Aggregated news for a better world – we raise awareness of what corporate media suppresses
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We must aggressively transition our energy system away from fossil fuels and toward clean, renewable energy solutions. And we need to do so now
....No matter what agenda President Trump and his administration of climate deniers push, it is clear that jobs in clean energy like wind and solar are growing much more rapidly than jobs in the coal, oil and gas sectors. The number of workers maintaining wind turbines in the US is set to more than double between 2014 and 2024, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. Around the world, more than 9.4 million people already work in the renewable energy sector. These are the jobs of the future.
Not only does renewable energy help fight climate change and create jobs, but it’s also good for public health. Cutting carbon pollution emissions by just 32% by 2030 would prevent up to 3,600 premature deaths, 90,000 asthma attacks in children, and 1,700 heart attacks each year.
We’re beginning to transition to a clean energy economy – but scientists say we need to do it faster to avoid the worst consequences of climate change.
University researchers and the non-profit Solutions Project have mapped out how we can achieve a 100% clean, renewable energy future for all 50 US states and 139 countries by 2050. With their research, governments in the US and around the world can learn exactly how to break dependence on fossil fuel, why we don’t need fracking and how we can move aggressively in terms of sustainable energy and energy efficiency.
Now is the time for taking swift, aggressive action.
Wind and solar could create many, many more jobs than coal — especially if the government stops propping it up.
....Could domestic regulation have played some role in the decline of coal? Sure, some. Rules limiting emissions of mercury and other pollutants from burning coal, and limiting the ability of coal-burning utilities to dump toxic coal ash in rivers and streams, likely put some financial pressure on coal power plants.
However, those costs should be weighed against the profound health benefits of cleaner air and water.
Cleaning up coal power plants (and reducing their number) leads to fewer children with asthma, fewer costly emergency room visits, and fewer costly disaster responses when massive amounts of toxic coal ash leach into drinking water sources, to name just a few benefits. Most reasonable people would agree those aren’t small things.
There’s also the fact that the decline in coal jobs, while painful for those who rely on them, tells only a small part of the story. In fact, there are alternatives that could put hundreds of thousands of people back to work.
Here are a few little-known facts: Coal accounts for about 26 percent of the electricity generating capacity in our country — and about 160,000 jobs. Solar energy accounts for just 2 percent of our power generation — and 374,000 jobs.
In other words, solar has created more than twice as many jobs as coal, with only a sliver of the electric grid. So if the intent truly is to create more jobs, where would a rational government focus its efforts?
Ministers hide the truth about levels of atmospheric contamination, so people are taking precautions for themselves And who can blame them?
....The problem is widespread. A recent investigation by the Guardian and Greenpeace found that “hundreds of thousands of children are being exposed to illegal levels of damaging air pollution from diesel vehicles at schools and nurseries across England and Wales”. This is no small thing. Exposure over short periods can aggravate respiratory diseases – particularly asthma – leading to respiratory symptoms such as coughing, wheezing or difficulty breathing. It helps to explain why childhood asthma increased hugely in Europe over the second half of the 20th century. The presence of NO2 also triggers allergic reactions to pollen. More than one in four Britons now suffer from hayfever, up from one in eight in the early 80s.
The problems caused by NO2 have been apparent for quite some time. As has acknowledgement that something has to be done about them. EU nations were tasked in the 1999 directive with getting these dangerous emissions down to healthier levels by 2010. Instead Britain, along with most of the continent, has been flouting those guidelines outrageously. Britain has been pumping its annual NO2 quota into the atmosphere by early spring for years.This year, in Brixton, south London, hourly limits on NO2 emissions were breached just five days in. We have been in the midst of a full-blown public health crisis for decades. The idea of the government being bounced into something “a bit hasty” is utterly absurd.
....Meanwhile, the sum of human knowledge grows apace. While it remains clear that NO2 damages children’s health and development, it has now been found that pollution from particulates is even more damaging. Like NO2, these are emitted by diesel vehicles.
Meanwhile, in the schools that the children of hardworking diesel drivers attend, there is talk of moving playgrounds away from school gates near busy roads, or simply not letting the kids play outside when air pollution is particularly bad.
It’s sad that people are having to make their own plans to try to protect their children, when this is so very obviously a crisis that needs national and international cooperation and commitment. But what else can worried people do, except swallow fake news and hope?
President expected to sign executive order to review areas potentially rich in fossil fuels that were put out of reach of drilling by the Obama administration
Communities along the east coast are steeling themselves for a fresh round of angst and protest over offshore drilling, with Donald Trump set to throw open vast swathes of the Atlantic seaboard to oil and gas companies.
On Friday, the president is expected to sign an executive order that will ask the interior department to review offshore areas potentially rich in fossil fuels that were put out of reach of drilling by Barack Obama’s administration.
The review will scrutinize plots in the Atlantic, Arctic and Pacific that the Obama administration said would not be made available for drilling until at least 2022. In the final weeks of his presidency, Obama announced what he called a permanent ban on drilling along much of Alaska’s coast as well as the ocean floor from Virginia to Maine.
