AuthorTopic: Knarf's Knewz Channel  (Read 1505293 times)

Offline knarf

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A millionaire stock trader was sentenced to nine years in prison Monday in the death of a worker he'd hired to dig tunnels beneath his house in suburban Washington, DC, as protection from potential North Korean missile strikes.
Daniel Beckwitt, 28, had been found guilty in April of second-degree murder and involuntary manslaughter in the death of Askia Khafra, 21, who was found "naked" and "charred" in the burnt-out basement of the Bethesda, Maryland, residence.

During the two-week trial, prosecutors described how Beckwitt hired Khafra to build the complex of bunker-like tunnels in case of an attack by North Korea, said Ramón V. Korionoff, a spokesman for the Montgomery County State's Attorney's Office.
Beckwitt would pick up Khafra from his home in Silver Spring, Maryland, outside of Washington, and require Khafra to wear darkened, blackout glasses that prevented Khafra from seeing where he was being driven to, according to a statement of charges from the Montgomery County District Court.

The document also says that once Beckwitt picked up Khafra, he told him they'd be going to an "undisclosed location in Virginia," but Beckwitt would instead drive to his house in Bethesda.
Beckwitt would lead Khafra to his basement, where Khafra would work on digging the tunnels for days at a time, the document read.
The tunnels branched out some 200 feet and two-stories beneath the basement of the house, the document read.

Then, in September 2017, a fire broke out at Beckwitt's home and Khafra died, authorities said.
Beckwitt later admitted to being "specifically aware of the increased likelihood of a fire breaking out within hours before the call for a house fire," the court document says.
A detective described "hoarder" conditions at Beckwitt's house.
"Immense piles of garbage and discarded items (were) strewn throughout the entire home" and "narrow maze-like pathways... significantly prevented normal ease of movement within the home," the document read. It said the clutter prevented "normal ease" of exiting the home.
Police said they found a "haphazard daisy-chain of extension cords and plug extenders" leading into the tunnel complex "that created a substantial risk of fire," according to court documents.

Robert Bonsib, an attorney for Beckwitt, called the sentence "fair."
"We continue to maintain that the guilty verdicts are not supported by the evidence in this matter as this was a purely accidental fire -- not a criminal act," Bonsib said in an email to CNN. "Mr. Beckwitt has appealed and is hopeful that the appellate court will grant him a new trial in this matter."

https://www.cnn.com/2019/06/17/us/maryland-man-fire-death-tunnels/index.html
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In this photo taken on Thursday, June 13, 2019 sled dogs make their way in northwest Greenland with their paws in melted ice water.

Steffen Olsen, a scientist with the Danish Meteorological Institute, was on a routine mission in northwest Greenland to retrieve oceanographic and weather monitoring tools placed by his colleagues on sea ice when he ran into a problem.
He couldn't see them -- the usually flat white sea ice was covered in water, the result of flooding from Greenland's ice sheet, the second largest on the planet.
The incredible photo he took, of sled dogs ankle deep in a wide expanse of light blue water, quickly went viral, destined to join pictures of starving polar bears, shrunken glaciers, stranded walruses and lakes turned bone dry in the pantheon of evidence of our ongoing climate catastrophe.
As Olsen said on Twitter, communities in Greenland -- mainly indigenous -- "rely on the sea ice for transport, hunting and fishing." They will be among the first affected by the melting of the ice sheet, but the repercussions will not remain limited to Greenland or even North America.

Greenland's "melt season" runs from June to August, with the bulk of melting occurring in July, the hottest month. But this year has already seen massive amounts of ice lost, with some 40% of Greenland experiencing melting on June 13 -- the day Olsen took his photo -- for a total melt of more than 2 billion tons of ice, according to recent estimations.
Scientists have been predicting a record year for melting on the Greenland ice sheet for months, and the amount of ice already being lost this early in the summer suggests they're right.
The effect is also cumulative -- the more ice lost early in the summer causes greater melting as the weeks go on. This is because white snow and ice reflect the sun's rays back into space, reducing the amount of heat absorbed and keeping the ice cold. The less ice there is, the less heat is reflected, and the more melting occurs.

Thomas Mote, a research scientist at the University of Georgia who studies Greenland's climate, told CNN last week that while previous melt periods occurred in 2007, 2010 and 2012, "we didn't see anything like this prior to the late 1990s."
This could have a major effect on sea level rise, one of the most dangerous effects of climate change that could drive millions of people living in coastal communities from their homes.
"Greenland has been an increasing contributor to global sea level rise over the past two decades," Mote said, "and surface melting and runoff is a large portion of that."
Since 1972, ice loss from Greenland alone has added 13.7 millimeters (about half an inch) to the global sea level, a recent study estimates. The island's ice sheet is the leading source of water added to the ocean every year.

Just as an early melt in Greenland can cause more melting later in the year, the loss of ice can have an amplifying effect on global temperatures because less heat is reflected off the planet. That heat causes sea temperatures to rise, which then causes more ice to melt, causing a cycle that is only broken when winter arrives and the Arctic begins to freeze again.
But with winters becoming warmer and warmer as the global climate catastrophe continues, the risk is that one day the cycle doesn't stop or even slow, and instead of huskies in Greenland ankle deep in water, it'll be people in Manhattan. And that will only be the start of their problems.

https://www.cnn.com/2019/06/17/health/greenland-ice-sheet-intl-hnk/index.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+rss%2Fcnn_latest+%28RSS%3A+CNN+-+Most+Recent%29
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Boeing is open to changing the name of the 737 Max
« Reply #13082 on: June 18, 2019, 06:16:06 AM »
Boeing is open to renaming its troubled 737 Max, its most important and currently its most infamous aircraft.
Boeing Chief Financial Officer Greg Smith revealed the possibility of a name change while speaking to Bloomberg on the sidelines of the Paris Air Show.
"I'd say we're being open-minded to all the input we get," he said, according to the Bloomberg report. "We're committed to doing what we need to do to restore it. If that means changing the brand to restore it, then we'll address that. If it doesn't, we'll address whatever is a high priority."
Boeing cautioned that it has no plans at this time to change the name, and that it is focused on the safe return of the aircraft to service. The company still doesn't have a timeframe for when airline regulators around the world will allow the plane to fly again. The 737 Max has been grounded since March after two fatal crashes in Indonesia and Ethiopia.

