Category Archives: ALPHA

The Dog Listener – Jan Fennell

READ GREEN WITH E-BOOKS

The Dog Listener
Learn How to Communicate with Your Dog for Willing Cooperation
Jan Fennell

Genre: Nature

Price: $1.99

Publish Date: October 13, 2009

Publisher: HarperCollins e-books

Seller: HarperCollins


In The Dog Listener Jan Fennell shares her revolutionary insight into the canine world and its instinctive language that has enabled her to bring even the most delinquent of dogs to heel. This easy-to-follow guide draws on Jan’s countless case histories of problem dogs—from biters and barkers to bicycle chasers—to show how you can bridge the language barrier that separates you from your dog. This edition includes a new 30-Day Training Guide to further incorporate Jan’s powerful method into every element of pet ownership, including: Understanding what it means to care for a dogChoosing the right dog for youIntroducing your dog to its new homeOvercoming separation anxietyWalking on a leashDealing with behavioral problemsGrooming And much more

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The Dog Listener – Jan Fennell

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World leadership could cancel out Trump’s polluting ways.

In early May, laborers harvesting cabbage in a field near Bakersfield, California, caught a whiff of an odor. Some suddenly felt nauseated.

A local news station reported that winds blew the pesticide Vulcan — which was being sprayed on a mandarin orchard owned by the produce company Sun Pacific — into Dan Andrews Farms’ cabbage patch.

Vulcan’s active ingredient, chlorpyrifos, has been banned for residential use for more than 15 years. It was scheduled to be off-limits to agriculture this year — until the EPA gave it a reprieve in March. Kern County officials are still confirming whether Sun Pacific’s insecticide contained chlorpyrifos.

More than 50 farmworkers were exposed, and 12 reported symptoms, including vomiting and fainting. One was hospitalized. “Whether it’s nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, seek medical attention immediately,” a Kern County Public Health official warned.

If chlorpyrifos’ presence is confirmed, the EPA may have some explaining to do. The Dow Chemical compound is a known neurotoxin, and several studies connect exposure to it with lower IQ in children and other neurological deficits.

The Scott Pruitt–led agency, however, decided that — and stop me if you’ve heard this one before — the science wasn’t conclusive.

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World leadership could cancel out Trump’s polluting ways.

Posted in alo, ALPHA, Anchor, FF, G & F, GE, green energy, LAI, LG, ONA, ProPublica, Ringer, solar, solar panels, solar power, Thermos, Uncategorized, wind power | Tagged , , , , , , , | Comments Off on World leadership could cancel out Trump’s polluting ways.

Unrecorded diesel emissions kill 38,000 people a year.

In early May, laborers harvesting cabbage in a field near Bakersfield, California, caught a whiff of an odor. Some suddenly felt nauseated.

A local news station reported that winds blew the pesticide Vulcan — which was being sprayed on a mandarin orchard owned by the produce company Sun Pacific — into Dan Andrews Farms’ cabbage patch.

Vulcan’s active ingredient, chlorpyrifos, has been banned for residential use for more than 15 years. It was scheduled to be off-limits to agriculture this year — until the EPA gave it a reprieve in March. Kern County officials are still confirming whether Sun Pacific’s insecticide contained chlorpyrifos.

More than 50 farmworkers were exposed, and 12 reported symptoms, including vomiting and fainting. One was hospitalized. “Whether it’s nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, seek medical attention immediately,” a Kern County Public Health official warned.

If chlorpyrifos’ presence is confirmed, the EPA may have some explaining to do. The Dow Chemical compound is a known neurotoxin, and several studies connect exposure to it with lower IQ in children and other neurological deficits.

The Scott Pruitt–led agency, however, decided that — and stop me if you’ve heard this one before — the science wasn’t conclusive.

Link to article – 

Unrecorded diesel emissions kill 38,000 people a year.

Posted in alo, ALPHA, Anchor, FF, G & F, GE, green energy, LAI, LG, ONA, ProPublica, Ringer, solar, solar panels, solar power, Thermos, Uncategorized, wind power | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Unrecorded diesel emissions kill 38,000 people a year.

Some massive hands are propping up Venice because climate change.

In early May, laborers harvesting cabbage in a field near Bakersfield, California, caught a whiff of an odor. Some suddenly felt nauseated.

A local news station reported that winds blew the pesticide Vulcan — which was being sprayed on a mandarin orchard owned by the produce company Sun Pacific — into Dan Andrews Farms’ cabbage patch.

