AuthorTopic: Knarf's Knewz Channel  (Read 1587727 times)

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Small slug throws Japan's high-speed rail into chaos
« Reply #13170 on: June 24, 2019, 05:28:59 PM »


okyo(CNN) A single, small slug has been blamed for a massive power failure that brought part of Japan's high-speed rail network to a standstill last month.

An estimated 12,000 passengers were delayed on May 30, after power was cut on lines operated by rail company JR Kitakyushu, in the country's southern Kyushu region.

The outage occurred during peak commuter time, at 9.40 a.m, forcing the company to cancel a total of 26 trains.

Japan is famous for its large network of efficient high-speed trains, which run the length of the country and carry thousands of passengers every day.

During a later inspection of the network's electrical equipment, the company's engineers discovered a dead slug, measuring about 2 to 3 centimeters (0.7 to 1.1 inches) long.

According to a company spokesman, the slug had burned to death after touching an electrical cable leading to the mass power failure.

Although it was discovered on May 30, shortly after the outage, the reason for the disruption wasn't revealed for more than three weeks.

Local media first reported the unusual cause of the transport chaos on June 22.

A JR Kyushu spokesman told CNN that the slug had got in through a gap in the power box.

"We have not heard of power outages caused by slugs in recent years," a spokesman said Monday.

"If we find such a gap when inspecting equipment (in the future), we will fix them."

https://amp.cnn.com/cnn/2019/06/24/asia/japan-high-speed-train-slug-intl-hnk/index.html
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Trump Supporters on the Reasons They Vote for Him
« Reply #13171 on: June 24, 2019, 05:49:08 PM »
When President Donald Trump launched his re-election campaign in Orlando, Florida, NTD asked some of the rally attendees why they vote for him. Here are their answers.

‘It’s Trump or Socialism’

Georgia Williams, Retired Flight Attendant

“I’ve been going to Russia since ’91—and all of the ex-Soviet countries—and I see what socialism does. They look pretty from the outside, but they got a million kids in orphanages just starving to death,” Williams said. “They didn’t even have underwear when we first went there. So I know what socialism does, and I’m so scared that we got young people to believe that will be a better way.

“Even the Nazis are socialists. They just didn’t want Russia to control it. They wanted Germany to control everything. It’s a scary thing.

“Well, I think pray. Pray for America I pray for our president. I wish he had the courage to tell what is happening and just go for it, because he is 70-some years old and his legacy will be to fight for America.”

Jeff Thompson, Artist

“It’s Trump or socialism. 100 million Marxists in 100 years. Americans don’t want to be socialism,” Thompson said. “I am so grateful that he even wants to run again. It’s like he is fighting the world. He is a 70-some year old man.”

Victoria Perlaza, Real estate agent. Immigrant from Colombia

“I was independent for many years but I voted for Obama the first time. He didn’t do anything for our country,” Perlaza said. “And he actually brought all of the division we have here in our country right now. [Because] he’s using the colors, the nationalities, the races. He used all that stuff to divide our country. We were not a racist country here. But now we saw that he changed [it] completely. All of the Democrats, they are for—not inclusion, but—division. And that’s not right.

“He [Trump] is trying to save America from socialism. Because socialism is a disease. People cannot pretend that they wanted to get anything for free. We got to work for the things that we have.

“I am a single mother, I am divorced with three kids and I supported my three kids on my own without asking the government for any help. We gotta work for the things that we want.

“This is the best country in the world. And I love America.

https://www.theepochtimes.com/trump-supporters-on-the-reasons-they-vote-for-him_2975908.html
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Government moves migrant kids after AP exposes bad treatment
« Reply #13172 on: June 25, 2019, 04:59:36 AM »


The U.S. government has removed most of the children from a remote Border Patrol station in Texas following reports that more than 300 children were detained there, caring for each other with inadequate food, water and sanitation.

Just 30 children remained at the station outside El Paso Monday, said Rep. Veronica Escobar after her office was briefed on the situation by an official with Customs and Border Protection.

Attorneys who visited Clint last week said older children were trying to take care of infants and toddlers, The Associated Press first reported Thursday. They described a 4-year-old with matted hair who had gone without a shower for days, and hungry, inconsolable children struggling to soothe one another. Some had been locked for three weeks inside the facility, where 15 children were sick with the flu and another 10 were in medical quarantine.

“How is it possible that you both were unaware of the inhumane conditions for children, especially tender-age children at the Clint Station?” asked Escobar in a letter sent Friday to U.S. Customs and Border Protection acting commissioner John Sanders and U.S. Border Patrol chief Carla Provost.

She asked to be informed by the end of this week what steps they’re taking to end “these humanitarian abuses.”

Lawmakers from both parties decried the situation last week.

Border Patrol officials have not responded to AP’s questions about the conditions at the Clint facility, but in an emailed statement Monday they said: “Our short-term holding facilities were not designed to hold vulnerable populations and we urgently need additional humanitarian funding to manage this crisis.”

Although it’s unclear where all the children held at Clint have been moved, Escobar said some were sent to another facility on the north side of El Paso called Border Patrol Station 1. Escobar said it’s a temporary site with roll-out mattresses, showers, medical facilities and air conditioning.

But Clara Long, an attorney who interviewed children at Border Patrol Station 1 last week, said conditions were not necessarily better there.

“One boy I spoke with said his family didn’t get mattresses or blankets for the first two nights, and he and his mom came down with a fever,” said Long, a senior researcher with Human Rights Watch. “He said there were no toothbrushes, and it was very, very cold.”

