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Democrats Must Not Have an All-White Debate—and the White Candidates Should Say So

Sat, 12/07/2019 - 05:15

The news that Senator Kamala Harris has dropped out of the race highlights the fact that the Democratic field is growing less diverse with each passing month. It's now reached the point where a field that showed such promising diversity at first has been whittled down essentially to four people with first-tier status, and they're all white. There is diversity within than foursome--a gay man, a Jewish man, a woman. But in a party so dependent on voters of color, this is striking--and not in a good way. Of course, there is nothing wrong with Democrats selecting a white presidential candidate to represent the party. But that should be up to the voters, and not the DNC by means of their debate inclusion practices.Those candidates can, however strike a blow for diversity. They should band together and threaten to boycott the December Democratic debate unless the DNC and media partners agree to not exclude candidates who have shown measurable public support before the voting begins. That includes, at the very least, Cory Booker and Julian Castro, and could also include Andrew Yang and Tulsi Gabbard, who have managed to make the most recent debate stage despite long odds.Although Harris had qualified for the December debate, her exit could create an unacceptable scenario on December 19 when the candidates gather in Los Angeles. Booker and Castro’s exclusion, coupled with the probable exclusion of other candidates of color including Yang and Gabbard, means the December debate could very well include only six candidates, all of them white. (Booker, Castro, Yang, and Gabbard have all hit the fundraising threshold, but not the polling one.)Kamala Harris Quits 2020 Race: ‘She Didn’t Know What She Was About’Democrats and the DNC should be asking themselves if they really want to eliminate all the candidates of color before the first states even get to vote. And the leading candidates, all of whom are white, should do something about it.There is precedent for the top-tier candidates banding together to protect the integrity of the debate process. Back in January 2016, NBC News, as a DNC debate sponsor, tried to bar former governor Martin O’Malley from its debate, citing his poor polling numbers compared to Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders. While it was apparent that O’Malley’s campaign was going nowhere, it was obvious to any objective observer that eliminating him was a choice for voters in Iowa and the other primary states to make—not NBC News.On January 8, 2016 shortly after noon, Sanders tweeted that O’Malley should be allowed on the next debate stage. Literally one minute later, the Clinton campaign tweeted out similar support for O’Malley’s inclusion. And a few hours later, DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz tweeted that the DNC was also demanding that NBC News include O’Malley.This joint public pressure ensured O’Malley’s inclusion. It turned out to be his final debate, but it was the voters, and not outside organizations, who chose O’Malley’s fate.Dear Debate Moderators, You Are Working Up Democrats About the Wrong IssueNow, it is the DNC itself that is the culprit of such unfair practices. The party has established criteria for the December debate, which will mean that Booker and Castro could both be possibly excluded from the stage.Booker and Castro have been able to organically secure more than 200,000 unique donors each, and both have shown measurable poll support, especially with African-Americans and Latinos respectively. Excluding these two candidates of color, who represent crucial aspects of the Democratic base, from debates before Iowa could be a mistake with lasting implications for the party and country.I personally like some of these candidates, such as Booker and Castro, while I am not fond of Gabbard. But whether I like them isn’t the point. It is not my place nor anyone else’s place to deny a candidate an equal opportunity to make their case.Maybe there is an argument to be made for a smaller debate stage at some point, but the DNC has set up criteria that allows a billionaire to buy his spot while excluding serious candidates with a following and something to say.And while we’re on the subject of Tom Steyer, he has spent $47 million of his own money in what amounts to a scam. Since he needs donors only to meet the DNC’s bizarre debate criteria, he has essentially purchased his donor base, through tactics such as selling $1 swag with free shipping—usually items worth far more than $1—that has nothing to do with him or his presidential campaign. Why should he be allowed to “sell” a button about climate change or opposing Donald Trump for $1 and use that as some kind of indicia of popular support? He has also blanketed early states with enough TV ads and fancy mail to get his name identification up to the point that just enough people might utter it to a pollster because they recognize it.Former Mayor Mike Bloomberg is eschewing debates thus far, but with his $52 billion in net worth it’s not hard to imagine clever ways for him to meet future DNC debate thresholds.A debate stage that lets a white billionaire like Steyer buy his spot but excludes substantive candidates of color like Booker and Castro is neither democratic nor representative of the Democratic Party.As a person of color, I hope the DNC and the frontrunners are listening. It isn’t the DNC’s place to eliminate viable candidates before voters are allowed a say. I hope Biden, Sanders, Warren, and others will step up to tell the DNC that the Democratic Party is stronger when all viable candidates are allowed to be heard.David de la Fuente is a senior political analyst at Third Way.Read more at The Daily Beast.Get our top stories in your inbox every day. Sign up now!Daily Beast Membership: Beast Inside goes deeper on the stories that matter to you. Learn more.