Trump is now taking the first steps to undo this, setting up a confrontation with environmentalists and residents concerned about the impact upon wildlife and the potentially ruinous economic consequences of a Deepwater Horizon-level oil spill.
Several states are doing an abysmal job of testing at-risk children for lead poisoning.
Court rules that immediate publication is essential and rejects Defra’s plea to delay until after the general election
The government has been ordered to publish tough new plans to tackle air pollution after the high court rejected attempts by ministers to keep the policy under wraps until after the general election.
In the latest defeat for ministers over their continued failure to tackle the UK’s air pollution crisis, which is believed to be responsible for 40,000 premature deaths a year, Mr Justice Garnham said the secretary of state, Andrea Leadsom, was in breach of a court order to take action in the shortest possible time and that any further delays would constitute a further breach.
He said it was essential to publish draft plans to cut air pollution immediately to safeguard public health. The judge rejected a government application to appeal, saying that ministers would have to go to the appeal court if they wanted to seek permission to challenge his ruling.
The judgment came after ministers applied to court to keep their plans secret until after the general election, saying it was necessary to “comply with pre-election propriety rules”. The new measures are likely to include the imposition of multiple clean-air zones across the country, where drivers will face fines if their vehicles do not pass roadside emissions tests.
Garnham on Thursday ordered ministers to publish their draft plan within two weeks – on 9 May, after local elections on 4 May – and said the government must comply with his original order and release their final policy on tackling the air crisis by 31 July.
....New scientific estimates are that the last time there was this much carbon dioxide in the earth’s atmosphere may have been the Pliocene, some 4.5 million years ago. Some earlier estimates suggested that it had been 24 million years since we had this much CO2. In past eras, carbon dioxide levels tended to go up mainly because of volcanic eruptions. The CO2 gradually gets scrubbed back out of the atmosphere by going into the ocean or by binding with igneous rock, over hundreds of thousands or millions of years. In the meantime, more CO2 means more heat.
....Sea levels 4.5 million years ago were as much as 131 feet feet [40 meters] higher than today.
Here are the coastal communities in the US at risk just from a four feet ocean level rise:
Sea levels 4.5 million years ago were as much as 131 feet feet [40 meters] higher than today.
Trumpcare 2.0 will make the opioid problem only worse by slashing the Medicaid funds that get people treated
President Donald Trump, motivated by a congenital inability to admit defeat, is trying to revive Republican efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act. The move is getting resistance from a surprising corner, as attorneys general from 19 states and the District of Columbia sent a letter to the president expressing concerns about what this means for their ability to fight crime.
What does health care have to do with crime? According to the attorneys general, quite a bit, due to the epidemic of opioid addiction.
“As the chief law enforcement officials in many of our states, we are on the front lines of battling this epidemic,” reads the letter, which was sent on April 21. “But we know that law enforcement alone cannot end this crisis. Our residents also need access to drug treatment.”
Most of the focus on Republican health care efforts has understandably been on what it means for individuals who could lose their health insurance if the GOP successfully pares down Medicaid and reduces the subsidy system that makes private health insurance more affordable under the Obamacare laws. But this letter highlights another problem, which is that undermining the health care system will have broader consequences for state and local governments. Nowhere is this more evident than when it comes to fighting the drug addiction epidemic.
“If you repeal the Affordable Care Act or you dramatically transform the Medicaid program in such a fashion that it doesn’t have the resources to pay for these services, that funding is going to dry up and you’re going to shift back onto states this big financial burden,” explained Brendan Saloner, an assistant professor in the Department of Health Policy and Management at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, in a phone interview. “That’s going to cause a lot of pain on states.”
Scientists at Imperial College London used MRI scans and algorithms to produce computer-generated brain age and spot risk of dying young
By combining MRI scans with machine learning algorithms, a team of neuroscientists trained computers to predict the age of a person’s brain based on their volume of brain tissue.
When the technique was tested on a group of older adults in Scotland, they found that the greater the difference between the computer-generated brain age and the person’s actual age, the higher their risk of poor mental and physical health and the more likely they were to die before they turned 80.
Those with a brain age older than their real age also had weaker grip, lower lung capacity and slower walking speed.
Millions of tons of plastic bags end up on landfill sites every year, risking the health of the environment and destroying the natural habitat of certain animals.
But amateur beekeeper Federica Bertocchini has made an astounding discovery when removing wax worms from honeycombs, which she hopes could help solve the problems caused by plastic bags.
In the wild, the worms live as parasites in bee colonies by laying their eggs inside hives and, once hatched, grow on the beeswax. The worms on Professor Bertocchini's property had been kept in a plastic shopping bag, which she saw were full of holes....
....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]
"Where will this downward spiral take us?" asks Reporters Without Borders in latest annual report
Unprofessional journalists are 'roasted'.
The president is learning the limits of power
Public cynicism towards Trump is growing – in a new Gallup poll, 36% declared him honest and trustworthy, down from 42% in February. Photograph: Michael Reynolds/EPA
....He has failed to get any of his priorities turned into legislation in the face of party disunity, and his attempt to rule by executive order has been largely hollow. His decrees have been either meaningless, like his one-page, detail-free tax reform plan, or have been blocked by the courts, such as his travel ban for Muslim countries and refugees.