The 737 Max is Boeing's bestselling aircraft with a backlog of nearly 5,000 of the jets on order. But it has yet to receive a new order for the plane since the grounding.
The idea of rebranding the 737 Max was raised by President Donald Trump in a tweet back in April, about a month after the plane was grounded.
"What do I know about branding, maybe nothing (but I did become President!), but if I were Boeing, I would FIX the Boeing 737 MAX, add some additional great features, & REBRAND the plane with a new name. No product has suffered like this one. But again, what the hell do I know?" the president tweeted.

Rebranding a plane due to bad publicity surrounding a crash would be unprecedented, according to aviation experts. Other aircraft that had high profile crashes such as the DC-10 or 727 kept their names. That's because airlines aren't going to view the plane any differently with a different name. And the passengers who buy the tickets often are not aware of what type of plane they will be flying.
"Most people don't know if they're flying an Airbus or a Boeing," said Shem Malmquist, an accident investigator and visiting professor at the Florida Institute of Technology. "They're looking at the price on the ticket."
Airlines have changed their names, though. Malmquist said one name change inspired by a crash was the airline ValuJet, which rebranded as as AirTran in 1997 following the high-profile crash of one of its jets the previous year.

Still, the 737 Max has received more publicity than have earlier groundings of aircraft due to safety issues. That's partly because of the rise of social media.
Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg has conceded it will take time to win back the confidence of airline passengers in the 737 Max. But he has also said he believed passengers would again have confidence in the plane and that it would be among the safest ever once it is cleared to fly again.

When customers are buying plane tickets, airlines do list the type of plane they intend to use on a flight, as it's necessary to allow passengers to choose the seat they want. After the March 10 Ethiopian Airlines crash, and before the 737 Max was grounded in the United States, travel site Kayak added a feature that allowed passengers to filter out aircraft they didn't want to fly on. But even passengers who don't want to fly on a Boeing 737 Max once it's returned to service might have difficulty avoiding it. That's because an airline has the right to change the equipment it planned to use on a flight at the last moment.

And history suggests that passengers who are concerned about a plane's safety quickly get over those concerns. The Boeing 727 had four fatal crashes at US airports soon after it was introduced in the mid-1960s, and many travel agents at the time suggested that passengers book flights on other aircraft. But the problem was soon corrected with additional pilot training and passengers returned to flights on the 727. It remained in service using that name for years.

https://www.cnn.com/2019/06/17/business/boeing-737-name-change/index.html
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With the stroke of the governor's pen on Monday
« Reply #13083 on: June 18, 2019, 06:21:32 AM »
With the stroke of the governor's pen on Monday, Maine became the third state in the nation to ban single-use plastic bags.

The measure, signed by Gov. Janet Mills, takes effect on April 22, 2020. Fittingly, that is Earth Day.

The new law  (LD 1532) will:

    Prohibit the distribution of single-use plastic shopping bags at the point of sale at retail establishments in Maine; and
    Place a minimum five-cent fee on recycled paper bags available at the point of sale at most retail locations, to provide an incentive for shoppers to use reusable bags.

The new law has exceptions for plastic bags used for certain uses including dry cleaning or loose produce.

Maine joins New York and California as states to implement a statewide ban. Twenty-five Maine cities and towns already have banned or limited the use of plastic bags.

The measure is designed to reduce pollution while encouraging the use of reusable shopping bags.

Last month, Mills signed into law a ban on the use of styrofoam food containers.

https://z1073.com/maine-officially-bans-single-use-plastic-bags/
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Belgium monks forced to sell prized beer online to beat resellers
« Reply #13084 on: June 18, 2019, 06:29:44 AM »

Belgian Trappist monk Manu Van Hecke is to sell his abbey's beer online

Belgian monks who brew one of the world's most coveted beers are launching a website to prevent unauthorised resellers profiting from their product.

St Sixtus Abbey in Westvleteren, Flanders, is one of the world's 14 official Trappist beer producers.

Buyers can purchase a crate of its Westvleteren beer for around €45 (£40), around €1.80 per bottle.

As a rule, the monks ask customers not to sell their product to third parties.

The abbey's sales have traditionally been limited to private customers who order by phone before collecting a maximum of two crates in person.

But profiteers have been ignoring their "ethical values" for selling the brew, forcing them to go online to dampen demand on the black market.

The monks were dismayed to find bottles of their beer being resold at an inflated price in a Dutch supermarket last year.

The supermarket had stockpiled 7,200 bottles of the abbey's highly sought-after beer, selling them at around €9 a bottle.

"It really opened our eyes. It was a sort of wake-up call that the problem was so serious, that a company was able to buy such volumes. It really disturbed us," said one of the monks, Brother Godfried.

Prices in Brussels and elsewhere can be much higher, reflecting the high demand for a beer experts have described as the world's best.

In Dubai, a single bottle was on sale for $300 (£238), the monks told Reuters news agency.

