Feb 17

Watch: NRA-Backed Congress Members Refuse to Offer More than ‘Thoughts and Prayers’ as Student Survivors Mount Protests

Their responses are telling.

In Parkland, Florida, a single gunman killed 17 high school students last week. In response to the recent shooting, a new video from NowThis shows the reactions of NRA-backed representatives in Congress to a reporter asking them for “any solutions at all, other than thoughts and prayers,”regarding gun control. Their responses are telling.


After Rep. Masha Blackburn (R-TN)  was asked, “Do you have anything besides thoughts and prayers to offer? Any solutions at all for this gun violence?” all she had to say was, “We are so concerned about those precious children and families,” as she ducked into the elevator as fast as she could repeating “this is a members only elevator.”


The reporter pressed on saying, “I know you’re concerned enough to pay for the funerals— are you concerned enough to do anything else at all?”  

She responded by crossing her arms over her chest and repeating, “This is a members only elevator.” And when pressed again for any kind of solution, she said, “My heart breaks for these families.”


Rep. Ron Desantis (R-FL) responded to the reporter’s calm request for any kind of solution to gun violence other than thoughts and prayers with “I gotta go,” as he scurried rapidly away from the reporter down the stairs.


The reporter walked with him and asked again. Desantis responded with, “I mean praying for people, I don’t think you should diminish that.”

The reporter said he didn’t diminish it, just asked for anything in addition to prayers, and referenced the famous Frederick Douglass quote: “I prayed for freedom for twenty years, but received no answer until I prayed with my legs.”

Other representatives slammed doors in the reporter’s face and flat out ignored the questions.  

Each of the Congress people in the video received thousands of dollars from the NRA.

You can watch the video below:


In response to the general inaction on the part of Congress and the President when it comes to gun control, the Douglass High School students who survived this week’s shooting in Floridaare calling for a widespread movement of change,including school walk-out protests across the nation. They want this shooting to mark a turning point for this country on gun control.

“We are going to be the last mass shooting,” said Emma Gonzalez, a high school senior and survivor of the Parkland, Floridaf shooting in an impassioned speech at a gun control rally in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.


Gonzalez called out President Trump, Congress and the other adults around her for refusing to take action to prevent the kind of horrors she recently witnessed in her school.


“If the president wants to come up to me and tell me to my face that i was a terrible tragedy and how it should never have happened, and maintain telling us how nothing is going to be done about it, I’m gonna happily ask him how much money he received from the National Rifle Association.”

She followed up with the answer to the question she'd ask Trump: $ 30 million dollars.


“To every politicia who is taking donations from the NRA, shame on you,” she said through tears.

You can Watch Gonzalez's speech below:


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Feb 17

13 Russians criminally charged for interfering in US presidential election

The office of Robert Mueller, the special counsel, announced Friday that 13 Russian nationals have been criminally charged for interfering in the 2016 presidential election to help Donald Trump’s campaign while damaging his opponents’ campaigns. Three Russian entities were also indicted, including an infamous government-backed “troll farm” called the Internet Research Agency, which repeatedly engaged in operations to interfere with elections and political processes.

“The United States of America, through its departments and agencies, regulates the activities of foreign individuals and entities in and affecting the United States in order to prevent, disclose, and counteract improper foreign influence on U.S. elections and on the U.S. political system,” the indictmentread. “U.S. law bans foreign nationals from making certain expenditures or financial disbursements for the purpose of influencing federal elections. U.S. law also bars agents of any foreign entity from engaging in political activities within the United States without first registering with the Attorney General. And U.S. law requires certain foreign nationals seeking entry to the United States to obtain a visa by providing truthful and accurate information to the government.”

According to the indictment, most of the defendants worked at Internet Research Agency while intentionally conspiring with each other to defraud the U.S. by posing as Americans or using the stolen identities of real Americans in order to hijack their social media accounts and incite online turmoil. Starting in 2014, Yevgeniy Prigozhin allegedly assisted in financing these operations with funds from companies he controlled, including Concord Catering and Concord Management and Consulting.

