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'Don't talk to me that way': Trump loses it over a reporter's simple question

November 30, 2020 in Blogs

By Democracy Now

President Trump’s efforts to overturn the election results appear to be exhausted as he faced a string of defeats over the weekend. Lawsuits in Pennsylvania were rejected, both by the state’s Supreme Court and a federal appeals court. And a recount in two liberal Wisconsin counties, ordered by the Trump campaign, cemented Biden’s victory there.

Trump said for the first time he’ll leave office if the Electoral College votes for Joe Biden, even as Trump refuses to concede the election, which Biden won in both the electoral college and popular votes by wide margins. On Thursday Trump attacked Reuters reporter Jeff Mason for asking when he would concede.

President Donald Trump: “Don’t answer, don’t talk to me that way. You’re just, you’re just a lightweight. Don’t talk to me that way. Don’t talk to — I’m the President of the United States.”

In May, Trump mocked Mason for refusing to take off his mask while asking him a question at a press briefing. Meanwhile Trump has turned on Georgia’s Republican Governor Brian Kemp, as the state gears up for two Senate run-offs that will determine control of the U.S. Senate. Trump said he was “ashamed” that he endorsed Kemp, as he ranted on Fox News about losing the Georgia vote.

…read more

Source: ALTERNET

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How the privatization of medicine in India is accelerating its COVID-19 death toll

November 30, 2020 in Blogs

By Yogesh Jain

Spiraling health care expenses in India have been pushing more than 55 million Indians into a state of abject poverty every year. COVID-19 has only worsened the trend for even more families—like Aghan Singh’s.

To ensure that his sick mother received the best treatment, Singh, a self-employed motor mechanic in the small town of Bilaspur, in Chhattisgarh, India, decided to take her to a popular private hospital nearby. She had been running a fever since July 7 and had also developed breathlessness by July 9. Singh rushed her to the hospital, and when they reached the emergency department around 8 p.m., her oxygen levels were dangerously low. The hospital ordered a battery of tests for COVID-19 and quickly admitted her to an intensive care unit to give her oxygen and medicine. In the first eight hours of his mother being admitted to the hospital, Singh deposited Rs 34,000 ($455) and then paid another Rs 1,96,000 ($2,627) over the next four days. To arrange money for his mother’s treatment, Singh had to sell off two and a half acres of land that he owned in his native village. Despite all his efforts, his mother’s condition worsened progressively, and she died on July 16. While still grieving the loss of his beloved mother, he was further stressed about how his family would survive the next month with most of his resources having been exhausted during his mother’s treatment.

Also in the state of Chhattisgarh, when 60-year-old Savani Bai from the village of Dhanokhar developed mild symptoms of COVID-19, she spoke to a doctor on the state helpline and was advised to go to the hospital. Since all the government hospital beds were occupied, she had to be admitted to the same private hospital in Bilaspur as Singh’s mother, where she was admitted to a general COVID ward. During her 10-day hospitalization, she was given acetaminophen and was kept under daily observation to ensure her condition was not worsening. For this basic treatment, she ended up spending Rs 85,000 ($1,137) and had to mortgage her one-acre farm to meet her hospital expenses.

“I took my mother to a private hospital near my home because it is cleaner and they admit patients swiftly throughout the day,” Singh said. Due to inadequate funding and monitoring of quality control in public hospitals, a large number of people in India …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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GOP congressman blasts his own party for spreading 'bizarre' conspiracy theories about the election

November 30, 2020 in Blogs

By Alex Henderson

Earlier this year in Virginia, conservative Rep. Denver Riggleman lost a GOP primary challenge after being slammed by Christian fundamentalists for officiating a same-sex wedding. Riggleman discussed the state of the Republican Party on Monday during an appearance on CNN, telling host Brianna Keilar that it is hard to ally himself with a party that demands such extreme purity tests and can’t even acknowledge Joe Biden as president-elect.