Trappist monks do not profit from the sales of their beer. Rather, they only produce as much as they need to cover their annual costs.

Now the abbey is turning to an online reservation system, designed to better enforce the limit of two crates per 60 days.


A glass of Belgian Trappist beer Westvleteren is seen at St Sixtus Abbey in Westvleteren, Belgium

Under the new system - which is set to go live on Tuesday - buyers will have to register, giving personal details such as their address and the number plate of their car.

Priority will be given to those who have waited longest since their last purchase.

Brother Manu van Hecke, abbot of St Sixtus Abbey, hopes the new sales system will meet "the needs of many Westvleteren enthusiasts".

"We have thought long and hard about a good and customer-friendly alternative. Beer sales at the abbey will remain exclusively aimed at private customers," he added.

Last year, monks in Leicestershire became the first in the UK to brew an officially recognised Trappist beer.

Mount Saint Bernard Abbey, near Coalville, was given permission to brew the beer, becoming the 14th member of the International Trappist Association (ITA).

According to the ITA, the beer must be brewed within the abbey by the monks or under their supervision and must not be sold on for profit.

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-48668901
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Human Civilization Isn't Prepared to Survive Climate Change
« Reply #13085 on: June 18, 2019, 06:42:58 AM »
Researcher David Spratt warns in a new report that "no political, social, or military system can cope" with the worst outcomes of climate change.

"What is the worst thing that could happen? And are we prepared for this?" Those are the fundamental questions about climate change that David Spratt, research director of the Breakthrough National Centre for Climate Restoration in Australia, is trying to answer.

Spratt and Ian Dunlop, a former fossil fuel executive aimed to piece together the social implications of climate change—not just the ecological ones. The very broad strokes aren't too different from last year's report from the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which concluded that we have just over a decade to prevent the absolute worst climate outcomes. That report focused on the now-inevitable two degrees of warming, the temperature at which 411 million people living in cities will face water scarcity, crops begin failing, and all coral dies off. But Spratt and Dunlop wanted to know what the absolute worst could be.

"The IPCC report tends to talk about the middle outcomes, like, there's a 50 percent chance of this," says Spratt "So we thought it was important to ask, 'What are the high-end impacts?' Because in risk management, the cost of the damage associated with high-end impacts are so great that you have to avoid them."

And the costs are high indeed. The research Spratt and Dunlop have compiled makes the case that in its most extreme, climate change is "a path to the end of human civilization and modern society as we know it." Understanding just how high the stakes really are, Spratt argues, is absolutely necessary if we're going to take the issue seriously and try to avoid the worst possible outcomes.

GQ: Can you explain briefly what makes this report unique?

David Spratt: Let's take, for example, the agreement made in Paris in 2015, where various countries made commitments to reduce their emissions. In fact, they're tracking a little bit worse than their commitments at the moment, but the commitments that have already been made will be consistent with the world warming by three degrees. And with long term impact, the Paris path may in fact be a path of four degrees or more warming. So, our policy paper, just drawing on the peer reviewed scientific literature, was to draw a snapshot of what the world would look like at three degrees warming and a half meter sea level rise, and then drew some conclusions from it. And at three degrees warming, you see loss of lands to desertification, you see a declining crop yields, and, because of the heat, you get a decline in the nutrition content of food, and chronic water shortages. Now, those physical conditions then have social consequences.

And what were some of those consequences?

We actually relied on Age of Consequences, which is a report published in the United States in 2007. And it was put together by a group of Washington national security analyst insiders, together with a former director of the CIA. So this was a very Washington view. And back in 2007, they asked what would happen if the world warmed by three degrees and we simply reprinted this scenario. It said that there would be what they called massive, nonlinear societal events, that is social breakdown. They said nations around the world will be overwhelmed by the scale of the challenge, and the internal cohesion of nations will be under great stress, including the United States, in their words, as a result of dramatic rise in migration, and changes in agricultural patterns and water availability. So there is American national security, CIA insiders saying the social cohesion in the United States will break down. The social consequences range from increased religious fervor to outright chaos, and climate change will cause a permanent shift in the relationship of humans to nature. The consequence is the breakdown of states and the breakdown of relationships between states on a global scale.

The idea being that because of mass migration and food scarcity, there will be more wars?

I mean, look, for example, in Syria we have had a war which has gone on for 11 years and displaced 11 million people, internally and externally. Some of the causes of that war are climate related: A huge drought and desertification event in Syria, which displaced more than a million people, and the advent of the Arab Spring, which was triggered, more than anything else, by a rapid increase in grain prices as a consequence of climate events in Russia and China at the same time. And that war has had the devastating consequences.

But no one studying climate change or national security necessarily saw the Syrian civil war coming as a result of those climate events.

And that, that's the issue. What we're talking about is, can we think about the consequences of a three degrees warmer world now, and not wait until we’re saying, “Oh, my God, we've got a world that is so chaotic and broken down, that no political, social or military system can cope with it." If we get to to our scenario, it is too late.

What you’re describing sounds unequivocally apocalyptic, very much like Mad Max.

Let me say this, the UN Secretary General António Guterres gave an interview on the seventh of June. And he said, basically, we're running out of time and in policy there's always a huge trend to keep the status quo, which in this case is essentially to go to three degrees of warming more. And then he said, "The problem is that the status quo is a suicide." And quite right, the status quo is a suicide. That's the UN Secretary General.

So what is the disconnect? The situation is clearly dire, but there's no action being taken. Even the countries that have stayed on board with the Paris agreement aren't meeting their goals.

I think you have to go back to the political and business elite, who have an opportunity to lead on these issues, because those are the voices that are predominantly reflected in the media. That's the way it works. And they have chosen to turn a blind eye to this. They have chosen not to exercise leadership on this.