Vice President Mike Pence, asked about the unsafe, unsanitary conditions for the children on “Face the Nation” on Sunday, said “it’s totally unacceptable,” adding that he hopes Congress will allocate more resources to border security.

Long and a group of lawyers inspected the facilities because they are involved in the Flores settlement, a Clinton-era legal agreement that governs detention conditions for migrant children and families. The lawyers negotiated access to the facility with officials and say Border Patrol knew the dates of their visit three weeks in advance.

Many children interviewed had arrived alone at the U.S.-Mexico border, but some had been separated from their parents or other adult caregivers including aunts and uncles, the attorneys said.

Government rules call for children to be held by the Border Patrol in their short-term stations for no longer than 72 hours before they are transferred to the custody of Health and Human Services, which houses migrant youth in facilities around the country through its Office of Refugee Resettlement while authorities determine if they can be released to relatives or family friends.

Customs and Border Protection has referred AP’s questions to the Office of Refugee Resettlement, which said Monday that 249 children who had been held at Clint would be moved to the agency’s network of shelters and other facilities by Tuesday.

″(Unaccompanied children) are waiting too long in CBP facilities that are not designed to care for children,” ORR spokeswoman Evelyn Stauffer said. “These children should now all be in HHS care as of Tuesday.”

This story has been corrected to show Pence was on “Face the Nation,” not “Meet the Press.”

https://www.apnews.com/a7a9acc4c6a546829a258e008d10d705
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SpaceX Falcon Heavy Rocket Lofts 24 Satellites in 1st Night Launch
« Reply #13173 on: June 25, 2019, 05:16:05 AM »
The megarocket did well in its third-ever liftoff.



CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — SpaceX marked a milestone today as the company's Falcon Heavy megarocket successfully lofted two dozen satellites into orbit.

The rocket blasted off from Launch Pad 39A at Kennedy Space Center (KSC) here at 2:30 a.m. EDT on June 25 (0630 GMT), three hours into the launch window, marking the Falcon Heavy's first flight at night and third launch overall. The launch was part of the U.S. Air Force's Space Test Program and carried payloads for universities, NASA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and the nonprofit organization The Planetary Society.

As part of the mission, SpaceX successfully landed two of the megarocket's three first-stage boosters. The two side boosters touched down at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, which is next door to KSC, while the central core booster narrowly missed its target — SpaceX's drone ship Of Course I Still Love You, which was stationed in the Atlantic Ocean, hundreds of miles off the Florida coast.

The core booster's miss was no big surprise. SpaceX representatives had repeatedly stressed that its touchdown would be the most difficult of the dozens that Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy first stages have attempted over the past few years, because today's mission required higher-than-normal speeds. Indeed, Of Course I Still Love You was stationed twice as far from shore this morning as it normally is during sea-landing attempts.

Today's launch was the first Falcon Heavy to fly reused boosters; the two side boosters had already flown as part of the first commercial Falcon Heavy launch, which lofted a communications satellite called Arabsat-6A, in April. The core booster of that rocket successfully landed as well, but it was lost when the boat encountered choppy seas on the way back to shore.

The other Falcon Heavy flight, a demonstration mission that launched SpaceX CEO and founder Elon Musk's red Tesla Roadster into orbit around the sun, occurred in February 2018.

Today's launch kicked off a particularly complicated flight, as the satellites onboard needed to be injected into three distinct orbits. All told, the maneuvers required that the rocket's second-stage booster fire four times, with the final deployment scheduled to occur about 3.5 hours after launch. The complicated delivery pattern also dictated the night-launch window, Air Force officials confirmed before the liftoff.

An eclectic mix of payloads was packed into the Falcon Heavy's fairing. NASA's Deep Space Atomic Clock is designed to confirm that such technology has been miniaturized enough, without losing accuracy, that it can fly on future spacecraft. On such missions, atomic clocks will allow spacecraft to navigate without input from Earth.

Another NASA payload, the Green Propellant Infusion Mission, will test a cleaner, safer and more efficient fuel alternative to the commonly used hydrazine. Six NOAA satellites make up the COSMIC-2 mission, which will monitor the temperature, pressure and moisture of the atmosphere across the tropics — data that should help meteorologists improve their hurricane and tropical storm modeling.

But this morning's launch wasn't just about government payloads. Also tucked into the Falcon Heavy was a satellite designed and built by the nonprofit organization The Planetary Society. The group hopes that this LightSail 2 mission will prove the potential of spacecraft that are propelled by solar radiation pressure.

After the satellites' safe launch, each one began its own timetable for fully deploying, collecting test data and settling into its duties.

The next SpaceX launch is scheduled for July 21, when a Falcon 9 will carry a cargo shipment to the International Space Station. The company has not yet released a date for its next Falcon Heavy flight.

https://www.space.com/spacex-falcon-heavy-stp2-launch-success.html
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Seven migrant deaths reported in 'extreme heat' at U.S. border
« Reply #13174 on: June 25, 2019, 05:20:56 AM »
(Reuters) - Authorities in Texas reported seven migrant deaths on Monday, including those of a woman, two babies and a toddler, showing the danger of extreme summer heat as Central American families surge across the U.S.-Mexico border.

The woman and three children may have been dead for days before they were found by U.S. Border Patrol near the Rio Grande in South Texas on Sunday, according to a local law enforcement official, who asked not to be named.

They are thought to have died from heat exposure and dehydration in an area about 18 miles (29 km) east of McAllen.

