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Electricity company Dayton Power & Light said on Monday it would shut down two coal-fired power plants in southern Ohio next year for economic reasons, a setback for the ailing coal industry but a victory for environmental activists.
A roundup of stories we're reading at BillMoyers.com HQ...
Dozens of California communities have experienced recent rates of childhood lead poisoning that surpass those of Flint, Michigan, with one Fresno locale showing rates nearly three times higher, blood testing data obtained by Reuters shows.
The data shows how lead poisoning affects even a state known for its environmental advocacy, with high rates of childhood exposure found in a swath of the Bay Area and downtown Los Angeles. And the figures show that, despite national strides in eliminating lead-based products, hazards remain in areas far from the Rust Belt or East Coast regions filled with old housing and legacy industry.
In one central Fresno zip code, 13.6 percent of blood tests on children under six years old came back high for lead. That compares to 5 percent across the city of Flint during its recent water contamination crisis. In all, Reuters found at least 29 Golden State neighborhoods where children had elevated lead tests at rates at least as high as in Flint.
Joshua Schneyer and M.B. Pell | REUTERS
Nearly 380,000 Michigan residents get their water from systems that would fail to meet a tough new lead-safety standard proposed by Gov. Rick Snyder, including those in Monroe, Bay City, Benton Harbor and Holland Township.
More than three dozen public water systems currently have tested lead levels exceeding the safety threshold Snyder plans to implement by 2020, which would be the nation’s most stringent standard. The Snyder administration has not yet specified what corrective action the communities would need to take.
Unicef report says climate change and conflict are intensifying risks to children of living without enough water, and that the poorest will suffer most
Drought conditions and conflict are driving deadly water scarcity in parts of Ethiopia, Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan and Yemen. Unicef anticipates that more than 9 million people will be without safe drinking water this year in Ethiopia alone. Nearly 1.4 million children face imminent risk of death from acute malnutrition in South Sudan, Nigeria, Somalia and Yemen.
The report, Thirsting for a Future: Water and Children in a Changing Climate, looked at the threats to children’s lives and wellbeing caused by depleted sources of safe water and the ways in which climate change will intensify these risks.
As industrialisation and demographic shifts increase consumption, areas of south Asia and the Middle East will be particularly affected, according to one of the report’s authors, Nicholas Rees. “Where demand is extremely high then water stress will increase. It will go up in areas of rapid urbanisation, and we are already seeing that throughout sub-Saharan Africa and Asia,” he said.
$1bn of oil is stolen in Mexico each year, while EU loses massive revenues, says the Atlantic Council thinktank
The dramatic decline in new coal-fired units was overwhelmingly due to policy shifts in China and India and subsequent declining investment prospects, according to a report by Greenpeace, the US-based Sierra Club and research network CoalSwarm.
The report said the amount of new capacity starting construction was down 62% in 2016 on the year before, and work was frozen at more than a hundred sites in China and India. In January, China’s energy regulator halted work on a further 100 new coal-fired projects, suggesting the trend was not going away.
Researchers are scrambling for ways to get the strong, light material out of landfill and make it ready for recycling and reuse
Carbon fibre is increasingly celebrated as a wonder material for the clean economy. Its unique combination of high strength and low weight has helped drive the wind power revolution and make planes more fuel efficient.
Carbon fibre turbine blades can be longer and more rigid than traditional fibreglass models, making them more resilient at sea and more efficient in less breezy conditions.
Auto makers are also waking up to the material’s potential to make lighter and more efficient vehicles. McLaren recently announced plans to open a factory in Sheffield to manufacture carbon fibre sports cars, and BMW’s i3 is fitted with a carbon fibre passenger unit – the first such mass-produced car.
But carbon fibre has a dirty secret: the hi-tech material is wasteful to produce and difficult to recycle.
....If we can divert carbon fibre from landfill, they could open the gates for use of recycled carbon fibre in cars, bikes and for dozens of other applications. They could also save a lot of energy since the production of virgin material is the most energy-intensive part
of the process.
Republicans have no realistic alternative to the ACA. It's time for single-payer.
....Paying for Medicare for All would require an increase in taxes — perhaps an earmarked progressive income tax for the purpose — but that increase would be offset by the elimination of premiums and out-of-pocket costs, and the slowing of inflation that stems from our market-based system. As it now stands, 65% of health costs are already paid for by the federal government in one way or another. Health policy experts estimate this would increase to 80% with Medicare for All. Since employers would no longer have the expense of providing health insurance, they would be more competitive in global markets and would likely hire more workers.
We are now between a rock and a hard place. Obamacare is faltering, and the incoming Trump administration has no realistic alternative. Paradoxically, this might be exactly the right time to push for a national health program.
Yes, repeal Obamacare, but not without replacing it, and the best replacement is Medicare for All. Some polls suggest most Americans favor such a system. We should pick up our metaphorical pitchforks and torches and make that preference known.