The indictment also alleged, “Defendants posted derogatory information about a number of candidates, and by early to mid-2016, Defendants’ operations included supporting the presidential campaign of then-candidate Donald J. Trump and disparaging Hillary Clinton. Defendants made various expenditures to carry out those activities, including buying political advertisements on social media in the names of U.S. persons and entities. Defendants also staged political rallies inside the United States, and while posing as U.S. grassroots entities and U.S. persons, and without revealing their Russian identities and organization affiliation, solicited and compensated real U.S. persons to promote or disparage candidates. Some defendants, posing as U.S. persons and without revealing their Russian association, communicated with unwitting individuals associated with the Trump campaign and with other political activists to seek to coordinate political activities.”

On Friday, Mikhail Ivanovich Bystrov, Mikhail Leonidovich Burchik, Aleksandra Yuryevna Krylova, Anna Vladislavovna Bogacheva, Sergey Pavlovich Polozov, Maria Anatolyevna Bovda, Robert Sergeyevich Bovda, Dzheykhun Nasimi Ogly, Vadim Vladimirovich Podkopaev, Gleb Igorevitch Vasilchenko, Irina Viktorovna Kaverzina, Yevgeny Viktorovich Prigozhin, and Vladimir Venkov were charged with conspiracy to defraud the United States. Three defendants were charged with conspiracy to commit wire fraud and bank fraud, and five defendants were charged with aggravated identity theft.

On Friday, Rep. Ted Lieu of California took to Twitter and wrote, “Dear @realDonaldTrump: The DOJ indicted 13 Russian nationals at the Internet Research Agency for violating federal criminal law to help your campaign and hurt other campaigns.

“Still think this Russia thing is a hoax and a witch hunt? Because a lot of witches just got indicted.”

The post 13 Russians criminally charged for interfering in US presidential election appeared first on NationofChange.


Feb 17

This week in the war on workers: Who will be hurt most if Supreme Court rules against public unions?

Who’s going to lose out the most if (when) the Supreme Court deals a body blow to public sector unions in the Janus case? 

While the outcome of the case will affect about 17 million public-sector workers across the country, black women in particular could be hurt by Janus, as they are disproportionately represented in public sector jobs. They make up 17.7 percent of public-sector workers, or about 1.5 million workers.

Black women have traditionally faced a double pay gap—a gender pay gap and a racial wage gap. EPI research has shown that black women are paid only 65 cents of the dollar that their white male counterparts are paid. However, unions help reduce these pay gaps. Working black women in unions are paid 94.9 percent of what their black male counterparts make, while nonunion black women are paid just 91 percent of their counterparts.

Wounding that is part of the Republican payoff for stealing a Supreme Court seat.

Daily Kos

Feb 17

Manafort Faces New Claims of Additional Criminal Activity by Mueller

The former campaign chairman may find himself incarcerated until the upcoming trial ends.

One-time Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort has been accused of more criminal activity by special counsel Robert Mueller in his investigation into potential collusion between the Kremlin and the president’s campaign.

Politico reported Friday night that Mueller’s office has found “additional criminal conduct” since Manafort was indicted in October for committing bank fraud and failing to register as a foreign agent.

Prosecutors in Manafort’s case argued on Tuesday that the bail package their $ 10 million bail package currently in negotiations is no longer sufficient given the new charges, newly-redacted court records unsealed Friday reveal.

“The proposed package is deficient in the government’s view, in light of additional criminal conduct that we have learned since the Court’s initial bail determination,” prosecutors said in the records, accusing Manafort of “a series of bank frauds and bank fraud conspiracies.”

There are currently no known criminal charges brought against Manafort based on the new information.

Earlier in the week, news broke that Manafort’s longtime associate and Trump deputy campaign chairman Rick Gates was finalizing a plea deal with Mueller. The move indicates that he’s cooperating with the special counsel, making him the third suspected Trump aide to do so.


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Feb 17

Michiganders fight back against water privatization as Nestlé tries to increase water intake

Michigan’s most important local resource is water. And residents are banding together in opposition of water privatization as Nestlé tries to increase the company’s intake of spring water.

While the Swiss multinational bottled water company recently submitted an application with the state’s Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) to increase pumping from 250 to 400 gallons per minute in the small town of Evart, Michiganders in Flint and Detroit have lost all access to tap water.