Keilar asked Riggleman if he still considers himself a Republican, and the outgoing congressman responded, “As far as considering myself a constitutional republican, I do. But as far as the state of the GOP, especially in Virginia, it’s very difficult to. And Brianna, you know the problem with this is that we get caught up in tribes — and we’re so afraid to go away from the team. And right now, I’m tribeless…. I refuse to join another tribe.”

Riggleman went on to say, “To be the first Republican to officiate a same-sex wedding — things like that — is why I got thrown out in a church parking lot…. And I think that’s just how I’m wired: to be outspoken.”

Riggleman lost a primary challenge to fellow Republican Bob Good, who attacked him for not being socially conservative enough. Good subsequently defeated Democrat Cameron Webb in the general election.

Riggleman stressed to Keilar that he refuses to kowtow to the extremes of the Republican Party, and he finds it ridiculous that many Republicans in Congress are afraid to publicly acknowledge Biden as president-elect.

“If I can’t sit here and spit facts for people — if I am so afraid of my own shadow and of being part of a tribe that I don’t have the ability to say what I feel, I really don’t deserve to be sitting in the seat,” Riggleman told told Keilar. “That’s how I feel about it…. We’re having a new president; I don’t know what the difficulty is, Brianna, to say that.”

…read more

Source: ALTERNET

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Lawsuit targeting alleged money laundering through the Trump Organization moves forward: report

November 30, 2020 in Blogs

By Alex Henderson

Moscow native Felix Sater, a real estate developer and former business associate of President Donald Trump known for his ties to the Russian mafia, has been accused of laundering millions of dollars in a lawsuit. And on Monday, U.S. District Judge Alison Nathan allowed that lawsuit to move forward.

The money, according to the lawsuit, was stolen from BTA Bank in Kazakhstan, and Sater is accused of laundering it through Trump Organization properties.

In a 25-page opinion, Law & Crime reporter Adam Klasfeld reports, Nathan dismissed two counts of a six-count complaint and wrote, “In this case, Kazakhstan’s largest city and a Kazakhstani bank seek to recover millions of dollars in stolen funds from those who allegedly helped the culprits launder them. Felix Sater — the alleged ringleader of the money-laundering operation — along with his associate Daniel Ridloff and several business entities they control, move to dismiss.”

According to Nathan, “The court emphasizes that the Kazakh entities will need to adduce evidence showing the Sater defendants’ deceptive conduct and their justifiable reliance on that conduct in significantly greater detail to meet their burdens of production and of proof as the case progresses. However, at this stage, the court concludes that it is not clear on the face of the complaint that their claims are untimely, and so, declines to dismiss any claims on that basis.”

Klasfeld notes that the lawsuit “stems from allegations of the systematic looting of Kazakhstan’s largest city, Almaty, and its bank in 2009,” adding that Nathan’s ruling “does not mention Trump or his properties.” However, Klasfeld points out that the lawsuit “accuses Sater of helping the Almaty mayor’s son, Ilyas Khrapunov, launder stolen funds in at least five schemes throughout the United States, including through Trump Soho.”

During the 2000s, Sater worked closely with the Trump Organization on some major real estate projects — including the construction of the Trump Soho (which is now the Dominick) in Downtown Manhattan. In the Mueller Report, Sater is mentioned in connection with his efforts to broker a Trump Tower Moscow deal in 2015 and 2016.

The lawsuit alleges, “Sater conspired with Ilyas to invest the stolen funds to develop a Trump Tower project in Russia, which …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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Mitch McConnell has a playbook to destroy a Biden presidency — and it's already in the works

November 30, 2020 in Blogs

By Alex Henderson

President-elect Joe Biden has often stressed that during his many years in the U.S. Senate, he frequently worked with Republicans — including Sen. John McCain of Arizona and President Ronald Reagan — and getting things done along bipartisan lines. But liberal Washington Post columnist Greg Sargent has a warning for the former vice president: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has no interest in meeting him half way and will do everything he can to undermine Biden’s presidency.