Sea level rise is making floods more common and as the New Jersey resort braces for the next Sandy, the well-heeled Florida city is throwing money at the problem
....The rising ocean, fed by melting glaciers and the expansion of warming water, is piling up water along America’s entire eastern seaboard. To compound the problem much of the mid-Atlantic coast is sinking, a hangover from the last ice age, meaning life and property is being swamped like never before.
And yet with no overarching national sea level rise plan, and patchy commitment from states, many coastal communities are left to deal with the encroaching seas themselves. Wealthier areas are raising streets and houses, erecting walls and pumps. Those without the funds or political will have several state or federal grants they can access but often make muddled choices in the face of this sisyphean task.
....Miami Beach is now often referred to as ground zero for the sea level rise phenomenon. But it’s perhaps more like a living laboratory experiment into what happens when you give a cashed-up place the task of avoiding drowning.
Miami Beach is spending $400m on a network of pumps, sea walls and raised streets in order to beat the tides. One vulnerable neighborhood, Sunset Harbor, has had its streets raised by 2ft at a cost of over $30m. All over the island, predominantly in the wealthier neighborhoods where properties go for $10m or more, streets are being torn up.
With the Republican Climate Resolution, Climate Solutions Caucus, and Climate Leadership Council, Republicans are trying to end their party’s climate denial
The Republican Climate Resolution also follows a proposal by eight Republican elder statesmen in the Climate Leadership Council – including Secretaries of State and Treasury to former Presidents Reagan, George H.W. Bush, and George W. Bush – for the Republican Party to support a bipartisan revenue-neutral carbon tax. The group met with the White House to urge support for this policy. Were President Trump to throw his support behind this bipartisan, free market, small government, economically beneficial solution to climate change, along with the support of these 19 House Republicans, the policy might conceivably gain momentum in Congress.
Republican voters would also support this shift. 62% of Trump voters favor a tax or regulations on carbon pollution, or both. While these voters don’t view climate change as an urgent threat or high priority, and thus aren’t too bothered by their party’s general climate denial and policy obstruction, they would nevertheless prefer that Republican policymakers take steps to address the threats posed by climate change.
It would certainly be a smart move for the Republican Party. The current party policy involves rejecting decades’ worth of scientific evidence and a 97% expert consensus, and rolling back all of the progress America has made to address the threats posed by climate change.
....denying a problem doesn’t make it go away.
Pumped hydro, big battery, solar thermal and solar PV and storage projects are already planned for South Australia’s power network
Cracking down on dissent has been a hallmark of Chinese public life. But a population once ignorant of the toxic cost of pollution is speaking out against a government intent on growing the economy. The war on pollution has increased tensions across China
Climate change denial and energy conspiracy are high on the president’s agenda, but US scientists are fighting back
We need to learn from the Danish supermarkets, where organic produce is front and centre, not niche
Mainstreaming organic would mean lower costs so more people get to experience the benefits of organic food (as well as lifestock and wildlife). A 2014 study found quantities of antioxidants (that can help prevent cancer and heart disease) are between 19% and 69% higher in organic than non-organic.
It’s not just food. Farmers producing organic cotton have better lives: the organic system of crop rotation means that they also grow food crops to feed their own families.
This is a big theme in ethical consumerism: don’t just demand quality for yourself, demand quality of life for the producer, too.
Despite Trump halting reduction of the US’s vast CO2 emissions, climate change is being taken seriously around the world from China to Sweden
....Researchers, Eicke Latz at the University of Bonn and colleagues, followed up on the parents’ hypothesis and found that in mice, cyclodextrin indeed blocked plaque formation, melted away plaques that had already formed in arteries, reduced atherosclerosis-associated inflammation, and revved up cholesterol metabolism—even in rodents fed cholesterol-rich diets.
Though it won't 'cure' Alzheimer's, tests show compound, similar to that found in energy drinks, clears amyloid beta plaques, which build up in the brain in early stages of Alzheimer’s
Green buildings and better infrastructure would not only spur economic growth but also cut carbon emissions equal to India’s annual output
A growing body of evidence suggests pollution can do a number on the brain. The July/August Mother Jones cover story chronicled the research connecting neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer's and Parkinson's to the dirty air we breathe; studies have found that pollution may also age the brain prematurely. And according to new research from the University of Texas-El Paso, pollution's damage to the brain may start even sooner than was previously thought: Fourth and fifth graders exposed to exhaust emissions, researchers found, don't do as well in school as their peers who breathe cleaner air.
Though Canada's system is the second most expensive in the world per capita, it would save America $1.3 Trillion/yr and cover everyone
Lesley Stahl discovers the shock and anxiety of a cancer diagnosis can be followed by a second jolt: the astronomical price of cancer drugs[All the other OECD countries negotiate much lower drug & medical procedure costs]
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If the press can relinquish its self-regard and battle Trump with Watergate-era gusto, perhaps it might stand for something of value to Americans.
