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Offline knarf

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Austerity and inequality fuelling mental illness, says top UN envoy
« Reply #13155 on: June 24, 2019, 05:36:02 AM »
Special rapporteur on health says social justice more important for mental health than therapy and medication

Austerity, inequality and job insecurity are bad for mental health and governments should counteract them if they want to face up to the rising prevalence of mental illness, the UN’s top health envoy has said.

In an exclusive interview with the Guardian to coincide with a hard-hitting report to be delivered to the UN in Geneva on Monday, Dr Dainius Pūras said measures to address inequality and discrimination would be far more effective in combatting mental illness than the emphasis over the past 30 years on medication and therapy.

“This would be the best ‘vaccine’ against mental illness and would be much better than the excessive use of psychotropic medication which is happening,” said Pūras, who as the UN’s special rapporteur on health reports back to the UN human rights council in Geneva.

He said that since the 2008 financial crisis, policies that accentuated division, inequality and social isolation have been bad for mental equilibrium. “Austerity measures did not contribute positively to good mental health,” he said. “People feel insecure, they feel anxious, they do not enjoy good emotional wellbeing because of this insecurity situation.”

“The best way to invest in the mental health of individuals is to create a supportive environment in all settings, family, the workplace. Then of course [therapeutic] services are needed, but they should not be based on an excessive biomedical model.”

Pūras said there had been an overemphasis on trying to cure mental illness like physical illness, through “good medicine”, without thinking about the social factors that cause or contribute to some mental disorders. The prescription of psychotropic drugs to deal with mental illness, particularly antidepressants, has soared across the developed world in the past 20 years.

“People go to their doctors who prescribe medication, which is an inadequate response,” he said. If instead governments took issues such as inequality, poverty and discrimination seriously “then you can expect improving mental health”.

Latest World Health Organisation (WHO) figures suggest that as many as 970 million people around the world suffer from some sort of mental distress, and the prevalence of conditions such as depression and anxiety have risen more than 40% over the past 30 years.

As acceptance of mental illness has grown, the number of people seeking treatment has grown exponentially, overwhelming services in many countries. The phenomenon has divided experts into those who see mental illness as a predominantly biological, neurological malfunction, treatable by drugs and therapy, and those who believe it is much more psychosocial, the result of government policies, social atomisation, poverty, inequality and insecurity.

Pūras was careful not to mention the UK by name, because he has not yet visited Britain on his fact-finding mission, but elements of his report will make uncomfortable reading for a UK government which has presided over nearly 10 years of austerity and an increasingly insecure job market shot through with zero-hour contracts and gig economy workers.

“Inequality is a key obstacle to mental health globally,” his report says. “Many risk factors for poor mental health are closely associated with inequalities in the conditions of daily life. Many risk factors are also linked to the corrosive impact of seeing life as something unfair.”

To improve mental health Pūras calls, among other things, for reducing inequality and social exclusion, better early-years and school programmes, rapid interventions to support those suffering adverse childhood experiences, stronger workforce unionisation and better social welfare.

He also refers critically to “the outsized influence of pharmaceutical companies in the dissemination of biased information about mental health issues” and says states should counteract this. Governments could do much, he says, to prevent mental illness rather than emphasising biomedical cures.

“We need to target relationships rather than brains.”

https://www.theguardian.com/society/2019/jun/24/austerity-and-inequality-fuelling-mental-illness-says-top-un-envoy
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Offline knarf

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USDA Under Trump Hides Studies Proving Effects of Climate Change
« Reply #13156 on: June 24, 2019, 05:41:28 AM »
The Trump administration has refused to publicize dozens of studies conducted by the U.S. Department of Agriculture that conclude climate change is having negative effects on everything from rice production to allergies, a Politico investigation revealed. The studies in question looked at the effects of rising carbon dioxide, increasing temperatures, and volatile weather. The investigation revealed the Trump administration would not share findings that show the potential dangers and consequences of climate change. The Agricultural Research Service has issued releases for just two climate-related studies since Trump took office, both of which had results favorable to the meat industry. A USDA spokesperson denied that there have been any directives that prevented the publication of climate-related science. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue has expressed skepticism about climate science in the past. “The intent is to try to suppress a message—in this case, the increasing danger of human-caused climate change,” said Michael Mann, a leading climate scientist at Pennsylvania State University.

https://www.thedailybeast.com/usda-under-trump-hides-studies-proving-effects-of-climate-change-politico
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Offline Eddie

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Re: Knarf's Knewz Channel
« Reply #13157 on: June 24, 2019, 05:46:08 AM »

I've mostly been hanging out on a couple of crypto forums. One public, One private. On the private one (the more intelligent people pay for mentorship) there are  a few serious doomers, and many people from Oz, who seem to be more tuned in, generally. They see climate change in motion, no problem.

On the public crypto forums you mostly get gamblers...... also you get your gold bugs and your death-of-the-dollar crowd.. And your bitcoin-equals-freedom-from-government-oppression crowd.

It's funny. The dollar is so strong the Fed is going to have to intervene in the currency markets to weaken it, Some death.

I don't feel comfortable here, there, or anywhere online much anymore. Which is fine. I'd be far better off to ignore most of what is going on and stick to my projects and plans and my family. I have no doubt of that. I never was any kind of activist and I'm not any more inclined to be one at this late date. And I damn sure have no time to argue with people on the internet, whatever they're selling.

I cut way back on my online reading before I left the Diner. I don't waste my time anymore reading the alternative financial press and the tinfoil hat guys like Brandon S. I watch a broad range of things on tube, but not collapseniks  and preppers. I watch a few things having to do with crypto, some sailing stuff. Lots of How-tos.

What I don't watch is any political spin. Not liberal. Not alt right, Pretty much nothing, other than Google news. it's gotten way too silly for me.

I can see why you wouldn't find much worthwhile on single topic forums like Crypto.  Single topics are inherently boring.  Generally the folks focused this way have tunnel vision, no matter how "intelligent" they are.

The Diner ranges far and wide in topics, many of which are of concern to you. Crypto and money in general are often topics of discussion.  We probably have the longest running thread on Inflation vs Deflation of any forum on the net.  The people who discuss it are all intelligent, AZ, NF and of course ME! lol.  Similarly, you enjoy prepping topics, and there we have standouts like NF, C5, Farmgal when she occasionally shows and ME.  :icon_sunny:  I may not own a Doomstead, but I DO more prepping stuff than any housebound cripple can reasonably be expected to do.  From 12V to Food Preps, I am all over those topics.  Right now I am engaged on a so far TOP SECRET alternative transportation project, which I will reveal as I get more built.  Building is slow for Cripples.  I was dangerous with Power Tools when I was healthy, now it's positively terrifying. lol.

Then of course there is the Seasteading Dreams we both have.  It's relaxing for me to escape into those fantasies for me.  For you, they could turn into a reality.

Your conflict area here as I see it comes in the area of politics, because you take a contrarian viewpoint to just about all the primary posters who frequent the Diner and manage to stay polite and within the rules.  For someone who has some extremely strong opinions on this topic, saying you don't watch or pay attention to any political spin is fairly difficult to believe.  Your difficulty seems to be in handling being a contrarian and sticking to the topic when confronted.  I can't solve that one for you.

Finally, your Ayn Rand, John Galt style Rugged Individualist attitude doesn't play our well in collapse, as you well know.  Where else but the Diner can you find a community of people who are intellligent and concerned with the same topics you are?