To the west, U.S. Border Patrol agents in the Del Rio area recovered the bodies of two men on ranchland near Carrizo Springs after anonymous calls on June 19 and June 20 alerted them to lost migrants, the agency said in a statement.

Another decomposed body was found June 20 on the riverbank of the Rio Grande near Normandy.

“The extreme temperatures during this time of year can be fatal,” said Del Rio Sector Chief Patrol Agent Raul Ortiz.

Arrests of undocumented migrants reached their highest monthly level since 2006 in May, with more than 60 % of those apprehended either children or families, many seeking asylum.

The Trump administration has set limits on how many people can claim asylum each day at ports of entry. With months-long waits for interviews, migrant families are instead attempting sometimes risky border crossings to make their claims.

Smugglers put migrants’ lives at risk by dropping them off in desolate areas or sending them across the Rio Grande in makeshift rafts.

Increased fencing and security in many areas means migrants who have been deported, and are seeking to evade capture, often take dangerous routes to re-enter the United States.

A six-year-old girl from India died earlier this month from heat stroke in western Arizona after smugglers left a group of migrants in a remote desert location.

Three children and a Honduran man are believed to have died in April when their raft overturned on the Rio Grande near Del Rio. Water rescues at the popular crossing point have soared.

Border Patrol reported 283 migrant fatalities on the border in 2018. Human rights activists say the number is far higher as the remains of many migrants are never found and the agency’s data does not include all deaths registered by local authorities.

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-immigration-death/seven-migrant-deaths-reported-in-extreme-heat-at-u-s-border-idUSKCN1TQ0D7
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‘Climate apartheid’: UN expert says human rights may not survive
« Reply #13175 on: June 25, 2019, 05:27:28 AM »
Right to life is likely to be undermined alongside the rule of law, special rapporteur says


International climate treaties have been ineffective, the report said.

The world is increasingly at risk of “climate apartheid”, where the rich pay to escape heat and hunger caused by the escalating climate crisis while the rest of the world suffers, a report from a UN human rights expert has said.

Philip Alston, UN special rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, said the impacts of global heating are likely to undermine not only basic rights to life, water, food, and housing for hundreds of millions of people, but also democracy and the rule of law.

Alston is critical of the “patently inadequate” steps taken by the UN itself, countries, NGOs and businesses, saying they are “entirely disproportionate to the urgency and magnitude of the threat”. His report to the UN human rights council (HRC) concludes: “Human rights might not survive the coming upheaval.”

The report also condemns Donald Trump for “actively silencing” climate science, and criticises the Brazilian president, Jair Bolsonaro, for promising to open up the Amazon rainforest to mining. But Alston said there were also some positive developments, including legal cases against states and fossil fuel companies, the activism of Greta Thunberg and the worldwide school strikes, and Extinction Rebellion.

In May, Alston’s report on poverty in the UK compared Conservative party welfare policies to the creation of 19th-century workhouses. Ministers said his report gave a completely inaccurate picture, but Alston accused them of “total denial of a set of uncontested facts”.

Alston’s report on climate change and poverty will be formally presented to the HRC in Geneva on Friday. It said the greatest impact of the climate crisis would be on those living in poverty, with many losing access to adequate food and water.

“Climate change threatens to undo the last 50 years of progress in development, global health, and poverty reduction,” Alston said. Developing countries will bear an estimated 75% of the costs of the climate crisis, the report said, despite the poorest half of the world’s population causing just 10% of carbon dioxide emissions.

“Yet democracy and the rule of law, as well as a wide range of civil and political rights are every bit at risk,” Alston’s report said. “The risk of community discontent, of growing inequality, and of even greater levels of deprivation among some groups, will likely stimulate nationalist, xenophobic, racist and other responses. Maintaining a balanced approach to civil and political rights will be extremely complex.”

The impacts of the climate crisis could increase divisions, Alston said. “We risk a ‘climate apartheid’ scenario where the wealthy pay to escape overheating, hunger, and conflict while the rest of the world is left to suffer,” he said.

“When Hurricane Sandy wreaked havoc on New York in 2012, stranding low-income and vulnerable New Yorkers without access to power and healthcare, the Goldman Sachs headquarters was protected by tens of thousands of its own sandbags and power from its generator.”

Alston strongly criticises all those working to uphold human rights, including his own previous work, for not making the climate crisis a central issue. He said the most recent HRC resolution on the climate crisis did not recognise “that the enjoyment of all human rights by vast numbers of people is gravely threatened” or “the need for the deep social and economic transformation, which almost all observers agree is urgent if climate catastrophe is to be averted”.

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/jun/25/climate-apartheid-united-nations-expert-says-human-rights-may-not-survive-crisis
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Country set to be 15th in EU to phase out practice of confining animals to tiny cages and gassing them to death for their pelts


Mink, semi-aquatic animals, are bred and kept in small wire cages that deny them the ability to behave naturally

Ireland is preparing to ban fur farming, it has been reported, after many years of pressure from opponents of the practice.

The decision will be a U-turn for the ruling Fine Gael party, which has long resisted calls for a ban.

Ireland’s three fur farms, in Donegal, Kerry and Laois, house an estimated 200,000 mink, crammed into tiny wire-mesh cages. They are gassed to death and skinned when they are six months old.

In February, Michael Creed, the agriculture minister, insisted the government had no plans for a ban, saying he could not close down a “legitimate, highly regulated and inspected industry” that employs about 100 people.