....In this sense, Bannon was right when he declared that journalists “do not understand why Donald Trump is president of the United States.” If Trump’s lies are what got him elected, and what will keep him popular, then the media’s allegiance to a noncommittal parsing of the blizzard of falsehoods now issuing from the Oval Office is woefully inadequate to our post-truth political environment—particularly since it’s now an article of faith among the Trump faithful that it’s the media, not the president, that’s doing the lying.
So here’s a crazy thought: What if, rather than reflexively assuming its defensive posture of “objectivity,” the press embraced this opportunity to go full-offense? In declaring the media the “opposition party,” Bannon may have actually done it a great favor, tacitly casting it as a worthy adversary to Trump’s newfound power. If the press can find a way to conceptualize itself as a true opposition party, then perhaps American journalism might stand for something that would be of value to readers and viewers. But to get a clearer fix on what that might look like, we need to revisit a time when the mainstream media engaged in effective, adversarial journalism that served the civic good.
Vodafone and trio of high street banks take action as industry and UK government ask how their ads became attached to extremist material
Unprofessional journalists are 'roasted'.
The A.P. reported that Paul Manafort, Trump’s former campaign manager, worked for a number of years with Oleg Deripaska, a Russian billionaire who has close ties to Vladimir Putin. PHOTOGRAPH BY SAM HODGSON / THE NEW YORK TIMES / REDUX
....The FBI information includes “human intelligence, travel, business and phone records and accounts of in-person meetings,” according to CNN, which, citing an unnamed source, also reported that “this is partly what FBI Director James Comey was referring to when he made a bombshell announcement Monday before Congress that the FBI is investigating the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia.” Comey told Congress that, to launch a counterintelligence investigation, the F.B.I. needed “a credible allegation of wrongdoing or reasonable basis to believe that an American may be acting as an agent of a foreign power.”
The CNN report wasn’t the only Russia story to emerge on Wednesday. Earlier in the day, the Associated Press reported that Paul Manafort, Trump’s former campaign manager, worked for a number of years with Oleg Deripaska, a Russian billionaire who has close ties to Vladimir Putin, to “influence politics, business dealings and news coverage inside the United States, Europe and the former Soviet republics to benefit the Putin government.”
The A.P. report quoted from a 2005 document in which Manafort made a pitch to Deripaska, who runs the world’s biggest aluminum company. In the document, Manafort said that his consulting company, given “the appropriate resources,” would “be offering a great service that can re-focus, both internally and externally, the policies of the Putin government.” The story also said that Manafort and Deripaska signed a “$10 million annual contract” beginning in 2006, and that they maintained a business relationship until at least 2009.
What are we to make of these reports? On social media, many people are declaring that Trump is about to be impeached. That is wishful thinking. On Monday, Comey only confirmed the existence of an F.B.I. investigation—he gave no indication of how the investigation is going. In Congress, meanwhile, there isn’t enough Republican support to set up a special committee to investigate the President’s ties to Russia, let alone to appoint an independent prosecutor or launch impeachment proceedings.
....In all of this, there is much that remains murky. One thing shines through, though. The White House’s “marginalia” problem is far from marginal, and it isn’t going away.
Late-night meetings prove inconclusive as president forges ahead with Friday vote on flagship promise despite fears bill may fail
President Donald Trump’s advisers have been doing the rounds trying to secure enough Republican support to change Barack Obama’s healthcare law. Photograph: Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images
After weeks of legislative bets and bluffs, Donald Trump decided on Thursday night that it was time for everyone to show their hand on healthcare reform.
As Republican legislators gathered for emotional late-night meetings on Capitol Hill, Trump sent over his most trusted advisers – Steve Bannon, Kellyanne Conway, Reince Priebus and budget director Mick Mulvaney – to try to help craft majority support for legislation to replace Barack Obama’s signature healthcare law.
The message from the White House was plain: vote on the bill on Friday. Let opponents cast their votes publicly. And if the legislation fails, there won’t be another effort to make good on the flagship Republican promise to replace Obama’s Affordable Care Act.
The president was moving on, his advisers told legislators.
Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer joins Bob Casey and independent Bernie Sanders in opposition, setting stage for clash over potential filibuster
Chuck Schumer has voiced his opposition to Neil Gorsuch’s supreme court nomination. Photograph: Jonathan Ernst/Reuters
“After careful deliberation, I have concluded that I cannot support Judge Neil Gorsuch’s nomination to the supreme court,” Schumer said on the Senate floor. “He will have to earn 60 votes for confirmation. My vote will be ‘no’ and I urge my colleagues to do the same.”
Republicans have a 52-48 majority in the Senate. But Democrats will insist on 60 votes to clear a procedural move known as a a filibuster to allow a final up-or-down vote on confirming Gorsuch to America’s highest court. Donald Trump has called on Republicans to change the rules to allow a simple majority vote on confirmation.
But Schumer pleaded with Republicans not to deploy this so-called “nuclear option”, insisting: “If this nominee cannot earn 60 votes, a bar met by each of President Obama’s nominees, and President Bush’s last two nominees, the answer isn’t to change the rules – it’s to change the nominee.”
