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Trump shapes White House, hires establishment figure, firebrand

Top Reuters News - Mon, 11/14/2016 - 01:34
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President-elect Donald Trump was weighing contenders for other top jobs in his administration after choosing Washington insider Reince Priebus as White House chief of staff and firebrand outsider Stephen Bannon as senior counselor.

Trump shapes White House, hires establishment figure, firebrand

Reuters US Politics - Mon, 11/14/2016 - 01:34
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President-elect Donald Trump was weighing contenders for other top jobs in his administration after choosing Washington insider Reince Priebus as White House chief of staff and firebrand outsider Stephen Bannon as senior counselor.

China's Xi tells Trump cooperation is only choice

Top Reuters News - Mon, 11/14/2016 - 00:41
BEIJING (Reuters) - Chinese President Xi Jinping told U.S. President-elect Donald Trump in a phone call on Monday that cooperation was the only choice for relations between the two countries, Chinese state media said.

Jihadists say Trump victory a rallying call for new recruits

Top Reuters News - Mon, 11/14/2016 - 00:39
KABUL/CAIRO (Reuters) - From Afghanistan to Algeria, jihadists plan to use Donald Trump's shock U.S. presidential victory as a propaganda tool to bring new fighters to their battlefields.

How Malaysia allows child abuse to go unpunished

Top Reuters News - Mon, 11/14/2016 - 00:32
KUALA LUMPUR (Reuters) - Most complaints of child sexual abuse in Malaysia do not lead to successful prosecutions, largely due to weaknesses in the nation's criminal justice system, police, lawmakers and child welfare groups say.

Australia PM says asylum seekers to be resettled in U.S. after Trump takes office

Top Reuters News - Mon, 11/14/2016 - 00:31
SYDNEY (Reuters) - Australia's prime minister said on Monday resettlement to the United States of many of the 1,200 asylum seekers held in detention camps on Papua New Guinea and the Pacific island of Nauru will begin after President-elect Donald Trump's inauguration in January.

Slow-Going in Mosul

LibertarianInstitute - Mon, 11/14/2016 - 00:26

Patrick Cockburn writes that the combined forces invading Mosul are bogged down, and that due to large numbers of civilians trapped there the U.S. air power cannot just flatten the place as they did in Ramadi.

Perhaps there will still be enough ISIS left in Mosul and Raqqa for Trump to “justify” sending in the Marines or Airborne next spring after all.

The post Slow-Going in Mosul appeared first on The Libertarian Institute.

ICE proposes limit on Dubai oil futures positions in 2017

Reuters Us Markets - Mon, 11/14/2016 - 00:19
SINGAPORE, Nov 14 (Reuters) - Intercontinental Exchange Inc has proposed to limit next year the positions that investors can hold when trading Dubai futures, a document issued by the exchange to its...

Turkey - Factors to Watch on Nov 14

Reuters Us Markets - Mon, 11/14/2016 - 00:13
ISTANBUL, Nov 14 (Reuters) - Here are news, reports and events that may affect Turkish financial markets on Monday.

End the Cold War

LibertarianInstitute - Mon, 11/14/2016 - 00:00

Now that the election is over, libertarians can counsel the new president on positions and policies that they believe will create a better world. I doubt very much that counseling Hillary Clinton would have been a fruitful project had she been elected, but Donald Trump is a very different story. He has yet to translate his creative impulses and politics into hardened doctrines and policies.

A useful political approach is to articulate general positions that have sound fundamentals and then to derive practical policies from them. They won’t please everyone and they will be imperfect. The practical policies will involve compromises and side payments to overcome objections; but if they are grounded incomprehensible and sensible basic positions, then they can attract support and overcome the objections that are bound to be raised by the opponents of the policies. Trump also can’t get his way without exerting a variety of political and economic pressures upon his domestic foes. He has to be prepared to fight dirty.

A prime example is ending the Cold War once and for all. That’s a general position that makes sense and has voter appeal, more than enough to outweigh the opposing voices that want to maintain and even extend the Cold War as Cold War II. Trump cannot end the Cold War without some courage and without expending some political capital. But success will rapidly rebuild whatever capital he at first expends.

