Thursday, June 18, 2015

Pope: Earth Will Turn Into 'Pile Of Filth' Without Action On Climate Change


Francis framed climate change as an urgent moral issue in his eagerly anticipated encyclical, blaming global warming on an unfair, fossil fuel-based industrial model that harms the poor most.
Citing Scripture, his predecessors and bishops from around the world, the pope urged people of every faith and even no faith to undergo an awakening to save God's creation for future generations.
The document released Thursday was a stinging indictment of big business and climate doubters alike, meant to encourage courageous changes at U.N. climate negotiations later this year, in domestic politics and in everyday life.
"It is not enough to balance, in the medium term, the protection of nature with financial gain, or the preservation of the environment with progress," he writes. "Halfway measures simply delay the inevitable disaster. Put simply, it is a matter of redefining our notion of progress."
Environmental scientists said the first-ever encyclical, or teaching document, on the environment could have a dramatic effect on the climate debate, lending the moral authority of the immensely popular Francis to an issue that has long been cast in purely political, economic or scientific terms.
"This clarion call should guide the world toward a strong and durable universal climate agreement in Paris at the end of this year," said Christiana Figueres, the U.N.'s top climate official. "Coupled with the economic imperative, the moral imperative leaves no doubt that we must act on climate change now."
Veerabhadran Ramanathan, a Scripps Institution of Oceanography scientist, said the encyclical is a "game-changer in making people think about this."
"It's not politics anymore," he said, adding that science is often difficult to understand but that people respond to arguments framed by morality and ethics.
The energy lobby was quick to criticize the encyclical's anti-fossil fuel message.
"The simple reality is that energy is the essential building block of the modern world," said Thomas Pyle of the Institute of Energy Research, a conservative free-market group. "The application of affordable energy makes everything we do — food production, manufacturing, health care, transportation, heating and air conditioning — better."
Francis said he hoped his effort would lead ordinary people in their daily lives and decision-makers at the Paris U.N. climate meetings to a wholesale change of mind and heart, saying "both the cry of the Earth and the cry of the poor" must now be heard.
"This vision of 'might is right' has engendered immense inequality, injustice and acts of violence against the majority of humanity, since resources end up in the hands of the first comer or the most powerful: the winner takes all," he writes. "Completely at odds with this model are the ideals of harmony, justice, fraternity and peace as proposed by Jesus."
The encyclical "Laudato Si," (Praise Be) is 191 pages of pure Francis.
It's a blunt, readable booklet full of zingers that will make many conservatives and climate doubters squirm, including in the U.S. Congress, where Francis will deliver the first-ever papal address in September. It has already put several U.S. presidential candidates on the hot seat since some Republicans, Catholics among them, doubt the science behind global warming and have said the pope should stay out of the debate.
"I don't think we should politicize our faith," U.S. Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush, a Catholic convert, said on the eve of the encyclical's release. "I think religion ought to be about making us better as people and less about things that end up getting into the political realm."
Yet one of Francis' core points is that there really is no distinction between human beings, their faith and the environment.
"Everything is related, and we human beings are united as brothers and sisters on a wonderful pilgrimage, woven together by the love God has for each of his creatures and which also unites us in fond affection with brother sun, sister moon, brother river and mother earth," he writes.
Cardinal Peter Turkson, whose office wrote the first draft of the encyclical, acknowledged that the pope was no expert in science, although he did work as a chemist before entering the seminary. But he said Francis was fully justified in speaking out about an important issue and had consulted widely. He asked if politicians would refrain from talking about science just because they're not scientific experts.
Francis accepts as fact that the world is getting warmer and that human activity is mostly to blame.
"The earth, our home, is beginning to look more and more like an immense pile of filth," he writes.
Citing the deforestation of the Amazon, the melting of Arctic glaciers and the deaths of coral reefs, he rebukes "obstructionist" climate doubters who "seem mostly to be concerned with masking the problems or concealing their symptoms." And he blames politicians for listening more to oil industry interests than Scripture or common sense.
He praises a "less is more" lifestyle, one that shuns air conditioners and gated communities in favor of car pools, recycling and being in close touch with the poor and marginalized. He calls for courageous, radical and farsighted policies to transition the world's energy supply from fossil fuels to renewable sources, saying mitigation schemes like the buying and selling of carbon credits won't solve the problem and are just a "ploy which permits maintaining the excessive consumption of some countries and sectors."
What is needed, he says, is a "bold cultural revolution."
"Nobody is suggesting a return to the Stone Age, but we do need to slow down and look at reality in a different way, to appropriate the positive and sustainable progress which has been made, but also to recover the values and the great goals swept away by our unrestrained delusions of grandeur," Francis writes.
Some have dismissed the Argentine pope as pushing what they call Latin American-style socialism, but he answered those critics just this week, saying it was not a sign of communism to care for the poor.
Within the church, many conservative Catholics have questioned the pope's heavy emphasis on the environment and climate change over other issues such as abortion and marriage.
Francis does address abortion and population issues briefly in the encyclical, criticizing those in the environmental movement who show concern for preserving nature but not human lives. The Catholic Church has long been at odds with environmentalists over how much population growth degrades the environment.
John Schellnhuber, the scientist credited with coming up with the goal of keeping global warming below 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees F), says it's a "myth" that a growing population is responsible for environmental decay.
"It's not poverty that destroys the environment," he told the press conference launching the document. "It's wealth, consumption and waste. And this is reflected in the encyclical."
Zoll and Borenstein reported from New York. Associated Press writers Karl Ritter in Stockholm, Sweden, and Daniela Petroff in Vatican City contributed to this report.
Follow Nicole Winfield at ; Rachel Zoll at and Seth Borenstein at