Is there anything you think people can do even if they aren't high-ranking national security officials?

This is a social and political problem. I take heart from people like Greta Thunberg and the student strikers who are really changing the story in public. I mean, what Greta has said has just been a bolt of lightning to policy makers. Whether they'll do more than pat her on the back, I don't know. I think she is speaking a brutal truth, which is necessary. And if you look at groups like Extinction Rebellion in the United Kingdom, they really helped to change the story. I think the community is organizing and doing its best, but its leaders are failing them, almost absolutely.

https://www.gq.com/story/climate-change-david-spratt
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Re: Human Civilization Isn't Prepared to Survive Climate Change
« Reply #13086 on: June 18, 2019, 07:11:34 PM »
Researcher David Spratt warns in a new report that "no political, social, or military system can cope" with the worst outcomes of climate change.

"What is the worst thing that could happen? And are we prepared for this?" Those are the fundamental questions about climate change that David Spratt, research director of the Breakthrough National Centre for Climate Restoration in Australia, is trying to answer.

//
This is a social and political problem. I take heart from people like Greta Thunberg and the student strikers who are really changing the story in public. I mean, what Greta has said has just been a bolt of lightning to policy makers. Whether they'll do more than pat her on the back, I don't know. I think she is speaking a brutal truth, which is necessary. And if you look at groups like Extinction Rebellion in the United Kingdom, they really helped to change the story. I think the community is organizing and doing its best, but its leaders are failing them, almost absolutely.

https://www.gq.com/story/climate-change-david-spratt
. Probably the most significant article posted here today, and at that it simply describes what diners have been discussing for seven years.

Human civilization is run by Hydrocarbon Hellspawn (in Agelbert's memorable phrase) we run on diesel and denial. Mostly denial.

Great find, knarf.
"It is difficult to write a paradiso when all the superficial indications are that you ought to write an apocalypse." -Ezra Pound

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Re: Human Civilization Isn't Prepared to Survive Climate Change
« Reply #13087 on: June 18, 2019, 10:01:06 PM »
Researcher David Spratt warns in a new report that "no political, social, or military system can cope" with the worst outcomes of climate change.

"What is the worst thing that could happen? And are we prepared for this?" Those are the fundamental questions about climate change that David Spratt, research director of the Breakthrough National Centre for Climate Restoration in Australia, is trying to answer.

//
This is a social and political problem. I take heart from people like Greta Thunberg and the student strikers who are really changing the story in public. I mean, what Greta has said has just been a bolt of lightning to policy makers. Whether they'll do more than pat her on the back, I don't know. I think she is speaking a brutal truth, which is necessary. And if you look at groups like Extinction Rebellion in the United Kingdom, they really helped to change the story. I think the community is organizing and doing its best, but its leaders are failing them, almost absolutely.

https://www.gq.com/story/climate-change-david-spratt
. Probably the most significant article posted here today, and at that it simply describes what diners have been discussing for seven years.

Human civilization is run by Hydrocarbon Hellspawn (in Agelbert's memorable phrase) we run on diesel and denial. Mostly denial.

Great find, knarf.
Truth was suppressed and plutocracy flourished until even the clearest of reason could not change course.  The choice was a quest for excellence or rule by myopic bubble bound plutocrats.  Life or death and death was chosen.  Now come consequences.
Under ideal conditions of temperature and pressure the organism will grow without limit.

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Democratic hopefuls roll out anti-poverty plans at Poor People’s Campaign
« Reply #13088 on: June 19, 2019, 04:38:17 AM »

Rev. Dr. William J. Barbar II of the Poor People's Campaign speaks with Sen. Elizabeth Warren, one of the nine presidential candidates attending their conference.

WASHINGTON—Hoping to gain activists and energize a large voting bloc, nine 2020 Democratic presidential hopefuls – including one nobody’s ever heard of – tackled the problems of the poor and voter suppression of black and brown people, among other topics, at a candidate forum here June 17.

The eight-hour-long session, minus a dinner break, marked the opening of the New Poor People’s Campaign’s headline three-day D.C. conclave, which saw more than 1,000 participants brainstorming on how to bring the problems of the poor and near-poor to the top of the U.S. political agenda, and keep them there.

And there are more poor and near-poor than people realize, campaign co-chairs Revs. William Barber and Liz Theoharis repeatedly told the nine: Former Vice President Joe Biden, Silicon Valley businessman Andrew Yang, New Age author and activist Marianne Williamson of California, Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colo., Rep. Eric Swalwell, D-Calif., Miramar, Fla. Mayor Wayne Messam – the unknown – and Sens. Bernie Sanders, Ind-Vt., Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., and Kamala Harris, D-Calif., in that order.

Barber, Theoharis, and questioners pointed out that calculations show 140 million people, some 43% of the U.S., live below, at, or slightly above the U.S. poverty line. And contrary to both media imagery and right-wing propaganda, a plurality (66 million) are white.

“We invited Republicans, Democrats, and even the president because we have extreme poverty” to discuss, Barber said. But 14 of 23 Democratic hopefuls were no-shows. So was GOP President Donald Trump.

Speakers also pointed out that half the country does not have enough savings to cover a $400 emergency. Harris, the closer, echoed that point when she linked poverty and infrastructure.

Repeating a comparison she’s used before, Harris asked: “Do you know how much it costs to get all four tires for your car?” Tires are busted, ripped, and torn “from all the potholes” because the U.S. is filled with decaying and dangerous roads. Repairing them can provide well-paying infrastructure jobs for the poor and near-poor, she said. And it would prevent those $400 tire emergencies too, she added.