He can articulate the story in simple and understandable terms. He could even start with World War II when the U.S. and the Soviet Union were allies. He can point to the cooperation and treaties passed even when the two were Cold War antagonists. He can inform Americans that Communism is basically dead in Russia and that it lay at the basis of that antagonism, at least insofar as it involved a competition over many countries. (Communism lives on in China but in a transformed manner that requires separate consideration; that requires a separate general position.) Trump can elaborate the story to take note of NATO’s expansion, European fears and the bellicose positions of the neocons. He needs to marginalize his opponents who want the Cold War to continue as the Cold War II that it has become. He needs clever political ways to do this, of which direct appeals to the American public are but a part. He needs allies in Congress and he needs to pressure certain belligerent voices therein.

Read the rest at LewRockwell.com here.

The post End the Cold War appeared first on The Libertarian Institute.

U.S. Fingerprints on Attacks Obliterating Yemen’s Economy

LibertarianInstitute - Mon, 11/14/2016 - 00:00

The Saudi-led coalition is hitting civilian targets, like factories, bridges and power stations, that critics say have no clear link to the rebels. In the rubble, the remains of American munitions have been found.

SANA, Yemen — For decades, Mustafa Elaghil’s family produced snack foods popular in Yemen, chips and corn curls in bright packaging decorated with the image of Ernie from “Sesame Street.”

But over the summer, a military coalition led by Saudi Arabia sent warplanes over Yemen and bombed the Elaghils’ factory. The explosion destroyed it, setting it ablaze and trapping the workers inside.

The attack killed 10 employees and wiped out a business that had employed dozens of families.

“It was everything for us,” Mr. Elaghil said.

The Saudi-led coalition has bombed Yemen for the last 19 months, trying to oust a rebel group aligned with Iran that took control of the capital, Sana, in 2014. The Saudis want to restore the country’s exiled president, Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi, who led an internationally recognized government more aligned with its interests.

But instead of defeating the rebels, the campaign has sunk into a grinding stalemate, systematically obliterating Yemen’s already bare-bones economy. The coalition has destroyed a wide variety of civilian targets that critics say have no clear link to the rebels.

It has hit hospitals and schools. It has destroyed bridges, power stations, poultry farms, a key seaport and factories that produce yogurt, tea, tissues, ceramics, Coca-Cola and potato chips. It has bombed weddings and a funeral.

The bombing campaign has exacerbated a humanitarian crisis in the Arab world’s poorest country, where cholera is spreading, millions of people are struggling to get enough food, and malnourished babies are overwhelming hospitals, according to the United Nations. Millions have been forced from their homes, and since August, the government has been unable to pay the salaries of most of the 1.2 million civil servants.

Read the rest of this very important story at the New York Times.

The post U.S. Fingerprints on Attacks Obliterating Yemen’s Economy appeared first on The Libertarian Institute.

Memo to the Trump: Defense Spending Must Be For Actual Defense

LibertarianInstitute - Mon, 11/14/2016 - 00:00

In a disturbing indication of how difficult it would be to bring military spending in line with actual threats overseas, House Armed Services Chairman Rep. Mac Thornberry (R – TX) told President Obama last week that his war funding request of $11.6 billion for the rest of the year was far too low. That figure for the last two months of 2016 is larger than Spain’s budget for the entire year! And this is just a “war-fighting” supplemental, not actual “defense” spending! More US troops are being sent to Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, and elsewhere and the supplemental request is a way to pay for them without falling afoul of the “sequestration” limits.

The question is whether this increase in US military activity and spending overseas actually keeps us safer, or whether it simply keeps the deep state and the military-industrial complex alive and well-funded.

Unfortunately many Americans confuse defense spending with military spending. The two terms are used almost interchangeably. But there is a huge difference. I have always said that I wouldn’t cut anything from the defense budget. We need a robust defense of the United States and it would be foolish to believe that we have no enemies or potential enemies.

The military budget is something very different from the defense budget. The military budget is the money spent each year not to defend the United States, but to enrich the military-industrial complex, benefit special interests, regime-change countries overseas, maintain a global US military empire, and provide defense to favored allies. The military budget for the United States is larger than the combined military spending budget of the next seven or so countries down the line.

