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  • Trooper quietly buried amid scrutiny over Black man's death

    Trooper quietly buried amid scrutiny over Black man's deathA Louisiana state trooper who died in a single-car crash just hours after he was told he would be fired for his role in the death of a Black man was buried with honors Friday at a ceremony that authorities sought to keep secret out of concerns it would attract a mass protest. State Police officials and family members mourned Master Trooper Chris Hollingsworth under tight security at services that marked the latest turn in the long-simmering in-custody death case of Ronald Greene, which has prompted a federal civil-rights probe and increasing calls for authorities to release body-camera video. Hollingsworth was the only one of six troopers placed on leave earlier this month in the May 2019 death of Greene following a high-speed chase.

  • 'I Feel Sorry for Americans': A Baffled World Watches the U.S.

    'I Feel Sorry for Americans': A Baffled World Watches the U.S.BANGKOK -- Myanmar is a poor country struggling with open ethnic warfare and a coronavirus outbreak that could overload its broken hospitals. That hasn't stopped its politicians from commiserating with a country they think has lost its way."I feel sorry for Americans," said Myint Oo, a member of Parliament in Myanmar. "But we can't help the U.S. because we are a very small country."The same sentiment prevails in Canada, one of the most developed countries. Two out of three Canadians live within about 60 miles of the U.S. border."Personally, it's like watching the decline of the Roman Empire," said Mike Bradley, the mayor of Sarnia, an industrial city on the border with Michigan, where locals used to venture for lunch.Amid the pandemic and in the run-up to the presidential election, much of the world is watching the United States with a mix of shock, chagrin and, most of all, bafflement.How did a superpower allow itself to be felled by a virus? And after nearly four years during which President Donald Trump has praised authoritarian leaders and obscenely dismissed some other countries as insignificant and crime-ridden, is the United States in danger of exhibiting some of the same traits he has disparaged?"The USA is a first-world country, but it is acting like a third-world country," said Aung Thu Nyein, a political analyst in Myanmar.Adding to the sense of bewilderment, Trump has refused to embrace an indispensable principle of democracy, dodging questions about whether he will commit to a peaceful transition of power after the November election should he lose.His demurral, combined with his frequent attacks on the balloting process, earned a rebuke from Republicans, including Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah. "Fundamental to democracy is the peaceful transition of power," Romney wrote on Twitter. "Without that, there is Belarus."In Belarus, where tens of thousands of people have faced down police after the widely disputed reelection last month of President Alexander Lukashenko, Trump's remarks sounded familiar."It reminds me of Belarus, when a person cannot admit defeat and looks for any means to prove that he couldn't lose," said Kiryl Kalbasnikau, a 29-year-old opposition activist and actor. "This would be a warning sign for any democracy."Some others in Europe are confident that U.S. institutions are strong enough to withstand assault."I have no doubt in the ability of the constitutional structures of the United States with their system of checks and balances to function," said Johann Wadephul of Germany, a senior lawmaker from Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservatives.Still, that the president of the United States, the very country that shepherded the birth of Germany's own peaceful democracy after the defeat of the Third Reich, was wavering on the sanctity of the electoral process has been met with disbelief and dismay.The diminution of the United States' global image began before the pandemic, as Trump administration officials snubbed international accords and embraced an America First policy. Now, though, its reputation seems to be in free fall.A Pew Research Center poll of 13 countries found that over the past year, nations including Canada, Japan, Australia and Germany have been viewing the United States in its most negative light in years. In every country surveyed, the vast majority of respondents thought the United States was doing a bad job with the pandemic.Such global disapproval historically has applied to countries with less open political systems and strongmen in charge. But people from just the kind of developing countries that Trump has mocked say the signs coming from the United States are ominous: a disease unchecked, mass protests over racial and social inequality, and a president who seems unwilling to pledge support for the tenets of electoral democracy.Mexico, perhaps more than any other country, has been the target of Trump's ire, with the president using it as a campaign punching bag and vowing to make Mexicans pay for a border wall. Now they are feeling a new emotion that has overtaken their anger and bewilderment at Trumpian insults: sympathy."We used to look to the U.S. for democratic governance inspiration," said Eduardo Bohorquez, director of Transparency International Mexico. "Sadly, this is not the case anymore."'Being great' is simply not enough," he added.In Indonesia, the most populous Muslim-majority democracy, there is a sense that the United States has left the world adrift, even if its application overseas of democratic ideals was imperfect. For decades, Washington supported some of Asia's most ruthless dictators because they were considered vital to halting communism in the region."The world sees the dismantling of social cohesion within American society and the mess in managing COVID," said Yenny Wahid, an Indonesian politician and activist. "There is a vacuum of leadership that needs to be filled, but America is not fulfilling that leadership role."Wahid, whose father was president of Indonesia after the country emerged from decades of strongman rule, said she worried that Trump's dismissive attitude toward democratic principles could legitimize authoritarians."Trump inspired many dictators, many leaders who are interested in dictatorship, to copy his style, and he emboldened them," she said.In places like the Philippines, Mexico and others, elected leaders have been compared to Trump when they have turned to divisive rhetoric, disregard of institutions, intolerance of dissent and antipathy toward the media.But there is also a sense that Americans are now getting a glimpse of the troubles people living in fragile democracies must endure."They now know what it's like in other countries: violating norms, international trade and its own institutions," said Eunice Rendon, an expert on migration and security and the director of Migrant Agenda, a nonprofit organization in Mexico. "The most powerful country in the world all of a sudden looks vulnerable."Already, a U.S. passport, which once allowed easy access to almost every country in the world, is no longer a valuable travel pass. Because of the coronavirus, American tourists are banned from most of Europe, Asia, Africa, Oceania and Latin America.Albania, Brazil and Belarus are among a small group of countries welcoming Americans with no restrictions, however.The State Department has tried to play up its role in battling the coronavirus overseas, even as the United States struggled to supply its own doctors and nurses with adequate equipment early in the pandemic. In March, the United States provided 10,000 gloves and 5,000 surgical masks, among other medical supplies, to Thailand, which today has recorded fewer than 3,520 coronavirus cases and 59 deaths. Despite the low caseload, most Thais continue to wear face masks in public, and the country never suffered a mask shortage."Through the American people's generosity and the U.S. government's action, the United States continues to demonstrate global leadership in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic," a State Department statement said.In Cambodia, which reports being largely spared by the virus so far, there is a measure of schadenfreude toward the United States. Prime Minister Hun Sen has survived as Asia's longest-serving leader by cracking down on dissent and cozying up to China. He has turned his back on U.S. aid because it often came with conditions to improve human rights. Now he and his administration are ridiculing the United States and its handling of the pandemic."He has many nuclear weapons," Sok Eysan, a spokesperson for Hun Sen's Cambodian People's Party, said of Trump. "But he is careless with a disease that can't be seen."This article originally appeared in The New York Times.(C) 2020 The New York Times Company

  • At UN, Pakistani leader calls India a sponsor of Muslim hate

    At UN, Pakistani leader calls India a sponsor of Muslim hatePakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan on Friday assailed India’s Hindu nationalist government and its moves to cement control of Muslim-majority Kashmir, calling India a state sponsor of hatred and prejudice against Islam. Khan said at the annual U.N. gathering of world leaders that Islamophobia rules India and threatens the nearly 200 million Muslims who live there. “They believe that India is exclusive to Hindus and others are not equal citizens,” he said in a prerecorded speech to the U.N. General Assembly, which is being held virtually amid the coronavirus pandemic.

  • Latin American leaders push at UN for free Covid vaccine

    Latin American leaders push at UN for free Covid vaccineLatin American leaders have appealed at the United Nations for free access to a future Covid-19 vaccine, urging major powers to share their know-how for the sake of global well-being.

  • Takeaways: Labor abuses in the palm oil industry

  • New measurements show moon has hazardous radiation levels

    New measurements show moon has hazardous radiation levelsChina’s lander on the far side of the moon is providing the first full measurements of radiation exposure from the lunar surface, vital information for NASA and others aiming to send astronauts to the moon, the study noted. “This is an immense achievement in the sense that now we have a data set which we can use to benchmark our radiation" and better understand the potential risk to people on the moon, said Thomas Berger, a physicist with the German Space Agency's medicine institute. Astronauts would get 200 to 1,000 times more radiation on the moon than what we experience on Earth — or five to 10 times more than passengers on a trans-Atlantic airline flight, noted Robert Wimmer-Schweingruber of Christian-Albrechts University in Kiel, Germany.