Singling out the crimes of undocumented immigrants has one objective: to make people view them as deviant, dangerous and fundamentally undesirable;
‘This serves no purpose but to demonize immigrants.’ Photograph: Gosia Wozniacka/AP
Donald Trump wants us to associate immigrants with criminality. That is the reason behind a weekly published list of immigrant crimes – the first of which was made public on Monday. Singling out the crimes of undocumented immigrants has one objective: to make people view them as deviant, dangerous and fundamentally undesirable.
The very idea is sinister.
Since the start of his presidential campaign, Trump characterized brown-skinned immigrants as criminals by painting Mexicans as rapists and Muslims as terrorists. This fear-mongering has continued into his administration, and has expressed itself in unprecedented policies.
A radical middle-class insurgency has stormed the Republican Party.
In 2016, a radical, right-wing, middle-class insurgency displaced the dominant capitalists in the Republican Party, at least temporarily. Donald Trump’s nomination and election is the most recent chapter in an ongoing struggle that began in the aftermath of the economic crisis and the 2008 Democratic electoral victory. Capital successfully beat back the first wave of middle-class radicalism in the Republican Party — the Tea Party — during the 2014 congressional elections, but these rebels were not vanquished. They were radicalized.
Since the 1960s, the voter base of the Republican Party has been made up primarily of older, suburban, white, middle-class, small businesspeople, professionals, and managers, and a minority of older white workers. Until recently, the particular passions of that base — especially its hostility to the democratic gains of people of color, women, and LGBT people — could be contained. Minor concessions to social conservatives on abortion, affirmative action, voter restrictions, and same-sex marriage/legal equality maintained their loyalty, while capitalists set the substantive neoliberal agenda for the Republicans. As with the Democrats, the non-capitalist elements of the Republican coalition were clearly junior partners to capital.
REPORTING ON PATIENT SAFETY STORIES, particularly those involving medical devices, is tough. The road to publication or getting on-air is littered with obstacles—from federal and state regulators as well as device makers—and often constrained by the newsroom itself. Nonetheless, as the 21st Century Cures Act (which loosens regulations over medical device makers and makes it easier to market them based on lower standards) takes effect, the job of warning the public of potentially harmful consequences still falls to the media.
A recent effort by WJLA, the ABC affiliate in Washington, D.C., underscores why such journalism remains crucial. The story—a lengthy exposé about textured breast implants that are implicated in a rare type of lymphoma—is a fine piece of consumer health journalism that should give women in the Washington area a lot to think about before choosing such implants.
Questions about the safety of breast implants have been raised before, and Kimberly Suiters’ reporting shows that concerns persist. Her story, Suiters told me, grew out of another that aired a few months earlier. In that first story, Suiters reported that women with breast implants seemed to have higher suicide rates than women who did not have them. One plastic surgeon told Suiters about an apparent connection between a certain type of textured implant and lymphoma. The surgeon—a former board member at Allergan, which manufactures implants—mentioned his concerns over the possible link to the manufacturer. He also shared those concerns with Suiters, which prompted her to dig deeper.
Drone strikes require deeper reforms than changing which officials approve a “kill list.”
We’re allowing a mindset of “anything Trump does is wrong”—coupled with lightning-speed historical revisionism for the Obama era—to sustain the same mistakes in the war on terror that have continued to fuel radical Islam. But there may be a window of opportunity to turn the anti-Trump rhetoric into a review of the failed policies of the last decade and a half.
A recent example of “anything Trump does is wrong” has to do with the president changing the rules for drone-kill decision making. In May 2013 President Obama self-imposed a dual standard (known as the “playbook”) for remote killing. The White House, including Obama himself reviewing a kill list at regular meetings, would decide which individuals outside of the “traditional war zones” of Iraq and Afghanistan would be targeted.
Meanwhile, in America’s post-9/11 traditional war zones, military commanders then made, and now make, the kill decisions without civilian review, with the threshold for “acceptable civilian casualties” supposedly less strict. Because the president is supposed to make his decisions with more regard than the military for civilian deaths (though there are no statistics to support that this has been the outcome), the process represented, in the words of the New York Times, “restraint.” Other supporters refer to the president’s role as oversight.
The time has come for the UK’s tax havens, which make up half of the top offshore centres, to make a choice: complete independence from the UK and keep their laws, or implement all relevant UK laws
‘Tax havens trade on the integrity of the UK while having different legal and regulatory arrangements for the rich.’ St Helier Harbour, Jersey. Photograph: Stuart Abraham/Alamy
This newspaper’s work exposing the “Laundromat” system of money-laundering highlights again the weaknesses in the United Kingdom’s financial system – built around the City – for detecting illicitly and corruptly obtained money, in this case from Russia. Most of this money is related to proceeds of crime, tax evasion and capital flight. How much dirty Russian cash has entered the financial system is unknown. About $20bn in criminal proceeds was laundered into 96 countries via eastern Europe and UK companies, many of them managed offshore. Worryingly, some may have fuelled political subversion.