Residents are building a movement across the state – writing letter, holding town meetings and going door-to-door – to “protect their most important local resource,” according to EcoWatch. The movement is standing up to water privatization and demanding clean, safe public water for Michiganders.

“This fall we will be releasing our next movie, all about the importance of clean, safe water. We’re going to show the bigger story here: the struggle to protect and provide drinking water for all Michiganders, and really for all people.”

Nestlé is asking the DEQ to allow the company to increase its pumping ability from White Pine Springs well No. 101 in Osceola County for their local bottled water brand, Ice Mountain. But Michigan environmental regulators at the DEQ asked Nestlé to provide the department with a report on the impact the withdrawal of millions of gallons of water would have an impact on the local wetlands, streams and natural springs, according to MLive.

With increased backlash from Michiganders, the DEQ engaged with the state’s Department of Natural Resources, the Attorney General’s office and Michigan Native American tribes as they reconsider Nestlé’s application.

“It shows the DEQ is taking this matter seriously and hopefully holding Nestle to the highest standards under the law,” Jim Olson, a Traverse City attorney who has fought on behalf of the Michigan Citizens for Water Conservation against Nestlé in court, said. “There is no other way for a decision to be made.”

In a letter written by Matt Gamble, DEQ drinking water unit supervisor, he concluded the “information, analysis, data, and explanation provided does not yet provide the DEQ with a reasonable basis to make the determination” if Nestlé’s proposal meets the legal requirements under the state’s statute. The statute states that groundwater pumping cannot have “individual or cumulative adverse resource impacts” and is “tie-barred” to the  Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Act.

The condition of the area’s creeks are in question as the number of trout in the creeks have diminished due to less spring water found to support a healthy ecosystem. And with less spring water, the creeks are unable to cool from the bottom up causing the water temperatures to rise and trout survival is therefore unsustainable.

Residents of Michigan are also displeased with Nestlé because the company pays no taxes or fees to the state or local government for the pumping of water.

“It’s time to speak out against the big-business politics that fuel water privatization, and make a bold claim for clean, safe public water for everyone, everywhere,” Miranda Fox, author of “Update on Nestlé: Michiganders Mobilize to Take Back Public Water” on EcoWatch, said.

The post Michiganders fight back against water privatization as Nestlé tries to increase water intake appeared first on NationofChange.


Feb 17

Spotlight on green news & views: Polar vortex splits; mountain glaciers melt; Pruitt flies high

This is the 545th edition of the Spotlight on Green News & Views (previously known as the Green Diary Rescue) usually appears twice a week, on Wednesdays and Saturdays. Here is the February 7 Green Spotlight. More than 28,(380) environmentally oriented stories have been rescued to appear in this series since 2006. Inclusion of a story in the Spotlight does not necessarily indicate my agreement with or endorsement of it.


Besame writes—Daily Bucket: Rogue Wolf Girl Looking for Hot California Lover: “A young female wolf from Oregon’s Rogue Pack was tracked entering eastern Siskiyou County California in late January. OR-54 probably is the daughter of the first wolf to enter California in a 100 years, OR-7, and likely is dispersing in search of a mate or another pack. She was trapped in Oregon in early October 2017 and outfitted with a radio collar to help key tabs on southern Oregon’s Rogue Pack and is the only member of that pack wearing a tracking collar. Around the time she was trapped, biologists also spotted OR-7 on a camera trap so as of last fall, he was still alive and well. In 2014, OR-7 fathered the first wolf pack in southwestern Oregon in more than six decades. He and his mate also had litters each of the next three springs. OR-7 will turn 9 years old this spring. The average life span of wolves in the wild is 6 years, fish and wildlife statistics show. […]  If I were a young wolf in Oregon, I’d want to GTFO too. Some ranchers don’t bother to follow livestock predation risk reduction practices and then are fired up when they lose cattle. They want the state to list wolves as “invasive species” (because yeah sure cattle are totally natural and have precedence due to their ecosystem importance). Wolves have been killed for the joy of being a mighty wolf hunter AKA poaching.”