I leave you with the words of John Donne, Meditation 17.


Devotions Upon Emergent Occasions

MEDITATION XVII.

NUNC LENTO SONITU DICUNT, MORIERIS.


Now this bell tolling softly for another,
says to me, Thou must die.


PERCHANCE he for whom this bell tolls may be so ill as that he knows not it tolls for him.  And perchance I may think myself so much better than I am, as that they who are about me, and see my state, may have caused it to toll for me, and I know not that.  The church is catholic, universal, so are all her actions; all that she does, belongs to all.  When she baptizes a child, that action concerns me; for that child is thereby connected to that head which is my head too, and ingraffed into that body, whereof I am a member.  And when she buries a man, that action concerns me; all mankind is of one author, and is one volume; when one man dies, one chapter is not torn out of the book, but translated into a better language; and every chapter must be so translated; God employs several translators; some pieces are translated by age, some by sickness, some by war, some by justice; but God's hand is in every translation, and his hand shall bind up all our scattered leaves again, for that library where every book shall lie open to one another; as therefore the bell that rings to a sermon, calls not upon the preacher only, but upon the congregation to come; so this bell calls us all: but how much more me, who am brought so near the door by this sickness.

There was a contention as far as a suit (in which, piety and dignity, religion and estimation, were mingled) which of the religious orders should ring to prayers first in the morning; and it was determined, that they should ring first that rose earliest.  If we understand aright the dignity of this bell, that tolls for our evening prayer, we would be glad to make it ours, by rising early, in that application, that it might be ours as well as his, whose indeed it is.  The bell doth toll for him, that thinks it doth; and though it intermit again, yet from that minute, that that occasion wrought upon him, he is united to God.  Who casts not up his eye to the sun when it rises?  But who takes off his eye from a comet, when that breaks out? who bends not his ear to any bell, which upon any occasion rings?  But who can remove it from that bell, which is passing a piece of himself out of this world?

No man is an island,  entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main; if a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as well as if a manor of thy friend's or of thine own were;  any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind, and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.

Neither can we call this a begging of misery, or a borrowing of misery, as though we were not miserable enough of ourselves, but must fetch in more from the next house, in taking upon us the misery of our neighbors.  Truly it were an excusable covetousness if we did; for affliction is a treasure, and scarce any man hath enough of it.  No man hath afflicion enough, that is not matured and ripened by it, and made fit for God by that affliction.  If a man carry treasure in bullion or in a wedge of gold, and have none coined into current moneys, his treasure will not defray him as he travels.  Tribulation is treasure in the nature of it, but it is not current money in the use of it, except we get nearer and nearer our home, heaven, by it.  Another may be sick too, and sick to death, and this affliction may lie in his bowels, as gold in a mine, and be of no use to him; but this bell that tells me of his affliction, digs out, and applies that gold to me: if by this consideration of another's danger, I take mine own into contemplation, and so secure myself, by making my recourse to my God, who is our only security.


RE

John Donne....if you only knew how that takes me back.....nearly 45 years to Freshman honors English with a prof whose name I have forgotten now.



A Valediction: Forbidding Mourning 

As virtuous men pass mildly away,
   And whisper to their souls to go,
Whilst some of their sad friends do say
   The breath goes now, and some say, No:

So let us melt, and make no noise,
   No tear-floods, nor sigh-tempests move;
'Twere profanation of our joys
   To tell the laity our love.

Moving of th' earth brings harms and fears,
   Men reckon what it did, and meant;
But trepidation of the spheres,
   Though greater far, is innocent.

Dull sublunary lovers' love
   (Whose soul is sense) cannot admit
Absence, because it doth remove
   Those things which elemented it.

But we by a love so much refined,
   That our selves know not what it is,
Inter-assured of the mind,
   Care less, eyes, lips, and hands to miss.

Our two souls therefore, which are one,
   Though I must go, endure not yet
A breach, but an expansion,
   Like gold to airy thinness beat.

If they be two, they are two so
   As stiff twin compasses are two;
Thy soul, the fixed foot, makes no show
   To move, but doth, if the other do.

And though it in the center sit,
   Yet when the other far doth roam,
It leans and hearkens after it,
   And grows erect, as that comes home.

Such wilt thou be to me, who must,
   Like th' other foot, obliquely run;
Thy firmness makes my circle just,
   And makes me end where I begun.



Your characterization of me as an Ayn Rand or one of her one-dimensional characters says way more about you and the delusion you call reality than it does about me or the way I live.

What makes the desert beautiful is that somewhere it hides a well.

Offline RE

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Re: Knarf's Knewz Channel
« Reply #13158 on: June 24, 2019, 05:53:13 AM »
Your characterization of me as an Ayn Rand or one of her one-dimensional characters says way more about you and the delusion you call reality than it does about me or the way I live.

You are the one who wrote:

Quote from: Eddie
I'd be far better off to ignore most of what is going on and stick to my projects and plans and my family. I have no doubt of that. I never was any kind of activist and I'm not any more inclined to be one at this late date.

You have also said on numerous occasions that you aren't a "joiner" and wouldn't join any club that would have you as a member.

If that's not quintessential individualistic attitude, I don't know what is.

RE
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Offline Eddie

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Re: Facebook’s Libra Isn’t a “Cryptocurrency”
« Reply #13159 on: June 24, 2019, 05:58:01 AM »
n mid-June, Facebook — in cahoots with 28 partners in the financial and tech sectors — announced plans to introduce Libra, a blockchain-based virtual currency.

The world’s governments and central banks reacted quickly with calls for investigation and regulation. Their concerns are quite understandable, but unfortunately already addressed in Libra’s planned structure.

The problem for governments and central banks:

A new currency with no built-in respect for political borders, and with a preexisting global user base of 2.4 billion Facebook users in nearly every country on Earth, could seriously disrupt the control those institutions exercise over our finances and our lives.

The accommodation Facebook is already making to those concerns:

Libra is envisaged as a “stablecoin,” backed by the currencies and debt instruments of those governments and central banks themselves and administered through a “permissioned” blockchain ledger by equally centralized institutions (Facebook itself, Visa, Mastercard, et al.).

To put it a different way, Libra will not be a true cryptocurrency like Bitcoin or Ether. Neither its creation nor its transactions will be decentralized and distributed, let alone easily made anonymous. A “blockchain” is just a particular kind of ledger for keeping track of transactions. It does not, in and of itself, a cryptocurrency make.

In simple terms, Libra is just a new brand for old products: Digital gift cards and pre-paid debit cards.

The only real difference between Libra and existing Visa or Mastercard products is that Libra’s value will fluctuate with the “basket” of currencies and bonds it’s backed by, instead of being denominated in one particular (also fluctuating — you experience the fluctuations as changes in the prices of goods) currency like the dollar or the euro.

When it comes to the goal envisaged by cryptocurrency’s creator, the pseudonymous Satoshi Nakamoto — to free money from control and manipulation by governments and central banks — Libra is a dead end. Instead of being manipulated by one government or central bank, Libra will be manipulated by all of them.

Cryptocurrency is, to get biblical, new wine in old wine skins — it bursts those skins, by design. Libra isn’t new wine. It isn’t even a new wine skin. It’s a blend of the same old wines, in the same old skins, with a fancy new label. And there’s nothing to suggest that the old wine is getting better with age.