Harris’s comment echoed a theme of the questions. The U.S. has the wealth to address the problems of the poor and the near-poor, speakers said. It just “doesn’t have the moral capacity to turn to your neighbor and say ‘It’s time to change,’” Barber said.

Thus the session and the questioners challenged the hopefuls on their spending priorities, with Theoharis constantly hammering home the theme that 53 cents of every discretionary federal spending dollar goes to the military – and that it’s time to cut that. The NPPC’s new Moral Budget makes that same point, in detail.  The candidates, except Sanders and Warren, sidestepped that demand. “We need to tell the Pentagon ‘Stop demanding more, more, more,” she added

Barber also said the candidates must campaign in the South, which has the largest share of U.S. poor, and that, unlike in 2016, they devote one of the upcoming party-sponsored debates to poverty and racism. Reid added immigration, telling Swalwell that Democrats “are tiptoeing around” Trump-stoked “fears of a black and brown wave.”

Sanders responded by previewing a campaign speech he’ll give on poverty and racism next week in Mississippi. And Harris said she’d, by executive order, abolish Trump’s detention camps for migrants and asylum seekers.

“We have babies sitting in cages because of the policies of this administration,” she said.

All the hopefuls agreed a debate should focus on poverty, racism, militarism and the interactions between those issues. But only Swalwell promised to take that debate demand to the Democratic National Committee “or anybody else” who makes such decisions on debate agendas.

Swalwell was also the only hopeful to discuss workers’ rights, but even then, he had to be asked, by McDonald’s worker Bobby Fields.

“Folks like us to work so hard to make ends meet deserve to live with dignity,” Field explained. “We need a living wage now, and not in 10 or 12 years” as legislation pending in Congress or passed in the states, enacting a $15 hourly minimum wage, calls for. And, Field said, “we need to ensure the right to organize in a union is protected.”

“I would bring the minimum wage to $15,” Swalwell replied, though he wouldn’t give a date to achieve that. “And I would make it easier to organize. I’m leading by example because my campaign staff has organized with Teamsters Local 238.” Several other contenders’ staffs have also organized, with most of the others linking to a new independent union.

“And in solidarity with you, I have a 2-year-old son who loves McDonald’s, but we won’t go into McDonald’s until they get this (issue) right.” The fast-food giant has raised the wages of workers only at its directly-owned restaurants – 10% of the total – and not at its franchises.

The candidates’ answers on how they’d help the poor varied, as they weaved their responses into their general campaign themes.

Sanders said turning the nation’s priorities upside down, to emphasize aiding the poor and near-poor, would be part of “waging a political revolution, not only in this election,” but for years to come.

“You are the answer,” he urged the crowd. “We will never have any change unless we stand up and say to the wealthy campaign contributors, the corporate interests, the billionaire class and the 1%…that the country belongs not to you, but to all of us.”

“Millions will have to come together to tell those that have the power now that this power structure will no longer continue,” he declared. “If we don’t do that, all the speeches and legislation in the world won’t do.”

Nevertheless, Sanders and all the others said that includes restoring the strength of the Voting Rights Act. But the senator went farther, repeating his proposal to let everyone aged 18 and above vote, including people now in jail for felonies. The U.S. Constitution does not bar felons from voting, but many state laws and constitutions do – a legacy of Jim Crow.

“The future of this country rests with defeating Donald Trump and the best way to do that is to register millions of young people, working people and people of color and get them involved in the political process. Will my campaign be involved in that? You can bet your last dollar on it,” Sanders stated.

Biden, the leadoff speaker and currently first in public opinion polls – but behind “undecided” — stressed his Senate and vice-presidential experience. That included extending the Voting Rights Act for 25 years before the Supreme Court’s 5-man GOP-named majority gutted it.

Biden claimed his experience will let him get things done in D.C. by working across party lines. He floated one new idea: Force states that did not expand Medicaid to all eligible recipients, as the Affordable Care Act permits, to let the left-out people into Medicare, without paying premiums. Biden also reiterated he would triple federal education aid, to $45 billion yearly.

Some 14 states, all Republican-run, refuse to expand Medicaid. As a result, millions of people, with the biggest share in Texas, lack health care coverage. The other states, blue and red, accepted the ACA’s Medicaid expansion, and the federal funds that accompany it. “There isn’t a single solitary reason why every child isn’t covered by health care,” Biden said.

Biden’s Medicare proposal, however, led the third questioner, MSNBC newswoman Joy-Ann Reid to ask Biden – as she did all the others – how they’d get around Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kent., and his legislative blockade.

“If you can’t get consensus, you get abuses of power by the executive,” Biden replied, a reference to Trump. “So if you can’t do that, go into the races” for the House and Senate, plus the presidency, “and beat them.”

Biden, like the others, also advocated repealing the Trump-GOP tax cut for corporations and the rich, raising $2 trillion over a decade, He would then close unspecified tax loopholes, adding another $1.6 trillion. That could be used to reduce income inequality and pay for domestic programs, Biden said.

“Those guys” – the Republicans – “don’t value education, the poor or anything else you’re talking about,” he stated. Both Biden and Bennet said more federal education aid money should go to schools with the poorest students. Bennet included the rural poor in that group.

Warren was blunter about McConnell. If he executes more blockades, as he does now and as he did during Democratic President Barack Obama’s 8-year White House tenure, she’d demand senators abolish the legislative filibuster. That’s the Senate minority’s last remaining tool to stop legislation.

McConnell has already ended filibusters to grease the skids for right-wing judicial and Trump administration nominees, though none of the contenders mentioned that.

“Who is the government going to work for?” Warren asked. “The rich and the powerful? Or a government that works for everyone else – and I’m in this fight for everyone else.”