Trump’s approval ratings have remained mired at historic lows for a presidency in what is supposed to be a honeymoon period, hovering around – and frequently below – the 40% mark, well below his recent predecessors at this stage in their presidencies.
But his core supporters have remained faithful, choosing to believe that the mainstream media are purveyors of fake news, rather than accept that the Trump presidency has not been the unrivalled success the president has claimed. They have also accommodated Trump’s affinity for Vladimir Putin. The percentage of Republicans who see Russia as an unfriendly state has fallen from 82% in 2014 to 41% now, according to a CNN/ORC poll.
The MIT economist Peter Temin argues that economic inequality results in two distinct classes. And only one of them has any power.
Keith Bedford / Reuters
....Temin identifies two types of workers in what he calls “the dual economy.” The first are skilled, tech-savvy workers and managers with college degrees and high salaries who are concentrated heavily in fields such as finance, technology, and electronics—hence his labeling it the “FTE sector.” They make up about 20 percent of the roughly 320 million people who live in America. The other group is the low-skilled workers, which he simply calls the “low-wage sector.”
Temin then divides workers into groups that can trace their family line in the U.S. back to before 1970 (when productivity growth began to outpace wage growth) and groups that immigrated later, and notes that race plays a pretty big role in how both groups fare in the American economy. “In the group that has been here longer, white Americans dominate both the FTE sector and the low-wage sector, while African Americans are located almost entirely in the low-wage sector,” he writes. “In the group of recent immigrants, Asians predominantly entered the FTE sector, while Latino immigrants joined African Americans in the low-wage sector.”
After divvying up workers like this (and perhaps he does so with too broad of strokes), Temin explains why there are such stark divisions between them. He focuses on how the construction of class and race, and racial prejudice, have created a system that keeps members of the lower classes precisely where they are. He writes that the upper class of FTE workers, who make up just one-fifth of the population, has strategically pushed for policies—such as relatively low minimum wages and business-friendly deregulation—to bolster the economic success of some groups and not others, largely along racial lines. “The choices made in the United States include keeping the low-wage sector quiet by mass incarceration, housing segregation and disenfranchisement,” Temin writes.
And how is one to move up from the lower group to the higher one? Education is key, Temin writes, but notes that this means plotting, starting in early childhood, a successful path to, and through, college. That’s a 16-year (or longer) plan that, as Temin compellingly observes, can be easily upended. For minorities especially, this means contending with the racially fraught trends Temin identifies earlier in his book, such as mass incarceration and institutional disinvestment in students, for example. Many cities, which house a disproportionate portion of the black (and increasingly, Latino) population, lack adequate funding for schools. And decrepit infrastructure and lackluster public transit can make it difficult for residents to get out of their communities to places with better educational or work opportunities. Temin argues that these impediments exist by design.
Despite the bleak portrait that he paints, he doesn’t believe that the U.S. necessarily has to be like this. He offers five proposals that he says might help the country return to more equal footing. Some are fairly clear levers that many before him have recommending pulling: expanding access to and improving public education (particularly early education), repairing infrastructure, investing less in programs like prisons that oppress poor minorities, and increasing funding for those that can help build social capital and increase economic mobility. But other suggestions of his are more ambitious and involve fundamentally changing the cultural beliefs that have been reinforced over generations. Temin advocates doing away with the belief that private agencies can act in the interest of all citizens in the way that public entities can, and should. His final recommendation is to address systemic racism by reviving the spirit of the Second Reconstruction of the 1960s and 1970s, when civil-rights legislation helped to desegregate schools and give black Americans more political and economic power.
Charmaine Yoest was head of Americans United for Life, which played role in recent wave of anti-abortion laws by feeding model bills to state lawmakers
Charmaine Yoest framed abortion restrictions as necessary to protect women’s health, although the medical evidence for such claims was often dubious. Photograph: Pablo Martinez Monsivais/Associated Press
Donald Trump has appointed the former president of a leading anti-abortion group to the top communications role at the Department of Health and Human Services (DHSS).
Charmaine Yoest, who for several years was head of Americans United for Life (AUL), will be HHS assistant secretary for public affairs. AUL played an instrumental role in the recent wave of anti-abortion laws by feeding model legislation to state lawmakers.
Under Yoest, the group pushed model bills that outlawed abortion after 20 weeks, required abortion providers to gain admitting privileges at local hospitals, and mandated counseling and waiting periods for women seeking abortions. AUL is also opposed to the use of the morning-after pill and IUDs.
Between 2010 and 2016, states have enacted 288 restrictions on abortion. The AUL directly credits its own work for several dozen of those laws. Its model legislation may have inspired countless more. Abortion rights advocates have managed to block many such measures in court.
As AUL president, Yoest played a key role in framing abortion restrictions as necessary to protect women’s health, although the medical evidence for such claims was often dubious. AUL’s ultimate goal is to end abortion.
Since leaving AUL, in 2016, Yoest has been a senior fellow at American Values, an anti-abortion, anti-same-sex marriage nonprofit. In her new role, she will set communications strategy for the entire health department.