Britain has a responsibility in tackling this at home and abroad. Crown dependencies and overseas territories constitute about half of the top global offshore sectors. They trade on the stability and integrity of the UK while having different legal and regulatory arrangements for rich individuals, trusts and corporates. The time has come for them to make a choice between complete independence from the UK and keeping their laws as they are, or implementing all relevant UK laws. If you want to trade on your association with Britain, then accept the standards the UK asks for the regulation of financial services. These centres should decide: British laws or their own.
Human rights groups call for release of men arrested by security forces at Minsk literature festival, and others held as protests rock authoritarian state
A demonstrator at ‘The March by Those Who Are Not Social Parasites’ in Minsk last week. Photograph: Viktor Drachev/Tass
Human rights organisations have called on Belarusian authorities to drop all charges immediately against writers, publishers and journalists who have been arrested following a wave of nationwide protests.
The Committee to Protect Journalists said security forces had detained or otherwise obstructed at least 32 people in recent weeks. It was joined by Pen America in protesting against the arrests.
PRINCETON – On March 27, the United Nations will start negotiations on an international treaty to ban nuclear weapons. It will be a milestone marking the beginning of the end of an age of existential peril for humanity.
This day was bound to come. From the beginning, even those who set the world on the path to nuclear weapons understood the mortal danger and moral challenge confronting humanity. In April 1945, US Secretary of War Henry Stimson explained to President Harry Truman that the atomic bomb would be “the most terrible weapon ever known in human history.” Stimson warned that “the world in its present state of moral advancement compared with its technical development would be eventually at the mercy of such a weapon. In other words, modern civilization might be completely destroyed.”
....The new resolution’s instructions are straightforward: “States participating in the conference” should “make their best endeavors to conclude as soon as possible a legally binding instrument to prohibit nuclear weapons, leading towards their total elimination.” The treaty could be ready before the end of the year.
The nine nuclear weapon states will finally be put to the test. Will they keep their promises to disarm and join the treaty, or will they choose their weapons over international law and the will of the global community? The non-weapon states that join the treaty will be tested, too. How will they organize to confront those countries in the world system that choose to be nuclear outlaws?
....Last year also marked the first time in millions of years that the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere reached 400 parts per million (ppm). While the Paris climate agreement was hailed as a major success when it was concluded in December 2015, many signatories have displayed a remarkable lack of ambition in upholding their carbon-reduction commitments. To understand why is to see the sheer extent to which our systems of government have been captured by the corrupting influence of vested interests.
....To fulfill the Paris agreement, efforts to combat corruption and climate change must go hand in hand. Corruption, in the widest sense of the word, is the glue that holds the “system” together, that ensures that moneyed and powerful interests are free from rules that are meant to hold them in check. It is why governments that pledged to make large reductions in greenhouse-gas emissions have been unable to meet their commitments.
Shell, Exxon, and most other major oil and gas companies knew decades ago that their products were fueling climate change. But instead of acting on that knowledge, and changing their business model, they embarked on a massive campaign to deceive the public and lure policymakers into complacency. Not surprisingly, Shell is one of 47 major hydrocarbon producers now being investigated by the Filipino government for its role in contributing to human-rights violations stemming from climate change.
To sustain progress in the fight against climate change and corruption, environmental and anti-corruption movements will have to work together, and play to their respective strengths. If nothing else, Trump’s election, and the possibility of more populist victories in Europe this year, have given us a wake-up call.
Exclusive: Draft regulations seen by the Guardian reveal the European commission wants to prohibit the insecticides that cause ‘acute risks to bees’
A Carniolan honey bee (Apis mellifera carnica) is collecting nectar at a yellow rapeseed blossom. Bees and other vital food crop pollinators have been declining for decades. Photograph: Frank Bienewald/LightRocket/Getty Images
The world’s most widely used insecticides would be banned from all fields across Europe under draft regulations from the European commission, seen by the Guardian.
The documents are the first indication that the powerful commission wants a complete ban and cite “high acute risks to bees”. A ban could be in place this year if the proposals are approved by a majority of EU member states.
Bees and other pollinators are vital for many food crops but have been declining for decades due to habitat loss, disease and pesticide use. The insecticides, called neonicotinoids, have been in use for over 20 years and have been linked to serious harm in bees.
A fierce battle has been fought between environmental campaigners and farming and pesticides groups. The latter argue the insecticides are vital for crop protection and that opposition is to them is political.
The EU imposed a temporary ban on the use of the three key neonicotinoids on some crops in 2013. However, the new proposals are for a complete ban on their use in fields, with the only exception being for plants entirely grown in greenhouses. The proposals could be voted on as soon as May and, if approved, would enter force within months.
An ‘international tourism destination of peerless beauty’ say the slogans hanging in the streets of Guilin, but one of the scenic city’s rivers has recently been home to sewage and garbage. In a country where environmentalists are charged with anti-government espionage, will the authorities intervene?