The stratospheric polar vortex, which normally in winter is one cold vortex spinning around the pole has split in two. The light blue color shows areas of intense heating caused by atmospheric wave energy that spun up from the lower atmosphere. The map shows Northern Hemispheric circulation at 10mb in the high stratosphere for 12Feb18 10amEST. Powerful heating is driven by planetary wave number 2.

FishOutofWater writes—Polar vortex splits, record high heat into polar stratosphere, record low Arctic sea ice: “The most powerful episode of poleward heat transport into the stratosphere on record has split the stratospheric polar vortex in two. The polar vortex forms in the winter in the stratosphere when there is no UV energy to heat the ozone in the upper stratosphere. A zone of high winds, called the polar night jet, normally spins high above the Arctic. Normally there is one cyclonic vortex centered near the pole. Right now, there is a weak, warm anticyclone above the pole and there are two cold cyclonic vortices spinning over north America and Eurasia. There is intense compressional heating above the Labrador sea and central Eurasia caused by this planetary wave number 2 of unprecedented power. The image [below] shows what Northern Hemisphere planetary wave no. 2 looks like — warm over the Arctic and oceans — cold over the continents. This wave pattern is intensified by the presence of warm water and the loss of sea ice on the Atlantic side of the Arctic. […] The possible impact of the polar vortex split on the weather is complicated, but there has been consistency between models and consistency within models that cold air will be be displaced towards northern Eurasia for the next six weeks. Thus, northern and central Siberia, which are normally very cold this time of year will be even colder than normal.  Western Europe may also be colder than normal because cold easterly flow off of the continent will be enhanced by strong Siberian high pressure. Most of the continental U.S. will likely be cooler than normal in March while Alaska will be likely be warmer than normal.”

Daily Kos

Feb 17

Because ‘Nothing Has Changed Since Columbine,’ Students, Teachers Call for Nationwide School Walkouts

"The time to act is now."

As families continue to grieve and hold funerals for the 17 victims of the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, in Parkland, Fla., students and educators are calling for a nationwide day of action including school walkouts to protest lawmakers' deadly inaction on gun control legislation.

The day set for the actions is April 20, which will be the 19th anniversary of the massacre at Columbine High School.

The Twitter account National School Walkout, which was started Friday, declares, “We are the students, we are the victims, we are change.”

The April 20 walkout, it says, will be “polite, passionate, plea for peace.”

Change.org petition, which has gathered over 6,100 signatures as of this writing, and is linked to the Twitter account, says, “There has been too much complacency on the part of politicians when it comes to gun violence. The time to act is now!”

“The violence of guns is being performed in our schools and our communities. Not the Senate floor. As the future of America, it is time for teenagers to speak their minds and put their frustration into action,” it adds. It also encourages people to sign on to take part in the action, saying,” Nothing has changed since Columbine, let us start a movement that lets the government know the time for change is now.”

The students' call-to-action comes days after David Berliner, an educational psychologist and Regents' Professor of Education Emeritus at Arizona State University, issued a call for a national teachers' strike if lawmakers continue their failure to enact “sane gun laws.”

Berliner's call, which he sent in a message to education historian Diane Ravitch, states, in part, “Almost all of America's 3 million teachers—nurturers and guardians of our youth—want sensible gun laws. They deserve that. But they have to be ready to exert the power they have by walking out of their schools if they do not get what they want. They have to exert the reputational power that 3 million of our most admired voters have. Neither the NRA nor their legislative puppets will be able stand up to that.”

He originally said the day should be May 1, May Day, but after being flooded with responses including from the American Federation of Teachers and the National Education Association, he explained to Slate the day got switched to April 20.

“April 20,” he told Slate, “will become the day on which teachers can say, 'No. You will never ever be elected again if you don't pass sensible laws, and there are all sorts of things that can be done that don't violate the Constitution.' I've just had enough.”

web page calling for pledges to commit to an April 20 action and sponsored by the Network for Public Education, the American Federation of Teachers, the National Education Association, and other organizations says, “The failure to enact rational laws around the purchase of guns that are designed for mass shootings is inexcusable. The time to act is now. Every child deserves to learn in a school that is safe.”