  • Egyptian arrested for smuggling narcotics in box of dates

  • Under virus strain, Europe's leaders plead at UN for unity

    Under virus strain, Europe's leaders plead at UN for unityStruggling to contain resurgent virus infections, European leaders decried a collective failure to vanquish the pandemic and told the U.N. General Assembly on Friday that the time has come for countries to reinvent international cooperation. This year’s unusual work-from-home General Assembly — with leaders communicating only in prerecorded speeches — comes as COVID-19 cases escalate in many regions but especially in Europe, where some of the world's most advanced hospitals in some of the world’s richest countries are again under strain. “This emergency has, more than a thousand treaties or speeches, made us suddenly realize that we are part of one single world,” said Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez.

  • Internova Travel Group Celebrates World Tourism Day

    Internova Travel Group Celebrates World Tourism DayInternova Travel Group recognizes and affirms the vitality of World Tourism Day, held this year on September 27. The day of observance, backed and promoted by the United Nations, is a time to show the impact of tourism to healthy economies around the world, celebrate achievements in the field and educate the traveling public about this sector. Travel & Tourism is a crucial field, providing employment for millions, as well as a service that helps businesses and people across the world learn, grow and experience history, new cultures and places.

  • Global Power System State Estimators Industry

  • Trump's coronavirus remarks weigh on minds of senior voters

    Trump's coronavirus remarks weigh on minds of senior votersPresident Donald Trump’s remarks at a campaign event in Ohio this week reverberated all the way to a sparkling waterfront in Florida, where senior citizens parsed his assessment of the coronavirus pandemic. Trump said that COVID-19 was seriously affecting “virtually nobody” under the age of 18 and sought to frame the pandemic as largely impacting older Americans, as he argued for school districts to resume in-person learning. “Now we know it affects elderly people with heart problems and other problems,” Trump said.

  • The other issues: Pandemic focus at UN pushes out key topics

    The other issues: Pandemic focus at UN pushes out key topicsAt the United Nations this week, Kenya's president lamented the loss of animal species and called for measures to combat climate change. None of these issues — nor numerous others — is getting lavish attention during this year's virtual General Assembly leaders meeting, which goes through Sept. 29.

  • Global Precision Irrigation Industry

  • COVID-19 can't crush human rights, UN gathering declares

    COVID-19 can't crush human rights, UN gathering declaresIn a diminished spotlight because of the COVID-19 pandemic, leading human rights defenders on Friday urged people in these fractured times to connect through politics — and vote, too. “In many places around the world, participation is being denied and civic space is being crushed,” United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said on the sidelines of the annual U.N. gathering of world leaders, this year held online.

  • Auschwitz Memorial director offers to serve sentence for Nigeria 'blasphemy' boy

    Auschwitz Memorial director offers to serve sentence for Nigeria 'blasphemy' boyPolish historian says he will serve part of the jail term of a boy, 13, convicted of blasphemy in Nigeria.

  • 'Climate detectives' uncover new Northern Hemisphere record low temperature

    'Climate detectives' uncover new Northern Hemisphere record low temperatureMove over, Russia. A team of climatological sleuths recently confirmed an astonishingly low temperature originally set nearly 30 years ago is the lowest ever recorded in the Northern Hemisphere.Greenland is now the new record-holder for the lowest temperature ever recorded in the Northern Hemisphere, after the World Meteorological Organization confirmed on Wednesday a jaw-dropping temperature of minus 93.3 F (minus 69.6 C) at an automatic weather station in Greenland on Dec. 22, 1991. The new record eclipses previous records held by Russia, where a temperature of minus 90 F at the Russian sites of Verkhoyansk (February 1892) and Oymyakon (January 1933) held the record for lowest-recorded temperature in the Northern Hemisphere. The world's lowest temperature record, of minus 128.6 F on July 21, 1983, is still held by Antarctica."In the era of climate change, much attention focuses on new heat records. This newly-recognized cold record is an important reminder about the stark contrasts that exist on this planet," said WMO Secretary-General Professor Petteri Taalas.The temperature was recorded at weather station at a remote site called Klinck, which sits at an elevation of 10,187 feet (3,105 meters) near the topographic summit of the Greenland Ice Sheet.CLICK HERE FOR THE FREE ACCUWEATHER APPThe new low, which was confirmed after nearly three decades from the original date, was uncovered by "climate detectives" with the WMO Archive of Weather and Climate Extremes. The archive was opened in 2007, well after this extreme temperature was first recorded.In terms of how the record was discovered and eventually confirmed, the WMO said "a WMO blue-ribbon international panel of polar scientists" tracked down the original scientists involved with the recording of the temperature. They then proceeded with a deep and detailed analysis of the equipment and observation practices that were carried out in back in 1991. "In this case, the temperature reading, because it was part of a research project, and not a long-standing permanent weather station, was only recently discovered," said AccuWeather Senior Weather Editor Jesse Ferrell."In general, investigations [into global temperature records] are extensive and can be lengthy," Ferrell explained. "They involve a committee which looks into instrument trustworthiness and calibration, proper 'siting' -- location of the instruments at proper height, with proper ground covering, sufficient shelter from sunlight, and distance away from buildings. They also look at nearby weather stations to compare readings, taking into account localized conditions on the day in question."It was after researchers investigated all of the factors that were at play during the original recording of the temperatures, that the panel unanimously recommended acceptance of the observation as valid. In this July 18, 2011 file photo, a boat steers slowly through floating ice, and around icebergs, all shed from the Greenland ice sheet, outside Ilulissat, Greenland. Climate historians hunting for past temperature extremes have unearthed what the U.N. weather agency calls a new record low in the Northern Hemisphere. (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley, File) On the report, Arizona State professor Randall Cerveny, rapporteur of climate and weather extremes for WMO, commended the ability of today's climate scientists, saying that they "not only identify modern climate records but to play 'climate detective' and uncover important past climate records.""It is testimony to the dedication of climate scientists and weather historians that we are now able to investigate many of these older records and secure a better global understanding of not only current, but also historical, climate extremes," Taalas said in a WMO statement. Thanks to the hard work of climate scientists, the WMO Archive of Weather and Climate extremes has uncovered a slew of similar meteorological records over the years. In 2014, the record for the "Highest Significant Wave Height as measured by a Buoy" was confirmed to be 62.3 feet, in the North Atlantic Ocean. That wave was caused by the passage of a cold front that produced winds up to 50.4 mph, the WMO said.This past June, the WMO confirmed multiple astounding records for lightning that were set in South America in recent years, including the longest duration for a lightning flash and the longest distance traveled by a bolt, which stretched an incredible 440 miles across southern Brazil.Currently, the organization is investigating whether a new all-time record high was set in June for the Arctic Circle. A temperature of 100.4 F (38 C) was recorded in Verkhoyansk, on June 21 amid a Siberian heat wave, the same town where one of the previous all-time record lows was recorded for the Northern Hemisphere. Keep checking back on and stay tuned to the AccuWeather Network on DirecTV, Frontier and Verizon Fios.

  • Pope to UN: Use COVID crisis to come out better, not worse

    Pope to UN: Use COVID crisis to come out better, not worsePope Francis urged world leaders Friday to use the coronavirus emergency as an opportunity to reform the injustices of the global economy and the “perverse logic” of the nuclear deterrence doctrine, warning that increased isolationist responses to problems “must not prevail.” Francis laid out his appeal for greater involvement and influence of the United Nations in protecting the poor, migrants and the environment in a videotaped speech Friday to the U.N. General Assembly, held mostly virtually this year because of the pandemic. Francis said the world has a choice to make as it emerges from the COVID-19 crisis and addresses the grave economic impact it has had on the planet’s most vulnerable: greater solidarity, dialogue and multilateralism, or self-retreat into greater nationalism, individualism and elitism.

  • Coronavirus: Age and climate seen as behind Africa's low cases

    Coronavirus: Age and climate seen as behind Africa's low casesThe continent has been spared the surge in coronavirus cases seen elsewhere in the world.

  • Abbas asks UN for international Mideast conference next year

    Abbas asks UN for international Mideast conference next yearPalestinian president Mahmud Abbas appealed Friday to the United Nations for an international conference on the Middle East in 2021, hoping for a new start after US elections and the milestone of Gulf Arabs' recognition of Israel.