The Li River and the spectacular karst peaks that the Guilin region is famous for. Photograph: Imaginechina/Rex/Shutterstock
A plan to halve carbon emissions every decade, while green energy continues to double every five years, provides a simple but rigorous roadmap to tackle climate change, scientists say
A new “carbon law”, modelled on Moore’s law in computing, has been proposed as a roadmap for beating climate change. It sees carbon emissions halving every decade, while green energy continues to double every five years.
The carbon law’s proponents are senior climate-change scientists and they argue it provides a simple, broad but quantitative plan that could drive governments and businesses to make urgently needed carbon cuts, particularly at a time when global warming is falling off the global political agenda.
Christiana Figueres, who as the then UN’s climate chief delivered the landmark Paris climate change deal in 2015, said: “The carbon law for keeping us on track with Paris – something we can all follow – is such a valuable contribution at this critical time.”
Moore’s law is the observation that innovation doubles the number of transistors on a computer chip about every two years and it has held true for 50 years. The researchers behind the carbon law say similar laws of exponential growth can already be seen in clean energy.
Democratic representative Adam Schiff calls for independent investigation after Devin Nunes shared information with Trump administration before committee
'The Democratic leadership in the House and Senate,' says filmmaker Michael Moore, 'needs to bring a halt to all business being done in the name of this potential felony suspect, Donald J. Trump.'
The Democratic Party needs to declare a National Emergency. For the first time in our history, the President of the United States and his staff are under investigation for espionage. This announcement, by the head of the Trump-friendly FBI, is a shock to our democracy. The Democratic leadership in the House and Senate needs to bring a halt to all business being done in the name of this potential felony suspect, Donald J. Trump. No bill he supports, no Supreme Court nominee he has named, can be decided while he is under a criminal investigation. His presidency has no legitimacy until the FBI - and an independent investigative committee—discovers the truth. Fellow citizens, demand the Democrats cease all business.
"The American people have a right to know if their President is a crook." —Richard Nixon
....The fundamental question now isn’t about Trump’s lies, or intelligence leaks, or inadvertent collection of Trump communications. Rather, the crucial question is as monumental as it is simple: Was there treason?
We don’t know yet what unfolded, and raw intelligence is often wrong. But the issue cries out for a careful, public and bipartisan investigation by an independent commission.
“There’s a smell of treason in the air,” Douglas Brinkley, the historian, told The Washington Post. He’s right, and we must dispel that stench.
Congress has tried since the 1940s to curb predatory for-profit schools that survive almost solely on federal money while they saddle students with crushing loans for useless degrees. As the industry’s scandals grew and its role in the student debt crisis became more excessive, the Obama administration established rules that could get the worst of these programs off the federal dole. But the Education Department under its new secretary, Betsy DeVos, seems ready to undermine those regulations and let predatory schools flourish once again.
The department has hired two high-level officials from the for-profit sector — one of whom has since resigned. The other is from a school, under state and federal investigation, that the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau fined last year for duping students into taking out costly private loans.
President 'has shown himself to be everything that on the campaign trail he expressed to hate about Washington—a self-dealer more interested in helping his friends and big donors than creating a democracy'
Why do Republicans seem intent on hurting the most vulnerable among us?
The one question you never hear journalists ask Republicans is why?
Why do so many Republicans want to throw 24 million struggling Americans off the health insurance rolls? Why does the allegedly populist Trump administration submit a budget that slashes job training programs for the very same jobless white folks he claimed to represent?
....According to Trump’s “skinny budget,” African-American families and communities stand to lose billions in programs and services that touch every aspect of our lives. This budget makes it harder for black people to raise healthy children, get an education, live in a safe neighborhood, secure adequate housing, and maintain a good quality job.
From the cradle to the grave, these billions of dollars in cuts will leave black Americans worse off—especially since African Americans are over-represented as beneficiaries for many of the programs. Cuts of approximately $150 million to the Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) program—where blacks represent 20 percent of enrollment—guarantees fewer black families receive nutrition education and supplements necessary for small children. The elimination of $1.2 billion in grants to after-school and summer programs, which serve 1 in 4 black students, will leave millions of kids without opportunities that give them a chance to get ahead. At the college level, nearly two thirds of black undergrads at public four-year institutions depend on tuition assistance received through Pell Grants. Reducing the funding for this program by $3.9 billion ensures fewer black students go to college, even as the labor market demands more credentials for good quality jobs. And for blacks in the labor market, the cuts to the Labor Department—which provides training for people who decide against a four-year degree, and combats the discrimination that still plagues black workers—makes it harder to get and keep a decent job.
In their updated health bill, House Republicans are doubling down on their plan to cut taxes for high-income households while cutting health insurance for mostly low- and moderate-income households — speeding up tax cuts for the very richest people so they take effect in 2017, rather than 2018.