To get the military budget in line with our real defense needs would require a focus on our actual interests and a dramatic decrease in spending. The spending follows the policy, and the policy right now reflects the neocon and media propaganda that we must run the rest of the world or there will be total chaos. This is sometimes called “American exceptionalism,” but it is far from a “pro-American” approach.

Do we really need to continue spending hundreds of billions of dollars manipulating elections overseas? Destabilizing governments that do not do as Washington tells them? Rewarding those who follow Washington’s orders with massive aid and weapons sales? Do we need to continue the endless war in Afghanistan even as we discover that Saudi Arabia had far more to do with 9/11 than the Taliban we have been fighting for a decade and a half? Do we really need 800 US military bases in more than 70 countries overseas? Do we need to continue to serve as the military protection force for our wealthy NATO partners even though they are more than capable of defending themselves? Do we need our CIA to continue to provoke revolutions like in Ukraine or armed insurgencies like in Syria?

If the answer to these questions is “yes,” then I am afraid we should prepare for economic collapse in very short order. Then, with our economy in ruins, we will face the wrath of those countries overseas which have been in the crosshairs of our interventionist foreign policy. If the answer is no, then we must work to convince our countrymen to reject the idea of Empire and embrace the United States as a constitutional republic that no longer goes abroad seeking monsters to slay. The choice is ours.

Reprinted with permission from the Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity.

The post Memo to the Trump: Defense Spending Must Be For Actual Defense appeared first on The Libertarian Institute.

60 Minutes Interview of Donald Trump

LibertarianInstitute - Mon, 11/14/2016 - 00:00

Lesley Stahl: Well, congratulations, Mr. Trump.

Donald Trump: Thank you.

Lesley Stahl: You’re president-elect.

Donald Trump: Thank you.

Lesley Stahl: How surprised were you?

Donald Trump: Well, I really felt we were doing well. I was on a string of about 21 straight days of speeches, sometimes many a day and the last two days I really– I really had a pretty wild time. I did six speeches and then I did seven and–

Lesley Stahl: But everyone thought you were going to lose.

Donald Trump: I know, I did my final speech in Michigan at 1:00 in the morning and we had 31,000 people, many people outside of the arena. And I felt– when I left, I said, “How are we gonna lose?” We set it up a day before. And we had all of these people. And it was literally at 1:00 in the morning and I said, “This doesn’t look like second place.” So we were really happy, I mean, it was– these are great people.

Lesley Stahl: On election night, I heard you went completely silent. Was it a sort of realization of the enormity of this thing for you?

Donald Trump: I think so, it’s enormous. I’ve done a lotta big things, I’ve never done anything like this. It is so big, it is so– it’s so enormous, it’s so amazing.

Lesley Stahl: It kind of just took your breath away? Couldn’t talk?

Donald Trump: A li– a little bit, a little bit. And I think– I realized that this is a whole different life for me now.

Lesley Stahl: Hillary called you. Tell us about that phone call.

Read the rest at CBS News.

The post 60 Minutes Interview of Donald Trump appeared first on The Libertarian Institute.

Italy - Factors to watch on Nov. 14

Reuters Us Markets - Mon, 11/14/2016 - 00:00
The following factors could affect Italian markets on Monday.

As US Elects Global Warming Denier, Thousands March in Marrakech Calling for Climate Justice

Truth-Out - Mon, 11/14/2016 - 00:00

Democracy Now! broadcasts from Marrakech, Morocco, where the second week of the United Nations climate talks have just begun. The conference was jolted last week by Donald Trump's victory in the US presidential election, as he has vowed to "cancel the Paris climate agreement and stop all payments of US tax dollars to UN global warming programs." We feature the voices of some of the thousands who marched Sunday for climate justice.

Please check back later for full transcript.