Vulcan’s active ingredient, chlorpyrifos, has been banned for residential use for more than 15 years. It was scheduled to be off-limits to agriculture this year — until the EPA gave it a reprieve in March. Kern County officials are still confirming whether Sun Pacific’s insecticide contained chlorpyrifos.

More than 50 farmworkers were exposed, and 12 reported symptoms, including vomiting and fainting. One was hospitalized. “Whether it’s nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, seek medical attention immediately,” a Kern County Public Health official warned.

If chlorpyrifos’ presence is confirmed, the EPA may have some explaining to do. The Dow Chemical compound is a known neurotoxin, and several studies connect exposure to it with lower IQ in children and other neurological deficits.

The Scott Pruitt–led agency, however, decided that — and stop me if you’ve heard this one before — the science wasn’t conclusive.

Continue reading: 

Some massive hands are propping up Venice because climate change.

Posted in alo, ALPHA, Anchor, FF, G & F, GE, green energy, LAI, LG, ONA, ProPublica, Ringer, solar, solar panels, solar power, Thermos, Uncategorized, wind power | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Some massive hands are propping up Venice because climate change.

Macron Campaign Hit With "Massive and Coordinated" Hacking Attack

Mother Jones

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A massive trove of documents purporting to contain thousands of emails and other files from the campaign of Emmanuel Macron—the French centrist candidate squaring off against right-wing nationalist Marine Le Pen—was posted on the internet Friday afternoon. The Macron campaign says that at least some of the documents are fake. The document dump came just over a day before voting is set to begin in the final round of the election and mere hours before candidates are legally required to stop campaigning.

At about 2:35 p.m. ET, a post appeared on the 4chan online message board announcing the leak. The documents appear to include emails, internal memos, and screenshots of purported banking records.

“In this pastebin are links to torrents of emails between Macron, his team and other officials, politicians as well as original documents and photos,” the anonymous 4chan poster wrote. “This was passed on to me today so now I am giving it to you, the people. The leak is massvie and released in the hopes that the human search engine here will be able to start sifting through the contents and figure out exactly what we have here.”

The Macron campaign issued a statement Friday night saying it was the victim of a “massive and coordinated” hacking attack. That campaign said the leak included some fake documents that were intended “to sow doubt and misinformation.”

The Macron camp compared the document dump to last year’s hacking of emails associated with Hillary Clinton. The US intelligence community has concluded that Russia was responsible for the Clinton hacks. “This operation is obviously a democratic destabilization as was seen in the United States during the last presidential campaign,” the Macron statement said.

The timing of the leak is particularly noteworthy. Under French law, candidates and their campaigns cannot speak to the media or do anything in public in the 24 hours before the start of Sunday’s election. The Macron campaign’s statement was issued three minutes before the deadline.

It’s unclear when the files originally appeared on the internet. The official Twitter account for WikiLeaks—the group that released the Clinton emails last year—tweeted a link to a page where the Macron data was hosted at 1:13 p.m. ET.

“Fully analyzing the hacked documents to verify that they are genuine will take some time, but from what I’ve seen so far, it looks very serious,” said Matt Tait, a former information security specialist for the GCHQ (the United Kingdom’s equivalent of the National Security Agency) and CEO of Capital Alpha Security.

In February, Macron said he had evidence his campaign had “suffered repeated and multiple attacks from hackers” and that “many come from Ukraine.” At the time, the Macron campaign blamed the Russian government for the attacks, a claim the Kremlin denied. The campaign suspected the attacks were coming their way because of Macron’s tough stance on Russia. Le Pen, on the other hand, has taken a much more favorable stance toward Russia.

Earlier on Friday, according to the New York Times, the Le Pen campaign claimed in a statement that its campaign website had been the victim of “regular and targeted” attacks, and that a hacker “close to extreme-left circles” had been arrested.

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Macron Campaign Hit With "Massive and Coordinated" Hacking Attack

Posted in ALPHA, Cyber, FF, GE, LAI, LG, ONA, Oster, PUR, Radius, Uncategorized, Venta | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Macron Campaign Hit With "Massive and Coordinated" Hacking Attack