  • 200 Popular Grocery Store Brands Just Made This Major Pledge

    200 Popular Grocery Store Brands Just Made This Major PledgeWhen it comes to food waste, we can all do a better job of finishing the groceries we buy, especially fresh produce. However, food manufacturers are also big contributors to the problem, which is why almost 200 brands made a pledge to cut their food waste in half in the next decade. (Check out 8 Grocery Items That May Soon Be in Short Supply Again.)The food makers to join the 10x20x30 initiative, which The Washington Post describes as "a global effort to slash the staggering amount of food that is discarded every year," will now be working alongside some of the largest food retailers in the world in a joint effort to make a difference.Ten major retailers, which include Walmart, Kroger, and the parent of Giant foods, all joined the campaign last year. The ten were then expected to rally 20 of their suppliers to sign onto the initiative in the hopes of halving the world's food waste by 2030, a goal that was initially set at the 2015 United Nations General Assembly."Food loss and waste is a massive global challenge. While addressing this challenge is a priority for us, 10x20x30 is built on the fact that no one company can address this challenge alone," Laura Phillips, senior vice president of sustainability at Walmart, said in a statement last year. "With 10x20x30, retailers work to reduce in-store food loss and waste as well as support their upstream suppliers to reduce their own loss and waste."In 2017, Unilever, PepsiCo, and Nestle Global, General Mills, and Conagra were among 15 brands that were part of the "inaugural class" of U.S. Food Loss and Waste 2030 Champions, which preceded the 10x20x30 campaign. Now, companies that produce Rice Krispies cereal, Spam, and Hellman's mayonnaise have signed on as well.According to the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization, about 30% of the world's food is unharvested or thrown away at some point in the supply chain. This considerable loss also contributes to climate change, accounting for as much as 8% of the global greenhouse emissions.A report from nonprofit ReFED revealed that 80% of food waste comes from restaurants, grocery stores, and home kitchens. For tips on how you can reduce food waste in your home, check out The Worst Food Storage Mistake You're Making Right Now, According to Experts.To stay informed on the latest food news, sign up for our newsletter.

  • Virus cases rise in US heartland, home to anti-mask feelings

    Virus cases rise in US heartland, home to anti-mask feelingsIt began with devastation in the New York City area, followed by a summertime crisis in the Sun Belt. Now the coronavirus is striking smaller cities in the heartland, often in conservative corners of America where anti-mask sentiment runs high. The spread has created new problems at hospitals, schools and colleges in the Midwest, as well as in parts of the West.

  • Pope rejects 'erosion of multilateralism' in UN speech

    Pope rejects 'erosion of multilateralism' in UN speechPope Francis warned world leaders on Friday against a growing breakdown of multilateralism, appealing in a speech to the United Nations for an end to what he called a global "climate of distrust."

  • Mali coup: Bah Ndaw sworn in as civilian leader

    Mali coup: Bah Ndaw sworn in as civilian leaderThe ex-defence minister was picked by the coup leader to head a transitional government until elections.

  • Japan's new PM says stable Japan-China ties key to region

  • Palestinian leader calls for new peace process in UN speech

    Palestinian leader calls for new peace process in UN speechPalestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Friday called for an international conference early next year to launch a "genuine peace process” while criticizing the recent decision of two Arab countries to normalize relations with Israel. Abbas seemed to acknowledge the growing international weariness with the decades-old conflict as he delivered the latest in a long series of addresses to the U.N. General Assembly. The Palestinians have rejected President Donald Trump’s proposal to end the conflict, which overwhelmingly favors Israel, and have officially cut off contacts with both the U.S. and Israel.

  • 2 charged over handling of virus outbreak at veterans home

    2 charged over handling of virus outbreak at veterans homeTwo former administrators of a Massachusetts veterans home where nearly 80 people sickened by the coronavirus died have been charged over their handling of the outbreak, the state attorney general said Friday. It's believed to be the first criminal case in the country brought against nursing home officials for actions during the pandemic, Attorney General Maura Healey said. Former Holyoke Soldiers' Home Superintendent Bennett Walsh and former Medical Director Dr. David Clinton were indicted by a grand jury on charges stemming from their decision in March to combine two dementia units, packing residents who were positive for the coronavirus into the same space as those with no symptoms, Healey said.

  • Putin proposes election non-interference pact with US

    Putin proposes election non-interference pact with USRussian President Vladimir Putin proposed Friday concluding a pact with Washington against interfering in one another's elections and internal affairs, just weeks before the US hosts a divisive presidential vote.

  • Coronavirus: Is the rate of growth in Africa slowing down?

    Coronavirus: Is the rate of growth in Africa slowing down?The overall rate of increase may be slowing, but there have still been sharp rises in some countries.

  • Abbas asks UN for international Mideast conference next year

    Abbas asks UN for international Mideast conference next yearPalestinian president Mahmud Abbas appealed Friday to the United Nations to arrange an international conference on the peace process, in the wake of Gulf Arab recognition of Israel.

  • The Latest: Pakistani leader denounces India over Kashmir

    The Latest: Pakistani leader denounces India over KashmirPakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan has assailed India’s Hindu nationalist government and its moves to cement control of Muslim-majority Kashmir, calling India a state sponsor of hatred and prejudice against Islam. Khan said Friday that Islamophobia prevails in India today and threatens the close to 200 million Muslims who live there. “They believe that India is exclusive to Hindus and others are not equal citizens,” Khan said in a prerecorded speech to the U.N. General Assembly, which is being held virtually amid the coronavirus pandemic.

  • Virginia governor, wife test positive for coronavirus

    Virginia governor, wife test positive for coronavirusVirginia Gov. Ralph Northam announced Friday that he and his wife have both tested positive for the coronavirus, though he said he is showing no symptoms. The Democrat, the country’s only governor who is also a doctor, has previously been criticized by some Republican lawmakers who say his restrictions aimed at slowing the spread of the viru s are too stringent. “We are grateful for your thoughts and support, but the best thing you can do for us — and most importantly, for your fellow Virginians — is to take this seriously,” Northam said.

  • Trump camp hopes Mideast pacts translate to Jewish support

    Trump camp hopes Mideast pacts translate to Jewish supportJewish American voters have leaned Democratic for decades, but Republicans are hoping the recent steps toward normalized relations between Gulf states and Israel — which Trump vigorously touted earlier this month — bolster his appeal to Jewish voters. With battleground states like Pennsylvania, Florida and Michigan collectively decided in 2016 by fewer than 200,000 votes, any loss of the Jewish support by Democratic nominee Joe Biden could be pivotal. “Democrats like to say they have a majority of the Jewish vote,” said Republican Jewish Coalition executive director Matt Brooks, whose group is spending $10 million to boost Trump and other GOP candidates in electoral battlegrounds ahead of November.