A White Nationalist and Anti-Semite in the Oval Office: Trump Taps Breitbart's Bannon as Top Aide

Truth-Out - Mon, 11/14/2016 - 00:00

As the Anti-Defamation League and the Southern Poverty Law Center are slamming President-elect Donald Trump for naming Stephen Bannon to become his chief strategist, we speak with SPLC President Richard Cohen about Bannon's role as former head of the right-wing news outlet Breitbart Media and as Trump's campaign manager. "Two weeks after the Charleston massacre, [Breitbart News] ran an article talking about how people should proudly fly the Confederate flag," Cohen says. He argues that the alt-right that Breitbart is associated with "is nothing more than the rebranding of white supremacy, white nationalism, for the digital age," and calls on President-elect Trump to "speak out forcefully against all forms of bigotry, and then he has to follow talk with the walk."

Please check back later for full transcript.

"Open Borders for Corporations" Restrict Workers' Rights

Truth-Out - Mon, 11/14/2016 - 00:00

MP3 Link

Janine Jackson interviewed Michelle Chen about Samsung's labor and environmental abuses for the November 4, 2016, CounterSpin. This is a lightly edited transcript.

Janine Jackson: Nightly news reported unblinkingly that the FAA warns there could be criminal charges brought against those who, wittingly or not, try to bring their Galaxy Note 7 smartphone on a plane. Some of those phones have been known to explode or catch fire, and that poses an unacceptable hazard to people.

Well, you can read a dozen stories about the troubled Samsung devices and never learn that they can endanger people even when they work as advertised, but it isn't consumers who are imperiled.

Here with the rest of the story on Samsung is Michelle Chen. She's a contributing writer at The Nation, contributing editor at In These Times and at Dissent magazine, as well as co-producer and co-host of Dissent's podcast Belabored. She joins us now by phone. Welcome back to CounterSpin, Michelle Chen.

Michelle Chen: Hi.

Well, I was startled to see your article "Exploding Phones Are Just One of Samsung's Safety Liabilities" in The Nation, because Samsung has been getting what passes for hot seat coverage lately. One AP story said that even before the messy recalls, Samsung was being urged to improve its transparency and corporate governance. But then that turned out to be about whether the son of the chairman of the board should be allowed to join the board. Labor activists, though, and others have been concerned about Samsung for some time, and not about phones catching fire. Tell us what some of those concerns are.

Yeah, I was looking specifically at reports on Samsung's global operations, primarily in manufacturing, that was published recently by the International Trade Union Confederation. It examined labor practices on several continents, countries ranging from Brazil to China to Taiwan, Vietnam, and of course the United States. And they're all countries with vastly different economic systems, vastly different regulatory regimes. But when it comes to Samsung manufacturing systems, they all follow the same framework of certain draconian policies that tend to degrade working conditions on a really global scale.

I don't think people really realize just how wide Samsung's net is cast, because they do work with a lot of sub-suppliers that they contract out to, much like Apple does. In addition, Samsung has kind of flown under the radar, because Apple tends to get a lot more media attention, both good and bad.

But now that Samsung's sort of in the hot seat, I did think it was curious that the labor conditions there were not getting more attention, given that people were really afraid of their phone spontaneously combusting when, in fact, there's been maybe a handful of those incidents, and none of them really anything close to the scale of the types of human rights violations that we're seeing on a daily basis, fully above board, in Samsung's no-union factories.

That "no-union" seems to be very important. I'm going to get back to that, what happens when they try to form a union. But what are some of the conditions that you're talking about, some of the work conditions that folks are complaining about?

They range from things that are actually harming their health to things that are just very poor working conditions. And this goes across the board, even for countries that are relatively poor like Vietnam, as well as in Korea itself. And these are manufacturing facilities that operate on  rapid fire, on-demand level, so there's a breakneck pace of work.

And they're often on very precarious contracts. Some of them are considered contingent laborers, so they do not have the vested rights and protections that ordinary workers would have on the job as full employees.

Samsung has found all sorts of creative ways, depending on which regulatory system they're working under, to evade labor contract law and keep workers on these short-term contracts. So they're constantly cycling through these short-term jobs, even though they may be more or less permatemps, which has been an increasingly common phenomenon here in the US, but elsewhere it's also increasingly widespread, where you have these jobs that used to be maybe decent manufacturing jobs, that used to be full-time work with union representation, and now they're being deskilled, outsourced, and atomized into these short-term stints. And that's very dangerous in terms of both the working conditions there, the physical working conditions and the mental working conditions, as well as their overall economic security.