Fortunately, these structural defects also mean that Libra isn’t a threat to real cryptocurrency. Accept no substitutes.

https://www.counterpunch.org/2019/06/24/facebooks-libra-isnt-a-cryptocurrency-2/

This is pretty accurate. Real crypto, properly designed and conceived is "decentralized". Stablecoins are a derivative product tied to something, so pre-defined collateral asset......and they have counterparty risks that don't exist (theoretically at least) with cryptos like BTC.

The thing Libra has........is a potential market of billions of people who might use it as a payment solution. It lends itself to using a smart phone to make payments, something that is already quite normal BAU in China. the Chinese use a centralized digital money running on WeChat, their version of FB. They also use PayPal and the Chinese version of that, called AliPay.

But the FB coin represents an existential threat to governments and central banks. So do real cryptos, but the banksters are way more SCARED OF FB than they are a few kooky bitcoin fanatics. They take this threat very seriously, and so do the entrenched politicians and their special interest masters.

Potentially, this could take all money out of the hands of the sovereign authorities. With BTC (or more likely XRP or ADA, since they're faster and better) the authority would be spread among the citizens. With FB, the difference would be that FB and their minions could actually control the money supply.

That's a BIG DEAL.
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Offline Eddie

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Re: Knarf's Knewz Channel
« Reply #13160 on: June 24, 2019, 06:10:15 AM »
Your characterization of me as an Ayn Rand or one of her one-dimensional characters says way more about you and the delusion you call reality than it does about me or the way I live.

You are the one who wrote:

Quote from: Eddie
I'd be far better off to ignore most of what is going on and stick to my projects and plans and my family. I have no doubt of that. I never was any kind of activist and I'm not any more inclined to be one at this late date.

You have also said on numerous occasions that you aren't a "joiner" and wouldn't join any club that would have you as a member.

If that's not quintessential individualistic attitude, I don't know what is.

RE

I simply am who I am. I don't fit in here or anywhere.

I'm neither right nor left and I don't bow down to the false narratives of either.

 I don't lose a lot of sleep over the plight of the poor or the injustices that exist in the world. I try my best to adapt and thrive.

 My eyes are open. We live in a late stage empire that's coming apart.  Climate change is getting ready to decimate the population of the earth. The power that exists politically in the world is aimed at strip-mining what's left of the resources on the planet.

None of that is about to change, no matter how many people join arms and march, or how much fiery rhetoric that al the do-gooders in the world can muster.

And I'm tired of worrying about things that none of us is able to change. I'm an old man with maybe 20 years. left. There is a real tendency among doomers and Diners to take it all way too seriously. It's not like your outrage means anything in the larger picture. Things are what they are. Try to make myself comfortable, and I'm okay with who I am. I'm a benevolent guy who has helped far more poor people than any of you commies. You're all talk.

What makes the desert beautiful is that somewhere it hides a well.

Offline RE

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Re: Knarf's Knewz Channel
« Reply #13161 on: June 24, 2019, 06:23:32 AM »
You're all talk.

Not true.  I already have a Food Sharing and Gifting program going here in my Community.  That's the Top Secret project.  What I am currently building is a Micro-Food Trailer I can pull with my Ewz so I can take my program outside the confines of my complex.  I started the program here because I had to find something to do with all the food I was preparing for the Cooking Zone, where what I give away is my knowledge of how to cook well and cheap with limited apparatus.  Knowledge gained from years living OTR in the back of a Freightliner.

Prior to that when I was still OK on my legs for a few hours at a stretch I volunteered at the Food Pantry in Palmer.  How many hours have you spent working in programs to help the poor of your community?

For someone who doesn't care what other people's political beliefs are, you throw around the term "Commie" as an epithet regularly enough.

RE
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Offline RE

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Re: Knarf's Knewz Channel
« Reply #13162 on: June 24, 2019, 06:50:09 AM »
You're all talk.

Not true.  I already have a Food Sharing and Gifting program going here in my Community.  That's the Top Secret project.  What I am currently building is a Micro-Food Trailer I can pull with my Ewz so I can take my program outside the confines of my complex.  I started the program here because I had to find something to do with all the food I was preparing for the Cooking Zone

Here is a package of freshly caught Russian River Sockeye Salmon one of my neighbors gifted me with last week, after he had some of my Grilled Mediterranean Salmon I made for the Diner Solstice Feast.  I gave away most of it sitting outside in the parking lot in front of my digs. It's over 3lbs of prime Salmon Filets, at current local prices that's close to $50 worth of Salmon.  Also practically straight out of the river, which you never get out of the fish refrigerator in the Food Superstores.

Russian River Salmon
Russian River Salmon

I was going to save this stuff for a big video and article once I have the Food Mini-Trailer fully operational, right now it's very rudimentary.  However, your accusation of being "all talk" forced me to break this newz early.  Don't EVER accuse me of being "all talk".  This is my Mission in Life now, and I spend every moment I can on it.  It is a Mission from God.

RE
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Offline Eddie

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Re: Knarf's Knewz Channel
« Reply #13163 on: June 24, 2019, 03:32:59 PM »
You're all talk.

Not true.  I already have a Food Sharing and Gifting program going here in my Community.  That's the Top Secret project.  What I am currently building is a Micro-Food Trailer I can pull with my Ewz so I can take my program outside the confines of my complex.  I started the program here because I had to find something to do with all the food I was preparing for the Cooking Zone

Here is a package of freshly caught Russian River Sockeye Salmon one of my neighbors gifted me with last week, after he had some of my Grilled Mediterranean Salmon I made for the Diner Solstice Feast.  I gave away most of it sitting outside in the parking lot in front of my digs. It's over 3lbs of prime Salmon Filets, at current local prices that's close to $50 worth of Salmon.  Also practically straight out of the river, which you never get out of the fish refrigerator in the Food Superstores.

Russian River Salmon
Russian River Salmon

I was going to save this stuff for a big video and article once I have the Food Mini-Trailer fully operational, right now it's very rudimentary.  However, your accusation of being "all talk" forced me to break this newz early.  Don't EVER accuse me of being "all talk".  This is my Mission in Life now, and I spend every moment I can on it.  It is a Mission from God.

RE



TPTB will put you out of business in short order unless you manage to fly under the radar. That's my guess.

You have government permission to be a food truck operator?

Health department approval?

Here, I don't think you can do that unless you have a permitted commercial kitchen space. I don't know about AK. Good luck.

I never doubted your desire to do good,  or for that matter, anybody else around here's desire to the right thing. But it takes more than good intentions....I hope it works out.
What makes the desert beautiful is that somewhere it hides a well.

Offline Surly1

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Re: Knarf's Knewz Channel
« Reply #13164 on: June 24, 2019, 03:40:57 PM »



TPTB will put you out of business in short order unless you manage to fly under the radar. That's my guess.

You have government permission to be a food truck operator?

Health department approval?

Here, I don't think you can do that unless you have a permitted commercial kitchen space. I don't know about AK. Good luck.

I never doubted your desire to do good,  or for that matter, anybody else around here's desire to the right thing. But it takes more than good intentions....I hope it works out.

Eddie makes excellent points. I applaud what you are doing, as you doubtless know. But since cops will roust people down here for the vandalous act of feeding the homeless, how are you going to deal with the less-than-tender attentions from The Man?

Am sure you've thought this through. Churches in Virginia are required to have industrial kitchens just to prepare food to give away to the homeless.