China Is Building Its Very Own Stealth Bombers: Meet the H-20 and JH-XX

Sat, 12/07/2019 - 05:00

Meet the H-20 and JH-XX


How World War III Begins in 2029 (A U.S.-China Battle Over Taiwan?)

Sat, 12/07/2019 - 03:00

That's what one fictional article that went viral last week suggests. Could it come true?


Why Texas’s fossil fuel support will ‘spell disaster’ for climate crisis

Sat, 12/07/2019 - 02:30

The state – which leads the way as US output of oil and gas is forecast to rise 25% in the next decade – is intensifying its production pipeline by pipelineIn the same month that Greta Thunberg addressed a UN summit and millions of people took part in a global climate strike, lawmakers in America’s leading oil- and gas-producing state of Texas made a statement of their own.Texas’s Critical Infrastructure Protection Act went into effect on 1 September, stiffening civil and criminal penalties specifically for protesters who interrupt operations or damage oil and gas pipelines and other energy facilities.Within a couple of weeks, two dozen Greenpeace activists who dangled off a bridge over the Houston ship channel became the first people charged under the new law, which allows for prison sentences of up to 10 years and fines of up to $500,000 for protest groups.The new Texas law is emblematic of the unyielding loyalty of conservative lawmakers to the fossil fuel industry in a state stacked with influential climate science deniers or sceptics such as the US senator and former Republican presidential hopeful Ted Cruz and which named a pipeline tycoon to its parks and wildlife conservation commission.With kindred spirits in the Trump White House, Texas is now intensifying its support of the fossil fuel industry and, pipeline by pipeline, literally laying the groundwork for production to ramp up even more in the next decade.The scale of new production is “staggering”, according to an analysis by Global Witness, a campaign group, with Texas leading the way as US output of oil and gas is forecast to rise by 25% over the next decade. This makes it a “looming carbon timebomb”, the group believes, in a period when global oil and gas production needs to drop by 40% to mitigate the worst impacts of the climate crisis.“The sheer scale of this new production dwarfs that of every other country in the world and would spell disaster for the world’s ambitions to curb climate change,” the report states.The US is already the planet’s leading producer of oil and gas and central to its rise is the Permian Basin, a shale region of about 75,000 sq miles extending from west Texas into New Mexico.Despite the oil price crash of 2014, the Permian’s oil production has soared from about a million barrels a day in 2011 to about 4.5m this autumn, while natural gas production has trebled since 2013, according to US government figures.In March, the Permian overtook Saudi Arabia’s Ghawar to become the world’s most productive oilfield. While Saudi Arabia’s overall production remains far higher, predictions that the Permian’s output will continue to grow at a similar rate – doubling by 2023 as pipeline capacity expands and major oil companies increase their presence – are alarming environmentalists.> Having some kind of wild west boom going on in Texas ... that’s just the precise opposite to what should be going on> > Lorne Stockman“Having some kind of wild west boom going on in Texas where it’s every man for himself drilling as quickly as possible and trying to pull the stuff out of the ground in a kind of frenzy, that’s just the precise opposite to what should be going on,” said Lorne Stockman, a senior research analyst at Oil Change International, a clean energy advocacy group.While there are some indicators of a slowdown in the growth rate, Chevron’s president of North American exploration and production, Steve Green, told an industry event in October that the oil major sees a “boom boom boom kind of economy” with a “long, healthy pace of activity in the Permian and Texas for decades to come”, Bloomberg reported.The Permian’s fortunes are not dependent on the whims of one or two dominant companies – there are hundreds of operators, from tiny independents to huge multinationals such as Chevron, ExxonMobil, BP, Shell and ConocoPhillips, many of the corporations which, as the Guardian has reported, are behind a large proportion of the planet’s carbon emissions and are poised to flood markets with an additional 7m barrels per day over the next decade.Gene Collins has witnessed firsthand the flipside of the Permian’s economic boom. The 68-year-old, who runs an insurance agency and is on the board of a local economic development corporation, was born and raised in Odessa, a city which, with neighbouring Midland, is at the heart of the Permian. Heavy trucks are damaging road surfaces, traffic accidents have increased and housing rates have soared, he claimed.