Seven years after the Affordable Care Act was enacted, Republicans are trying to follow through on their promises to repeal and replace Obamacare. On March 6, Republican House leaders introduced the American Health Care Act, which will go through several iterations before it ever reaches President Donald Trump's desk. As crafted, the bill would repeal several taxes and insurance mandates established by the ACA, fundamentally alter premium subsidies and make significant changes to Medicaid funding. We'll be tracking major policy changes and their impacts as the bill moves through Congress:
Hannah Recht, Zachary Tracer and Mira Rojanasakul | Bloomberg
- It eliminates subsidies to help Americans pay out-of-pocket costs incurred when they have purchased health insurance through the ACA marketplace “exchanges.” By 2026, the elimination of these cost-sharing subsidies will increase out-of-pocket costs by roughly $16 billion per year.
- It dismantles key regulations that govern the breadth of protections offered by insurance policies sold through the ACA exchanges. This will degrade the quality of insurance for all enrollees in nongroup (i.e., individual) markets, regardless of whether they receive subsidies for coverage. By 2026 this decrease in insurance plan quality will boost out-of-pocket costs by roughly $9 billion per year.
- It takes Medicaid coverage away from 14 million Americans in 2026. Because Medicaid recipients face extremely low out-of-pocket costs, this shift alone will boost out-of-pocket costs faced by patients in 2026 by roughly $7 billion.
- It moves 7 million Americans off of employer-sponsored insurance and into uninsured status. The primary damage done by this move will be to force these 7 million people to simply consume much less health care. But even with this reduction they will face roughly $460 million in higher out-of-pocket costs by 2026.
Only the full release of his tax records can help shed light on whether Trump is a crook – or compromised
America is in a crisis of governance. There is no adult in charge.
....As a result of all this, the most powerful nation in the world with the largest economy in the world is rudderless and leaderless.
Maybe it's human nature to gloat while Trump's voters lose their health care — but it's not the path to victory
Critics says America’s soft power could be dramatically diluted if it does not find a way to stop alienating allies around the world
The financial giant is the first of a group of 17 banks to divest from the loan that financed the pipeline as the embattled project is set to begin transporting oil
The debate over migration is plagued by a variety of inaccuracies and misunderstandings -- on both the right and the left. Here is what the research really shows.
Migration was the issue of the year in 2016 and it will likely remain important in 2017. The topic is, however, just as hotly debated as it is poorly understood. The so-called "refugee crisis" in Europe and the omnipresent images of overfilled boats arriving on Mediterranean shores give the impression that migration is threatening to spin out of control and that radical action is needed to curtail the uncontrollable influx of migrants. The fear of mass migration has fueled the rise of extreme nationalist parties throughout Europe and helped Donald Trump win the presidential election in the U.S.
This call for tougher migration policies is juxtaposed by another, albeit somewhat weaker, opinion voiced by the business sector, human rights and religious organizations and left-liberal parties. They argue that migration tends to be beneficial for both origin and destination societies, and that we should not see refugees as a burden but as a potential resource.
But in this polarized debate, the rather more sobering facts unfortunately get lost. Both the left-wing and right-wing narratives on migration are rooted in a series of myths that reveal a striking lack of knowledge about the nature, causes and consequences of migration processes. This text examines eight of the myths that I have often encountered in my research.
The recent election in the Netherlands has sparked hope that the march of the right-wing populists has been halted. But it's important that populism be answered with democratic confidence rather than misguided imitation.
....The dual shock of Brexit and Donald Trump's election may have magnified the tendency to exaggerate the ugly. In both cases, the inability to see what was coming increased the media's self-doubt, shook the political classes and unsettled entire societies. But it would be a cardinal error to conclude from Brexit and Trump that the theories and tirades of right-wing troublemakers automatically represent the "voice of the people" and are thus the expression of justifiable concerns.
No matter what one might think of public opinion polls, they regularly agree that the greatest concern voters have is not the Islamization of the West or a "population swap" being secretly planned by shadowy powers. No, the greatest concerns are completely normal, mundane issues like work, prosperity and health. People are worried about good schools, adequate penions and social equity. There is, of course, also unease as to whether Germany can handle so many refugees and there is, increasingly, significant anger when the impression arises that politicians are in cahoots with business in opposition to the public good or are more dedicated to balancing the budget than fixing the plaster crumbling from school walls.
It's Time To Take on the Troublemakers
Fighting the populists and preventing them from enjoying election day success first requires a rejection of their misplaced agenda setting. We have to both understand and point out that populists aren't just seeking to take advantage of problems that exist, they are also seeking to create new problems. It is urgently necessary for the democratically minded, for citizens interested in national consensus, to confront the nationalist troublemakers and racist rabble-rousers with self-confidence. Even if not everything is perfect and some of their procedures can be annoying, there simply is no reasonable alternative to our free democratic principles or to the European Union.
DER SPIEGEL Editorial by Ullrich Fichtner | Der Spiegel
KIEV, Ukraine — After his name surfaced last August in a secret ledger listing millions of dollars in payments from a pro-Russian party in Ukraine, Paul Manafort not only lost his job running Donald J. Trump’s presidential campaign but also assumed center stage in a bizarre internecine struggle among Ukrainian political forces.