Jon Ossoff’s Race Is the First Real Battle Between Millennials and Trump

Mother Jones

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Jon Ossoff doesn’t like to talk about his age. His reticence is understandable. Since the media and liberal voters foisted the 30-year-old political neophyte from the Atlanta suburbs into the national spotlight, he’s been celebrated by Democrats as a wunderkind who might lead the resistance against Trump and simultaneously ridiculed by Republicans, who fear the same thing, as a “spoiled frat boy.” As the front-runner in the heated special election race to replace Tom Price, whom Trump elevated to be his secretary of health and human services, in Georgia’s Sixth Congressional District—a seat not held by a Democrat since the 1970s—he has endured numerous attacks targeting his relative youth. One ad spliced authentic clips of Ossoff costumed as Han Solo from a college spoof video with stock footage of frat boys doing keg stands. “I don’t want to marginalize youth,” recently mused Bruce LeVell, 53, former head of Trump’s national diversity coalition and one of 11 Republican, five Democratic, and two independent candidates who will face off against Ossoff on April 18. “But I think that a wealth of life experiences can be a tremendous asset for a congressional seat.”

Speaking last week in Alpharetta, Georgia, at a mansion overlooking a lake, Ossoff had attracted so many supporters that the property’s owner nervously joked his deck might not be able to support the crowd. In the previous three hours, we’d visited four separate rallies where hordes of Democrats lined roads with signs reading “Vote Your Ossoff.” “I’m trying to make the case to voters across the political spectrum,” Ossoff told the assembly, “that someone who brings a younger perspective”—then he corrected himself—”a fresher perspective… can change the culture in Washington more effectively than someone who has run for office nine or ten times.”

With his campaign promise to “Make Trump Furious,” Ossoff is riding a wave of disaffection among all Democrats, but millennials are an especially important part of his coalition. Consistently polling in the mid-to-low-40s, Ossoff needs only a handful more percentage points to break the 50% threshold on April 18 and claim outright victory. If he fails to obtain a majority he’ll face a much tougher runoff vote on June 20 versus the second-place finisher, in support of whom a critical mass of Republican voters might unite. The Sixth District is deeply Republican, with a white, elderly, and affluent voter base, which may be hard to sway from their traditional voting habits. But the district includes 146,000 people aged 18 to 34—about 27% of all eligible voters in the district—and Ossoff is relying, in part, on these young voters to turn out in unprecedented numbers and nudge him to victory. The race is so close that one of the only ways for Ossoff to win, in other words, is for large numbers of millennials to do for him what they didn’t do for Hillary Clinton: vote.

“My generation has gotten complacent about our rights,” Alison Curnie, 31, said on the deck overlooking the lake, as she endorsed Ossoff to the cheering crowd. “We thought they would be there in perpetuity. But if anything good has come out of this last election, it’s that we’re no longer complacent.”

During the two days I spent on the campaign trail, young people were an inescapable presence. Most staffers and volunteers I encountered were of the millennial generation, though there were plenty of older people as well. Ossoff’s supporters believe his youth is a positive quality, a way to bring a new mindset to Washington. As Matt Tompkins, 26, told me, “Ossoff is the first time we’ve had someone who represents our socially conscious values. Someone who’s 60 doesn’t have the worldview of being raised in modern reality with technology, the internet, diversity, and everything else.”

So far, millennials have been a dormant power in politics. As John Della Volpe, the Director of Polling at Harvard’s Institute of Politics, told me: “There are more millennials than any other generation on earth, but they don’t vote in the same proportion that other generations do. The main reason they don’t vote is they don’t see a tangible impact from it, so the degree to which Ossoff can convince them that this election matters is going to be key.”

And so while a flurry of punditry in recent days has interpreted Ossoff’s campaign as a predictor of whether or not anti-Trump sentiment will be enough to buoy Dems to congressional victories over the next two years, his race also raises another and perhaps more pressing question: Can this 30-year-old, and the anti-Trump resistance of which he’s been anointed figurehead and bellwether, re-energize young voters’ enthusiasm for democracy in general and Democrats in particular?

“Previously, I’d been a registered Republican, even Libertarian leaning,” Curnie told me on the deck. “I used to have the luxury of being a Republican because I didn’t think anyone was coming for my birth control and civil rights. But this election has made me realize we’ve got to stick up for our civil rights before we worry about tax brackets.”

Ossoff’s success owes a great deal to his becoming an internet phenomenon. When he launched his campaign in early January with an email telling voters to “Make Trump Furious,” it caught the attention of liberal bloggers anxiously following the third Congressional contest of the Trump era. Daily Kos, the left-leaning website, began promoting him. Donations poured in, with each fundraising success spurring more coverage. Today he has amassed more than $8.3 million in about three months, much of it from out-of-state voters—a record for a candidate who is not self-financed. His campaign says he has received nearly 200,000 separate donations from all over the nation, at an average size of $43.