Clinton: We Must Face 'Hard Truths' About Race, Guns After Charleston Shooting


Clinton told an audience Thursday at the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials in Las Vegas that the news "broke my heart."
"The shock and pain of this crime of hate strikes deep," she said, as quoted by National Journal. "Nine people, women and men. Cut down at prayer, murdered in a house of God. It just broke my heart."
Like President Barack Obama did earlier in the day, Clinton also urged Americans to address gun violence after failing to act in the wake of past mass shootings like the 2012 Aurora, Colorado movie theater massacre. She said that the country must "face hard truths about race, violence, guns and division" in order to make sense of the latest tragedy, according to National Journal.
"How many innocent people in our country—little children to church members to movie theater attendees—how many people do we need to see cut down before we act?" she said, as quoted by National Journal. "So as we mourn and as our hearts break a little more, and as we send this message of solidarity that we will not forsake those who have been victimized by gun violence, this time we have to find answers together."......

Sanders: Charleston Shooting Reminder Of 'Ugly Stain Of Racism' In US


"This senseless violence fills me with outrage, disgust and a deep, deep sadness," Sanders tweeted.
In a longer statement, the Democratic presidential contender said the killings, which were blamed on a white suspect whose victims included state Sen. Clementa Pinckney (D), showed that the U.S. had a long way to go in escaping its history of racial violence.
"The hateful killing of nine people praying inside a church is a horrific reminder that, while we have made significant progress in advancing civil rights in this country, we are far from eradicating racism," he said.
"Our thoughts and prayers are with the families and their congregation," Sanders added.....

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Fox News’ Megyn Kelly complains about ‘liberal’ media directly quoting her remarks about McKinney teen


Fox News host Megyn Kelly accused “left-wing” news sites of taking her out of context when she criticized Dajerria Becton, the black teenager seen being forced to the ground by then-Officer Eric Casebolt in McKinney, Texas.
“It’s almost pointless to respond to these kinds of smears, and I almost never do it,” Kelly said. “But this one struck me as an example of how drastically the press — really, the blogs — distort innocuous comments to promote their own agendas. It is not just a left-wing thing, to be fair; but too often, it is done by the far left with glee, and with total impunity.”
On Monday, Kelly called Casebolt’s actions “brutal,” but added that Becton “was no saint, either,” because she “lingered” at the scene of the incident rather than leaving.
Becton has said that she was trying to leave when Casebolt took her to the ground. Casebolt resigned from his position on Tuesday following widespread public criticism of his actions.
“I took no position on the matter, other than to acknowledge the brutality of the cop’s actions, and the decision-making of the young woman that brought her into his focus,” Kelly argued on Wednesday.
The host specifically criticized Salon and Media Matters,
“Here is what actually happened: we did two segments on McKinney,” Kelly explained. “The first involved an eyewitness who defended the officer. The second involved two pundits, Mark Fuhrman and Richard Fowler — both of whom were against the cop. Two segments out of six on our show, and two of the three guests against the cop.”
Kelly’s colleague Howard Kurtz said the reporting was part of an “echo chamber” used by sites with no interest in fairness.
“There’s very little desire on the part of these folks to get to truth,” Kelly responded. “There’s only a desire to get to agenda. And yet, there seems to be an audience for that, a viewership, a readership for these blogs and in some instances, podcasts, what have you.”
Media Matters responded on Wednesday night by noting that it included Kelly’s statement, “I’m not defending his actions, let me make that clear,” and that conservative outlets like the Washington Times and had also accused her of defending Casebolt.....................