And on the public health side, there are serious environmental risks that have been flagged by official investigations that have been presided over by the Korean government. But again, because the company is so opaque in its operations and its management, its managerial style, which is based on this Korean cartel system called the chaebol, it's extremely antiquated and extremely closed, and it's hard to figure out what's going on behind closed doors.

This has gotten a lot of bad press from the corporate end, because it's seen as bad corporate governance. But I am more worried about what it's doing to workers' bodies. Because when there's no accountability in management, it's really difficult to A) advocate on workers' behalf and B) even know what's going on when workers are, say, dying of mysterious cancers and other things that have been found on the Samsung assembly line.

Yeah, you write about the mysterious illness that some particularly young women who were working on semiconductors have been coming down with. But then also psychosocial problems, and in fact another thing that you document is a worker's suicide, a metal worker. Tell me a little bit about that. The idea that workers would actually take their own lives really speaks to something deeply wrong in the system.

Yeah. This was actually back in October of 2013. There's a 32-year-old worker who reportedly "self-immolated after being pushed into extreme hardship through targeted auditing," is the quote from the report, which is I think a euphemism for being basically demonized and pilloried by his management for simply trying to organize workers at his workplace. I don't know much about the worker's background, but I imagine he was probably a leader of sorts among his co-workers. And for him to fall into those depths of despair really, I think, indicates something about the kind of psychological climate that prevails within this corporate structure.

It actually sparked a lot of protests after the death, because people were saying, look, if workers are being driven to these extremes, then what does that say about the day-to-day work that we're doing? Evidently Samsung has maintained its no-union policy, and that goes really across the board. And again, because there's no union representation, it becomes sort of a chicken-and-the-egg question.


The unions have been unable to organize, at least above ground. From what I hear, based on this ITUC report, it seems that there is some underground organizing going on. But again, when you can be fired at any time, that's really not an ideal situation when you want to build a global movement, which is what these workers really need. Because their employer is a multinational giant, basically, and unless there's some global baseline for workers rights across Samsung's supply chain, these issues are never really going to be remedied on a systemic level. So rather than this race to the bottom, what a lot of these global labor federations are saying is that there needs to be cross-sectoral, horizontal organizing across the supply chain.

It's not, obviously, just Samsung. This is a problem that is going to be -- you call it a multinational union-free zone, and I think this is the way we're seeing corporations behave. Countries have laws, they might be labor laws, environmental laws, but then these corporations,  it's like Vatican City or something, they're almost a country unto themselves. I mean, they really can operate however they want to, in complete disregard for the prevailing conditions or laws in the country that they're in. And that's Walmart and that's, you know, H&M, and everybody else as well. So it sounds as though we really don't have the mechanisms to govern these entities.

Yeah, and it's important to underscore that. This is a model that free-trade deals promulgate around the world, right? And the US is a chief purveyor of this, and we have a trade deal with South Korea. And unions on both sides of the Pacific have been mobilizing against these free trade deals, because they understand that it's really not about lowering tariffs or promoting imports or exports. It has much less to do with the sort of concrete material aspects of commerce and/or actual production of things that are useful, and it's much more about expanding corporate power on this sort of supranational level.

Most of the free-trade deals that have been pushed so far, including the pending Trans-Pacific Partnership and the TiSA and all these other, this whole alphabet soup of trade deals that are coming up and being negotiated behind closed doors by international trade ministers, one of the bulwarks of this model is an investor tribunal system that allows corporations to basically act as states and sue other states -- when they find that some sort of regulatory stricture is impinging on their absolute right to free trade. So that sounds abstract on some level, and it echoes this libertarian notion that the best kind of trade is unbridled and free-flowing capitalism across borders. But what open borders mean for corporations is really about restricting workers' rights and restricting environmental regulations and all these other protections that states have built up over the years precisely to check the power of big business. And that's something that really goes beyond Samsung at this point.