“It has not been a gradual growth. It’s been the type of growth that puts such a strain on the community that we’re unable to keep up with what we need to handle the crowds, the influx. Our housing shortage is really epidemic. It puts a burden on our school districts. We need teachers but we can’t bring teachers in because we have no place for them to stay,” Collins said.A report last May by the Environmental Integrity Project, a not-for-profit group, cited a lack of air quality monitoring in west Texas, with only one station to track sulphur dioxide levels, and limited regulatory oversight which relies on companies to self-report unauthorised emissions.The pace of drilling, low prices and lack of capacity have led to the Permian’s frackers producing more natural gas than the infrastructure system can handle, prompting them to vent gas or deliberately burn it off in an environmentally harmful process known as flaring.“We probably have some of the worst air that we’ve ever had out here in west Texas” Collins said. “Every night we flare out here, let off natural gas, a lot of it really fugitive emissions because we don’t have the regulators out here.” A spokeswoman for the Texas Oil and Gas Association, a trade group, did not respond to a request for comment on how the industry plans to improve air quality in the Permian. Its president, Todd Staples, has said that its members “are accomplishing emissions progress through voluntary programmes, innovations and efficiencies”.New pipelines should help relieve the bottlenecks, such as the Gulf Coast Express, a 448-mile pipeline which went online in September to take natural gas from west Texas towards the state’s portion of the Gulf coast. But these too come at an environmental cost.> We’re facing a massive wave of fossil fuel facilities that we’ve never seen before> > Rebekah HinojosaIn the Rio Grande valley, at the border with Mexico, activists are battling to stop the construction of three planned liquefied natural gas processing and export facilities at the port of Brownsville.“We’re facing a massive wave of fossil fuel facilities that we’ve never seen before,” said Rebekah Hinojosa, a local organiser with the Sierra Club, a national environmental group. “The lifeblood of those communities is nature, ecotourism, shrimping, fishing, dolphin watch tours. Having a massive fossil fuel industry is not compatible.”Though Texas is also the national leader in wind power capacity, the fracking investment locks the state into a fossil fuel future and enables the US to export cheap gas to other countries, perpetuating worldwide demand.Democrats in Texas are pinning their hopes on long-term demographic shifts that point to the state becoming a political battleground within the next decade, potentially paving the way for more climate-conscious policies such as restrictions on fossil fuel production, tougher regulatory regimes and promotion of renewables.“Will Texas have a political shift that might empower Democrats at some stage who might be more willing to think about restraining the growth of the oil sector, if not reversing it?” said Joshua Busby, an associate professor of public affairs at the University of Texas at Austin and senior research fellow at the Center for Climate and Security. Busby believes natural disasters might accelerate change by altering the economic equation. The Gulf coast’s vulnerability to storms potentially made more severe by global heating – such as Harvey, which flooded much of the Houston area in 2017 - could damage ports, refineries and petrochemical plants, erode financial markets’ enthusiasm for fossil fuel investments, hurt companies’ bottom lines and push climate concerns higher up the priority list for voters in traditionally conservative suburban and rural areas.Collins doubts that a radical transformation is imminent. “We have climate change deniers running the government. So there’s really no benefit to them [in restricting drilling] if they think that the energy that is produced outweighs the risk,” he said.The new measure punishing protesters, he said, underlines the political priorities in Texas: “For them to pass a law like that gives you an indication of what they think about the oil industry versus the rights and the health of human beings.”