“We know that if he remains majority leader, Mitch McConnell will work to cripple the Biden presidency by saddling him with the terrible politics of a miserable recovery,” Sargent warns in his column this week. “We saw him do this for years, mostly as minority leader, during the last Democratic presidency.”

McConnell was consistently hostile to President Barack Obama during his eight years in the White House, but the Kentucky Republican was especially bad after Republicans obtained a majority in the Senate with the 2014 midterms and he became Senate majority leader.

Whether McConnell will be Senate majority leader or Senate minority leader in 2021 will depend on what happens in two U.S. Senate races that will be decided in runoff elections in January. The incumbent Republicans, Sen. Kelly Loeffler and Sen. David Perdue, are both far-right Trump supporters. If their Democratic challengers prevail — Jon Ossoff against Perdue, the Rev. Raphael Warnock against Loeffler — Democrats would obtain a narrow majority in the Senate.

Sargent explains:

If Republicans win one or both runoffs, Ossoff says, continued GOP control of the Senate will mean relentless obstruction of incoming President Joe Biden’s agenda. That means a much more grueling economic recovery, a less-coordinated response to the coronavirus’ latest rampage and a death knell for popular policies such as expanded health care and infrastructure investments. In short, unless Democrats win both runoffs — giving them control — it will mean far more economic misery, far more illness and death, and badly diminished prospects for long-term national revival.

Ossoff, during an interview, stressed to Sargent that McConnell has no interest in having a productive relationship with Biden after he is sworn in as president on January 20.

“If McConnell controls the Senate, he’s going to block the kind of relief package that we need,” Ossoff told Sargent. “And that means not just short-term, direct economic relief, but also, the kind of infrastructure jobs/clean energy program necessary …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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History on a Plate: How Native American Diets Shifted After European Colonization

November 30, 2020 in History

By Lois Ellen Frank

For centuries, Indigenous people’s diets were totally based on what could be harvested locally. Then white settlers arrived from Europe.

Native people pass down information—including food traditions—from one generation to the next through stories, histories, legends and myths. Native elders teach how to prepare wild game and fish, how to find wild plants, which plants are edible, their names, their uses for food and medicine, and how to grow, prepare and store them.

As European settlers spread throughout America and displaced American Indian tribes, Native food customs were upended and completely disrupted. The evolution of Native American cuisine can be broken down into four distinct periods, described below.

Hundreds of petrified corn cobs, some embedded into the cliffs above Chaco Canyon, New Mexico, a major center of ancestral Pueblo culture between A.D. 850 and 1250, photographed 2002.

1. Pre-contact Foods and the Ancestral Diet

The variety of cultivated and wild foods eaten before contact with Europeans was as vast and variable as the regions where indigenous people lived.

Seeds, nuts and corn were ground into flour using grinding stones and made into breads, mush and other uses. Many Native cultures harvested corn, beans, chile, squash, wild fruits and herbs, wild greens, nuts and meats. Those foods that could be dried were stored for later use throughout the year.

As much as 90 percent of the Southwestern Pueblo diet consisted of calories consumed from agricultural products, with wild fruits, greens, nuts and small game making up the balance. Because large game was scarce in some areas, textiles and corn were traded with the Plains peoples for bison meat. There is evidence that ancient Native cultures even incorporated cacao—the bean used to make chocolate—into their diets, as a 2009 excavation in New Mexico’s Chaco Canyon revealed.

Corn, beans and squash, called the Three Sisters by many tribes, serve as key pillars in the Native American diet and is considered a sacred gift from the Great Spirit. Together, the plants provide complete nutrition, while offering an important lesson in environmental cooperation. Corn draws nitrogen from the soil, while beans replenish it. Corn stalks provide climbing poles for the bean tendrils, and the broad leaves of squashes grow low to the ground, shading the soil, keeping it moist, and deterring the growth of weeds.


Two Navajo women, pictured with a baby and three small lambs, c. 1930s.