None of us wants to have to bail your skinny ass out in Alaska.
"It is difficult to write a paradiso when all the superficial indications are that you ought to write an apocalypse." -Ezra Pound

Offline RE

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Re: Knarf's Knewz Channel
« Reply #13165 on: June 24, 2019, 03:46:39 PM »


TPTB will put you out of business in short order unless you manage to fly under the radar. That's my guess.

You have government permission to be a food truck operator?

Health department approval?

Here, I don't think you can do that unless you have a permitted commercial kitchen space. I don't know about AK. Good luck.

I never doubted your desire to do good,  or for that matter, anybody else around here's desire to the right thing. But it takes more than good intentions....I hope it works out.

Oh come on Eddie.  ::)  Do you really think I would do something like this without researching the legalities?  Gimmee a break.

I've already been over to a local Church that does this sort of thin on Monday nights.  They aren't running  commercial kitchen, because they're not selling the food, they're giving it away.

Even if I sell, I probabably can get away with it.  The Gestapo cuts Cripples a lot of slack you know.  I can also do it through a Club Membership program where customers buy a monthly acrd  as a benny for contributing to SUN.  Skirts the law nicely.

Even if I need to buy a Food Truck permit, they're not expensive here in Alaska and the rules aren't too onerous.

You are endless with your negative waves.

RE
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Offline RE

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Re: Knarf's Knewz Channel
« Reply #13166 on: June 24, 2019, 03:49:58 PM »
Eddie makes excellent points. I applaud what you are doing, as you doubtless know. But since cops will roust people down here for the vandalous act of feeding the homeless, how are you going to deal with the less-than-tender attentions from The Man?

Am sure you've thought this through. Churches in Virginia are required to have industrial kitchens just to prepare food to give away to the homeless.

None of us wants to have to bail your skinny ass out in Alaska.

Hopefully I have answered your questions.

And they don't put you in jail for selling food without a permit, even in NYC.  Worst thing that happens is you get fined.

RE
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Re: Eve of Destruction: Iran Strikes Back
« Reply #13167 on: June 24, 2019, 04:08:06 PM »

Photograph Source: Tasnim News Agency – CC BY 4.0

It was a helluva week on the Iran front. It started with attacks on two tankers in the Gulf of Oman on June 13th and ended with Donald Trump ordering, and then calling off, a military attack on Iran on June 20-21. How we got from beginning to end of that chapter in ongoing US-Iran saga is worth close consideration.

Studied Ambiguity

Like everyone else who can say “Gulf of Tonkin,” “Remember the Maine,” and “Iraqi WMDs,” my instinctive reaction to the attacks on two tankers, a month after explosions hit four oil tankers in the UAE port of Fujairah, was: “Oh, come on now!” We know the United States, egged on by Israel and Saudi Arabia, has been itching to launch some kind of military attack on Iran, and we are positively jaded by the formula that’s always used to produce a justification for such aggression.

It seemed beyond credibility that Iran would attack a Japanese tanker, the Kokuka Courageous, at the moment the Prime Minister of Japan was sitting down with Ayatollah Khamenei in Tehran. After all, Iran is eager to keep its oil exports flowing, so it would hardly want to so flagrantly insult one of its top oil customers.

Nor did it seem to make sense that Iran would target a Norwegian vessel, Front Altair. That tanker is owned the shipping company, Frontline, which belongs to Norway’s richest man (before he moved to Cyprus), John Fredriksen. Fredriksen made his fortune moving Iranian oil during the Iran-Iraq war, where his tankers came under constant fire from Iraq, and were hit by missiles three times. He became known as “the Ayatollah’s lifeline.” Furthermore, as the Wall Street Journal reports, Fredriksen’s Frontline company has continued to help Iran move its oil in a way that evades sanctions. A friendlier resource Iran has not.  This is the guy Iran chose to target, in another gratuitous insult?

Then there’s the smoky-gun “evidence”: a grainy video of somebody doing something on the side of some ship, which looks like it came out of an episode of Ghost Hunters. I encourage everyone to read this Twitter thread, which includes the observations:

    I count 10 people on board this vessel. That also could very well be a magnetic mooring line they are removing, because we have such trash resolution on the video.

    Lastly, these sailors clearly are working out of the mine clearance handbook:

    “when clearing mines ensure that you have your 10 best friends standing behind you. That way if it blows they can catch you and you won’t fall down.”

Because they probably weren’t clearing mines.

All of this—the history of US false-flags and war-justifying lies, the specifics of the targets hit, and the risibility of the evidence presented—made it very difficult for the Trump Administration to assemble a critical mass of  domestic or international consent for a military attack on Iran.

Too many people share former British Ambassador Craig Murray’s reaction: “I really cannot begin to fathom how stupid you would have to be to believe” that Iran attacked those tankers. After all, Cui bono? Aren’t there a slew of other actors—Israel, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, or the US itself (Can you say John Bolton?)—who have more of an interest right now in dramatic explosions that practically invite a US military response?

That was certainly my reaction.

Let’s pause for a second to emphasize the wonderfulness of the Trump-effect at work here. As numerous media pundits are complaining, Trump himself lacks credibility and elicits skepticism, even from “our Western allies.” The Washington Post (WaPo) headlined it: “Standoff with Iran exposes Trump’s credibility issue as some allies seek more proof of tanker attack.” I discussed this in a previous essay, quoting the New York Times on the attitudes of more than a dozen diplomats and international politicians: With Trump as president, the US is losing the “moral authority [that] has imbued America with a special kind of clout in the world” and even “its ability to make needed alliances.”

Ain’t that grand?

Barack or Hillary wouldn’t have that problem. Their attack on Iran would have been chock full of moral authority, grainy video and all.

Widening Gyre

Then Iran shot down an RQ-4A Global Hawk drone on June 20th. That’s a very valuable US military asset, one of the Navy’s four RQ-4A “massive surveillance” drones that cost $110-220 million apiece—more than an F-35, the country’s most advanced fighter jet.

That drone probably did violate Iranian airspace, as Iran’s Foreign Minister Javad Zarif and MoA show (also here). In that narrow part of the Strait of Hormuz, it was virtually impossible not to. But the argument over that is clouded by how the drone’s 60,000-ft cruising altitude affected its angle from the Iranian shore.

By any measurement, that Hawk was not an innocent bystander. It was undoubtedly spying on its prey, Iran, from as close as the US thought it could get away with, gathering intelligence and scouting targets to facilitate the deadly military attack the US is always planning. And the Iranian military did not hesitate to strike that very valuable US military asset—directly, overtly, and without apology.

Though I still hold to the false flag explanation of the tanker incidents, Iran’s action in taking down the drone confirms the crucially important point made by the well-informed anti-imperialist commentators who suggested that Iran did commit at least one of the tanker attacks. Particularly cogent is the analysis, Elijah J. Magnier, a reporter with many reliable sources in the region, as elaborated by the always-sharp blogger, Moon of Alabama (MoA).

Their fundamental point is that Iran is not going to passively abide the siege-warfare economic sanctions that the US has now ratcheted up to “maximum pressure.” The last straw is the US’s denial of waivers allowing China, Japan, India, and South Korea to import Iranian oil. With those sanctions in full force, the US is effectively imposing a blockade of Iran, which is an act of war.

In the face of this, Iran will not content itself with listening to heartfelt entreaties from European and Asian countries that it take responsibility for not “raising tensions” by accepting its besieged position as a new starting point for ”dialogue” with its attacker.