The agency is headed by another staunch opponent of reproductive rights, former Georgia congressman Tom Price, who as chair of the House budget committee oversaw passage of a measure that defunded Planned Parenthood.
Website ‘undergoing changes’ to reflect agency’s ‘new direction’, as tens of thousands protest inaction on climate in cities across the US
Protesters carry signs during the Peoples Climate March at the White House in Washington. Photograph: Joshua Roberts/Reuters
The EPA is currently led by Scott Pruitt, a former Oklahoma attorney general who has denied that carbon dioxide causes global warming.
The Trump administration has called for budget cuts of nearly one-third at the EPA and has sought to weaken protections for human health. For instance, the White House has proposed cutting funding and regulations regarding lead poisoning prevention and is considering rewriting regulations concerning smog.
It has already rolled back a law that prevented coal mining companies from dumping waste in streams.
In an op-ed piece for the Guardian published on Saturday, Sanders made an economic case for a focus on industries meant to ameliorate the effects of climate change, rather than those which contribute to it.
The senator from Vermont wrote: “No matter what agenda President Trump and his administration of climate deniers push, it is clear that jobs in clean energy like wind and solar are growing much more rapidly than jobs in the coal, oil and gas sectors.”
An estimated 200,000 take part in Peoples Climate March in Washington, D.C., with tens of thousands showing solidarity from afar
"Indigenous people are leading the Peoples Climate March to send one clear message to Trump: keep your fossil fuels in the ground," said Dallas Goldtooth, campaigner for the Indigenous Environmental Network, ahead of the action. (Photo: Eman Mohammed/Survival Media Agency)
Photo: Greg Kahn/GRAIN for The Intercept
THE HARDEST PART of reversing the warming of the planet may be convincing climate change skeptics of the need to do so. Although scientists who study the issue overwhelming agree that the earth is undergoing rapid and profound climate changes due to the burning of fossil fuels, a minority of the public remains stubbornly resistant to that fact. With temperatures rising and ice caps melting — and that small minority in control of both Congress and the White House — there seems no project more urgent than persuading climate deniers to reconsider their views. So we reached out to Jerry Taylor, whose job as president of the Niskanen Center involves turning climate skeptics into climate activists.
It might seem like an impossible transition, except that Taylor, who used to be staff director for the energy and environment task force at the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and vice president of the Cato Institute, made it by himself.
Sharon Lerner: What was your turning point?
Jerry Taylor: It started in the early 2000s. I was one of the climate skeptics who do battle on TV and I was doing a show with Joe Romm. On air, I said that, back in 1988, when climate scientist James Hansen testified in front of the Senate, he predicted we’d see a tremendous amount of warming. I argued it’d been more than a decade and we could now see by looking at the temperature record that he wasn’t accurate. After we got done with the program and were back in green room, getting the makeup taken off, Joe said to me, “Did you even read that testimony you’ve just talked about?” And when I told him it had been a while, he said “I’m daring you to go back and double check this.” He told me that some of Hansen’s projections were spot on. So I went back to my office and I re-read Hanson’s testimony. And Joe was correct. So I then I talked to the climate skeptics who had made this argument to me, and it turns out they had done so with full knowledge they were being misleading.
SL: So that was it? You changed your mind?
JT: It was more gradual. After that, I began to do more of that due diligence, and the more I did, the more I found that variations on this story kept arising again and again. Either the explanations for findings were dodgy, sketchy or misleading or the underlying science didn’t hold up. Eventually, I tried to get out of the science narratives that I had been trafficking in and just fell back on the economics. Because you can very well accept that climate change exists and still find arguments against climate action because the costs of doing something are so great.
SL: And the economic case eventually crumbled, too?
JT: The first blow in that argument was offered by my friend Jonathan Adler, who was at the Competitive Enterprise Institute. Jon wrote a very interesting paper in which he argued that even if the skeptic narratives are correct, the old narratives I was telling wasn’t an argument against climate action. Just because the costs and the benefits are more or less going to be a wash, he said, that doesn’t mean that the losers in climate change are just going to have to suck it up so Exxon and Koch Industries can make a good chunk of money.
There can be no greater crime against humanity than the destruction of conditions that make human life possible
I’m a climate alarmist because there is no morally responsible way to downplay the dangers that negligent policies – expected to accelerate human-caused climate change – pose to humankind.
There can be no greater crime against humanity than the foreseeable, and methodical, destruction of conditions that make human life possible – hindsight isn’t necessary.
Scientists confirm, in overwhelming consensus, the fundamental facts that make anthropogenic global warming a clear and present threat to humanity and other species.
There is no amount of ideological deception capable of altering basic physics, chemistry and biology. It is ethically untenable for intelligent people to look the other way while elected officials deny reality, and our opportunity to avoid catastrophe slips away.
A recent Monsanto lawsuit opens a scary window into the industry of junk science.
(Image: Mike Mozart/Flickr)
....“Regulatory Toxicology and Pharmacology is a vanity journal that publishes mercenary science created by polluters and producers of toxic chemicals to manufacture uncertainty about the science underlying public-health and environmental protections.” says David Michaels, professor of environmental and occupational health at the George Washington University School of Public Health. (Michaels recently returned to this position after serving as the administrator of the United States Occupational Safety and Health Administration.)