As an example, she advocated a small wealth tax: Two cents on the dollar for every dollar earned over $50 million. It would hit the top 75,000 rich in the U.S. – including Trump, though Warren didn’t say so – and would raise enough money to fund universal pre-K education, eliminate student loan debt for 95% of college grads, and extend child care, she said.

But how do you achieve all this, Reid asked, in the face of Trump, McConnell and the GOP?

Like Sanders, Warren’s answer was a mass movement – and exposing the GOP’s divide-and-conquer tactics. “So long as” African-Americans and white workers are pitted, by the GOP and the elite “against each other, they don’t notice who’s picking their pockets,” she commented.

As for the mass movement, “I’ve got more time” to campaign than other White House hopefuls “because I’m not spending my time behind closed doors with corporate lobbyists,” seeking campaign contributions, she said – a subtle dig at Biden. “I’m building a grass-roots organization.”

Besides, Warren added, “There’s more of us than there are of them.”

https://www.peoplesworld.org/article/democratic-hopefuls-roll-out-anti-poverty-plans-at-poor-peoples-campaign/
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Chennai water crisis: City's reservoirs run dry
« Reply #13089 on: June 19, 2019, 05:32:52 AM »

Empty water pots in Chennai, which has run out of water

The southern Indian city of Chennai (formerly Madras) is in crisis after its four main water reservoirs ran completely dry.

The acute water shortage has forced the city to scramble for urgent solutions, including drilling new boreholes.

Residents have had to stand in line for hours to get water from government tanks, and restaurants have closed due to the lack of water.

"Only rain can save Chennai from this situation," an official told BBC Tamil.

The city, which, according to the 2011 census, is India's sixth largest, has been in the grip of a severe water shortage for weeks now.

As the reservoirs started to run dry, many hotels and restaurants shut down temporarily. The Chennai metro has turned off air conditioning in the stations, while offices have asked staff to work from home in a bid to conserve water.

Vinoth Kaligai, the general secretary of an IT workers' association, confirmed that some firms had told employees to stay at home. "But homes are also running out of water, so what are we supposed to do?" he added.

The situation has also prompted clashes to break out between residents. Last week, police arrested a man for stabbing his neighbour during a fight over water-sharing in the neighbourhood.

Officials are trying to find alternative sources of water, with the city's water department starting to identify and extract water from quarries.

But the big concern is the dry reservoirs and low groundwater levels.

"The only way to make this better is to improve the groundwater level," Nakkeeran, a social activist, said. "We've had dry years before but the groundwater was our saviour."

The water crisis has also meant that most of the city has to depend solely on Chennai's water department, which has been distributing water through government trucks across neighbourhoods.

"The destruction has just begun," an official said. "If the rain fails us this year too, we are totally destroyed."

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-india-48672330
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PG&E to pay $1 billion to governments for wildfire damage
« Reply #13090 on: June 19, 2019, 05:50:06 AM »
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — A California utility agreed Tuesday to pay $1 billion to 14 local governments to cover damages from a series of deadly wildfires caused by its downed power lines.

The settlement is a sliver of the more than $30 billion in potential damages Pacific Gas & Electric is facing in lawsuits filed by local governments, insurance companies and private property owners.

More than half of the $1 billion in the agreement would go to four governments impacted by a 2018 fire that killed 85 people and destroyed nearly 14,000 homes in Northern California.

A total of $270 million would go to Paradise, which was mostly destroyed in the blaze. The town had 26,000 residents before the fire and now has less than 3,000 people. It has lost more than 90% of its tax revenue.

“There is some relief and hope in knowing that we will have some financial stability,” Paradise Town Manager Lauren Gill said. “We can’t do disaster recovery and rebuild the town if we don’t have people to do it.”

The settlement also covers a 2015 fire in Calaveras County and a series of 2017 fires in wine country.

PG&E filed for bankruptcy in January. The agreement would resolve claims from some local governments, but it still must be approved by a bankruptcy court. That likely won’t happen until lawsuits by insurance companies and private property owners are resolved.

“The bankruptcy court approval is not trivial,” said Mike Danko, part of a group of attorneys who represent about 2,800 wildfire victims in a lawsuit against PG&E. Danko said they are “definitely not” close to resolving the lawsuit.

PG&E spokesman Paul Doherty called the settlement “an important first step toward an orderly, fair and expeditious resolution of wildfire claims.”

“We remain focused on supporting our customers and communities impacted by wildfires and helping them recover and rebuild,” he said.

High winds knocking down power lines during hot, dry weather have been blamed for starting several of the state’s most destructive wildfires.

Last month, regulators agreed to let utilities temporarily cut off electricity to possibly hundreds of thousands of customers during peak fire conditions to avoid starting more wildfires.

The outages could mean multiday blackouts for cities as large as San Francisco and San Jose, Northern California’s major power provider warned in a recent filing with the utilities commission.

“Nobody who lives in the wildfire zone should consider themselves to have reliable electricity. They should prepare accordingly,” Mike Picker, president of the California Public Utilities Commission, told the Sacramento Press Club on Tuesday.

California’s other two investor-owned utilities have also warned that wildfire liabilities could force rate increases later this year.

State lawmakers are considering legislation that would set up a fund to help utility companies pay damages related to wildfires caused by their equipment.

California state Sen. Bill Dodd, a Democrat from Napa, said the fund could total anywhere between $24 billion and $50 billion, mostly paid for by utilities and their shareholders.

“It’s important that we put together a program that ratepayers aren’t the victims once again,” he said.

https://www.apnews.com/755f61dc10f44fffa64af732239e1ab8
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James Clark, of Dublin, Ohio, was attempting to climb Lion Head Trail in Sargent’s Purchase when two family members left him behind, officials said.