But Mr Creed has faced pressure from Ruth Coppinger, a member of the Irish Dail – or parliament – who has the support of Fianna Fail, Sinn Fein, Labour, Independents 4 Change, the Green Party, and the Social Democrats, for a bill to end fur farming, which is due to be debated next month.

However, the Irish Examiner says Mr Creed is preparing his own legislation to phase it out.

Animal lovers, who say it causes “lives of misery”, welcomed the move, with the Irish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals saying it was “fantastic news”. Others said an end to the “cruel” trade was long overdue.

Andrew Kelly, head of the ISPCA, said injuries and stereotypic behaviour were common in fur- farmed animals, denied the opportunity to express their normal behaviour.

o Swabe, of Humane Society Europe, said: “With so many countries banning fur production, the UK under pressure to ban sales of fur and increasingly more designers eschewing fur in their collections, we hope the suffering caused will soon be relegated to the history books.”

But one commenter said progress would mean outlawing the sale of fur, not just production, which could move abroad. Sales of real fur marked as “fake” are still widespread.

The Irish government – which was unable to confirm or deny to The Independent that it was planning legislation – has faced increasing pressure to follow the lead of 14 other EU countries, from Norway to Serbia, that have ended or are ending fur farming.

Several Irish fur farms have gone out of business in recent years, official records showing the remaining three employing few permanent members of staff.

A poll in Ireland in October showed four in five people backed an end to fur farms, whose annual exports are worth €21,488 (£19,230).

Fur farming stopped in England and Wales in 2000, and in Scotland and Northern Ireland two years later. 

Lithuania, Poland and Ukraine are all considering ending it, according to the Fur Free Alliance. Some cities around the world have introduced bans.

Populations of escaped mink that are well established in Ireland undermine numbers of nesting birds, studies have shown.

Designers including Gucci, Versace, Jimmy Choo and Chanel have all gone fur-free. But Saint Laurent and Dolce & Gabbana still sell fur.

Cannibalism has been documented on fur farms in Finland that supply pelts to two of Britain’s most upmarket stores.

https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/ireland-fur-farm-ban-mink-farming-jobs-ispca-animal-welfare-a8972546.html?utm_source=reddit.com
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Americans' plastic recycling is dumped in landfills, investigation shows
« Reply #13177 on: June 25, 2019, 05:39:30 AM »
Consumers’ efforts to be eco-friendly go to waste as many communities find themselves with nowhere to send their refuse

A sign on an upside-down dumpster spelled the end of Pearl Pai’s long romance with plastics recycling.

For years, Pai and her family generated almost no trash. She carefully washed, sorted and bagged hard-to-recycle items and drove them two towns over from her home in Berkeley, California, to the area’s best recycling center.

But on a gray morning in late May, when she pulled up with a bag of flimsy plastic clamshell-style containers, yogurt tubs and meat trays, the sign informed her that, “due to poor market conditions”, these items would no longer be accepted for recycling.

his is a reality that millions more Americans will have to adjust to.

A Guardian investigation reveals that cities around the country are no longer recycling many types of plastic dropped into recycling bins. Instead, they are being landfilled, burned or stockpiled. From Los Angeles to Florida to the Arizona desert, officials say, vast quantities of plastic are now no better than garbage.

The “market conditions” on the sign Pai saw referred to the situation caused by China. Once the largest buyer of US plastic waste, the country shut its doors to all but highest-quality plastics in 2017. The move sent shockwaves through the American industry as recyclers scrambled, and often failed, to find new buyers. Now the turmoil besetting a global trade network, which is normally hidden from view, is hitting home.

“All these years I have been feeling like I’m doing something responsible,” said Pai, clearly dumbstruck as she walked away with a full bag. “The truth hurts.”

In total, only about half (56%) of the plastic waste that America once exported is still being accepted by foreign markets in the wake of China’s ban. This week, the Guardian revealed that what still goes overseas is inundating countries including Vietnam, Turkey, Malaysia and Senegal. But much of what remains has nowhere to go.

Analysis of US export records shows that the equivalent of 19,000 shipping containers of plastic recycling per month, once exported abroad, is now stranded at home. This is enough plastic to fill 250 Olympic swimming pools each month.

As municipalities are forced to deal with their own trash instead of exporting it, they are discovering a dismaying fact: much of this plastic is completely unrecyclable.

The issue is with a popular class of plastics that people have traditionally been told to put into their recycling bins – a hodgepodge of items such as clamshell-style food packaging, black plastic trays, take-out containers and cold drink cups, which the industry dubs “mixed plastic”. It has become clear that there are virtually no domestic manufacturers that want to buy this waste in order to turn it into something else.

Take Los Angeles county, the most populous in America. The Guardian has learned that recycling facilities are separating “mixed plastics” from those plastics which still retain value – such as water bottles, laundry detergent bottles and milk jugs – and, contrary to what customers expect, sending them directly to a landfill or incinerator.

Los Angeles county public works estimates that in 2018, the county sent more than half a million tons of plastic to four different landfills, and nearly 20,000 tons of plastic to its waste-to-energy incinerator. And it appears that many other recyclers are doing exactly the same thing.

“Mixed plastics is a broad category that could consist of everything from car bumpers to five-gallon buckets or yogurt containers,” said Habib Kharrat, a supervising engineer for the sanitation districts of Los Angeles county, which serve some cities and unincorporated areas. The recycling business depends on someone being willing to buy the materials that recyclers are selling. Right now, Kharrat said, “it does not appear that there are any local or foreign markets” for mixed plastics, and that what is collected in residential recycling bins and processed at his organization’s facilities is sent for disposal.

https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2019/jun/21/us-plastic-recycling-landfills
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MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - Mexico has deployed almost 15,000 soldiers and National Guard in the north of the country to stem the flow of illegal immigration across the border into the United States, the head of the Mexican Army said on Monday.