  • Gen Z’s Radical, Virtual Quest To Save The Planet

    Gen Z’s Radical, Virtual Quest To Save The PlanetIt’s time to wake up. On Global Day of Climate Action, VICE Media Group is solely telling stories about our current climate crisis. Click here to meet young climate leaders from around the globe and learn how you can take action. Many people first started paying attention to the youth climate movement in 2018, when now-17-year-old Greta Thunberg began protesting outside Swedish Parliament in her home country. Her small act of civil disobedience had a ripple effect. Students across the globe began striking by refusing to attend classes, which eventually turned into the “Fridays For Future” movement.It may sound like a ploy to get out of chemistry, but it’s not. Gen Z ranks climate change as the most important issue of our time, according to last year’s Amnesty International survey of more than 10,000 members of 18- to 25-year-olds. “Older generations were not out there protesting in the streets on this issue the way Gen Z is,” asserts Rebecca Bromley-Trujillo, PhD, who teaches political science and environmental policy at Christopher Newport University. These under-25 activists have formed organizations like Fridays For Future and Zero Hour, a movement that focuses on helping young people take action. Others have sued their state or even the United Nations. They’ve staged hunger strikes. They’ve performed spoken word poetry. These kids care. A lot. “Younger people see the total mess that Boomers and, to a lesser extent, millennials have left, and they have to figure out how to fix it,” says Jessica Green, PhD, an associate professor focused on climate governance at the University of Toronto. That’s a heavy burden to bear. Many self-report feeling eco-anxiety, or “a chronic fear of environmental doom,” according to the American Psychological Association. “For some Gen Z folks with whom I work, their eco-anxiety is related to a continuation of generations’ worth of oppression,” notes Kristi E. White, PhD, a clinical health psychologist with a focus on how climate change affects well-being. She’s referring specifically to BIPOC communities, which “have always been the most severely impacted by sustainability failures.” Others are confronting the more recent realization that they’re “inheriting many generations’ worth of avoidance and poor stewardship,” she says.While not every young adult is channeling their energy into activism, the post-millennials who are seem particularly ardent. Their attitude is: “The world is falling apart right now, and if you think it’s okay, what’s wrong with you?” Green says. We talked to leading climate activists in the U.S. — most of whom still can’t buy a legal drink — about how they got their start, what their activism looks like mid-pandemic, and why they think the youth are such incredible change-makers. DashDividers_1_500x100 Alexandria VillaseñorAge: 15  Location: New York City, NY Activism History: Founder of Earth Uprising; co-founder of the US Youth Climate Strike, a part of the Fridays for Future movement; filed a complaint against the United Nations, along with Greta Thunberg and 15 other climate activists. On getting her start in activism“When I was young, 5 or 6, I wanted to be a writer. I never would have expected that I’d end up being a climate activist at 15. But in 2018, I started striking at the end of the week as part of Fridays for Future. People called me alarmist and dramatic. I would tell them that, in the future, school wouldn’t matter anymore because we’d be running from multiple crises. And here we are. That future is now. Even if COVID didn’t exist, the entire West Coast couldn’t go because of the air quality. It would be so unsafe. And other places are beginning to see catastrophic events because of climate change. “The fires show us just how quickly we need to take action. I have a lot of family out in California. I was actually there over the last few months, very close to the LNU Lighting Complex fire. I’m very lucky to have been able to leave a few weeks ago. But as an asthma sufferer, I’m still recovering from the smoke inhalation. The scientists are warning us about the future and that it will get so much worse. We should listen to them.” On channeling fear for the future into action “I feel a sense of eco-grief. For me, that means a feeling of sadness and loss. I’m seeing the collapse of our biodiversity. I recently wrote a chapter in the book All We Can Save, and doing that reminded me of the Monarch butterflies in California. When I was growing up every year in the springtime, we’d get just so many butterflies. I’d see them on the playground, and in the fields, and it was always so exciting. But the population has declined drastically in the past couple of years. And so it’s just extremely upsetting to see those things that were very personal, and know that future young people won’t be able to experience them. “One thing that helps my eco-grief is taking direct action. Going out and protesting.”On why younger generations make great activists“Young people are forces when it comes to climate change because we speak very directly and bluntly. We have resources such as technology and social media and use them to our advantage when it comes to organizing and connecting with each other. Especially during the pandemic, we’ve been using social media to our advantage. Doing initiatives and campaigns, and putting pressure on politicians and those in power. “Youth activists think more outside the box, and don’t think just in terms of what’s ‘politically possible.’ It’s not only that we’ll be using the planet the longest — although things will get worse in our lifetime. We’ll see the worst consequences of climate change. “The youth climate movement has also seen how our movement needed to grow and be more intersectional, that it needs to have more people of color and people being affected directly by the climate crisis at the front lines. Because of that, I think that we’ll come out of this pandemic even stronger.”DashDividers_1_500x100 Sophia Kianni Age: 18 Location: McLean, Virginia  School: Indiana University, public policy analysis major  Activism History: Founder of Climate Cardinals; Youngest member of the United Nations Secretary-General’s Youth Advisory Group On Climate ChangeOn getting her start in activism“I first got into climate activism in sixth grade. My dad and I have a tradition of stargazing together. He’s super into astronomy, and we’d go out every night when I was little and he’d talk to me about the different constellations. But when I was visiting my grandmother’s house in the capital of Iran, Tehran, I went out and couldn’t see the stars because of the air quality. I thought, That’s so sad. “The climate crisis is affecting the Middle East, with temperatures rising more than twice the global average. I was struck by the fact that my relatives weren’t really aware of what was happening and didn’t know about climate change. And so for the past, like, six years, I’ve been translating climate information to help educate them. “And it’s not just my relatives. I found a study that showed only 5% of Iranian university students could properly explain the greenhouse gas effect. I saw there was clearly an issue, and I couldn’t find much climate change education that was available in Farsi, the language they speak. So, I founded Climate Cardinals, where I work with volunteers to translate climate information into 109 different languages. Recently we partnered with the UN’s environmental program to translate their Youth ForNature Manifesto that they’re going to be releasing soon in different languages.” On why younger generations make great activists“I think it’s because we have more to lose. We’re going to be around much longer than the politicians who are in their 60s and 70s who haven’t taken action on the climate crises. They just don’t have as much as stake. Hopefully the rest of us have many years left on this planet, and we don’t want to continue to live knowing it’s getting worse every year.”On going to extremes to raise awareness“Last year, at 17, I got up at 5 a.m. and took an Uber by myself to DC instead of going to school. I was the youngest person and one of the only women to join a week-long hunger strike at House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office. I was demanding that she take action, and wanted an on camera, hour-long meeting with her to discuss the climate emergency. She was calling the Green New Deal ‘The Green Dream, or whatever.’ I could only join in DC the first day because I couldn’t skip more school, but I continued the hunger strike. I had such a horrible headache by the time I stopped. The first thing I finally had was a strawberry and almond milk smoothie because I didn’t want to overwhelm my body. “Sometimes you have to escalate things to raise awareness, to get people and press to pay attention. And the climate crisis is being escalated every year, so.”On inciting change during a pandemic“There’s no substitute for nonviolent, civil disobedience like the way Fridays for Future was doing with their weekly protests. But there are a lot of ways to continue activism virtually, during COVID. I’ve been very much focused on continuing to grow Climate Cardinals during this time, and our transcriptions can be done from the safety of your home. Anyone who cares about climate change should know there are still ways to get involved, and I’d urge them to take the first step and put themselves out there.” DashDividers_1_500x100 Meghna ShankarAge: 19  Location: Redmond, Washington School: University of Washington, physics and computer science major  Activism History: Organizer at Fridays For Future Seattle; Member of Sunrise UWOn getting her start in activism “In fifth grade, I read Al Gore’s book on climate change, Our Choice. The book was a gift from my dad. It got me interested in the cause. Then in high school, I heard about Greta Thunberg’s strike for global action on March 15, 2019, so I started organizing a protest. We walked out, went to our city hall, and spoke to our mayor and our city council president about our concerns about climate change. I believe students in [112 countries] also walked out in solidarity with the movement that day. I think it really shows that many young people are willing to put their education at stake for the sake of their future. “I was so nervous that day because I had never done something like that before. I honestly was known for being a more quiet student, and following the rules. So for me, it was a big deal. I kept striking on some Fridays after that. I remember I would talk to my friends, and some of them would say, ‘Oh, I don’t see why this is such a big issue. I don’t want to skip lunch to come to your protest.’ In high school, there tends to be a lot of apathy coming from students because they don’t want to stand out. You know, they wanted to look cool. But climate change is something you can’t really opt out of.” On inciting change during a pandemic“Since the COVID pandemic, we haven’t been able to strike in person, but Friday For Future has been doing digital campaigns. We’ll do Twitter storms, and create informational graphics for the Global Day Of Action. “But it’s not the same. I think if you don’t see the protests every day, you feel detached after a while. With Fridays For Future, we were able to engage young people in the community who weren’t necessarily able to do more intensive actions like going to policy makers offices or writing letters. Very young children would go to our strikes, and they would just hold up a sign. Anyone could get involved. Now we have to resort to posting photos on our Instagrams every Friday, which isn’t the same as standing outside for an hour. It feels a bit sad, but there are a lot of other youth-led organizations that are filling the gap virtually.” On channeling fear for the future into action “In the back of my head, I’m always thinking about climate change. Because of the fires on the West Coast, I’m looking out my window right now and I can maybe see half a mile away, I can’t really see the mountains. “It’s scary because even adults who claim to support you aren’t doing enough to make change. Mayors, senators — they say ‘oh we’re so proud of what you’re doing, and we support you.’ And they’re happy to take a picture with us, but they don’t really do anything. Or they’ll approve things that increase carbon emissions. They say they’re for climate justice and the next week approve a new cruise ship terminal Seattle. And, right now, that gives me more anxiety than not being able to protest in the streets. It feels like adults are seeing the changes happening around us but nobody cares enough to do something about it. That’s why we have to act.”DashDividers_1_500x100 Zanagee ArtisAge: 20  Location: Clinton, Connecticut  School: Brown University, environmental studies and political science Activism History: Co-founder and deputy director of policy at Zero Hour; Fellow for Joe Biden’s campaignOn getting a start in activism “When I was a kid, I loved the beluga whale at the Mystic aquarium in Connecticut. I have a picture of me standing in front of the giant tank with huge whales. I look so tiny. Going to the aquarium back then got me interested in environmental activism. I learned about pollution, and thought, Look at all these amazing sea creatures that are being impacted by plastic in the ocean.”On why younger generations make great activists“The youth climate movement is really about taking our futures into our own hands, but also fighting for people who are facing climate change in the present. Environmental actions of the past were not as radical in calling for systemic overhaul as we are today. But we know that without dismantling the systems at the root of climate change — the patriarchy, colonialism, capitalism, and racism — we’ll never be able to have climate justice and have a transition to sustainable energy for the future. “We started Zero Hour to emphasize that we have run out of time to address climate change. You can see rising temperatures in the Arctic, for indigenous communities their lifestyles and livelihoods are changing, you can see desertification, and deforestation happening in the Amazon. We know that this has been happening for at least the past few years now, and that climate change has been a stressor on communities around the world. And so we need to act right now.”On channeling fear for the future into action“I think a worst case scenario for the planet is something that most people are incapable of comprehending. The amount of change to the natural environment that will happen if we don’t act is terrifying. It could look like elongated hurricane and tornado seasons. Or like wildfire spreading from the West coast all throughout the country. We don’t really know for sure, although the climate scientists know a lot. It could look like the apocalypse. That’s why we’re fighting every day. “After I finish at Brown, I’m planning to go to law school, and I’m interested in studying environmental or constitutional law. I want to do this to enhance my powers as an activist. I want to advocate for young people, especially those who are unable to vote, and anyone who I believe is being disproportionately harmed by a system that was not designed to protect them. And I’d like to someday eventually run for elected office.” DashDividers_1_500x100 Delaney ReynoldsAge: 21  Location: Miami, Florida School: University of Miami, marine science and geology major Activism history: Founder of The Sink or Swim Project; member of the Youth Leadership Council of EarthEcho International; Suing the state of Florida; Member of the CLEO Institute’s Leadership CouncilOn getting a start in activism “I grew up in and around the water, learning about sustainability. And because of that, I’ve always had a vast love for the ocean. When I was 8 years old, I actually wrote my first children’s book about ecology based on No Name Key, a super-small island in the Florida Keys where I grew up part-time. As I was researching for that, I began to learn about climate change and how it’d affect the habitat that I love so dearly. I started to become extremely concerned because of how dire the situation seemed to be. I went on to found The Sink or Swim Project, a nonprofit advocacy organization focused on sea level rise and other environmental topics. “It’s sad; my family has lived in Florida for generations, but recently, we’ve started having really bad flooding days every October. They have to close down the park where both my father and I learned how to swim. I hate it, because I want my future kids to follow in my dad and my footsteps and learn to swim there too.” On going to extremes to raise awareness“I’m the lead plaintiff in the Reynolds vs. The State of Florida climate change lawsuit. Seven of my friends and I are suing our state for not upholding duties outlined in the Florida constitution and something called the Public Trust Doctrine. That doctrine says the state has the responsibility to protect our land, the water, and, we believe, also the atmosphere. We’re asking the state to implement laws to help cut back carbon emissions so that we can help protect our atmosphere, because we know that burning fossil fuels and emitting carbon dioxide into the atmosphere is what’s causing the crisis. So we’re basically asking the judge to require that the state do their job. “I have to say, I never expected to sue anyone at the age of 18. Now I’m 21, and we just had our first hearing in June. But we’ve kept pushing on it. It’s been daunting at times, but it’s also really important. We’re seeing the effects of sea level rise, and it’s hurting the coral reefs, the land, and us.” On channeling fear for the future into action“Our family just finished recovering and renovating from Hurricane Irma, which made landfall in 2017 at our home in the Keys. Then we recently had another hurricane, Sally. When she went over the panhandle last week, all we had was some light rain, luckily. But hurricane season is extremely stressful. With a record number of storms forming in the Atlantic, it is a constant reminder of climate change. Warm ocean water is what fuels these hurricanes, so as we continue to warm our planet, these storms will become increasingly more frequent and stronger. That’s scary, and that’s why we have to keep fighting.” Like what you see? How about some more R29 goodness, right here?