The problem is that it’s not just Monsanto, and it’s not just this one journal. Corporations regularly buy academics to do their bidding, recasting industry talking points to create the beginnings of an alternative scientific canon.
The problem is that it’s not just Monsanto, and it’s not just this one journal. Corporations regularly buy academics to do their bidding, recasting industry talking points to create the beginnings of an alternative scientific canon. Universities do little to stop it, while academic journals, sometimes prestigious, are often complicit. Perhaps public shame remains the most—or only—effective medicine.
Kimberley Taylor from Blackburn is part of the all-female Kurdish force battling to rout Islamic State. Driving them on is the chance to free women enslaved by the extremists: ‘It starts with fighting Daesh, then the mentality of the male’
Multimedia editing by Ekaterina Ochagavia
She had heard the stories about how Islamic State fighters could glide like ghosts into Kurdish militia bases during the dead of night, but nothing prepared her for the bedlam when it happened. It was 3.40am on 12 February when Isis attackers scrambled over the perimeter defences of the base north of Raqqa. Kimberley Taylor was convinced it would be overrun. Grabbing her Kalashnikov, she began firing at the shapes. Beyond the corner of the nearest building cowered an enemy fighter. Suddenly he rushed towards her. As their eyes met, he yanked the cord on his suicide belt.
Night-time along the shifting frontline of northern Syria is a fraught affair. Absolute silence, punctured by periods of pandemonium. Isis can strike from anywhere, shadows that melt in and out of the darkness. Taylor’s base was six miles behind the front, among the lush floodplains of the Euphrates. Everyone there knew that the Isis fighters’ latest tactic was tiptoeing into the huts of sleeping Kurdish fighters and blowing themselves up. Taylor, who survived the suicide attack, counted herself lucky.
“Well, kind of. I was completely covered in human remains, which was pretty horrific,” said the 28-year-old in her gentle Lancashire accent. Later, when the sun rose, Taylor admitted to being both disgusted and fascinated by a human exploding, particularly how hair was blown clean from the scalp.
Taylor, born in Blackburn 28 years ago, is a footsoldier for the YPJ – a Northern Kurdish or Kurmanji acronym for the Women’s Protection Units – an all-female force that is part of the offensive to liberate Raqqa. Fighting alongside a coalition of Arab and Assyrian Christian militias, the YPJ is steadily encircling the capital of Isis’s proto-state, supported by US airpower.
Users trying to access online encyclopaedia via Turkish internet providers receive ‘connection timed out’ error message
Turkey has blocked Wikipedia, the country’s telecommunications watchdog has said, citing a law that allows it to ban access to websites deemed obscene or a threat to national security.
Later on Saturday, Turkish authorities said they had sacked more than 3,900 civil servants, and military and police personnel as the purge of alleged anti-government officials continued, and also banned TV dating shows.
The move to close down Wikipedia access is likely to further worry rights groups and Turkey’s western allies, who say Ankara has curtailed freedom of speech and other basic rights in the crackdown that followed last year’s failed coup.
In the next half century or so, Christianity’s long reign as the world’s largest religion may come to an end, according to a just-released report that builds on Pew Research Center’s original population growth projections for religious groups. Indeed, Muslims will grow more than twice as fast as the overall world population between 2015 and 2060 and, in the second half of this century, will likely surpass Christians as the world’s largest religious group.
While the world’s population is projected to grow 32% in the coming decades, the number of Muslims is expected to increase by 70% – from 1.8 billion in 2015 to nearly 3 billion in 2060. In 2015, Muslims made up 24.1% of the global population. Forty-five years later, they are expected to make up more than three-in-ten of the world’s people (31.1%).
The main reasons for Islam’s growth ultimately involve simple demographics. To begin with, Muslims have more children than members of the seven other major religious groups analyzed in the study. Muslim women have an average of 2.9 children, significantly above the next-highest group (Christians at 2.6) and the average of all non-Muslims (2.2). In all major regions where there is a sizable Muslim population, Muslim fertility exceeds non-Muslim fertility.
The growth of the Muslim population also is helped by the fact that Muslims have the youngest median age (24 in 2015) of all major religious groups, more than seven years younger than the median age of non-Muslims (32).
Copyright © 2017 The Baltimore Chronicle and the SENTINEL. All rights reserved.
"Trump has accomplished only one thing that is remarkable—he's awoken American democracy like never before"
Some of the nation's leading watchdog groups released reports this week taking stock of President Donald Trump's first 100 days in office, covering everything from his failure to "drain the swamp" to the resistance movement meeting his administration head-on.
The consensus seems to be that Trump and his administration are doing everything they can to dismantle recent progress on civil rights, climate action, government accountability, and other critical measures for democracy—but in doing so, have ushered in a game-changing era of grassroots activism.
Citizens for Ethics and Responsibility in Washington (CREW), which has sued the president over his conflicts of interest, released its report Friday, detailing "the ethical failings of both the president and his staff."