Mexico has not traditionally used security forces to stop undocumented foreign citizens leaving the country for the United States, and photographs of militarized police catching Central American and Cuban women at the border in recent days have met with criticism.

Mexico is trying to curb a surge of migrants from third countries crossing its territory in order to reach the United States, under the threat of tariffs on its exports by U.S. President Donald Trump, who has made tightening border security a priority.

Responding to weekend reports of heavy-handed interventions by the military, Luis Cresencio Sandoval, the head of the Army, said soldiers were needed to back up migration officials in containment operations.

Alongside 6,500 members of the security forces sent to Mexico’s southern border area with Guatemala, where many migrants enter, a larger contingent was in the north, he said.

“In the northern part of the country we have a total deployment of 14,000, almost 15,000 units between the National Guard and the Army,” Sandoval told a regular news conference.

“If we left it completely in the hands of the National Institute of Migration it wouldn’t be possible,” he added. “That’s why we’re providing support, it’s a strategy being pursued on both borders.”

A new militarized police force formed from soldiers, marines and federal police, the National Guard is at the heart of Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador’s plan to restore order in a country convulsed by record levels of violence.

The force is still taking shape, and due to be headed by a retired general under the aegis of the security ministry.

Reuters images taken on Friday showed National Guard members detaining Cuban and Central American women trying to illegally cross from Ciudad Juarez, Mexico into El Paso, Texas.

Former Mexican national security official Gustavo Mohar said Mexico’s security forces had not been used this way before, describing the development as “sad.”

Mohar blamed the change on Trump’s threats to impose tariffs. The National Guard should ideally not be implementing migration policy, he argued, while acknowledging that Mexican migration authorities were overwhelmed.

Mexico on June 7 agreed to reduce significantly the number of migrants reaching the U.S. border within a period of 45 days.

If that fails, Lopez Obrador’s government has said it will consider changing its laws to satisfy Trump’s demand that Mexico become a buffer zone to stop migrants entering the United States.

Most of the people caught on the U.S.-Mexico border are from three Central American countries suffering from high levels of gang violence and poverty: Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador.

Trump has said he will impose initial tariffs of 5% on all Mexican goods if the migrant flow is not curbed. The tariff could eventually rise as high as 25%, he has said.

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-trade-mexico-immigration/mexico-says-it-has-deployed-15000-forces-in-the-north-to-halt-u-s-bound-migration-idUSKCN1TP2YN
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The "Center" of American Politics Is on the Left - Robert Reich
« Reply #13179 on: June 25, 2019, 05:56:49 AM »
More Americans want a robust social safety net than you might think.

Donald Trump, Fox News, and Republicans in Congress label proposals they disagree with “fringe,” “radical,” or “socialist.” Well, let’s see where the American people actually stand.

On the economy, 76 percent of Americans favor higher taxes on the super-rich, including over half of registered Republicans. Over 60 percent favor a wealth tax on fortunes of $50 million or more. Even Fox News polls confirm these trends.

What about health care? Well, 70 percent want Medicare for All, which most define as Medicare for anyone who wants it. Sixty percent of Republicans support allowing anyone under 65 to buy into Medicare.

https://prospect.org/article/center-american-politics-on-left

Ninety-two percent want lower prescription drug prices. Over 70 percent think we should be able to buy drugs imported from Canada.

On family issues, more than 80 percent of Americans want paid maternity leave. Seventy-nine percent of voters want more affordable child care. And that includes 80 percent of Republicans.

Sixty percent of Americans support free college tuition for those who meet income requirements.

Sixty-two percent think climate change is man-made and needs addressing.

Eighty-four percent think money has too much influence in politics. Seventy-seven percent support limits on campaign spending. And that includes 71 percent of Republicans.

I could go on.

So why do the powerful call these policy ideas “fringe,” or “radical,” or “socialist?”

Money. Many of these initiatives would cost them—requiring either higher taxes on the rich (many could be achieved by repealing the giant Trump tax cut for the wealthy and corporations), or regulations that might cut into their corporate profits.

So you can bet that as these proposals become even more popular, the powerful are going to intensify their attacks.

But just remember: the “center” is not halfway between what most Americans want and what big corporations, Wall Street, and the super-wealthy want.

The “center” is what the vast majority of Americans want. 

<a href="http://www.youtube.com/v/96WViBpcV1Q&fs=1" target="_blank" class="new_win">http://www.youtube.com/v/96WViBpcV1Q&fs=1</a>

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Standing up During the National Anthem in Cinema Halls
« Reply #13180 on: June 25, 2019, 06:02:56 AM »

How does standing up for the National Anthem in movie halls prove our patriotism?

“There is no flag large enough to cover the shame of killing innocent people.”
-Howard Zinn

In an interim order passed by the Supreme Court on November 30, 2016, it was made compulsory for theatres to play the national anthem before a movie. To quote the bench, that also included our then Chief Justice Dipak Misra, it was time people expressed their “love for the motherland”. In January 2018, the apex court modified its own order, saying that playing the national anthem was not compulsory, but rather at the discretion of the cinema hall owners. However, “showing respect” would be mandatory if the anthem was played.