A separate nationwide walkout event sponsored by organizers of the Women's March is scheduled for March 14. Rather than a day-long event, that action is scheduled to take place “for 17 minutes at 10am across every time zone … to protest Congress' inaction to do more than tweet thoughts and prayers in response to the gun violence plaguing our schools and neighborhoods.”


On Twitter the National School Walkout explains, “For those of you concerned on the separate dates of our protest and @womensmarch 's. We agree that there is strength in numbers. That is why we have contacted them and are waiting for their response. We all would prefer a full day to 17 minutes.”


Among the students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School countering lawmakers' vacuous “thoughts and prayers” and instead making passionate pleas for action on gun legislation in the wake of Parkland shooting is 17-year-old David Hogg.


“I don't want this to be another mass shooting. I want this to be the last mass shooting,” the senior told MSNBC. “Everybody is getting used to this, and that's not ok. … We're habituating to this. And what happens when you do that is children are dying and they will continue to die unless we stop it, stand up, and take action.”

“We don't need ideas. We need action,” Hogg continued. “We need action from our elected officials and we need action from the civil public because without that, this is going to happen again.”



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Feb 17

Post-Columbine generation demands action on guns: ‘We don’t deserve this’

Survivors of the Florida attack have grown up in a world where school shooting are the norm, and they want a different future

Unsure whether he would be a victim or survivor of the mass shooting taking place outside his Florida classroom, 14-year-old Aidan Minoff sent an eight-word tweet.

“I am in a school shooting right now … ” Aidan said, before the world knew the day would end with 17 students and teachers dead.

Continue reading…
US politics | The Guardian

Feb 17

Unacceptable: It’s been one full year since Donald Trump’s one and only solo press conference

Donald Trump is public servant. He is accountable to the American people. At least he should be, right? So why are his colleagues and the media allowing him to get away with not answering to the American people? It is standard for American presidents to hold regular press conferences to answer questions from reporters. Donald Trump has done that precisely once since taking office. Here’s how that stacks up against other presidents in their first year (stats courtesy of USA Today):

Why isn’t there more pressure for Donald Trump to answer to the American people via our free press? During the 2016 campaign, cable news shows were apocalyptic that candidate Hillary Clinton had gone several months without holding a press conference. They had graphics with clocks counting the days, minutes, seconds since Hillary Clinton’s last press conference. Chris Cillizza was relentless in his desire to hold Hillary Clinton’s feet to the fire. From his Washington Post article, “Hillary Clinton hasn’t held a press conference in 257 days. That’s ridiculous.”

Donald Trump said lots (and lots) of thing during his hour-long town hall with Fox News’s Sean Hannity on Wednesday night.  This one — Trump talking about Hillary Clinton — stood out to me:

She is so protected.  They are so protecting her. She hasn’t had a news conference in, like, 250 days.

It couldn’t be that long since Clinton has talked to the press, I thought.  So, I went to the handy-dandy tool that some guy named Philip Bump built to track how long it’s been since Clinton faced the press. And this is what I found:

Almost 258 days! Trump undersold something!

Jokes aside, it’s beyond ridiculous that one of the two people who will be elected president in 80 or so days continues to refuse to engage with the press in this way.

Who needs protection now? Where are the bold graphics, the clocks on every cable news network? Where is the drumbeat from the free press to hold Donald Trump accountable and demand a press conference? This administration doesn’t even hold regular press briefings, cancelling two days in a row despite deep crisis, another mass murder in a public school and indictments of 13 Russian nationals who interfered in the 2016 campaign. 

For what it’s worth, during that one and only press conference, Donald Trump called the Russia investigation a “scam” by the media, repeatedly said the American people shouldn’t believe the “fake news” from the likes of CNN, defending the now indicted Mike Flynn, said he would do “something” to Putin, but won’t tell us what (he didn’t do a thing) and said he hoped Putin would be his friend. HIf you want to walk down memory lane, here is that long ago press conference, held 365 days ago. In Cillizza terms, that’s 525,600 minutes ago. 

x x YouTube Video

Daily Kos

Feb 17

Humans Would Rather Be in Contact with Aliens Than Artificial Life forms Made on Earth—Study

Are we alone in the universe?

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