New Hampshire officials are considering billing an 80-year-old hiker and his family for the costs of his hourslong rescue mission, saying he was unprepared to hike in dangerous weather.

They are also weighing criminal charges after two family members left the man to hike alone.

James Clark was found Thursday night on Mount Washington in New Hampshire in a fetal position and showing signs of hypothermia "to the point of not being able to speak any clear or discernible words," the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department said in a press release.

Clark, of Dublin, Ohio, was attempting to climb Lion Head Trail in Sargent’s Purchase with two family members when they left him behind, officials said. Clark told the New Hampshire Union Ledger he was climbing with his teenage grandsons, who ascended the summit of Mount Washington without Clark and later descended using a different trail.

They became worried and called rescue personnel around 7:45 p.m. Thursday when Clark had not reached the summit. The teens told authorities that Clark did not have overnight gear and was not carrying a cellphone or a light.


Rescuers carry James Clark of Dublin, Ohio, to Mount Washington Auto Road in New Hampshire.

Temperatures on the summit were below freezing with a wind chill of 12 degrees Fahrenheit, officials said. Rain and dense fog led to icy conditions.

New Hampshire Fish and Game Lt. Mark Ober said Tuesday that Clark was not prepared to make the hike in those weather conditions and was not wearing proper clothing. Ober told The Associated Press that his agency may recommend to the attorney general's office that Clark and his family pay the cost of the rescue mission.

The cost of the mission has not yet been determined.

Fish and Game Major Dave Walsh told the Union Leader that criminal charges are also possible because Clark was left to hike alone and his family members did not go back to check on him.

"That may be something that we look at when we ask the attorney general about the negligent hiking," he said. "They should have been better prepared in terms of equipment and clothing and never should have left him alone. I don’t know his physical shape, but he’s 80 years old."

Clark was found late Thursday night on the Lion Head Trail. He had to be changed into dry clothes and placed in a sleeping bag for warmth, the Fish and Game agency said.

"Three rescue personnel continued to keep Clark warm and alive as volunteer rescuers were called to assist in the lifesaving event," the agency stated in its press release.

Another rescue team reached Clark around 1:15 a.m. Friday and carried him almost two miles to a road, from where he was taken by ambulance to a hospital for injuries that were not life-threatening.

Fish and Game conservation officers, the Appalachian Mountain Club and the Androscoggin Valley Search and Rescue Team all assisted in the rescue.

Clark told the Union Leader he had planned for his grandsons, ages 19 and 14, to hike at their own pace and he would catch up later. He said they had done that before while hiking in New York and Vermont.

“If anybody’s at fault, it’s definitely me and not those boys,” Clark said. "I’m the one who has insisted that they go ahead. So any negligence was on my part.”

https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/family-who-left-80-year-old-alone-new-hampshire-mountain-n1019026
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Five people including four police officers were injured after cops were attacked by 100 youths outside Westfield shopping centre in Stratford.

Officers had been responding to reports of a robbery at Stratford bus station, which is next to the mall, when they were “met with hostility by a large crowd of people”.

Footage from the scene shows officers detaining a suspect before they are pursued by the huge crowd.

"Around 100 members of the public threw bottles and missiles at police," Scotland Yard said in a statement.


Police responding to a robbery at Stratford bus station 'were met with hostility by a large crowd of people', the Met said

Four officers suffered minor injuries, while another woman was hurt after she fell down a flight of stairs during the disorder.

Three people were arrested, two on suspicion of being in possession of an offensive weapon and one on suspicion of robbery.

The Met's Taskforce Twitter account later posted a picture of a hunting knife it had recovered from the incident, which happened just before 8pm on Saturday.

Meanwhile, just half a mile away from the disorder, a man in his 40s was stabbed to death in the early hours of Monday.

Police were called to Whalebone Lane by paramedics at about 12.40am. The man was pronounced dead at the scene about 20 minutes later. No arrests have been made.

https://www.standard.co.uk/news/crime/westfield-stratford-disorder-police-attacked-by-100-youths-outside-shopping-centre-as-five-people-a4168766.html
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Facebook plans its own currency for 2 billion-plus users
« Reply #13093 on: June 19, 2019, 06:22:40 AM »
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Facebook already rules daily communication for more than 2 billion people around the world. Now it wants its own currency, too.

The social network unveiled an ambitious plan Tuesday to create a new digital currency similar to Bitcoin for global use, one that could drive more e-commerce on its services and boost ads on its platforms.

But the effort, which Facebook is launching with partners including PayPal, Uber, Spotify, Visa and Mastercard, could also complicate matters for the beleaguered social network. Facebook is currently under federal investigation over its privacy practices, and along with other technology giants also faces a new antitrust probe in Congress .

Creating its own globe-spanning currency — one that could conceivably threaten banks, national currencies and the privacy of users — isn’t likely to dampen regulators’ interest in Facebook.

“It’s a bold and strategic move that has clear risks as well as opportunities tied to it,” said Wedbush Securities analyst Dan Ives. “This could raise further yellow flags as more regulators focus on Facebook.”

David Marcus, the head of Facebook’s cryptocurrency operation, said in a tweet Tuesday that Facebook is creating a separate subsidiary, Calibra, to handle the new currency. He said feedback from customers has been “loud and clear” about keeping social media and financial data separate.

“We understand we will have to earn your trust,” he wrote.

The digital currency, called Libra, is scheduled to launch in the next six to 12 months. Facebook is taking the lead on building Libra and its underlying technology; its more than two dozen partners will help fund, build and govern the system. Facebook hopes to raise as much as $1 billion from existing and future partners to support the effort.