Indeed, the Abe-Khamenei encounter ended up precisely in a rejection of any such scenario. Contrary to Craig Murray’s assumption that the Japanese Prime Minister Abe Shinzo was in Tehran for “US-disapproved talks,” he was there carrying a message from Trump, who was offering to “to suspend all sanctions only during the negotiations.” Khamenei summarily refused, telling Abe that Trump was “not worthy” to “exchange a message with,” and dismissing Abe as the errand boy he was. That does put another light on the attack on a Japanese tanker.

As Magnier emphasizes, Iran has made its position clear: “f Iran can’t export oil through the Persian Gulf, no-one in the Middle East will be able do this…oil will stop being delivered to the world if Iran can’t export its two million barrels per day.”

Even if its ostensible European and Asian friends capitulate to them—as they are doing, despite their professions of solidarity—Iran is not going to discuss or negotiate or live under crippling sanctions imposed by the US. It is going to act against them. It’s done seeking relief from its completely untrustworthy besieger through infinitely regressive talks. It’s determined not to talk about the siege, but to break it.

MoA sums it up, the present situation is confusing and dangerous because “Iran and some of its enemies now have the very same tactical interests. Both sides now want to increase the heat in the region.”

Iran is now going to act in ways that require Europe and Japan either to put up right quick about their promises to defy US sanctions and abide by their commitments in the JCPOA, or to shut up, watch Iran fight back, and pay the consequences. It is telling the US and the Trump administration that it better back off on the sanctions, or face Iran’s version of “maximum pressure.”

The ambiguity about whether or not Iran was responsible for either of the tanker attacks demonstrates that Iran is in a position where it could stage a series of plausibly deniable incidents, taking advantage of the justifiable suspicions about US patterns of behavior to turn the US’s own historical actions and present Boltonesque war-whoops against themselves to create what are essentially false false flags.

It won’t take too many such incidents that are hard to pin definitively on anyone, until it doesn’t matter who did it, and, as one of Magnier’s sources put it: “no insurance company will agree to cover any oil tanker navigating in Gulf waters, putting Iran and other oil-exporters at the same level.” Per his source: “more objectives may be targeted and the level of tension will gradually increase. …If Iran is in pain, the rest of the world will suffer equally.”

The Chief of Staff of the Iranian Armed Forces assures us that: “If the Islamic Republic of Iran were determined to prevent export of oil from the Persian Gulf, that determination would be realized in full and announced in public, in view of the power of the country and its Armed Forces.”

Maybe so, but, as Pepe Escobar points out:

    The key point is it doesn’t matter how the Strait of Hormuz is blocked.

    It could be a false flag. Or it could be because the Iranian government feels it’s going to be attacked and then sinks a cargo ship or two. What matters is the final result; any blocking of the energy flow will lead the price of oil to reach $200 a barrel, $500 or even, according to some Goldman Sachs projections, $1,000.

    …This figure, times 100 million barrels of oil produced per day, leads us to 45% of the $80 trillion global GDP. It’s self-evident the world economy would collapse based on just that alone.

The certainty—indeed, the proud acknowledgement—that Iran did shoot down one of the US’s best military assets that strayed in, or too close to, its airspace demonstrates that Iran is also going to respond militarily and unequivocally to any hostile military activity directed against it, including any violation of its air, sea, and land borders.

Of course, one hopes Iran will be cautious with any such decision, as the head of the Revolutionary Guards aerospace division claims it has been here: “With the U.S. drone in the region there was also an American P-8 plane with 35 people on board. This plane also entered our airspace and we could have shot it down, but we did not.”

Though it’s news from Mars for most Americans, and I have not heard a single word about it in days of US media coverage about the innocent stricken drone, Iran does not forget that the US Navy once shot down an Iran Air civilian airliner in Iranian airspace, killing 290 people, including 66 children. This prompted the President of the United States at the time—the “thoughtful, restrained” George H. W. Bush, icon of “bipartisan respect and comity,” who “always found a way to set the bar higher”—to declare: “I will never apologize for the United States—I don’t care what the facts are.”

Iran will shoot down any threatening aircraft—and certainly any damn drone—it wants. Without apology.

All In

Thus, Iran considers that it is already at war, and has struck back. And it will do so again—with whatever instruments of force it can muster, in a manner of its choosing, at whatever deadly level of escalation the US uses to try to force Iran to accept its own strangulation.

Fortunately, all the incidents so far have been without loss of life or immense damage, but any US attack on Iran—whether it’s the “tactical assault,” “limited to a specific target” that the Jerusalem Post described as imminent, or whether it’s the widespread strategic assault aimed at destroying large parts of Iran’s infrastructure, “sinking its navy,” and bringing about “the official end of Iran” that’s been threatened by various US politicians—will result in calamitous death and destruction, and Iran will respond in kind.

That response will take the form of direct counterattacks from the Iranian military on US and attacking forces where possible, and/or asymmetric counterattacks by Iranian-allied forces on US and allied bases, installations, and forces throughout the region.

General Hossein Salami, commander of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard, wants the shooting down of the US drone to be a “clear message” that Iran does “not have any intention for war with any country, but we are ready for war.”

To be clear: In my opinion, this is a non-passive, assertive posture that all anti-imperialists should support. The United States has no right to forcibly determine what Iran’s government is, what weapons it can have, who its allies are, or with whom it can trade. Iran has every right to fight back against any such aggression, and every anti-imperialist leftist should advocate its victory in any such fight.

Whatever happens to Iran, can the Gulf countries, Israel, Western Europe, Japan, the entire US presence in the Middle East, the world economy, or, most trivially for everyone but him, the Trump presidency, survive that without catastrophic damage? That’s the question Iran is now forcing all those actors to answer.

Unfortunately, among the rulers and decision-makers (in whose hands Donald Trump is putty) and, more fatally, among the populace, there is a strongly embedded assumption of inevitable, relatively-costless victory and an infinite ability to control outcomes. They think the US will be able to do to Iran what it has done to Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, and Syria: impose catastrophic destruction at will, without suffering serious and deadly consequence in return.

It doesn’t seem to register on them that the US has achieved nothing its own citizens can embrace as “victory” in any of these deadly interventions. In Afghanistan, the US is hoping it can strike a deal with the Taliban it came to defeat sixteen years ago. It can throw missiles at Syria at will, but has not been able to overthrow the Syrian government it proclaimed “had to go” 7 years ago.

Indeed, neither elites nor populace seem able to recognize that Iran is not Syria. As Iranian analyst Trita Parsi says, they’ve bamboozled themselves into thinking that “Iran is no different from Syria. You can strike yet they won’t have the guts to respond.” But those who think the US can get away with a limited “tactical” assault on Iran are deluding themselves.

Iran does not have the weaknesses Syria has faced for the last decade, and it is precisely determined not to allow them to develop. Iran will not allow itself to be struck at will by the US or its ward state, Israel, without punching back. It the US delivers a “bloody nose” attack to Iran, Americans better be ready for a punch in the face.

Iran is calling the US bluff on escalation dominance. It knows it can be hurt, but not defeated. It is a country of 83 million people, with 617,000 square miles of formidable, semi-mountainous territory—almost three times more populous and four times larger than Iraq. It’s a country that fought and won one of the deadliest wars in history, against an Iraqi invasion backed by the US and all its regional and international client states. It will not hesitate to defend itself furiously against any American attack.