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  • Trump Again Sows Doubt About Election as GOP Scrambles to Assure Voters

    Trump Again Sows Doubt About Election as GOP Scrambles to Assure VotersWASHINGTON -- President Donald Trump declined for a second straight day to commit to a peaceful transfer of power if he lost the election, repeating baseless assertions that the voting would be a "big scam," even as leading Republicans scrambled to assure the public that their party would respect the Constitution."We want to make sure that the election is honest, and I'm not sure that it can be," Trump told reporters on Thursday before leaving the White House for North Carolina.The president doubled down on his stance just hours after prominent Republicans made it clear that they were committed to the orderly transfer of power, without directly rebuking him. "The winner of the November 3rd election will be inaugurated on January 20th," Mitch McConnell, the Senate majority leader, wrote on Twitter early Thursday. "There will be an orderly transition just as there has been every four years since 1792."Democrats were far less restrained, comparing Trump's comments to those of an authoritarian leader and warning Americans to take his stance seriously."You are not in North Korea; you are not in Turkey; you are not in Russia, President, and by the way, you are not in Saudi Arabia," House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said. "You are in the United States of America. It is a democracy, so why don't you just try for a moment to honor your oath of office to the Constitution of the United States?"Chris Edelson, an American University professor who has studied the expansion of presidential power during national emergencies, said Trump's comments represented a unique threat to a central pillar of democracy. "It's impossible to underscore how absolutely extraordinary this situation is -- there are really no precedents in our country," he said. "This is a president who has threatened to jail his political opponents. Now he is suggesting he would not respect the results of an election. These are serious warning signs."Douglas Brinkley, the presidential historian, said, "This may be the most damaging thing he has ever done to American democracy."Over the past four years, establishment Republicans have tried to adjust to Trump's disruptions, either ignoring his comments or dismissing them as a temporary news-cycle diversion rather than a threat to the democratic process. Republicans appeared on Thursday to be trying to reassure the public about the electoral system while withholding personal criticism of the president, a balancing act that shows their political codependence -- one that has led GOP lawmakers, with few exceptions, to faithfully execute his wishes.Other Republicans, including Sens. Susan Collins and Marco Rubio and Rep. Liz Cheney, followed McConnell on Thursday and issued statements conveying an implicit criticism of the president's stance. "America's leaders swear an oath to the Constitution," Cheney wrote on Twitter. "We will uphold that oath."Trump's comments follow a series of battleground state polls that show him trailing former Vice President Joe Biden, the Democratic challenger. The president's standing has not recovered since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, despite his repeated efforts to focus voters' attention on other issues, from the economy to social unrest to the new Supreme Court vacancy.Trump initially sparked alarm on Wednesday when, asked about a peaceful transition, he said that "we're going to have to see what happens" -- remarks that intensified the growing partisan controversy over the legitimacy of the elections. Trump, as he has many times before, questioned the integrity of the voting system, and he repeated that skepticism Thursday, saying: "We have to be very careful with the ballots. The ballots -- you know, that's a whole big scam."There is no evidence that mailing ballots to voters increases fraud in the voting process, though there have been scattered instances of the Postal Service's failing to deliver ballots among other mail that did not reach its destination.At the Capitol on Thursday, Republican senators and members of the House could not avoid questions from reporters about the president's sentiment, but party members elsewhere exhibited little appetite for engaging in a discussion about them. Just four of the 168 Republican National Committee members responded to emailed questions about Trump's remarks, and just one of the country's 26 Republican governors -- Asa Hutchinson of Arkansas -- agreed to address the issue when contacted through their press offices."Our common commitment to democracy and the rule of law," Hutchinson wrote, "is not dependent upon the actions of any one individual. "Republican congressional aides scrambled to respond to Trump's remarks on Wednesday night, settling on an informal strategy that affirmed broad constitutional principles and trod lightly around Trump, the most powerful and popular member of their party. They also attempted to throw the question back at Democrats by seizing on Hillary Clinton's recent remark, which stopped short of Trump's comment, that Democrats "should not concede the election" until all legal options had been exhausted.Collins, a moderate facing the most challenging reelection fight of her career -- in a state that is becoming more favorable to Democrats -- was the rare Republican to refer directly to Trump as she questioned his actions."I don't know what his thinking was, but we have always had a peaceful transition between administrations," Collins said. "The peaceful transfer of power is a fundamental tenet of our democracy, and I am confident that we will see it occur once again."Ben Ginsberg, a longtime Republican elections lawyer who retired last month, said Republican senators -- even those who have sought to distance themselves from Trump -- are limited in how much they can criticize a president who remains overwhelmingly popular with the party's base.His leverage over the rank and file is even greater as he prepares to announce a Supreme Court nominee nearly all of them will support," Ginsberg said."The president's comments about the peaceful transfer of power, combined with his need for the ninth justice to carry out his election plans, puts Republican senators on the horns of a dilemma," Ginsberg said.Democrats, seemingly powerless to stop the court nomination, accused Republicans of enabling Trump in the interest of short-term political gain.Sen. Jeff Merkley of Oregon said his Republican colleagues had an obligation to denounce any suggestion that Trump would not participate in a peaceful transfer of power."Anyone elected who takes an oath to the Constitution has the responsibility to respond and say this is unacceptable," Merkley said in an interview. "This is the way authoritarian dictators operate. They have show elections and they say, 'I win, and I will make sure the results show I win.'"On Wednesday, Trump merged the two story lines involving the court and the legitimacy of the election. He said he expected voting disputes to be decided by the Supreme Court and urged a swift confirmation for a successor to Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Two leading Republican senators, Ted Cruz of Texas and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, have echoed the president's call for a swift action on his nominee, citing the court's potential role in deciding the outcome."People wonder about the peaceful transfer of power," Graham said on Fox News on Thursday. "I can assure you, it will be peaceful.""I promise you as a Republican, if the Supreme Court decides that Joe Biden wins, I will accept the result," Graham added. "The court will decide, and if Republicans lose, we'll accept the result."Trump, for his part, does not seem to mind all the criticism -- and appears intent on sowing doubt about the legitimacy of an election he in danger of losing. At the state level, some Republicans were endorsing his position."There is a lot of concern with how the voting process is being managed," said Deborah Billado, the chairwoman of the Vermont Republican Party. "The country was hurled into this mail-in ballot process when everyone knows the integrity of the checklists are in question. Many people do not trust what's happening."And Richard Porter, a Republican National Committee member from Chicago, said the question put to Trump about an orderly transition had been unfair."These questions to the president regarding his willingness to leave office are all trolling him -- premised on and suggestive of the notion that he's a bad, bad guy," Porter said. "Of course he will respect the actual results -- it's a ridiculous question. He's just jerking your chain."Trump has given no indication that his remarks were in jest.Former Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin, who has been helping Vice President Mike Pence prepare for the upcoming debates, struck a defiant note, writing on Twitter: "Smart candidates never concede anything before an election. They focus on what it takes to win."Sen. Rick Scott of Florida announced that he had introduced legislation that would require every state to count and report its final results "within 24 hours after polls close on Election Day." The federal government has no role in overseeing elections; they are conducted and certified by local officials, who abide by a variety of rules about how and when ballots must be returned in order to be counted in a presidential election.Still, the debate exposed a divide in the party that the flurry of GOP statements -- and attacks on Democrats -- could not obscure, and Trump's comments caused deep uneasiness among some stalwarts of the besieged Republican establishment."This isn't the typical Trump outrage that comes and goes," said Brendan Buck, a former top adviser to House Speaker Paul Ryan, who stepped down in 2019. "Senators are stating their principle here because it's obvious to everyone that he is, in fact, planning to dispute the results if he loses, no matter how lopsided. Calling him names isn't going to stop him, but they are trying to save themselves some trouble later by making clear they're not going to flirt with crazy conspiracies that make a mockery of our democracy."This article originally appeared in The New York Times.(C) 2020 The New York Times Company