House votes to repeal country-of-origin labeling on meat

WASHINGTON (AP) — House Republicans voted Wednesday to repeal a law requiring country-of-origin labels on packages of meat — a move to avoid costly trade retaliation from Canada and Mexico.
The World Trade Organization ruled against the law last month, saying the labels that say where animals were born, raised and slaughtered are discriminatory against the two U.S. border countries. Canada and Mexico have said they will now ask the WTO for permission to impose billions of dollars in tariffs on U.S. goods.
The House voted 300-131 to repeal the law for beef, pork and poultry.
The current labels tell consumers what countries the meat is from: for example, "born in Canada, raised and slaughtered in the United States" or "born, raised and slaughtered in the United States."
The WTO ruled against the labels last year and denied a U.S. appeal last month. The Obama administration has already revised the labels once to try to comply with previous WTO rulings. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack has said it's now up to Congress to change the law to avoid retaliation from the two neighbor countries.
The law was initially written at the behest of northern U.S. ranchers who compete with the Canadian cattle industry. It also was backed by consumer advocates who say it helps shoppers know where their food comes from. Supporters have called on the U.S. government to negotiate with Canada and Mexico to find labels acceptable to all countries.
Rep. Marcy Kaptur, D-Ohio, said repeal would be premature, adding, "Our people deserve a right to know where their food is produced and where it comes from."
Many in the U.S. meat industry — including meat processors who buy animals from abroad — have called for a repeal of the law, which they have fought for years, including unsuccessfully in federal court. They say it's burdensome and costly for producers and retailers.
House Agriculture Committee Chairman Mike Conaway, R-Texas, has long backed the meat industry's call for repeal.
"Although some consumers desire (country-of-origin labeling) information, there is no evidence to conclude that this mandatory labeling translates into market-measurable increases in consumer demand for beef, pork or chicken," Conaway said on the House floor.
House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, said after the vote that the last thing American farmers need "is for Congress to sit idly by as international bureaucrats seek to punish them through retaliatory trade policies that could devastate agriculture as well as other industries."
The bill would go beyond just the muscle cuts of red meat that were covered under the WTO case, also repealing country-of-origin labeling for poultry, ground beef and ground pork. The chicken industry has said the labeling doesn't make much sense for poultry farmers because the majority of chicken consumed in the United States is hatched, raised and processed in the United States.
The legislation would leave in place country-of-origin labeling requirements for several other commodities, including lamb, venison, seafood, fruits and vegetables and some nuts.
Canada and Mexico have opposed the labeling because it causes their animals to be segregated from those of U.S. origin — a costly process that has forced some U.S. companies to stop buying exports.
The two countries have said that if they are allowed by the WTO, they may impose retaliatory measures such as tariffs against a variety of U.S. imports. Their list includes food items like beef, pork, cheese, corn, cherries, maple syrup, chocolate and pasta, plus non-agricultural goods such as mattresses, wooden furniture and jewelry. The retaliatory measures could cost the United States more than $3 billion, the countries said.
Congress required the labels in 2002 and 2008 farm laws. The original labels created by USDA were less specific, saying a product was a "product of U.S." or "product of U.S. and Canada." The WTO rejected those labels in 2012, and USDA tried again with the more detailed labels a year later. The WTO rejected those revised rules last year, and the United States filed one last appeal, rejected in May by the WTO.
On the Senate side, Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Pat Roberts of Kansas also has said he will move quickly to respond to the WTO ruling, but he has yet to introduce a bill.
After the House vote, Roberts said repeal "remains the surest way to protect the American economy" from retaliatory tariffs.
"We can sit here and let this happen," Roberts said. "Or we can move. Let's get a move on."