The Saker gives a reasonable evaluation of Iran’s military strengths and vulnerabilities here. But Even a warmongering neocon like Max Boot recognizes that it would take “more than 1.6 million troops” to invade Iran, and that

    Even…stick[ing] simply to airstrikes…would not be an antiseptic, push-button exercise … Iran could employ a combination of antiship cruise missiles, drones, submarines, small boats and mines to “swarm” U.S. naval ships in the confined waters of the Persian Gulf. It could target U.S. bases in the region with its arsenal of some 2,000 missiles. It could cripple U.S. computer networks with cyberattacks. It could employ Hezbollah and other groups to stage terrorist attacks abroad. It could send local militias armed with missiles and car bombs to attack the 19,000 U.S. troops in Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan. It could tell the Houthis in Yemen to unleash a missile barrage against Saudi Arabia and it could order Hezbollah to fire 150,000 rockets and missiles at Israel.

    In response, the United States would do . . . what?

All the US can do is blow a lot of stuff up. But two can play at that game, and Iran isn’t afraid of it. Notably, neocon Boot echoes Hezbollah leader Sayyed Nasrallah, who says that the “entire region will burn if the US goes to war against Iran,” and anti-imperialist Magnier, who warns that “Iran is ready to burn the Middle East if it is prevented from exporting its oil.”

Targets of opportunity

As Iran understands, they are already at war. Trump started the fire when he pulled out of the JCPOA and imposed a “maximum pressure” economic siege on Iran. That fire can easily become a conflagration—and Iran understands every jump of the flame.

To be specific about one danger of escalation for the US, which Iran knows and the Pentagon knows, and Iran knows that the Pentagon knows, I remember one counterintuitive observation from, I think, military analyst The Saker, to the effect that we’ll know when the US is about to attack Iran not when it sends its aircraft carriers to, but when it withdraws them from, the Gulf. Aircraft carriers are very effective platforms for force projection against countries that don’t have advanced anti-ship defense capabilities (Libya, Syria). But it’s an open secret that advanced anti-ship missiles (ASMs) of the type made by Russia and China—including ballistic, anti-radiation, submarine-launched, and super- or hypersonic—can quickly turn the aircraft carrier into a very big floating coffin. Unlike Libya or Syria, Iran has obtained or locally produced versions of all but fully hypersonic ASMs, and can launch them from the air, from mobile carriers, from submarines, and from a ring of concealed and hardened sites around the Persian Gulf and the narrow Strait of Hormuz—confined sea quarters where a Nimitz-class carrier is, indeed, a very big and close target.

It might be worth noting that: “Part of the selling point is Global Hawks fly so high and normally they should be secure from being shot down.”

That’s why we should not cavalierly dismiss the head of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard’s air force, when he says: “An aircraft carrier… was a serious threat for us in the past. But now it is a target and the threats have switched to opportunities.”

Maybe he’s bluffing. There’s no question that the US holds a powerful military hand, and maybe it is absolutely, positively sure it knows where all the missiles are and can defend against them. (That’s’ what those high-flying Hawks are for!) But there’s a hell of a pot on the table for raising on a maybe. It’s the good hands that lose the most.

Iran is not hiding its tells. There is no “maybe” about the fact that, if there’s a carrier sitting in the Persian Gulf launching planes to attack the country, Iran will try to sink it. How many ASM aces did you see Iran get from Russia or China?

For someone, there’s a bad beat coming.

As military analyst Andrei Martyanov says, even in the ‘70s, Admiral Elmo Zumwalt was worried about “the strategic and psychological effects of the loss of even a single nuclear aircraft-carrier would have on the U.S. Navy.” And the whole exceptional, invincible country. If Iran sinks, or even hits and seriously damages a US carrier, there will be enormous pressure on Trump to absolutely devastate Iran. Iran knows that, and is ready to respond to it with as much devastating force as it can muster, hitting any target it can.

And we haven’t even mentioned what happens if Iran or, as Boot evokes, its Hezbollah ally, rains missiles on Tel Aviv, causing serious damage and casualties. My bet on that hand is that Israel takes the opportunity it’s been looking for to nuke Tehran or Qom, establishing its ruthless and irreversible hyper-dominance of the region for once and for all. (It will think.) It’s Israel. Who within the United States, during that war on Iran, will protest?

Because Israel, like Iran, and unlike the US public, from whom this knowledge is assiduously hidden in the weeds of deliberately dishonest blather, knows what this conflict is about. And it’s not about preventing Iran from getting any mythical nuclear weapons. Again, even Boot knows “the nuclear deal did [that] far better”—and the US throwing away that deal proves it is not interested in Iranian nuclear weapons at all.

Down Card

As Bolton and Pompeo keep saying, the goalposts have been changed entirely. (Or should we say, finally revealed?) It’s all about Iran’s “bad behavior” in the region, its threat to US “allies and interests.” This is the Trump administration reprising Hillary Clinton’s definition of Iran as an “existential threat to Israel”—which means, precisely, that its very existence as the main power that can materially and militarily resist Israel’s hyper-dominance of the region is unacceptable.

That’s why Trump also executed Hillary’s call for the Iranian Revolutionary Guard to be designated a terrorist organization. Iran must cease its support of Hezbollah, the most effective frontline fighting force, which prevented the Israeli seizure of South Lebanon. It must abandon the Palestinians, the Syrians, and the Lebanese, and neuter itself militarily, giving up any strategic weapons. Iran must agree to become a country that can be bombed at will by Israel and the US, as Syria is (for the moment).

Above all is Hillary’s admonition (which Trump has again been happy to take up) that “I want the Iranians to know that if I’m president, we will attack Iran…totally obliterate them,” should Iran attack Israel. Speaking for the whole of the bipartisan US political elite she meant “for any reason,” including self-defense.

That’s what this is about, as Iran knows well. The rest, including Iranian nuclear weapons, is diversionary bullshit.

Yes, the US also wants to prevent Iran from having any power to resist Saudi Arabia’s dominance as the oil power and as the guarantor of reactionary Sunni rule against secular nationalism and socialism throughout the Muslim world. But the US’s full embrace of Saudi Arabia depends on the latter’s alliance with Israel. The US political and media establishment would turn on a dime against Saudi Arabia if Israel deemed that to be in its essential national interest. There is no possibility that that establishment would turn against Israel because Saudi Arabia wanted it. The US political and media establishment is thoroughly committed to Zionism; they will never be committed to Wahhabism. The interest and demands of Israel and Zionism are determinative of US policy in a way that Saudi interests and demands will never be.

So, ultimately, as Ray McGovern says: “The ‘WHY,’ quite simply, is Israel. It is impossible to understand U.S. Middle East policy without realizing the overwhelming influence of Israel on it and on opinion makers.” That influence is the primary factor driving the enormous destruction that has already been wrought on the region by the US in Iraq, Libya, and Syria, and will be wrought from a war on Iran. Though there are always other considerations, we would not have undertaken any of those wars but for the US commitment to Israel and Zionism. And it’s disingenuous to pretend otherwise.

And Israel, and those in the US establishment for whom Israel’s interests are central, do not care if an aircraft carrier is sunk, or if the region burns. (Why the carriers may not leave the danger zone.) That’s what they want! They are trying to provoke a war in which they—either the US on their behalf or Israel directly with its nukes—can “obliterate” Iran. They don’t care who else gets obliterated in the process, and they cannot imagine that could be them. Did I mention—Does anybody ever?—Israeli nukes? Ace in the hole, that they will play if necessary to steal the pot.