"President Trump promised to 'drain the swamp,' but instead the first 100 days of his administration have illustrated the catastrophic consequences when a president fails to prioritize ethics when entering public service," CREW executive director Noah Bookbinder said. "This failure of leadership resounds through the administration and the government as a whole, and ultimately harms our democracy and the interests of the American people.”
CREW's report also looks at the track records of Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) chief Scott Pruitt, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, Health and Human Services (HHS) head Tom Price, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, senior White House staff, and the president's children.
Pressure on House leadership to advance HR676 comes as legislation reaches new milestone
Seizing upon the now record high support for a Medicare-for-all bill, advocates for such a system are pushing House Minority Leader Nancy Peolosi (D-Calif.) to throw her weight behind the legislation.
The Expanded and Improved Medicare for All Act, HR676, reintroduced in January by Rep. John Conyers Jr. (D-Mich.) this week claimed for the first time support from more than half of the Democratic caucus, reaching 104 co-sponsors in Congress.
Pelosi is not among them.
Instead, she appears on a list of 89 House Democrats not supporting Conyers' legislation. Justice Democrats, an advocacy group calling for an overhaul of the Democratic Party, put out on social media this week an infographic highlighting their names.
Donald Trump's tax plan punishes single parents with low to moderate incomes.
....I live in a poor place, which has certainly seen its share of tough times. A friend dumpster-dived for food. Another burned cardboard for heat. But along with teaching me about poverty, Appalachia has taught me solidarity and compassion. My town rallied to throw a young expectant mother with multiple illnesses a baby shower; to help buy a van for a man with disabilities; to help unemployed workers after a fire. This is a place where people have the least, yet give the most.
It’s easy to give at least a little, and doing so is essential to all for our survival. When one of us struggles, we all struggle. We all deal with trickle-down devastation.
The president’s tax plan is going to make the nation weak — not just for single parents who, frankly, are being punished enough already. It is true that some choose to parent alone, but many of us were denied a choice.
Many single parents are dealing with a broken promise. Many of us come to single parenting through horrible circumstances: death, or abandonment, or trying to escape abuse, or to deal with the pain of infidelity. I wouldn’t wish single parenting on anyone. It’s exhausting, lonely, and nearly impossible to do absolutely everything a child needs by yourself.
Now, it looks like I’ll have to do it on even less. And you — even you — will pay the price for that, too.
Bottom line, says one commentator: "There's no good reason for the secrecy"
Teacher in Milwaukee said six-year-old student "crawled into her lap crying [and] told her, 'I am so scared that somebody is going to take my daddy away'"
A record-breaking 104 House Democrats are co-sponsoring a Medicare-for-All bill
Scant on details, critics say this is a massive tax break for corporations that the White House is determined to label a 'middle-class tax cut'
The U.S. leads the free world in its helplessness before the dissolution of its most cherished values.
....Everywhere the disaffected are recoiling from establishment politicians and the mainstream media, and succumbing to alternative facts — a fragmentation of truth quickened by digital technology. It is in this sense, unanticipated by optimists like Mr. Obama, that the 21st century is proving to be the American Century.
Authoritarian regimes like China and Iran stave off challenges to their authority by limiting internet access and repairing myths of national unity. But the country taken to be the world’s oldest modern democracy leads the free world in its helplessness before the dissolution of its most cherished beliefs and values. Rejoining the tormented history of modernity under an obsessive liar, America has accelerated its most insidious tendency: nihilism.
The U.S. leads the free world in its helplessness before the dissolution of its most cherished values.
The best test for judging any Trump administration tax plan is the Mnuchin test — the standard that President Trump’s own Treasury Secretary, Steven Mnuchin, laid out a few months ago:
“Any reductions we have in upper-income taxes will be offset by less deductions, so that there will be no absolute tax cut for the upper class. There will be a big tax cut for the middle class, but any tax cuts we have for the upper class will be offset by less deductions that pay for it.”
I’ll repeat the key phrase for emphasis: “there will be no absolute tax cut for the upper class.”
Mnuchin was right to make this commitment. While middle-class incomes have stagnated, the top 0.01 percent of earners have had their average inflation-adjusted income roughly quadruple to $11.3 million since 1980. Their taxes have fallen, too. There’s no justification for cutting those taxes further.
Yet on Wednesday Trump, with Mnuchin as the pitch man, proposed precisely that, violating Mnuchin’s own standard.
- ‘There is no area where Trump is more wrong than on climate change’
- Bill proposes switch to 100% clean, renewable energy by 2050
....Sanders added: “No, Mr President, climate change is not a hoax. Climate change is real.”
At the event, held just outside the US Capitol, Sanders, Merkley and Markey unveiled legislation which seeks to completely phase out the use of fossil fuels through a transition to 100% clean and renewable energy by the middle of this century. But the bill, called the 100 by ’50 Act, is unlikely to be considered by a Republican-controlled Congress, where many GOP lawmakers are still unwilling to acknowledge the science behind global warming and contribution of human activity.
The partisan nature of the debate was not lost on the audience, as one attendee interrupted the proceedings to ask: “Where are the Republicans?”