Despite playing the national anthem no longer being compulsory since 2018, more or less every movie hall now plays the national anthem. The question is, should it be mandatory to do that? Perhaps a more grave question would be to ask, how right is our present day notion of nationalism?
Love for the Nation vs. Pseudo Nationalism

There is a clear, yet often overlooked difference between ‘love for one’s country’, and a rampant psuedo-nationalism that forces you to constantly prove your loyalty. Is playing the national anthem in movie halls, and compulsorily standing up for it the only sign of our love for the nation? If yes, then the extremists who beat up people for ‘not respecting’ the national anthem must be India’s best citizens, right? The hooligans protecting our nation’s sanctity, is that the epitome of our nationalism?

One might ask, what’s so wrong in playing, standing up for, and/or singing the national anthem? Nothing, of course. The problem is making the same practice a compulsion. And, more importantly, declaring anybody who does not follow, an ‘anti-national’ element, questioning their love for the country. There are far more important things our country needs us for. This is not to say one should disrespect the national anthem. But rather, that if an individual chooses not to ‘compulsorily’ stand up for the anthem, it does not mean they are conspiring against the nation.

Holding such fickle and narrow views of nationalism means subjecting our country and its citizens to more dangers. Think about it. Even as early as 2014, when the ordinance hadn’t been passed, a man was beaten up in a movie theatre when his non-Indian girlfriend did not stand up for the national anthem. Another was charged with sedition charges. In 2017, a disabled person was abused in a movie theatre for the same reason, despite the SC clearly exempting people with disabilities from the ordinance.
Freedom of Expression of the Individual

So, while there may be no harm in standing up during the national anthem, we must not equate that with the only indication of ‘respecting’ the anthem, or the nation. Doing so will only create unnecessary terror, mostly in the hearts of good citizens. A democratic nation where people have the freedom of expression, of individuality, must refrain from moving away from its basic values. When you are being made to prove your loyalty and love for the nation in 52 seconds, on terms not decided by you, it makes sense to question the psuedo-nationalist ideology behind it.

Our nationalism is faulty if it believes our nation is perfect, with no cracks to repair.

If it believes people should be fearful of the nation, more than they should be in love.

If it believes we need to be punished, to be cast aside in fear if we don’t put our loyalty on display.

True nationalism and patriotism towards the country isn’t about blindly supporting everything that happens within our borders, or to stand up for the national anthem while beating up those who choose not to. If that is our prevalent definition, then we are indeed heading towards dangerous times.

https://www.mapsofindia.com/my-india/imo/standing-up-during-the-national-anthem-in-cinema-halls#
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France are looking to be the global leader in the fight against online hate speech and the spread of fake news.

In a world first, Facebook will hand over identification data of French users that are suspected of hate speech to judges in French courts.

The measure was announced by France's minister for digital affairs, Cedric O, on Tuesday.

Mr O is one of Emmanuel Macron's earliest political allies, and has been a big influence in shaping the French leader's policy on big tech.

The decision by Facebook comes after several meetings between founder Mark Zuckerberg and President Macron, who says he wants to take a global role on the regulation of hate speech and the spread of fake news online.

Facebook has so far cooperated with the French legal system in relation to terror attacks, previously handing over IP addresses and other data of suspected individuals, if it is formally asked for.

After a meeting between Sir Nick Clegg, who is Facebook's head of global affairs, and Mr O, the tech company extended its terms of cooperation to hate speech.

Speaking to the Reuters news agency, Mr O said: "This is huge news, it means that the judicial process will
be able to run normally.

https://news.sky.com/story/facebook-to-give-data-of-hate-speech-suspects-to-french-courts-in-world-first-11748991
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Smoke from US wildfires boosting health risk for millions
« Reply #13182 on: June 25, 2019, 05:00:55 PM »
BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — Climate change in the Western U.S. means more intense and frequent wildfires churning out waves of smoke that scientists say will sweep across the continent to affect tens of millions of people and cause a spike in premature deaths.

That emerging reality is prompting people in cities and rural areas alike to prepare for another summer of sooty skies along the West Coast and in the Rocky Mountains — the regions widely expected to suffer most from blazes tied to dryer, warmer conditions.

“There’s so little we can do. We have air purifiers and masks — otherwise we’re just like ‘Please don’t burn,’” said Sarah Rochelle Montoya of San Francisco, who fled her home with her husband and children last fall to escape thick smoke enveloping the city from a disastrous fire roughly 150 miles (241 kilometers) away.

Other sources of air pollution are in decline in the U.S. as coal-fired power plants close and fewer older cars roll down highways. But those air quality gains are being erased in some areas by the ill effects of massive clouds of smoke that can spread hundreds and even thousands of miles on cross-country winds, according to researchers.

With the 2019 wildfire season already heating up and fires breaking out from Southern California through Canada to Alaska, authorities are scrambling to better protect the public before smoke again blankets cities and towns. Officials in Seattle recently announced plans to retrofit five public buildings as smoke-free shelters.

Scientists from NASA and universities are refining satellite imagery to predict where smoke will travel and how intense it will be. Local authorities are using those forecasts to send out real-time alerts encouraging people to stay indoors when conditions turn unhealthy.

The scope of the problem is immense: Over the next three decades, more than 300 counties in the West will see more severe smoke waves from wildfires, sometimes lasting weeks longer than in years past, according to atmospheric researchers led by a team from Yale and Harvard.

For almost two weeks last year during the Camp Fire , which killed 85 people and destroyed 14,000 homes in Paradise, California, smoke from the blaze inundated the San Francisco neighborhood where Montoya lives with her husband, Trevor McNeil, and their three children.