Official documents shed light on Tokyo's role in 'comfort women': Kyodo

Sat, 12/07/2019 - 00:38

The Imperial Japanese Army asked the government to provide one "comfort woman" for every 70 soldiers, Japan's Kyodo news agency said, citing wartime government documents it had reviewed, shedding a fresh light on Tokyo's involvement in the practice. "Comfort women" is a euphemism for the girls and women - many of them Korean - forced into prostitution at Japanese military brothels. The issue has plagued Japan's ties with South Korea for decades.


Mexico Does Not Deserve Credit For Falling Arrests At U.S. Southern Border

Fri, 12/06/2019 - 23:00

The United States has better alternatives to deal with this crisis than abandoning its asylum laws and treating asylum seekers like criminals.


Samoa says almost 90% of people vaccinated against measles after deadly outbreak

Fri, 12/06/2019 - 22:12

Samoa said on Saturday nearly 90% of eligible people had been vaccinated against measles as it lifted a two-day curfew imposed amid an outbreak that has killed 65 in recent weeks. There were, however, 103 new cases of measles reported since Friday, Samoa's Health Ministry said it a statement. The measles virus has infected almost 4,500 people in the South Pacific nation of just 200,000 since late October.


If Russia Invaded Europe, Britian Would Need to Bring Back This 1 Weapon

Fri, 12/06/2019 - 22:00

Hint: It's a certain type of bomb.


Indian rape victim dies in hospital after being set ablaze

Fri, 12/06/2019 - 21:52

A 23-year-old rape victim died in a hospital in the Indian capital two days after she was set on fire by a gang of men, including her alleged rapist, Reuters partner ANI reported on Saturday. The woman was on her way to board a train in Unnao district of northern Uttar Pradesh state to attend a court hearing when she was doused with kerosene and set on fire on Thursday, according to the police. Uttar Pradesh is India's most populous state and has become notorious for its poor record regarding crimes against women, with more than 4,200 cases of rape reported there in 2017 - the highest in the country.


Judge blocks Trump's favorite construction company from building private border wall

Fri, 12/06/2019 - 21:16

A federal judge in McAllen, Texas, has temporarily blocked a plan for a construction firm favored by President Trump to build a privately funded segment of border wall along the banks of the Rio Grande River.


Fossil fuel groups 'destroying' climate talks: NGOs

Fri, 12/06/2019 - 21:07

Oil and gas groups were accused Saturday of seeking to influence climate talks in Madrid by paying millions in sponsorship and sending dozens of lobbyists to delay what scientists say is a necessary and rapid cut in fossil fuel use. A day after tens of thousands marched in the Spanish capital demanding climate action, seven environmental groups raised concerns to AFP over the role of fossil fuel representatives at the COP25 summit. Under the 2015 Paris Agreement, nations agreed to limit global warming to "well below" two degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) and as close to 1.5C as possible.


In warning to Netanyahu, House endorses 2-state solution

Fri, 12/06/2019 - 19:13

The House on Friday threw its weight behind a two-state solution between Israelis and Palestinians, in a warning to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as he mulls annexing the West Bank.


Thousands of Las Vegas shooting victims will have to split an $800 million settlement. Now, 2 retired judges have to decide which victims deserve the most.

Fri, 12/06/2019 - 18:50

Though $800 million seems like an enormous settlement, some 4,500 people joined the lawsuit against MGM Resorts. Some will need more than others.