We've been speaking with Michelle Chen. You can find her article, "Exploding Phones Are Just One of Samsung's Safety Liabilities," online still at TheNation.com. Michelle Chen, thank you for joining us this week on CounterSpin.

Thank you.

I Couldn't Go to Standing Rock, So I Closed My Bank Accounts Instead

Truth-Out - Mon, 11/14/2016 - 00:00

Activists protest against the Dakota Access pipeline at the Standing Rock Camp near Cannon Ball, North Dakota, on October 10, 2016. (Photo: Ellen Davidson)

Water is life. That's what we said to the Tribal Council of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa in 2011. Carol Davis, a Turtle Mountain elder, had asked a group of us women from the tribe to help protect the water from fracking on the Turtle Mountain Reservation, around 200 miles northeast of Bismarck, North Dakota. She called on us because in Chippewa society, women are keepers of the water. Fracking of North Dakota's Bakken shale oil had begun just 40 miles away from Turtle Mountain; and fracking in North Dakota had already made a destructive, violent impact 180 miles away on the Fort Berthold Indian Reservation, home to the Mandan, Hidatsa, and Arikara Nation. We wanted to prevent Turtle Mountain from having the same fate.

The tribal council listened. Twenty days after this first meeting with Davis, it amended our tribal resolution not only to ban fracking, but also to cancel oil and gas bids on 45,000 acres. This day changed my life -- it solidified my role as a water protector.

Hundreds of spills have already taken place in North Dakota since fracking took off around 2010. The Dakota Access pipeline is poised to carry Bakken oil from North Dakota to Illinois, crossing the Missouri River -- the water source for Standing Rock and 27 other tribes as well as 10 states. The people of Standing Rock understand what we at Turtle Mountain understood in 2011: Tribes have treaty rights, and reservations are held in trust with the federal government. These rights and lands would be diminished with permanent water contamination from fracking chemicals like benzene. This is why water truly is life.

I am a North Dakota Native on both sides of my family. I was born on Turtle Mountain, my mother's home; I also grew up on Fort Berthold -- the home of my father's family -- which sits at the heart of the Bakken shale boom. 

After working to ban fracking on one homeland, in 2012 I began working to help Native American women being directly impacted by fracking on my other homeland, as a tribal domestic violence victim advocate. Thousands of industry workers had infiltrated our reservation and had no place to live, so they populated undocumented, temporary living areas, known as "man camps."  On my second day on the job, I relocated two victims who escaped a man camp that oil workers had prevented them from leaving. They had jumped out a window and walked miles to a police station.

As I continued this work, the unprecedented levels of violence against Native American women only increased. These man camps are also spawned by the Dakota Access pipeline construction. 

I had seen how fracking creates environmental devastation, with permanent water contamination; I had also witnessed industry violence against Native American women. So I decided to go to school to become an environmental lawyer, to mitigate the harm at its source. Every fracking-impacted community faces these dangers.

And now, as at Standing Rock, pipelines are bringing these problems to nonfracking communities. 

I, along with millions of people, had watched the live streams in horror as excessive force was used by the North Dakota National Guard, regional sheriffs' departments, and Dakota Access private security on the water protectors at Standing Rock. They attacked them with bean bags, tasers, and other weapons, beating unarmed people. That day 141 people were arrested on 1851 Fort Laramie Treaty land. Many were held in dog kennels.  

As I watched the news, I felt outraged. Since I could not leave school to be at Standing Rock, I wondered what I could do.

I started reading articles about divesting from the 38 banks that are giving credit lines either to the Dakota Access pipeline owners -- Sunoco Logistics, Energy Transfer Partners, and Energy Transfer Equity -- or to the Dakota Access pipeline project itself -- Dakota Access, LLC -- totaling more than $10 billion.  I discovered that US Bank, where I held accounts, was one of those 38 banks. 

Feeling helpless after seeing the military and police brutality, I decided to divest on October 30. I wrote to the US Bank CEO about why I needed to close my accounts. I was upset that my money was connected to these human rights violations. "This excessive force is not to protect the people, but to protect the man camps and the ongoing pipeline construction," I wrote. "Shame on you US Bank and its CEO for investing in greed and condoning human rights violations solely for your benefit. And the egregious use of the people's money to in effect poison the people."