2. First-Contact Foods and Changes …read more

Source: HISTORY

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Dr. Fauci warns of COVID 'surge upon a surge' after Thanksgiving

November 29, 2020 in Blogs

By Marissa Higgins

Appearing on ABC’s This Week on the Sunday morning after Thanksgiving, the nation’s top infectious disease expert and voice of reason amid the novel coronavirus pandemic dropped some harsh realities on viewers—but also reminded us that we can make better choices starting, well, today. In speaking to host Martha Raddatz about our rising case numbers, Dr. Anthony Fauci said “there almost certainly is going to be an uptick because of what has happened with the travel” over Thanksgiving. He also chatted with Raddatz about the COVID-19 vaccine, reopening schools, and the next stage of the holiday season: Christmas and New Year’s.

Given that we already know people planned to travel and gather for Thanksgiving, many of us are wondering—and worried—that people are planning to repeat the pattern just one month from now. But as Fauci urged viewers, “We’re going to have to make decisions as a nation, state, city and family, that we’re in a very difficult time and we’re going to have to do the kinds of restrictions of things we would like to have done, particularly in this holiday season.” Basically, now is not the time to shrug our shoulders and admit defeat in the face of worsening numbers.

“We may see a surge upon a surge,” a few weeks down the line, Fauci said, stressing that “we don’t want to frighten people, but that’s just the reality.” Fauci shared that as we enter a colder weather season, as well as a bigger holiday season with people traveling back and forth, he doesn’t foresee relaxed guidelines or restrictions when it comes to facing the virus.

Fauci also brought up hope for a vaccine in the near future, citing the end of December as a starting point for top priority individuals, and then progressively more people receiving vaccinations through March.

When asked about legal barriers in terms of pandemic restrictions, Fauci put it simply when he said there’s nothing he personally can do about it. He stressed that no matter who you are, or where you are, if you have a congregate setting of people—especially if they are inside, …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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One in five countries at risk of ecosystems collapsing — here’s what that might look like

November 29, 2020 in Blogs

By The Conversation


Anna LoFi/Shutterstock

John Dearing, University of Southampton

One in five countries are at risk of their ecosystems collapsing, threatening more than half of global GDP (US$42 trillion, or £32 trillion), according to recent research. This scary sounding statistic raises all sorts of questions. What does “ecosystem collapse” actually mean? What causes an ecosystem to collapse and how do we know when it’s happened? Perhaps most important of all, what comes next?

Ecologists use the term “collapse” to describe a process resembling a failed soufflé or a burst football. When ecosystems collapse, they rapidly lose their structure and function, with dramatic changes to their size or extent, or the species that comprise them. These losses tend to homogenise and simplify the ecosystem – fewer species, fewer habitats and fewer connections between the two.




Read more:
Live fast, die small: how global heating is simplifying the world’s ecosystems


Controlling the collapse

When mature forests collapse, they usually transition to more open woodland with scrub and grasses, depending on the grazing animals present and the climate. A vibrant coral reef becomes an ossuary of rubble, which slowly wears away. In kelp forests where sea otters have been hunted out, unchecked sea urchins can overrun the seaweed, creating a desolate plain with few species known as

On the left, a vibrant kelp forest. On the right, the aftermath of sea urchin overgrazing.

Andrew B Stowe & Zaferkizilkaya/Shutterstock

These changes effectively mean that the original ecosystem has become locally extinct. The services which it might previously have supplied – food, carbon storage or water filtration – are lost or diminished. But “collapse” remains a vague term, as the causes and final outcomes differ from ecosystem to ecosystem.

For humans, not all ecosystem changes are bad or recent. People have relied on modifying ecosystems for millennia – draining wetlands, damming rivers, felling forests – to create new farmland. These environments are maintained in an artificially collapsed state for the benefit of maximising a particular form of food and fibre.