Rep. Duncan Hunter: 'Shortly after the holidays I will resign from Congress'

Fri, 12/06/2019 - 18:42

The GOP Congressman announced he would be resigning "shortly after the holidays" after pleading guilty earlier this week to misusing campaign funds.


White House tells Democrats it will not participate in Trump impeachment hearing

Fri, 12/06/2019 - 18:29

The White House said on Friday it would refuse to take part in hearings in the U.S. House of Representatives set for next week that will consider what articles of impeachment to bring against President Donald Trump. "We don't see any reason to participate because the process is unfair," said a senior administration official, speaking on condition of anonymity.


Trump Energy Adviser Leaving White House After Ukraine Subpoena

Fri, 12/06/2019 - 18:17

(Bloomberg) -- An international energy adviser to President Donald Trump, who was sought by congressional Democrats as part of their impeachment inquiry, is leaving the White House, according to three people familiar with the matter.Wells Griffith, who has been serving as a senior director for international energy and environment on the National Security Council, is set to join the Overseas Private Investment Corp. next week, said two of the people. All three asked not to be named discussing a personnel issue.The move is part of a broader effort to streamline the National Security Council, with more matters shifted to the National Economic Council, according to two of the people. National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien previously outlined his ambitions to pare NSC staff in an October Washington Post opinion piece.Griffith, a former Energy Department official who also worked on Trump’s 2016 campaign, has dealt with an array of international energy matters in his White House role, including sanctions on Iran and Venezuela. Griffith last year also served as the face of the Trump administration at international climate negotiations in Poland, where he was part of a panel touting technology to produce cleaner coal-fired power.Griffith helped broker a deal to export U.S. coal to Ukraine during his tenure at the Energy Department under Trump.Griffith could have a similar portfolio at OPIC, a U.S. government agency that helps finance projects in developing countries. The Trump administration has tried to encourage multilateral development banks and other international lenders to support coal-fired power plants and natural gas.“He played a really big role in defining the president’s foreign energy policy; he’s now in an excellent position to implement it,” said George David Banks, a former international energy adviser to Trump.Griffith last month rebuffed a subpoena from House Democrats to be deposed as part of the inquiry into Trump’s dealings with Ukraine, citing White House counsel guidance against participating.\--With assistance from Jennifer Jacobs.To contact the reporters on this story: Jennifer A. Dlouhy in Washington at jdlouhy1@bloomberg.net;Ari Natter in Washington at anatter5@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Jon Morgan at jmorgan97@bloomberg.net, John HarneyFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.


California congressman Duncan Hunter announces resignation after corruption plea

Fri, 12/06/2019 - 17:39

Hunter's announcement that he would step down came days after the leading California lawmaker, a former U.S. Marine Corps combat veteran, entered his guilty plea in federal court in San Diego. "Shortly after the Holidays I will resign from Congress," Hunter, 42, said in a written statement released by his communications director.


Warning Iran, US slaps sanctions on Iraqi paramilitary leaders

Fri, 12/06/2019 - 17:08

The United States on Friday imposed sanctions on three Iranian-backed Iraqi paramilitary leaders over a deadly crackdown on protests in the country, as it warned Tehran to stay out of its neighbor's affairs. The move comes as President Donald Trump's administration, which considers Iran an arch-enemy, voices alarm at rising attacks on US forces' bases in Iraq blamed on armed Shiite groups backed by Tehran's clerical regime.


Trump says the EPA is looking 'very strongly' at 'sinks and showers and other elements of bathrooms' because people are flushing their toilets 10 to 15 times

Fri, 12/06/2019 - 16:59

The New York Times reported in December 2017 that Trump "has an odd affinity for showing off bathrooms, including one he renovated near the Oval Office."


Susan Collins facing massive ad buy attacking tax vote

Fri, 12/06/2019 - 16:35

The outside group Maine Momentum is attacking Collins over her 2017 vote.


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