Lines formed outside hardware stores as people rushed to buy face masks and indoor air purifiers. The city’s famous open air cable cars shut down. Schools kept children inside or canceled classes, and a church soup kitchen sheltered homeless people from the smoke.

Montoya’s three children have respiratory problems that their doctor says is likely a precursor to asthma, she said. That would put them among those most at-risk from being harmed by wildfire smoke, but the family was unable to find child-sized face masks or an adequate air filter. Both were sold out everywhere they looked.

In desperation, her family ended up fleeing to a relative’s vacation home in Lake Tahoe. The children were delighted that they could go outside again.

“We really needed our kids to be able to breathe,” Montoya said.

Smoke from wildfires was once considered a fleeting nuisance except for the most vulnerable populations. But it’s now seen in some regions as a recurring and increasing public health threat, said James Crooks, a health investigator at National Jewish Health, a Denver medical center that specializes in respiratory ailments.

“There are so many fires, so many places upwind of you that you’re getting increased particle levels and increased ozone from the fires for weeks and weeks,” Crooks said.

One such place is Ashland, Oregon, a city of about 21,000 known for its summer-long Oregon Shakespeare Festival.

During each of the past two summers, Ashland had about 40 days of smoke-filled air, said Chris Chambers, wildfire division chief for the fire department. Last year, that forced cancellation of more than two-dozen outdoor performances. Family physician Justin Adams said the smoke was hardest on his patients with asthma and other breathing problems and he expects some to see long-term health effects.

“It was essentially like they’d started smoking again for two months,” he said.

Voters in 2018 approved a bond measure that includes money to retrofit Ashland schools with “scrubbers” to filter smoke. Other public buildings and businesses already have them. A community alert system allows 6,500 people to receive emails and text messages when the National Weather Service issues smoke alerts.

“We really feel like we’ve made a conscious effort to adapt to climate change,” Chambers said. “But you can’t just live your whole life inside.”

The direct damage from conflagrations that regularly erupt in the West is stark. In California alone, wildfires over the past two years torched more than 33,000 houses, outbuildings and other structures and killed 146 people.

Harder to grasp are health impacts from microscopic particles in the smoke that can trigger heart attacks, breathing problems and other maladies. The particles, about 1/30th of the diameter of a human hair, penetrate deeply into the lungs to cause coughing, chest pain and asthma attacks. Children, the elderly and people with lung diseases or heart trouble are most at risk.

Death can occur within days or weeks among the most vulnerable following heavy smoke exposure, said Linda Smith, chief of the California Air Resources Board’s health branch.

Over the past decade as many as 2,500 people annually died prematurely in the U.S. from short-term wildfire smoke exposure, according to Environmental Protection Agency scientists.

The long-term effects have only recently come into focus, with estimates that chronic smoke exposure causes about 20,000 premature deaths per year, said Jeff Pierce, an associate professor of atmospheric science at Colorado State University.

That figure could double by the end of this century due to hotter, drier conditions and much longer fire seasons, said Pierce.

His research team compared known health impacts from air pollution against future climate scenarios to derive its projections. The results suggested smoke will spread to become a dominant pollutant even in areas not typically associated with wildfires, such as the South and Northeast.

Even among wildfire experts, understanding of health impacts from smoke was elusive until recently. But attitudes shifted as growing awareness of climate change ushered in research examining wildfire’s potential consequences.

Residents of Northern California, western Oregon, Washington state and the Northern Rockies are projected to suffer the worst increases in smoke exposure, according to Loretta Mickley, a senior climate research fellow at Harvard University.

“It’s really incredible how much the U.S. has managed to clean up the air from other (pollution) sources like power plants and industry and cars,” Mickley said. “Climate change is throwing a new variable into the mix and increasing smoke, and that will work against our other efforts to clear the air through regulations. This is kind of an unexpected source of pollution and health hazard.”

https://apnews.com/903ca717a11f44de9f007844f05f5279
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Flood damage at least $2 billion for Mississippi River towns
« Reply #13183 on: June 25, 2019, 05:11:42 PM »
ST. LOUIS (AP) — Repairs and cleanup following the prolonged flooding along the Mississippi River will cost more than $2 billion, an advocacy group for river communities said Tuesday.

Heavier than normal snow melt in the late winter and frequent and heavy rains through the spring led to flooding that approached record levels in several towns from Iowa to Louisiana. Equally troubling has been how long the high water has stuck around. Even now, the river remains well above flood stage throughout much of the Mississippi River corridor.

Colin Wellenkamp, executive director of the Mississippi River Cities and Towns Initiative, said the damage along the Mississippi River was estimated at nearly $2 billion by the end of March, even before several additional rounds of major flooding. He expects the number to rise but said it’s too early for a more accurate estimate.

The Mississippi has been above flood stage at some southern towns for more than 200 days. Mayors who spoke during a conference call with the media Tuesday said the length of the flood has created unusual trouble.

Some places are dealing with sinkholes due to water soaking the ground, or seepage through saturated levees. In Greenville, Mississippi, Mayor Errick Simmons said sewer pump failures have been particularly damaging in the town’s poorest areas.

“Some folks can’t flush their commodes,” Simmons said. He expects the flood fight to last several more months.

One of the hardest-hit towns was Davenport, Iowa, where raging water surged into downtown after a barrier failed on April 30, swamping several buildings and washing away vehicles.

Davenport Mayor Frank Klipsch said that by the time the barrier gave way, it had already been holding back floodwater for up to 80 days.