Police clash with striking union workers in streets of Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo as protesters in 26 states demonstrate against Michel Temer’s proposed reforms
....Demonstrators in Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo blocked key roads with barricades of burning tires on. Riot police used teargas and percussion grenades to try to disperse the crowds and open the routes.
Domestic media said it was the biggest general strike in decades, with protests reported in 26 states and strikes by teachers, bus drivers, healthcare providers, oil industry workers and public servants.
As night fell on Friday, there were multiple clashes in central Rio between protesters, who set fire to a bus, and riot police, who fired dozens of rounds of tear gas.
....Many voters are furious that politicians are insisting on the need for cuts in benefits and public services even as evidence grows that they benefited personally from illegal kickbacks on overinflated contracts.
Eight cabinet ministers have been implicated in the Lava Jato (Car Wash) investigation into corruption at the country’s two biggest companies, Petrobras and Odebrecht. Temer’s approval ratings have slipped into single digits, similar to the level of his predecessor, Rousseff, when she was impeached last year.
Frustration mounts among locals on the Greek island, where refugees feel like prisoners with no hope of getting to mainland Europe
....On Chios, more than 825 asylum seekers, the vast majority Syrians, arrived from Turkey in March. This month almost 600 have come. With at least 3,000, according to authorities, housed in two overcrowded camps – one makeshift, the other a razor-wire topped detention centre in a former factory known as Vial – it is anger that hangs in the air.
Greece’s Aegean isles have become de facto detention facilities – a dumping ground for nearly 14,000 stranded souls, unable to move until permits are processed and fearful of what lies ahead.
“Anything could happen because everything is hanging by a thread,” says Makis Mylonas, a policy adviser at the town hall. “Chios, Samos, Lesvos, Kos, Leros were sacrificed in the name of Europe’s fixation to keep immigrants out,” he claims, listing the isles that continue to bear the brunt of the flows.
....Officials are scrambling to cope with rising tensions. A coterie of far-right extremists has emerged and there have been attacks on migrant camps. Last week, neo-fascists threw incendiary devices at immigrants living at the Souda camp.
Frustration is also growing among refugees with nothing to do but wait for requests to run through an asylum-processing machine widely damned for moving at glacial speed. In March a young Syrian self-immolated.
Decades after the military murdered thousands, Mothers of Plaza de Mayo warn that the current era of alternative facts poses a new threat
Leaders expected to discuss statement at weekend summit that if the island reunifies, the north will automatically regain EU membership
European leaders may be preparing to recognise a united Ireland, in a declaration that would pave the way for the north to swiftly rejoin the European Union. At their first Brexit summit on Saturday, the EU’s 27 leaders are expected to discuss a text stating that if Ireland unified, the north would automatically become part of the EU.
The inclusion of the text is a victory for the Irish government, which had pressed for the inclusion of a “GDR clause”, a reference to the integration of the former east German state into the European Community after the fall of the Berlin wall. The declaration is bound to raise fears that Brexit could trigger the unravelling of the UK, although there is no majority in Northern Ireland for unification.
EU diplomats are braced for a fierce reaction from the UK, given the angry tabloid headlines that followed speculation about the status of Gibraltar. After lobbying from Madrid, the EU agreed that the Spanish government would be able to exclude the Rock from any EU-UK trade agreement if it was not satisfied with the status of the territory.
The Irish clause is informed by the Good Friday peace agreement, which states that north and south of Ireland have a right to unify if a majority agree north of the border. Enda Kenny, the taoiseach, has argued that it is important for the north of Ireland to have “ease of access” to rejoin the EU if reunification were to occur.
A draft of the summit minutes seen by the Guardian refers to the Good Friday provision for a united Ireland and adds that this event would bring the north into the EU. The draft says: “The European Council acknowledges that, in accordance with international law, the entire territory of such a united Ireland would thus be part of the European Union [in the event of Irish unification].”
FN says Jean-François Jalkh, only named acting president this week, is preparing legal action over comments reportedly made 17 years ago
Scrapping payments to wealthiest 5% to 10% would allow government to give more to people in greater need, says thinktank
To eradicate slavery we need to understand what drives slaveholders, says American sociologist and academic – and it’s not always just about money
....Thanks to a growing abolitionist movement, labourers and their allies worldwide are working towards eradicating slavery in all its forms. These labourers are increasingly finding the law on their side, and organisations are on hand to help them overcome corruption and discrimination and see justice served.
My interviews with slaveholders in India revealed that they regard the emancipation of labourers as an injustice, the loss of a “family feeling”. They perceive the upholding of these human rights as a gross violation of communal and social bonds, ties rooted in a history that, they insist, runs deeper than new laws.
The men I spoke to while researching my book represent just one variety of perpetrator. A diverse range of people keep operations running across the many forms of exploitation involved in trafficking and slavery. Finding, breaking and controlling fellow human beings requires a division of labour.
There are women, mothers among them, who traffic infants. There are women who, once trafficked into prostitution, now work as brothel madams, an upward move seen as a sort of empowerment and freedom. There are powerless and unemployed workers, arrested for introducing other vulnerable workers to trafficking networks. Of course, there are also sadists who delight in the harm of others: this is a brutal truth.