Dead Man’s Hand

Trump’s rescission of his attack order, as well as Iran’s refrain from shooting down a manned US aircraft, is nice and all, but this game ain’t over as long as the economic siege of Iran continues. And given the actually-existing US polity, I think an enormously destructive conflict with Iran is virtually inevitable.

What might stop the insanity is if key “allies” have the backbone to tell the US president that (as Putin did) that any war with Iran will be a “catastrophe” for everyone, and that they will not only not go along with it, but explicitly denounce it.

What would help the most to deter the calamity is if more Americans understand, along with Iran (and Israel) what the object of the game really is, and make clear they don’t want to play it. That requires that enough Americans, among the populace and the decision makers—especially the military decision makers—drop the ideology of invincibility and exceptionalism, see and warn of the real dangers, and just say “No!”

That may be happening. This unprecedented episode where the President orders a military attack and then very publicly calls it off at the last minute may indicate that there’s some serious re-thinking going on. WaPo tells us that “The decision has divided his top advisers, with senior Pentagon officials opposing the decision to strike and national security adviser John Bolton strongly supporting it.”

Which is more plausible: That Trump was absolutely certain the U-S-of-A could “obliterate” Iran, and only called off the strike because he was repelled by the idea of killing 150 people? Or that someone among those foreign or domestic influencers who had actual, dispassionate knowledge of the forces arrayed, and who did care about watery graves and burning cities and oil fields, had the courage to say: “Do this, and we are fucked.”?

Either Trump is an extraordinarily reasonable and compassionate commander-in-chief, or he blinked.

I’m good with either. (And I just gotta say: We’re talking can’t-think-of-another level extraordinary. Definitely not Barack or Hillary!)

But what does Iran think? Or the US Deep State, with all its thoroughgoing commitments?

This time, someone—either a wise counsellor or his inner grasshopper—told Trump not to raise. But the real smart move is to call off the game, and that’s not going to happen.

Let’s see the next card.

https://www.counterpunch.org/2019/06/24/eve-of-destruction-iran-strikes-back/

Easily the scariest thing I have read in months. Similar to one of David Michael Greers' books where the USofA lost a war with Iran.
AJ
Nullis in Verba

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Cathedral High School fired a teacher in a same-sex marriage on Sunday, just days after another Catholic school in Indianapolis defied a similar order from the archdiocese.


Cathedral High School said it fired a teacher in a same-sex marriage to protect its “Catholic identity.”

A Catholic high school in Indianapolis said it fired a teacher in a same-sex marriage on Sunday to protect its “Catholic identity” after it received an order to do so from the archbishop. The move came one week after the archdiocese cut ties with another school in Indianapolis that had refused a similar command.

The school that fired its teacher, Cathedral High School, was the third Catholic high school in the Archdiocese of Indianapolis to receive such an order in the last year, a lawyer for the teacher said. The school said in a letter to the community that it fired the teacher, whom it did not name, after “direct guidance” from Archbishop Charles C. Thompson.

The school said it had been engaged in almost two years of “earnest discussion and extensive dialogue” with the archdiocese about the school’s “continued Catholic identity.” The teacher’s lawyer, Kathleen A. DeLaney, said his employment contract was renewed at least twice during that time.

“It is Archbishop Thompson’s responsibility to oversee faith and morals as related to Catholic identity within the Archdiocese of Indianapolis,” the school said in its letter. “Archbishop Thompson made it clear that Cathedral’s continued employment of a teacher in a public, same-sex marriage would result in our forfeiting our Catholic identity due to our employment of an individual living in contradiction to Catholic teaching on marriage.”

Cathedral High School announced its decision just days after another high school in Indianapolis, Brebeuf Jesuit Preparatory School, defied the archbishop and refused to fire a teacher in a same-sex marriage.

Last year, two teachers at another school in the Archdiocese of Indianapolis, Roncalli High School, lost their jobs because they were in same-sex marriages, said Ms. DeLaney, who also represents one of those teachers.

There are 11 Catholic high schools in the archdiocese, according to its website.

Brebeuf is within the geographic territory of the archdiocese but, unlike other schools, is not financially dependent on it. Brebeuf is sponsored and run by the Jesuits, a Catholic religious order with a liberal reputation whose members focus on education and intellectual pursuits.

“This is a pattern now where the archbishop is targeting members of the L.G.B.T. community who are in valid same-sex marriages,” Ms. DeLaney said. She declined to name the teacher who was fired from Cathedral High School.

A statement from the archdiocese said its approach to teachers in same-sex marriages was “not about sexual orientation,” but rather its belief that Catholic school employees “are ministers of the faith” who must “abide by all Church teachings, including the nature of marriage.”

“If and when a minister of the faith is publicly not doing so, the Church calls us to help the individual strive to live a life in accordance with Catholic teaching,” the statement said.

Over the years, the archdiocese has “walked with individuals and schools” on other issues that went against the teachings of the church, it said.

When an individual has not “chosen this accompaniment,” the archdiocese said, “it is very difficult to part ways, but we readily honor the person’s dignity and decision.”

Some called that explanation into question.

“There are many church doctrines and many teachers, trustees and administrators who don’t comply with all of them,” Ms. DeLaney said. “So far, they are only enforcing church doctrine against members of the L.G.B.T. community and their marital status and that is blatantly discrimination, in my opinion.”

The Rev. James Martin, a Jesuit priest and editor at America Magazine, said the “categories of people you would need to fire” would amount to “a huge list,” including faculty members who used birth control, skipped Sunday Mass or did not give to the poor.

“Why are those virtues any less important than the church’s teaching on same-sex marriage?” Father Martin said. “It is completely discriminatory.”

Archbishop Thompson issued a decree last week that cut ties between the archdiocese and Brebeuf, which may be insulated from that blow because it is run by the Jesuits. Ms. DeLaney said her client was fired shortly after Cathedral High School learned that he filed a discrimination complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission earlier this month. She said his contract had been renewed for the upcoming academic year just weeks earlier.

Cathedral High School said Sunday that the consequences of a rupture with the archdiocese would have been severe, and might have included the loss of the school’s 501(c)(3) status, which would have rendered it unable to operate as a nonprofit.

Those are dangers Cathedral said Brebeuf had not faced.

“Because Brebeuf is a specific ministry of the Jesuits, their canonical and nonprofit status is different than ours,” Cathedral’s letter said. “Therefore, the two schools cannot function the same way if Cathedral were to receive a similar decree as Brebeuf.”

Father Martin said he worried about the impact Cathedral’s decision might have on gay or transgender students at the school. For that reason, he said he was glad Brebeuf had stood its ground.

“Brebeuf’s decision to retain their employee was probably the most Catholic thing the school could do,” he said. “It is standing with someone who is on the margins, and that’s what being Catholic is all about.”

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/06/24/us/cathedral-hs-teacher-gay-marriage.html?emc=rss&partner=rss
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The Government Agency in Charge of Killing Wild Animals Is Facing Backlash
« Reply #13169 on: June 24, 2019, 05:22:43 PM »
Oregon has banned Wildlife Services' use of cyanide bombs, and some California counties have severed their contracts with the agency.


A young gray fox takes cover on the side of the road during 108-degree heat as the Carr fire rages on in California on July 27th, 2018. Wildlife Services killed 1,784 gray foxes that same year.

Wildlife Services is a federal agency that shoots, traps, and poisons wild animals en masse at the behest of state governments, agricultural interests, and more. With a purported mission to reduce human-wildlife conflict and mitigate economic damage caused by wildlife, it kills many thousands of critters that come between ranchers or farmers and their profits, and it has done so for more than a century. Earlier this month, it released up-to-date data about its nationwide operations in 2018 and, as usual, the numbers were eye-popping.