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  • At Pentagon, Fears Grow That Trump Will Pull Military Into Election Unrest

    At Pentagon, Fears Grow That Trump Will Pull Military Into Election UnrestWASHINGTON -- Senior Pentagon leaders have a lot to worry about -- Afghanistan, Russia, Iraq, Syria, Iran, China, Somalia, the Korean Peninsula. But chief among those concerns is whether their commander in chief might order U.S. troops into any chaos around the coming elections.President Donald Trump gave officials no solace Wednesday and Thursday when he again refused to commit to a peaceful transfer of power no matter who wins the election, and Thursday, he doubled down by saying he was not sure the election could be "honest." His hedging, along with his expressed desire in June to invoke the 1807 Insurrection Act to send active-duty troops onto American streets to quell protests over the killing of George Floyd, has incited deep anxiety among senior military and Defense Department leaders, who insist they will do all they can to keep the armed forces out of the elections."I believe deeply in the principle of an apolitical U.S. military," Gen. Mark A. Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said in written answers to questions from House lawmakers released last month. "In the event of a dispute over some aspect of the elections, by law, U.S. courts and the U.S. Congress are required to resolve any disputes, not the U.S. military. I foresee no role for the U.S. armed forces in this process."But that has not stopped an intensifying debate in the military about its role should a disputed election lead to civil unrest.On Aug. 11, John Nagl and Paul Yingling, both retired Army officers and Iraq War veterans, published an open letter to Milley on the website Defense One. "In a few months' time, you may have to choose between defying a lawless president or betraying your constitutional oath," they wrote. "If Donald Trump refuses to leave office at the expiration of his constitutional term, the United States military must remove him by force, and you must give that order."Pentagon officials swiftly said such an outcome was preposterous. Under no circumstances, they said, would the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff send Navy SEALs or Marines to haul Trump out of the White House. If necessary, such a task, Defense Department officials said, would fall to U.S. Marshals or the Secret Service. The military, by law, the officials said, takes a vow to the Constitution, not to the president, and that vow means that the commander in chief of the military is whoever is sworn in at 12:01 p.m. on Inauguration Day.But senior leaders at the Pentagon, speaking on the condition of anonymity, acknowledged that they were talking among themselves about what to do if Trump, who will still be president from Election Day to Inauguration Day, invokes the Insurrection Act and tries to send troops into the streets, as he repeatedly threatened to do during the protests against police brutality and systemic racism. Both Milley and Defense Secretary Mark Esper opposed the move then, and Trump backed down.The concerns are not unfounded. The Insurrection Act, a two-century-old law, enables a president to send in active-duty military troops to quell disturbances over the objections of governors. Trump, who refers to the armed forces as "my military" and "my generals," has lumped them with other supporters like Bikers for Trump, who could offer backup in the face of opposition.Defense Department officials have privately discussed the possibility of Trump trying to use any civil unrest around the elections to put his thumb on the scales. Several Pentagon officials said that such a move could prompt resignations among many of Trump's senior generals, starting at the top with Milley.The Air Force chief of staff, General Charles Q. Brown, the officials said, would also be unlikely to salute and carry out those orders. In the days after the killing of Floyd in police custody, Brown released an extraordinary video in which he spoke in starkly personal terms about his experience as a Black man in America, his unequal treatment in the armed forces and the protests that gripped the country."I'm thinking about protests in my country 'tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, the equality expressed in our Declaration of Independence and the Constitution that I have sworn my adult life to support and defend," Brown said. "I'm thinking about a history of racial issues and my own experiences that didn't always sing of liberty and equality."Protests and occasional violent confrontations, including one in Portland, Oregon, last month that turned deadly and one in Louisville this week after a grand jury in Kentucky declined to charge any officers in the killing of Breonna Taylor, have continued to roil the country and are further increasing concerns at the Pentagon."The main fear is that Portland is off-Broadway and that Broadway would be something here," said Derek Chollet, who was an assistant secretary of defense under President Barack Obama. "The idea is that you are going to have a lot of kindling out there and Trump is doing nothing to keep that from getting more flammable.''This year, Rosa Brooks, a Georgetown University law professor and a Defense Department official under Obama, led a group of about 100 former national security officials and election experts from both parties in exercises to simulate the most serious risks to a peaceful transition of power.In one, they contemplated what would happen if a president ordered National Guard units or active-duty military personnel into cities to "restore order." There was no clear result, but the exercise itself attracted sharp criticism from far-right groups, which accused the organizers of trying to undermine Trump and interfere with the election.Inside the Pentagon, whose leaders are well-known for making plans, Defense Department officials said there had been no preparations for sending active-duty troops into American streets to quell any civil unrest."The planning they should be doing is how to prevent playing a role," said Devin Burghart, president of the Institute for Research and Education on Human Rights and an expert on white nationalist movements.Others who worked at the Pentagon agree."I know that Milley is trying to think his way through, but I have my doubts he can," said John Gans, who served as chief speechwriter to the defense secretary in the Obama administration. "The problem is that when the military doesn't want to do something, they don't like to think about it."He added: "The Pentagon plans for war with Canada and a zombie apocalypse, but they don't want to plan for a contested election. These are huge questions that have an impact on the reputation of the institution."The confrontation in Lafayette Square near the White House in June crystallized for the Defense Department just how close to the precipice the military came to being pulled into a domestic political crisis. That military helicopters and armed members of the National Guard patrolled the streets next to federal agents in riot gear so that the president, flanked by Esper and Milley, could walk across the square to hold up a bible in front of a church prompted outrage among lawmakers and current and former members of the armed forces."It sickened me yesterday to see security personnel -- including members of the National Guard -- forcibly and violently clear a path through Lafayette Square to accommodate the president's visit outside St. John's Church," Adm. Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff under President George W. Bush and Obama, wrote in The Atlantic. "This is not the time for stunts."Both men, but Milley especially, were so sharply criticized by former military and Pentagon leaders for taking part in the walk that they spent the days afterward in serious damage control.Esper held an extraordinary news conference in which he broke with the president and said that active-duty troops should not be sent to control protests. His words so angered Trump that the president had to be persuaded not to fire him, aides said at the time.Milley publicly apologized for the walk across the park. "I should not have been there," he said in a video address to National Defense University. His apology also infuriated Trump.Both men are still in their jobs for now. On Thursday, the general reiterated his position on keeping the military out of the 2020 election when he urged U.S. service members around the world during a video question-and-answer session to "keep the Constitution close to your heart."His words were subtle, but those watching knew what he meant.This article originally appeared in The New York Times.(C) 2020 The New York Times Company