For me, the fact that many perpetrators are otherwise ordinary people is far more unsettling. Some are doing anything to get by; others, like Paratapa, are engaged in economic activities inherited from previous generations. Born at the top of India’s caste hierarchy, members of Paratapa’s family have enjoyed the privileges of status for generations. No wonder he opposes change.
If estimates of contemporary slavery are reliable – about 46 million people are victims currently – we cannot simply rely on the law and the power of arrest to end the problem. More sophisticated and sustainable approaches to emancipation will emerge as donors and policymakers recognise the diverse motives and mindsets of those involved in slavery.
Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly tells critics to change the law or "shut up"
STEVEN ROSENFELD / AlterNet | SALON
Ajit Pai's plan will 'turn the web into a place where the wealthiest and most powerful can be heard'
Open internet advocates slammed Federal Communications Commission (FCC) chair Ajit Pai's plan to dismantle net neutrality, announced as expected on Wednesday, and vowed to fight him "tooth and nail."
Pai, a former lawyer for Verizon, said in a speech to the anti-regulation group FreedomWorks that he wants to get rid of the rule that classifies the internet as a public utility under Title II of the Communications Act and prohibits Internet Service Providers (ISPs) from discriminating against websites or charging more for faster loading times.
Doing so would leave internet users "at the mercy of the phone and cable companies—some of the most-hated companies in America," said Craig Aaron, president of the open internet advocacy group Free Press, at a press conference with senators on Wednesday.
Pai's announcement comes just weeks after he met with telecommunications lobbyists. Opponents slammed him as a puppet of the industry.
Evan Greer, campaign director at the digital rights group Fight for the Future, said in a statement, "Pai's speech was an insult to the intelligence of internet users. He attempts to portray basic free speech protections as heavy handed government regulation [...] Internet users will fight tooth and nail to defend our basic right to connect, create, learn, and share."
The Open Internet Order, enshrined by the FCC in 2015 under the leadership of then-chair Tom Wheeler, blocks ISPs from taking advantage of websites. Pai's replacement plan would ask service providers to sign a voluntary agreement to maintain a set of conditions that has yet to be disclosed—but, as the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) noted Tuesday, "nothing in the law will require those companies to keep those promises. They are more than free to change their pledges to reshape the internet, charge higher prices, and invade consumer privacy."
Pai is expected to release more details on Thursday.
Colour of Corruption
, a plug-in that works with Google Chrome, details criminal allegations against Brazil’s top politicians, who have long been accused of greasing the wheels
In an age of epic corruption and political cynicism in Brazil, a new browser plug-in aims to attract and inform voters about the extent of their representatives’ involvement in graft.
Released before what is expected to be the biggest general strike in decades, Colour of Corruption is an online political scorecard that details criminal allegations against members of the cabinet, the upper and lower houses of parliament, state governors, their deputies – and even the president.
In the past few weeks, we've written a few times about this weird urgency among some in Congress to rush through a pretty major change to Copyright Office oversight. I wrote a deep dive piece over at The Verge discussing the issues at play, but Congress is pushing a bill to stop the new Librarian of Congress, Carla Hayden, from appointing a new head of the Copyright Office. Instead, the Congressional plan is to make the position a political appointee, nominated by the President, and approved by Congress. In that Verge piece, we explained why it was a major change, and scratched our heads at the fact that there appears to be no reason for pushing for this change other than (1) the legacy copyright industries know that their lobbying power will mean that the appointment will be to their liking and (2) they fear who Hayden might appoint. But, what's really odd is how quickly Congress is trying to push this through. As if the matter is incredibly urgent. There have been no hearings on the matter. There's been no public discussion on the pros and cons of such a move. Just a mad dash by a bunch of people in Congress to make this change official before Hayden can appoint someone.
Rep. Zoe Lofgren -- who appears to be one of the few people in Congress questioning why this is happening -- has put out a statement highlighting why this move is so problematic. A key point: if there is such a rush to make the change, how does it make sense to put this appointment power in the hands of a President who has left hundreds of federal jobs completely empty without any nominations at all?
... this legislation will harm and delay much-needed modernization efforts by making the Register a Presidentially appointed position. Currently, there is a backlog of 495 Appointee positions that have not even been nominated. This not only will delay effective administration of the Copyright Office, but also puts the efficiency gains made by the Library at risk. Under current modernization plans, the Library believes it can speed up the modernization plan by almost two years and save significant amounts of money. Those plans depend on an active Register of Copyright who is compliant and accountable to the Librarian. The long delay created by this bill in needing Senate confirmation of a Register will only harm these efforts.
In other words, the arguments for "urgency" because the Copyright Register position is currently vacant are undermining their own argument. Considering the nearly 500 federal government positions that have no nominees yet, who actually thinks that Trump will quickly get around to nominating a new Copyright Register, let alone having that person confirmed by the Senate? The current Librarian of Congress, Carla Hayden, on the other hand, has been reviewing candidates for months now and is likely close to having someone in place.
"The true depth of the administration's unswerving commitment to an especially savage version of corporate capitalism is now, as we approach the first 100 days under the Trump administration, utterly clear."
Lauren McCauley, staff writer / Source: Public Citizen
| Common Dreams
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.
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