mexico.

His wife, Cindy Garcia, cried out while his daughter, Soleil, 15, sobbed into Garcia's shoulder as they hugged. Two U.S. immigration agents kept a close watch nearby.

After 30 years of living in the U.S, Garcia, a 39-year-old Lincoln Park landscaper, was deported on the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. holiday from metro Detroit to Mexico, a move supporters say was another example of immigrants being unfairly targeted under the Trump administration.

Jorge Garcia was brought to the U.S. by an undocumented family member when he was 10 years old. Today he has a wife and two children,, all of whom are U.S. citizens.

Garcia had been facing an order of removal from immigration courts since 2009, but under the previous administration, he had been given stays of removal.  But because of the Trump administration's immigration crackdown,  Garcia was ordered in November to return to Mexico. His supporters say he has no criminal record — not even a traffic ticket — and pays taxes every year. 

Nevertheless, Garcia had to be removed, said Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). On Monday morning, accompanied by ICE agents at Detroit Metro Airport, Garcia went through security as supporters around him held up signs that read, "Stop Separating Families."

"We love you, Jorge," said Mayra Valle of Detroit as Garcia hugged his wife and children. "They're a good family, they're hardworking. ... This is so sad. This is outrageous. We never expected this would happen."

Garcia's case is the latest example of immigrants who previously would have been allowed to remain in the U.S., but not now as the U.S. seeks to remove more immigrants. Garcia is too old to qualify for DACA, which allows the children of undocumented immigrants to legally work and study in the U.S.

Garcia said he had asked ICE if they could wait until new DACA legislation is passed, which might expand the age range for immigrants to qualify. But, he said, they refused and said he had to leave by Jan. 15.

"How do you do this on Martin Luther King Jr. Day?" said Erik Shelley, a leader with Michigan United, which advocates for immigrant rights and other issues. "It's another example of the tone-deafness of this administration. ... If Jorge isn't safe, no one is safe."

Shelley said he's concerned that minority immigrants are increasingly being targeted, citing remarks Trump has made about African and Hispanic immigrants.

Shelley was joined at the airport by other immigrant advocates and an official with the UAW, which has been supportive of Garcia.

"I feel kind of sad," Garcia told the Free Press on Sunday night, his hands interlocked, pressed against his forehead in worry. "I got to leave my family behind, knowing that they're probably going to have a hard time adjusting. Me not being there for them for who knows how long. It's just hard."

Especially painful will be being separated from his children, Soleil and Jorge Garcia Jr., 12. The Garcias said their 12-year-old son has been taking the news hard, not expressing himself, which is concerning his parents.

 "I'm going to be sad because I'm not going to be able to be with them," Garcia said at the table of a friend's home in southwest Detroit during a farewell party for him. "... It's going to be kind of hard for me to adjust, too. Not being there with them, helping the kids with school stuff. It's going to be kind of hard. But it's something, I guess I got to find a way to adjust."

Garcia may be barred from entering the U.S. for at least 10 years, said Cindy Garcia. Diego Bonesatti, legal services director for Michigan United, and others have been fighting for Garcia for years and now will try to get him back.

Garcia's wife is a U.S. citizen, but being married to a U.S. citizen does not automatically qualify immigrants for legal residency.

Immigrant advocates say deporting people like Garcia is ripping up families and communities in Detroit and other areas such as Lincoln Park, which are struggling with population losses. Immigrants like Garcia are an asset that stabilize and grow metro Detroit, they said.

"It's like plucking a main artery, like, their lifeline, taking it from them and then just putting it somewhere else," said Norma Garza Jones, 44, of Detroit, a family friend. "Those that are left behind are left to just try and compensate for that artery that main blood vessel, you know, that's been pulled from them."

"It's heartbreaking," Bonesatti said. "If you're going to pick someone who's ideal," he would be it.

"He came at age 10 ... he's never been in trouble, period. He's never even gotten a traffic ticket."

Moreover, Mexico is a foreign place to Garcia. 

"This is his home," Bonesatti said. "This is the place he knows."

"It's just a shame on this national (MLK) holiday when we're supposed to be celebrating diversity, the end of discrimination, the fight for civil rights, our nation is still targeting vulnerable families," said Adonis Flores, an immigrant rights leader at Michigan United.

Cindy Garcia, a retired Dearborn truck plant worker, worries about supporting her family without her husband.

She said that when her husband reported to ICE in November as part of a regular check-in, he was informed that he had to leave the U.S. and would be detained immediately.

Garcia said ICE agents told them: "We're going to detain him and he's not going home."

His deportation date was set for the day after Thanksgiving.

But after a request by U.S. Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-Dearborn), Garcia said, ICE later agreed to extend his deportation date until Jan. 15, allowing him to spend the holidays one last time with his family.

The family was too depressed to have a Christmas tree. It didn't seem to fit in with their anxious mood, Garcia said.

"It's a nightmare, coming to life," she said. " ... You have no choice but to face it head-on, and accept what is being thrown at you. Because there is nothing else that you can do."

HUMANS ARE STILL EVOLVING! Our communities blog is at