  • Individuals Can’t Heal The Climate When Capitalism Is The Virus

    Individuals Can’t Heal The Climate When Capitalism Is The VirusIt’s time to wake up. On Global Day of Climate Action, VICE Media Group is solely telling stories about our current climate crisis. Click here to meet young climate leaders from around the globe and learn how you can take action. We need to talk about our carbon footprint. Not how much of it comes from driving versus eating meat, but the popular concept of dividing up all the greenhouse gases polluting the atmosphere into the fraction that you personally own. Today we have an abundance of handy online calculators and apps that estimate your individual footprint for you. Everyone’s getting involved in the effort; one newly released app called VYVE is even backed by oil giant BP. The app’s home page succinctly captures the motivation behind calculating your footprint: “Take responsibility for your carbon impact.”To be sure, we should take responsibility. A carbon footprint calculator can help bring an overwhelming global crisis into your backyard. You can compare the average carbon footprint of an American (around 16 metric tons CO2e) to that of neighboring Mexico (about 4 metric tons) and grasp that a high-consumption American lifestyle has a much heavier impact on the environment than others do. It can also be a good jumping-off point for those who want to take action but are unsure of what changes they can make in their lives.But we also need to admit that the obsession around personal carbon footprints has been harmful. For too long, the dominant call to action has been encouraging the public to opt-in to a set of different lifestyle habits, through carbon footprint quizzes and by invoking the duty to take charge of your personal contribution. Despite this messaging, 88% of Americans still owned a car in 2015 and car ownership has continued to rise. U.S. airlines carried a record number of passengers in 2019. Even though there’s recently been a lot of coverage on the role of animal products in climate change, as of 2018, only 3% of Americans said they were vegan. In 2018, the U.S. also hit record-high energy consumption.It’s not that shrinking your own carbon footprint isn’t necessary to avoiding climate catastrophe. It is. It’s that, given the state of things, dedicating so much space to the concept clearly hasn’t worked on a wide enough scale. We don’t just need to shave emissions here and there; we need to make them disappear at incredible speed. But according to a Washington Post poll from 2019, most Americans still believe small personal sacrifices will be enough. We have until 2030 before much of the climate damage becomes irreversible due to the triggering of tipping points that can collapse entire ecosystems. The damage is already enormous; more people are being harmed by the climate crisis every year. We’re not on track to keep temperature rise below 2°C of the pre-industrial era, the target set by the Paris Agreement in 2015. More likely, we’ll see a global rise of at least 3°C. Affluent countries like the U.S. need a revolution in the way we live, and that requires systems, not just individual lifestyles, to transform. Even the most commonly recommended lifestyle changes often require people to swim against strong currents. The fact that most Americans rely on personal vehicles over public transportation might lead you to write us off as hopelessly obsessed with gas-guzzling cars — but cultural fixations don’t arise from nowhere. The post-WWII era was dizzy with incentives, policies, and mass infrastructure projects that made owning a car much more feasible and attractive than in other nations. To this day, a stunning variety of laws help maintain a landscape where having your own car is either the safer, cheaper option, or the only option. U.S. cities with well-connected, affordable public transportation remain extremely rare, partly because public works in general are underfunded, but also because groups that have a stake in the auto or fossil fuel industry use their piles of money to help ensure they don’t get built. Even when it comes to reducing energy use in your home, there are larger factors at play that can outweigh the good you’re trying to do. A recent University of Michigan study found that in some states, the climate benefit from households consuming less energy than the national average was erased by their grid’s method of producing electricity being carbon-intensive. In Florida, for example, there’s less need to heat homes in winter, leading to energy savings, but its electricity production is more intensive in producing greenhouse gases than average. Power companies in Florida, as in many other places, have also been fighting wider adoption of renewable energy. The sunshine state only generated 1% of its electricity from solar energy last year.Or take recycling. Americans recycle or compost about 35% of waste. Is the rate so low because of laziness? Maybe partly. But considering that over 90% of the plastic we were told to recycle wasn’t actually recycled — which Pepsi, Coca Cola, Nestle, and others are being sued for right now — it’s not fair to blame individuals.Obsessing about reducing our individual footprints, then, is an exercise in missing the burning forest for the trees. It’s based on the hope that, by pointing it out, an enormous wave of people will be swayed to live differently — and that massive systems and corporations will also support that goal. Maybe this messaging convinces you to shrink your footprint down from 16 metric tons CO2e to 5 metric tons. Annual global greenhouse gas emissions are around 50 billion tons CO2e; only 49,999,999,989 to go. The climate crisis is a problem of mind-breaking scale.And this discourse didn’t come about by accident. Even though scientists began loudly calling for climate action back in 1988, “carbon footprint” wasn’t a well-known concept until BP helped popularize it in the mid-2000s. The premise of a carbon footprint is that we’re all contributing to the emergency — so deal with your share. But what if we aren’t all equally to blame? What would the solution look like then?DashDividers_1_500x100The fact is, climate crisis denial is thriving. Attacks on the science of it may not be as fashionable as they once were, but the footprint of disinformation remains: many Americans are still fuzzy on whether scientists have formed a consensus (there never wasn’t a consensus), and whether climate change is mainly caused by human activity (it is). In 2015, an investigative report by InsideClimate News uncovered evidence that ExxonMobil knew about the climate crisis as early as the late 1970s, thanks to research conducted by its own scientists. Oil companies then spent decades spilling money into the effort of confusing the public. They didn’t need to provide air-tight proof that temperatures weren’t rising, or that it wouldn’t impact the Earth very much. All they had to do was nudge some doubt into the discussion.These days, more of us accept that global warming is happening than in the past. Oil companies have changed their tack too, taking a public stance on how they intend to fight climate change. Instead of poking holes in the science, denial today increasingly takes the form of greenwashing — crafting an image that makes corporations seem more environmentally conscious than their business practices would indicate. But this kind of denial still works by spreading confusion; confusion over the best strategy to combat climate change, confusion over the degree of fossil fuel culpability, confusion over what “environmentally conscious” even means in our late-stage capitalist world.In 2020, you can hardly find a company that hasn’t made a commitment to social and environmental responsibility, whether it’s by partnering with environmental groups across the globe or helping developing nations grow their economy sustainably. Keywords like “innovation” and “growth” get thrown around a lot. In 2000, BP unveiled the slogan “beyond petroleum” and soon launched an ad campaign around the theme that included TV commercials asking people about their carbon footprint and portraying the company as a beacon of progress. But do these amount to real efforts to address the climate crisis?The answer is no, at least according to a recent analysis on the activities of ten major oil companies between 2008 to 2019, including U.S.-owned Chevron and ExxonMobil. The researchers found that none have been moving away from fossil fuels. At best, companies increased their share of natural gas production, which has been extolled as a temporary “bridge” to carbon-free energy because it emits 50% less CO2 than coal. But natural gas is not clean energy. It’s mostly made up of methane, a greenhouse gas that traps heat 86 times more effectively than CO2. Scientists now believe the amount of methane released by extracting natural gas has been underestimated by up to 40%. Currently, millions of abandoned, uncapped gas wells are leaking methane. The 2008-2019 analysis found that “not a single major oil and gas firm has invested more than 0.1% of revenues into renewable energy” during this period. In 2011, BP sold off its solar assets, facing financial difficulties in the aftermath of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. It recently announced a commitment to more renewables investment — but whether it pans out remains to be seen.Oil companies haven’t just continued to extract fossil fuels; they’ve been busy constructing new pipelines and developments, which has major implications for future carbon emissions — once a new development is built, it’s likely to be extracting for at least the time it takes to recoup the cost of building it. All ten companies analyzed by researchers “are planning significant expansion of oil and gas assets, totalling some USD$1.4 trillion in the period 2020-2024.” The podcast Drilled, which describes itself as “a true-crime podcast about climate change,” lays out how the deception of the fossil fuel industry is an obstacle to the systemic change we need. In its first season, it references a 2018 issue of the New York Times Magazine that was wholly dedicated to climate change as a case study in diffusing blame. “The story makes the problem of climate change global,” notes Drilled host and producer Amy Westervelt. “We all failed to act, not just the handful of men in power. The solution, or lack thereof? Individual. It’s human nature. We make short-sighted decisions and there’s nothing we can do to change that.”The fact is that since 1988, just 100 fossil fuel companies have produced roughly 70% of industrial greenhouse gas emissions. We know that burning fossil fuels is incompatible with having a future. Yet today, about 80% of energy demand in the U.S. is still met through fossil fuels. To be fair, it’s not solely the fault of oil companies. In 2015 alone, the U.S. government gave the industry $649 billion in subsidies. In 2018, we got the dubious honor of becoming the largest producer of crude oil in the world, thanks to the modern fracking boom. At least 82,000 fracking wells have popped up across the country since 2005.And yet too often, we nod along with blaming the climate crisis vaguely on “human nature.” This fatalistic view isn’t just a dead end, it suggests we apologize for existing at all, especially when coupled with the myth that overpopulation is a leading cause of rising temperatures. Man-made climate change is a modern emergency representing a sliver of the 6,000 years human civilizations have existed. The start of man-made warming coincides with the explosion of industrial capitalism in just a handful of wealthy countries — whose incredible riches were accumulated through the systematic looting of labor and resources from around the world. While we all have to act, the idea that we all shoulder the blame for a crisis spurred by deregulated capitalism doesn’t create solidarity. It’s not showing humility or personal integrity. It only upholds the people and systems that have perpetuated climate change, and creates fog around those who have been most violated by it.DashDividers_1_500x100By seeing climate as a human rights problem, not just an environmental one, a clearer path opens up. For environmental group, the goal is simple: no more fossil fuels. “The climate change is a systemic crisis, so we need systemic solutions,” says Thanu Yakupitiyage, head of U.S. communications at “Ultimately we’re talking about capitalism, right?” she says. “When we talk about consumption, we’re talking about the level at which we consume and the level at which we’re engaged in these capitalist forces.” It’s another reason why corporate greenwashing is dangerous; promoting your product as being “greener” than another one perpetuates the idea that the solution is to consume differently, not consume less.The climate justice movement isn’t new, but it has gained more attention in the past few years. It points to the perpetrators of the crisis, and also demands restitution. At the 2009 U.N. climate change conference, several nations in Latin America and the Caribbean began calling for wealthy nations like the U.S. to pay their climate debt. The logic is that the economic growth of the U.S. has been achieved at the expense of global wellbeing. When we say modern climate change is caused by human activity, we mean economic activity. In its rush to grow fast and never stop growing, the U.S. has single-handedly released a quarter of all the greenhouse gas pollution since 1750. “350 really believes in climate reparations,” says Yakupitiyage. “The fossil fuel industry must pay for the damage they’ve caused to our communities and climate.”Climate change is also entangled with racism and structural violence. In the U.S., people of color are more likely to live in polluted places. An area along the Mississippi River between Baton Rouge and New Orleans, which has a majority Black population, is known as “Cancer Alley” due to soaring cancer rates connected to the abundance of petrochemical factories. In order to extract resources to be consumed by wealthy economies, indigenous homes and livelihoods are ripped apart. Later, they are often among the earliest to face the consequences of global warming.Then there’s the violence that comes from resistance. According to environmental rights NGO Global Witness, at least 212 environmental activists were killed around the world last year, a vast proportion of them indigenous people defending their land. One of the most infamous acts of environmental violence was committed against the Ogoni Nine in 1995. The nine men were members of the Ogoni ethnic group in southeastern Nigeria and involved in the Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People (MOSOP), which demanded reparations from the oil industry for polluting their community until they could no longer farm or fish. The government brutally cracked down on protestors, allegedly encouraged by Shell. When four local Ogoni chiefs were killed by a mob, the nine activists, including MOSOP leader Ken Saro-Wiwa, were put on trial and executed by the Nigerian government. Shell has been accused by Amnesty International of helping frame the activists, and according to the testimony of their widows, prosecution witnesses later admitted they had been bribed with money and job offers at Shell.“We really must see the climate crisis as inherently linked to all forms of injustice, from racism to anti-immigrant sentiment,” says Yakupitiyage. Immigration is a lens that Yakupitiyage has particular expertise in. Before she became involved in the climate justice movement around the time of the 2014 People’s Climate March, she was working in immigrant rights. “It’s really important that the climate movement is both calling for the protection and safety of people, and also advocating for people’s right to migrate,” she says. “You see within nations like Bangladesh or India, in places in South America, people moving because of drought or because of floods. It’s estimated that up to 1 billion people will be displaced because of climate change by the year 2050.”Anti-immigration policies deny the reality that a great climate migration has already begun, as well as the cause of it. “Why is it that people are moving in the first place? They’re moving because of the fossil fuel industry and companies in the Global North who’ve made conditions in the Global South even worse,” says Yakupitiyage.Of course, transforming political ideology and holding corporate power accountable isn’t easy. In 1993, 30,000 locals of Lago Agrio, Ecuador filed a landmark class-action suit against Chevron, accusing the company of dumping 18 billion gallons of wastewater and 17 billion gallons of oil into their community. An Ecuadorian court ordered Chevron to pay $18 billion to the plaintiffs in 2011, later reduced to $9.5 billion. That same year, Chevron filed a fraud case against Steven Donziger, a lawyer representing the plaintiffs, claiming he had bribed the judge. According to documents obtained by The Intercept, Chevron sought to demonize Donziger. He was charged with criminal contempt for refusing to hand over his electronic devices, he’s been disbarred, his bank accounts have been frozen, and he was put under house arrest in August 2019. Since the class-action suit, Chevron has withdrawn all its business from Ecuador, which has made it difficult for the plaintiffs to collect on the $9.5 billion.Saving the planet will clearly be a herculean effort, but it’s the fight of our lifetime. That’s exactly why the climate justice movement has to grow. The best way to lower your carbon footprint is to stop being an individual and become a part of a movement. It requires demanding more from elected leaders — refusing to settle for “at least it’s better than nothing” — and ensuring that, at the very least, the Green New Deal passes. It means clashing with institutions, recognizing that reducing your individual consumption is important but not the same thing as justice.“It can be intimidating to take on these huge industries,” Yakupitiyage says. “But I think where I found security is in being part of a movement. A movement that has each other’s backs.” When she feels defeated, she finds strength in activists who’ve helped pave the way for a more equitable society, against incredible odds. “Folks like Assata Shakur, Angela Davis, Audre Lorde,” she says. “I look at their teachings in terms of what it means to be intimidated, and to be jailed, and to be told that you’re crazy.”When asked whether the fossil fuel industry is intimidated by the climate justice movement, Yakupitiyage’s answer is immediate. “Absolutely.”Like what you see? How about some more R29 goodness, right here?