I am not alone in closing my accounts -- it's a growing movement that has caught the attention of individuals and institutions. On November 1, Standing Rock passed a tribal resolution affirming 1851 and 1868 Fort Laramie Treaty rights and declaring and affirming the "fundamental understanding of Mni Wiconi [Water is Life]" by divesting from any financial institution that had a connection "in any aspect" to the Dakota Access pipeline project. 

The fracking industry and its creditors, those banks, may not have much regard for water or human rights, but they do care about money. If your bank account is connected to one of them, you can move your money, too. In this time of heated public pressure, Norway's DnB Bank is currently reevaluating its Dakota Access investment.

Whether it is water contamination or violence, the disproportionate impacts of fracking on tribal sovereign nations and its people, especially the women, is unacceptable. It is time we all stood up to it.

To support the truly courageous, you can contribute directly to the water protector camps or legal fund.

New Study: Endangered Species Database "Outdated," Underestimates Risk of Extinction

Truth-Out - Mon, 11/14/2016 - 00:00

The world's most widely used database of endangered species -- the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List -- classifies species according to their risk of extinction. But this list underestimates the number of species at risk, concludes a new study.

Nearly 200 forest bird species from six of the world's most biodiverse places are at immediate risk of extinction despite being deemed non-threatened in the IUCN Red List, researchers report in a new study published in Science Advances.

"The Red List employs rigorously objective criteria, is transparent, and democratic in soliciting comments on species decisions," Stuart Pimm, study co-author and Doris Duke Professor of Conservation Ecology at Duke's Nicholas School of the Environment, said in a statement. "That said, its methods are seriously outdated."

The IUCN database uses various criteria to assess the extinction risk of a species. One of these criteria is the extent of occurrence, or the "area contained within the shortest continuous boundary encompassing all the known, inferred or projected sites of occurrence of a species." Based on their extent of occurrence or range, species are classified into various threatened categories -- vulnerable, endangered or critically endangered.

The new study "refines" the original ranges for 586 bird species from Atlantic Forest of Brazil, Central America, Western Andes of Colombia, Madagascar, Sumatra, and Southeast Asia. To create these refined ranges, Pimm and his team included geospatial data on the elevational preferences of the birds, and then added data on the forest cover remaining for the birds to calculate the amount of suitable habitat remaining within their distributions.

Of the 586 bird species included in the study, the IUCN lists 108 species as being at risk of extinction. But based on the refined ranges, 210 bird species belong in a higher-threat category than their current Red List classifications, the study found. The grey-winged cotinga (Tijuca condita), for example, is a bird found in Brazil that is currently listed as vulnerable in the Red List. But its refined range size, according to the study, is smaller than 100 square kilometers (~39 square miles), which should shift its threat category to critically endangered.

The refined range sizes also indicate that 189 species, which are currently classified under lower-risk categories of least concern or near threatened, should be classified as vulnerable, endangered or critically endangered on the IUCN Red List, the study found. Moreover, most of the bird species have less than 10 percent of their range within protected areas, the researchers report.

"A lot of birds that don't have their range protected are birds that are currently not classified as threatened," study's lead author Natalia Ocampo-Peñuela, who received her Ph.D. from Duke earlier this year, told Mongabay. "We have birds that have smaller ranges than we think because of habitat loss, and their ranges are also not protected. So we are not putting them in the right threatened category, and we are not spending resources for conservation of these species. They could go extinct before our eyes and we wouldn't know it."

The study's overall approach of using high resolution maps and data to examine the extent of suitable habitat within the species ranges is sound and makes the most of available data, said Stuart Butchart, head of science for BirdLife International in Cambridge, UK, an organization that assesses the extinction risk for the world's birds for the IUCN Red List. "Unfortunately, the application of these data to the IUCN Red List criteria is flawed," he told Mongabay.