“The unprecedented length of the flood, coupled with the depth, has definitely had a serious impact,” Klipsch said.

The flood was the second-worst on record in the neighboring Illinois towns of Grafton and Alton, north of St. Louis. Grafton Mayor Rick Eberlin said the popular shops on the tourist town’s Main Street have been closed for weeks and aren’t expected to reopen until mid-July.

Alton Mayor Brant Walker said the flood was so bad in his town that the river grew to 7 miles (11 kilometers) wide. An estimated 500 to 700 workers have been idled in Alton due to flooding, including those employed by a casino that had to temporarily shut down.

“We’re hoping to get this flood behind us and get everybody back to work because it’s been absolutely devastating,” Walker said.

The flood has damaged around 30 levees along the Mississippi River, said Jared Gartman of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers office in Vicksburg, Mississippi. Gartman said the cost of the damage has not yet been determined.

https://apnews.com/d14581e6fdb34b2483bc305763ae304b
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Illinois becomes 11th state to allow recreational marijuana
« Reply #13184 on: June 25, 2019, 05:13:39 PM »
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) — Illinois’ new governor delivered on a top campaign promise Tuesday by signing legislation making the state the 11th to approve marijuana for recreational use in a program offering legal remedies and economic benefits to minorities whose lives critics say were damaged by a wayward war on drugs.

Legalization in Illinois also means that nearly 800,000 people with criminal records for purchasing or possessing 30 grams of marijuana or less may have those records expunged, a provision minority lawmakers and interest groups demanded. It also gives cannabis-vendor preference to minority owners and promises 25% of tax revenue from marijuana sales to redevelop impoverished communities.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker, whose election last year gave Democrats complete control over state government again after four years under GOP predecessor Bruce Rauner, signed the bill in Chicago amid a bevy of pot proponents, including the plan’s lead sponsors, Rep. Kelly Cassidy and Sen. Heather Steans, both Chicago Democrats.

“Today, we’re hitting the ‘reset’ button on the war on drugs,” Cassidy said.

Residents may purchase and possess up to 1 ounce (30 grams) of marijuana at a time. Non-residents may have 15 grams. The law provides for cannabis purchases by adults 21 and older at approved dispensaries, which, after they’re licensed and established, may start selling Jan. 1, 2020. Possession remains a crime until Jan. 1, a spokesman for Senate Democrats said.

“The war on cannabis has destroyed families, filled prisons with nonviolent offenders, and disproportionately disrupted black and brown communities,” Pritzker said. “Law enforcement across the nation has spent billions of dollars to enforce the criminalization of cannabis, yet its consumption remains widespread.”

On the campaign trail, Pritzker claimed that, once established, taxation of marijuana could generate $800 million to $1 billion a year. He said dispensary licensing would bring in $170 million in the coming year alone. But Cassidy and Steans have dampened that prediction, lowering estimates to $58 million in the first year and $500 million annually within five years.

Carrying the psychoactive ingredient THC, marijuana was effectively outlawed in the U.S. in 1937 and in the 1970s was declared a drug with no medicinal purpose and high potential for abuse.

Blacks have been most susceptible since then to “Just say ‘No‴-era crackdowns. Pritzker quoted a 2010 statistic from the American Civil Liberties Union that while blacks comprise 15% of Illinois’ population, they account for 60% of cannabis-possession arrests.

Peoria Democratic Rep. Jehan Gordon-Booth summarized marijuana’s recent history as one where “white men would get rich and black men would get arrested.” The plan addresses those concerns with the criminal-record scrubbing by giving preference to would-be marijuana vendors in areas of high poverty and records of large numbers of convictions. And 25% of tax proceeds must be reinvested in impoverished communities, while 20% is dedicated to substance-abuse treatment programs.

“What we are doing here is about reparations,” Gordon-Booth said. “After 40 years of treating entire communities like criminals, here comes this multibillion-dollar industry, and guess what? Black and brown people have been put at the very center of this policy in a way that no other state has ever done.”

Police organizations are wary, concerned about enforcing driving under the influence laws and arguing technology for testing marijuana impairment needs more development. Law enforcement organizations fearing black-market impacts were successful in killing an earlier provision that would have allowed anyone to grow up to five marijuana plants at home for personal use. Police said they’d have difficulty enforcing that, so the bill was amended to allow five plants to be maintained only by authorized patients under the state’s medical marijuana law. They previously could not grow their own.

Ten other states and the District of Columbia have legalized smoking or eating marijuana for recreational use since 2012, when voters in Colorado and Washington state approved ballot initiatives. This year began with promising proposals in New York and New Jersey , but both fizzled late this spring. Despite a statewide listening tour on the issue by Pennsylvania’s lieutenant governor last winter, the idea never took flight.

Vermont and Michigan last year were the latest states to legalize marijuana. Vermont did so through the Legislature — the first time it wasn’t done through a ballot initiative — but while it allows residents to grow small amounts for themselves, it didn’t establish a statewide distribution system like Illinois did, licensing dispensaries. Other states license dispensaries too, but not all.

Illinois’ 55 medical-cannabis dispensaries get first crack at licenses to sell under the new law because they’re proven business concerns, Cassidy said. They may apply to dispense recreational pot at their current stores and for a license for a second location, meaning the state could have 110 recreational pot outlets by the time sales start Jan. 1. In October, the application period for 75 more dispensaries opens. No more would be allowed to open after that until the state conducts a review of the rollout.

https://apnews.com/7b793d88f3c84417b83db0f770854960
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