Company officials emphasized that Libra is a way of sending money across borders without incurring significant fees, such as those charged by Western Union and other international money-transfer services. Fees typically start at a few dollars but can be much higher when paying with a credit card. Shares in Western Union fell 2% in morning trading.

Libra could also open up online commerce to huge numbers of people around the world who currently don’t have bank accounts or credit cards.

“If you fast forward a number of years, consumers all over the world will have the ability to access the world economy,” Marcus said in an interview with The Associated Press.

Facebook also could use its own currency to drive more people to make purchases from ads on its social media sites, said Gartner analyst Avivah Litan, who based her comments on press reports about Libra that preceded Facebook’s formal announcement. “This is about fostering more sales within an ad to get more business from advertisers to make ads more interesting on Facebook,” she said.

Backing by familiar corporations might also make Libra the first Bitcoin-like currency with mass appeal. Such “cryptocurrencies” have generally failed to catch on despite a devout following among curious investors and innovators. Bitcoin itself remains shrouded in secrecy and fraud concerns, not to mention wild value fluctuations, making it unappealing for the average shopper.

Libra will be different, Facebook says, in part because its value will be pegged to a basket of established currencies, such as the U.S. dollar, the euro, the yen and others. Each purchase of Libra will be backed by a reserve fund of equal value held in real-world currencies to stabilize Libra’s value.

Wedbush analyst Ives said how well it is received will boil down to execution and “how comfortable consumers feel around Facebook and cryptocurrency.”

To be sure, recent history reminds us that many big Facebook announcements never really take off. Two years ago, for instance, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg promised that ”augmented reality ,” in which phones and other devices project digital images into real-world surroundings, would be a major focus for the company. Such AR applications remain all but invisible today. Same goes for the online shopping chatbots that Zuckerberg unveiled a year earlier, saying they would revolutionize e-commerce in its Messenger app.



Facebook won’t run Libra directly; instead, the company and its partners are forming a nonprofit called the Libra Association, headquartered in Geneva, that will oversee the new currency and its use. The association will be regulated by Swiss financial authorities, Facebook said.

“No single company should operate this,” Marcus said. “It should be a public good.”

Facebook’s new Calibra subsidiary is developing a digital wallet app to make it easier for people to buy, send and use Libra.

Libra partners will create incentives to get people and merchants to use the coin. That could range from Uber discounts to a Libra bonus paid when users set up a Calibra wallet, although the companies haven’t laid out specifics.

Many privacy questions remain unanswered, though. Cryptocurrencies such as Libra store all transactions on a widely distributed, encrypted “ledger” known as the blockchain. That could make the Libra blockchain a permanent record of all purchases or cash transfers every individual makes, even if they’re stored under pseudonyms rather than real names. Facebook said people can keep their individual transactions from appearing on the blockchain by using Calibra’s wallet app, though in that case, Calibra would have your data instead.

Calibra pledges that it won’t share transaction data from details of Libra user’s financials with Facebook unless compelled to do so in criminal cases. Still, if people are using Facebook products to buy things and send money, it’s possible Facebook will be able to track some data about shopping and money transferring habits.

Calibra won’t require users to have a Facebook account to use Libra. And it will allow people to send Libra back and forth on two of Facebook’s core messaging apps — WhatsApp and Messenger. Instagram messages won’t be included, at least at first.

Earlier this year, Zuckerberg announced a new privacy-focused vision for the company after months of backlash for its treatment of personal customer information. Zuckerberg’s vision — which has mostly not been detailed publicly — will rely heavily on privacy-shielded messaging apps in an attempt to make the services more about private, one-to-one connections.

Many analysts believe Zuckerberg wants to create a U.S. version of the Chinese service WeChat, which combines social networking, messaging and payments in a single app. Libra would take Facebook a step closer to that end.

https://apnews.com/bf65691428d24af7b9fc1f0707d433b4
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Half of the world’s poor live in just 5 countries
« Reply #13094 on: June 19, 2019, 06:28:31 AM »


Of the world’s 736 million extreme poor in 2015, 368 million—half of the total—lived in just 5 countries. The 5 countries with the highest number of extreme poor are (in descending order): India, Nigeria, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, and Bangladesh. They also happen to be the most populous countries of South Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa, the two regions that together account for 85 percent (629 million) of the world’s poor. Therefore, to make significant continued progress towards the global target of reducing extreme poverty (those living on less than $1.90 a day) to less than 3 percent by 2030, large reductions in poverty in these five countries will be crucial.

 However, we mustn’t lose sight of the numerous other countries with high poverty rates. As poverty projections to 2030 for these five countries reveal, uneven outcomes are likely (see figure 2). When projections are based on countries growing in line with past growth rates (the regional average over the last ten years), extreme poverty in India and Bangladesh approaches zero by 2030 but extreme poverty in Nigeria, DRC, and Ethiopia remains quite elevated. The uneven progress across these 5 countries is indicative of the broader uneven progress globally. An outcome where extreme poverty is nearly eliminated throughout the world except in one region, sub-Saharan Africa, certainly does not portray a picture of a world free of poverty. As emphasized in the Poverty and Shared Prosperity Report 2018, we should go beyond the focus on reducing the global poverty rate to below 3 percent and strive to ensure that all countries and all people can share in the benefits of economic development.

To learn more, read the recently released Poverty and Shared Prosperity report 2018, “Piecing Together the Poverty Puzzle.”

http://blogs.worldbank.org/opendata/half-world-s-poor-live-just-5-countries?CID=POV_TT_Poverty_EN_EXTP
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