Butchart said that the authors incorrectly applied their estimates of refined ranges to the thresholds for extent of occurrence. Instead, the study should have applied their estimates to the thresholds for another criterion called the area of occupancy. This criterion excludes areas unsuitable or unoccupied by the species, and is a subset of the species' extent of occurrence. "The significance of this is that the thresholds for each threatened category for Extent of Occurrence are an order of magnitude larger, so it is unsurprising that they found lots of species listed in categories of lower extinction risk on the published Red List than their analysis suggested," he added.

Ocampo-Peñuela agrees that the refined ranges produced in the study is not the same as the Red List's extent of occurrence. "But they're also not really the area of occupancy," she said. "We make the ranges that have the highest probability of the species being there but we cannot say that the species is there for certain. So if we had a different threshold that was like a refined extent of occurrence, that would be ideal."

Ocampo-Peñuela added that the goal of the study is to encourage the IUCN to include technological information to make their Red List assessments better. Mapping the remaining habitat of species should be an essential part of the current Red List criteria, the study concludes.

"The authors will be pleased to hear that this is already planned," Butchart said. "The extent of suitable habitat has already been assessed for all of the world's 11,000 forest-dependent birds, mammals and amphibians, and the estimates applied correctly to the Red List criteria, with the implications already being incorporated into ongoing efforts to reassess all these species over the next couple of years."


Correction 11/10/2016, 05:15 am Eastern: The original version of this story incorrectly stated that Dr. Natalia Ocampo-Peñuela was a co-author of the study. She is in fact the lead author of the study and we have corrected the sentence. We regret the error.

Trump Puts 3 Million on Notice for Deportation

Truth-Out - Mon, 11/14/2016 - 00:00

Protesters demonstrate over the Supreme Court's ruling on President Obama's immigration policy, at Foley Square in New York, on June 24, 2016. (Photo: Sam Hodgson / The New York Times)

In his first sit-down interview since being elected President of the United States, Donald Trump outlined how he will begin to address his top issue as a candidate: undocumented immigration.

Speaking to CBS' "60 Minutes" in an interview that aired on Sunday, Trump said that as soon as he takes office, he plans to rapidly increase the pace of deportations in the US -- surpassing even President Obama's record number of immigration expulsions.

"What we are going to do is get the people that are criminal and have criminal records, gang members, drug dealers," Trump said, estimating their number at between two and three million people.

"We are getting them out of our country or we are going to incarcerate," he added.

Since taking office in 2009, President Obama has deported more than 2.5 million people, more than any other president in US history. Despite this heavy-handed enforcement, Republicans have cast the administration as being lax on immigration. They've pointed to executive orders issued by the President, granting temporary deportation relief to non-citizen immigrants who came to the country at a young age, and have no criminal record.

A review of recent deportations, however, shows that Obama has continued to deport high numbers of individuals without a criminal background. The Marshall Project examined more than 300,000 recent deportations, and discovered that more than 40 percent of individuals had no serious crime record.

Trump is now seeking to shatter President Obama's deportation mark early in his administration.

But according to an analysis by The Migration Policy Institute, the President-elect's numbers don't add up. The non-partisan think tank estimates there are only about 820,000 undocumented immigrants living in the US with a criminal record -- well short of Trump's stated three million figure.

In a statement to The Huffington Post, Chris Newman, the legal director for the National Day Laborer Organizing Network, referred to Trump's plans as an appeal to "xenophobes" in his party's base. He added that "the US Constitution will be a hedge against any plan President-elect Trump has when it comes to deportations."

As for the remaining millions of undocumented immigrants that call the US home, Trump didn't disclose his plans for them yet. At times during the campaign trail, the real estate mogul suggested he would raise a deportation force to eject all immigrants who came to the US illegally. He appeared to soften his stance on Sunday.

"After the border is secure and after everything gets normalized, we're going to make a determination on the people that they're talking about who are terrific people," Trump stated.

During that same interview, Trump also appeared to hedge on one of his main promise of building a wall on the Southern US border. On the campaign trail, he repeatedly called for a "big, beautiful wall," but on Sunday Trump suggested a fence would do the trick, too.

"For certain areas, I would [accept a fence]. But for certain areas a wall is more appropriate," he said. "I'm very good at this. It's called construction."