On Monday, the intrigue took another turn, when a member of Parliament in Ukraine released documents that he said showed that Mr. Manafort took steps to hide the payments, which were tied to Mr. Manafort’s work for former President Viktor F. Yanukovych. The documents included an invoice that appeared to show $750,000 funneled through an offshore account and disguised as payment for computers.
Mr. Manafort, who denied the latest allegations, has asserted that the ledger is a forgery and that the member of Parliament, Serhiy A. Leshchenko, was involved in a scheme to blackmail him. Mr. Leshchenko insists that a letter appearing to show him threatening Mr. Manafort with the release of damaging information was itself a fake, and he denies any involvement in blackmail.
US secretary of state could skip first meeting with Nato foreign ministers, amid growing questions over Trump administration’s closeness to Moscow
Move likely to embarrass British government as UN agency says lack of talks with Europe means it should refrain from further work
Nordic countries are most content of 155 ranked by UN
, while countries in sub-Saharan Africa are least happy
....We do know that Trump projects have loads of Russian customers. They’re particularly enamored of a Trump-licensed condo complex in south Florida, units of which they seem to flip with alacrity.
Purchasing US real estate is a favorite way for Russians, Chinese and other newly rich to move money of dubious origin or just beat the capital controls in their own countries. Being at the receiving end of money whose movement at least violated capital controls in its country of origin isn’t money laundering. Under the statute, the launderer is the financial intermediary that enabled the transfers. Actual knowledge of concealment or unlawful activity is required (18 USC section 1956).
But Trump and a lot of other real estate dealers ultimately benefit. In public records, purchasers are usually Delaware LLCs. That is why FinCEN issued geographic targeting orders to require title insurance companies to report the individual purchasers in large cash real estate transactions in six US cities favored for such investments, and why condo prices in those cities have taken a hit.
Deutsche Bank among western institutions that processed billions of dollars in cash of ‘criminal origin’ through Latvia
The German bank that loaned $300m (#260m) to Donald Trump played a prominent role in a money laundering scandal run by Russian criminals with ties to the Kremlin, the Guardian can reveal.
Deutsche Bank is one of dozens of western financial institutions that processed at least $20bn – and possibly more – in money of “criminal origin” from Russia.
The scheme, dubbed “the Global Laundromat”, ran from 2010 to 2014.
Law enforcement agencies are investigating how a group of politically well-connected Russians were able to use UK-registered companies to launder billions of dollars in cash. The companies made fictitious loans to each other, underwritten by Russian businesses.
The companies would default on these “debts”. Judges in Moldova then made court rulings enforcing judgments against the firms. This allowed Russian bank accounts to transfer huge sums to Moldova legally. From there, the money went to accounts in Latvia with Trasta Komercbanka.
Deutsche, Germany’s biggest lender, acted as a “correspondent bank” for Trasta until 2015. This meant Deutsche provided dollar-denominated services to Trasta’s non-resident Russian clients. This service was used to move money from Latvia to banks across the world.
During this period many Wall Street banks got out of Latvia, citing concerns that the small Baltic country had become a centre for international money laundering, especially from neighbouring Russia.
$1bn of oil is stolen in Mexico each year, while EU loses massive revenues, says the Atlantic Council thinktank
Exclusive: Billions of dollars were moved out of Russia in ‘Global Laundromat’ operation, with anonymously owned UK companies playing major role
“What we have discovered is that there are an additional 6,000-10,000 merchants that are out there online accepting cards and sending transaction data through one or more of the acquirer’s portfolios. The acquirer is processing 10,000 more merchants and they don’t know who they are. They can be anyone. The acquirer is completely unaware of the significance of these transactions.”
That’s from Ron Teicher, CEO of Evercompliant, an Israeli company that focused on transaction laundering detection and prevention.
It is a startling statistic. Notably it suggests anti-money laundering (AML) and know-your-customer (KYC) regulations brought in post-crisis may have been entirely ineffective. And, of course, that criminals have an endless capacity to adapt.
The scam is simple. Rather than setting up bricks and mortar front businesses to launder profits from illicit activities, those who peddle illegal goods — from drugs to weapons and gambling services — set up fake web stores that appear to sell legitimate goods instead. (The more virtual those fake goods are, the better and easier for them.) These fake stores are then onboarded onto merchant processor systems and used as fronts to process entirely illegal transactions through. Technically, customers provide credit card authorisation details to the illegal stores, but these are transferred over to the fake sites for processing.
Worryingly, Teicher says regulators are entirely behind the curve on this. Most don’t even know about it. Even worse, banks and processors don’t seem to care about the problem either.
How to Hide $400 Million [("Ideal," thinks Trump.) Tax-shelters have evolved into a distributed, international system of deregulation loopholes that enable vast worldwide corruption]
When a wealthy businessman set out to divorce his wife, their fortune vanished. The quest to find it would reveal the depths of an offshore financial system bigger than the U.S. economy.
The Financial Times headline is uncharacteristically dramatic: America’s Middle Class Meltdown: core shrinks to half of US homes.