According to the agency, which is housed under the United States Department of Agriculture, its trappers and field operatives killed more than 1.5 million native animals last year. The list of the dead includes roughly 515,000 red-winged black birds, 68,000 coyotes, 22,500 beavers, 19,900 mourning doves, 17,000 black-tailed prairie dogs, 10,000 double-crested cormorants, 2,000 mallard ducks, 1,784 gray foxes, 1,300 red-tailed hawks, 1,000 bobcats, hundreds of owls, 357 wolves, 350 black bears, one grizzly bear, and many, many more.

This sort of killing is quite normal for Wildlife Services, an opaque bureaucracy that has proven remarkably immune to reform over the decades. In his fierce forthcoming book This Land, Christopher Ketcham, a public lands journalist who has covered Wildlife Services for Harper's, describes the long-tenured agency like this: "True to its mandate, Wildlife Services kills anything under the sun perceived as a threat to stockmen, deploying an arsenal of poisons, traps and aerial gunships at a cost of tens of millions of dollars a year annually. Between 2000 and 2014, two million native mammals fell to this machine, including 20 species of carnivores and 12 taxa of mammals listed as endangered, threatened or as candidates for protection under the Endangered Species Act."

"During the 20th century," he adds, "the agency was probably responsible for the deaths of tens of millions of animals," including huge numbers of wolves, cougars, prairie dogs, and other species deemed detrimental to private agricultural interests.

A spokesperson for the U.S. Department of Agriculture wrote in a statement that Wildlife Services works to "mitigate the serious economic impacts" related to wildlife-human conflicts, working closely with state agencies, local governments, and more to "manage wildlife damage using the best available science" and in compliance with all federal, state, and local laws.

Wildlife Services is now grappling with a growing legal and political backlash. Brooks Fahy, an environmental activist and victims' advocate with the non-profit group Predator Defense, has long advocated for the shuttering of Wildlife Services and the abolition of its controversial tactics. He says public outrage about the agency's activities reached "a tipping point" over the last two years—spurring the introduction of legislation to crack down on Wildlife Services at the state and federal level—after news broke in 2017 about the case of an Idaho teenager named Canyon Mansfield and his pet dog Kasey.

Wildlife Services regularly deploys what are known as M-44s, or so-called "cyanide bombs," spring-loaded contraptions that, when triggered by the snout or paw or claw of a curious animal, will release a spray of sodium cyanide that violently kills the victim. The agency deploys such devices in more than a dozen states, including on public lands, often placing them alongside bait to lure unsuspecting predators like coyotes.

In March of 2017, a 14-year-old named Canyon Mansfield went hiking with his pet lab Kasey near his parents' home in Pocatello, Idaho. While exploring a hillside during the hike, he spotted what he described as a "metal tube sticking out between two rocks." He went over to see what it was, bent down, and touched it. Suddenly, he heard a pop and a cloud of orange gas spewed forth, hitting him on the left side of his body and hitting his dog too. He immediately felt a terrible burning sensation and then turned and watched in horror as his dog Kasey started to seize. They had both been sprayed by one of Wildlife Services' cyanide bombs, placed on land just a few hundred feet from the Mansfield family home.

Kasey the dog died right there on the hillside. Mansfield, in an account of his incident, wrote that he "sobbed in pain" as he witnessed his pet succumb to deadly poison. When the police and the fire department arrived, Mansfield was rushed to the emergency room, where he was sprayed down in a decontamination shower and tested for poisons in his blood. Because the cyanide bomb had not sprayed him straight in the face, he did not suffer what could have been fatal consequences, but to this day he is occasionally struck with painful migraines and other maladies.

The U.S. government, in court filings last year, sought to lay blame for the incident on Mansfield and his parents, arguing that it was their "negligence" that caused the incident.

The USDA spokesperson wrote that the agency "understands the public's concern regarding the use of M-44s and is committed to the safe and responsible use of this effective tool for professional wildlife damage management."

Wildlife Services, the statement reads, "uses these devices, along with other predator management tools, safely and responsibly."

The case of Mansfield, though, has sparked intensifying public scrutiny of Wildlife Services' activities. This spring, for instance, Representatives Peter DeFazio (D–Oregon) and Matt Gaetz (R–Florida) introduced a bipartisan bill, known informally as Canyon's Law, that would ban the use of sodium cyanide and another poison called Compound 1080 for predator-control purposes.

"The unnecessary use of these deadly toxins by the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Wildlife Services has led to countless deaths of family pets and innocent animals, as well as injuries to humans," said DeFazio, in a statement. "It is only a matter of time before they kill someone." In April, Canyon Mansfield and his family traveled to Washington, D.C., to advocate for the proposed ban.

Meanwhile, in Oregon, the backlash against Wildlife Services' indiscriminate use of poison scored a major victory in early May when Governor Kate Brown signed into law a ban on cyanide bombs in the state.

"It is a total ban and it is historic," Fahy told me during a phone call while he was driving to Oregon's state capitol to attend a ceremonial signing of the bill. "It was hard fought," he added, noting that powerful agriculture interests like the Oregon Farm Bureau opposed the ban on M-44s.

In California too, conservationists are systematically chipping away at Wildlife Services' ability to operate. Over the last few years, a coalition of animal rights and environmental groups have been using the California Environmental Quality Act to effectively force a string of counties in northern California to sever their contracts with Wildlife Services.

"We have targeted this program in a number of counties, including Shasta, Siskiyou, Monterrey, Sonoma, and Mendocino counties," says Camilla Fox, the founder and executive director of Project Coyote, which advocates for wild predators and has helped lead the push against Wildlife Services in California. "All of those counties have terminated, suspended, or had to consider the environmental effects of their Wildlife Services' contracts, either voluntarily or by court order."

Wildlife Services is also facing a relentless barrage of federal lawsuits. Conservationists, for instance, have taken to using the Endangered Species Act to fight the agency's activities. In late May of this year, the Center for Biological Diversity filed a lawsuit to stop the agency's killing of beavers in California, arguing that such killing harms the state's populations of endangered salmon, which use the habitat provided by beaver dams for sustenance and shelter. The group has also sued Wildlife Services in Arizona, contending that the agency failed to consider the impact of its activities on endangered ocelots that reside in the state. The Center for Biological Diversity settled the Arizona case out of court with Wildlife Services, obtaining new restrictions on the agency's activities in ocelot habitat.

The Mansfields, for their part, have launched something of a crusade against Wildlife Services. They have become staunch opponents of the agency's indiscriminate killing and seek to hold it accountable for the death of their dog and the poisoning of their son. This April, the family traveled from their Idaho home to Washington, D.C., with Fahy to call for the abolition of cyanide bombs and press for the passage of Canyon's Law.

"Most other people would have walked away from it," says Fahy, of the Mansfield's continued struggle. "To have to tell this story over and over and over and over, I can't quite explain how brutal and painful it is."

"Our last night in D.C.," he says, "we got in the [hotel] hallway together and just cried."

https://psmag.com/environment/the-government-agency-in-charge-of-killing-wild-animals-is-finally-facing-backlash?fbclid=IwAR18Qa0qwZNWk6HEux4w8fS9b21Rk4_iKVnXUtzzdsVX5nRmxKAUJpinxvU
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