They could collapse further if, for example, wind and rain eroded enough soil to shift farmland to a barren state with little or no ecosystem services – think the Dust …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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Congressional deadlock doesn't mean total paralysis. Here's how Biden can change US with executive action

November 29, 2020 in Blogs

By Paul Rosenberg

Ever since Joe Biden was declared president-elect, a new subgenre of stories has appeared about his forthcoming use of executive actions, in the New York Times, the Washington Post, NBC, CNN, NPR, The Hill, Mother Jones, Vox, etc. Some of these stories are standard issue — executive action is part of any new administration making its mark on the world, and prominent issues tend to draw special attention. But this year, the stories are more complicated, given the combination of Donald Trump’s legacy, the sheer number of outstanding crises and the gridlocked, uncertain state of government.

Yet most, though not all, of these accounts tend to miss one crucial point: Biden has enormous power to shape a governing agenda, regardless of anything Congress might do — not just in one or two areas, but across the entirety of government. This point was first forcefully made 14 months ago, when the American Prospect rolled out what executive editor David Dayen dubbed “The Day One Agenda.” This power does not reside primarily in the showy executive orders that Trump is so fond of signing, but rather in the matter-of-fact texts of laws passed by Congress over the long course of American history — specific grants of authority that are just sitting there, waiting to be exercised.

Not only is there tremendous agenda-setting power at the president’s disposal, but a more recent Day One Agenda article, “Joe Biden’s Four-Year Plan,” underscored how such actions could help create a new governing coalition of engaged voters, much as Social Security and Medicare did in previous generations. Of all the articles published about executive action recently, Dylan Matthews’ “10 enormously consequential things Biden can do without the Senate” in Vox stands out for grasping the breadth of possibilities, and explicitly drawing on the Day One Agenda. But it retains a typical Vox “here’s some stuff” tone — it’s absorbed in policy details, and divorced from the practical political considerations that have motivated the Day One Agenda all along.

Dayen told me in a recent interview that the idea started with “understanding the function of a president.” He …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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Expert breaks down the ultimate goal of Trump’s ‘classic Russian-style disinformation campaign’

November 29, 2020 in Blogs

By Elizabeth Preza

Jonathan Rauch, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institute, spoke with CNN’s Brian Stelter on Sunday to explain the ultimate goal of President Donald Trump’s false accusations of a rigged and stolen election.

Rauch was asked by Stelter if the issue is Trump is simply trapped in the delusion that he actually beat President-elect Joe Biden in the 2020 election.

“Is delusion a fair word for these election lies?” Stelter wondered.

“No, actually, I don’t think it is,” Rauch replied. “It’s hard to know what’s going on in the mind of the president, but you don’t really need to. What you need to know is that what he is running right now is a classic Russian-style disinformation campaign of a type known as the firehose of falsehood. That’s when you utilize every channel, not just media, but also the bully pulpit, even litigation to push out as many different stories and conspiracy theories and lies and half-truths as you possibly can in order to flood the zone if with disinformation.”

“The goal here is to confuse people, and he is doing very well at that,” Rauch continued. “This is classic propaganda tactic. he is very good at it. doesn’t matter what’s going on in his head. what matters is what he is doing.

Rauch described Trump’s tactic as “information warfare,” arguing he’s “manipulating and organizing the social environment and the media environment to confuse and discombobulate [his] enemies, to isolate them, to demoralize them so they don’t know what’s true or false anymore, they get very frustrated.”

Stelter then asked if the issue is that Trump is engaging in a “massive conspiracy theory” which in turn creates a “collective identity” among his supporters. Rauch disagreed with that suggestion.

“There actually is no theory here,” Rauch replied. “In a fire hose falsehood campaign, it’s not about having one idea and pumping it out consistently. It’s about throwing spaghetti against the wall. It’s anything and everything. It can be wild. iI can be random. It’s to create confusion and epistemic chaos. That’s what we are seeing. That’s very hard for democracies to deal with it.”

Watch the interview below, via CNN:


‘Firehose of falsehood’

youtu.be

…read more

Source: ALTERNET