  • Putin says Russia and U.S. should agree not to meddle in each other's elections

    Putin says Russia and U.S. should agree not to meddle in each other's electionsPresident Vladimir Putin called on Friday for an agreement between Russia and the United States to guarantee not to engage in cyber-meddling in each other's elections. In a statement ahead of the U.S. presidential election on Nov. 3, Putin called for a reset between Russia and the United States and said he wanted an agreement between the two countries to prevent incidents in cyberspace. U.S. intelligence agencies have concluded that Russia interfered in the 2016 U.S. presidential election with the aim of tilting it in Donald Trump's favour, including by hacking into the campaign of his rival Hillary Clinton.

  • Paris stabbing suspect wasn't on police radar, minister says

    Paris stabbing suspect wasn't on police radar, minister saysThe main suspect in the double stabbing Friday outside the former Paris offices of a satirical newspaper where dozens were killed in 2015 was arrested a month ago for carrying a screwdriver but not on police radar for Islamic radicalization, France's interior minister said. The main suspect, the young man, was arrested on the steps of the Bastille Opera not far from the attack site, near the building where the weekly Charlie Hebdo was located before the 2015 attack.

  • UN: At least 16 drown in migrant shipwreck off Libya coast

    UN: At least 16 drown in migrant shipwreck off Libya coastAt least 16 migrants trying to reach Europe drowned in the Mediterranean Sea when their small dinghy capsized off the coast of Libya, the U.N. migration agency reported Friday, the latest shipwreck to underscore the deadly risks facing those who flee the war-afflicted North African country. Libyan fishermen spotted the sinking boat late Thursday, said the International Organization for Migration, and managed to pull 22 people from the water, including those from Egypt, Bangladesh, Syria, Somalia and Ghana. Three dead bodies were found floating in the water, including one Syrian man and woman, and at least 13 other migrants were missing and presumed drowned, the IOM said.

  • SSI Schaefer Joins the "50 Sustainability and Climate Leaders" Initiative

    SSI Schaefer Joins the "50 Sustainability and Climate Leaders" InitiativeSSI Schaefer joins the "50 Sustainability and Climate Leaders" initiative, to raise a voice for sustainable, economical, and future-proof material handling solutions. Think Tomorrow. A race we can win - this is the pinnacle of climate conscious companies participating in the 50 Sustainability and Climate Leaders initiative. The initiative, which aims to leverage innovation and sustainable business models, gives a platform for making their contribution to achieving the United Nations 17 Sustainable Development Goals (UNSDG) global visibility.

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