Just as Ossoff has seized national attention in a particularly social media-savvy way, his life before the race shows how a generation of millennials may be preparing for politics. Raised in the suburb of Northlake, Ossoff always dreamt of becoming a politician. He planted yard placards with his parents in support of local Democrats as a boy. By 2003, his childhood friend Karl Langberg, 30, remembers that he was running a blog devoted to politics and debating online with older readers, who didn’t know they were arguing with a teenager behind the screen. At Paideia, a pricy private high school, he started an alternative publication to the school newspaper, which he named the Great Speckled Pi in homage to a liberal underground Atlanta newspaper of the sixties and seventies. By then, his friends knew he wanted to one day run for office. “There was an understanding among our group,” says Dustin Chambers, another childhood friend, “that he wanted to run someday and he was equipping himself to do so.”

Ossoff’s focus on government continued while studying at Georgetown’s School of Foreign Service, during which he also worked part-time for Representative Hank Johnson. Facebook went global when he was a freshmen, forever transforming politics by recording every embarrassing moment of one’s youth. “But,” Chambers said, “Jon immediately became aware of how that altered the political landscape. It made clear to him that he needed to be a squeaky-clean guy.” After graduating, he managed Johnson’s 2010 reelection campaign and then worked for him fulltime on the Hill, specializing in national security issues.

Ossoff’s work for Johnson has been the substance of the one attack that has dinged his reputation. He carefully claims: “I’ve got five years of experience as a national security staffer in the U.S. Congress. I held top secret security clearance.” All of which is true—though two of those years he was working part-time and he only held top-level clearance for five months at the end of his time on the Hill. “Technically, Ossoff walks a very careful line,” a Washington Post fact-checker wrote. “But the overall impression is misleading.”

In 2013, he earned a master’s degree at the London School of Economics, and then became CEO of Insight TWI, a VICE-like new media company, whose films have documented corruption among judges in Africa and the front-line battle against ISIS. As he traversed the globe with a camera, he still thought about seeking office, but assumed it would be far in the future.

On the night of November 8, he was filming a right-wing militia in rural Georgia as men sat around a campfire and watched the election results roll in on their cellphones. Distraught, he drove an hour-and-a-half to Manuel’s, a famous Atlanta watering hole for politicos, where he met his childhood friend Chambers and watched Trump claim victory. “I had never seen him so scared, so unsure,” Chambers, who is now a volunteer on Ossoff’s campaign, recalls. “He is one of those people who always has the answers. That night, I could see him calculating a lot of different disturbing outcomes for the next four years.”

The day after his appearance at the lake house, Ossoff sat onstage in the Dunwoody High School auditorium along with 17 other candidates—the full spectrum of American political opinion, from the Tea Party to moderate Republicans, including Karen Handel, his nearest competitor, with 15% of the vote in polls. The majority of voters were white-haired or bald, and paged through programs as each candidate spoke, making notes. But most millennials in attendance already had their minds made up: they wore Ossoff blue and loudly cheered him.

While he waited for his turn to speak, Ossoff kept his gaze fixed on each speechifying opponent, as a Republican tracker in jean shorts and hiking boots aimed a mini-cam at his face. A tracker has been video-taping Ossoff’s every move for about two months, sometimes shouting questions at him, trying to force a reaction that can be turned into an attack ad or negative news story.

When Ossoff took the microphone, he said, “I worked on Capitol Hill for five years, and I saw how things work and how they do not. I saw the partisanship, the gridlock, the pettiness, and the corruption. I think it’s time for fresh leadership in Washington.” Speaking, he kept his hands clasped in front of him, his fingers carefully interlaced, never flourishing his arms or stabbing a finger to emphasize a point. The rest of his speech sketched plans to grow the district’s burgeoning technology sector and to fight government corruption, though it presented few details and lacked the shots at Trump that initially fired up the base. If there’s one signature issue that Ossoff has promised to tackle in Congress, it’s bringing his investigative documentary chops to bear on Washington—but the specifics of what muck he’d rake are hazy.

Ultimately, this is probably part of his strategy. Acknowledging the Republican tilt of the district, Ossoff has kept his recent statements just a few inches left of the center and vague. He has appealed to progressive Berniecrats primarily by positioning himself against Trump, but without pushing their core platform positions like single-payer healthcare, free tuition, or steep taxes on the rich.

Ossoff also has to appeal to the nearly 317,000 minorities in the district, especially in DeKalb County, where many are concentrated. However, the worst early voting turnout has been in the heavily Democratic DeKalb County, though this may partially be due to the fact that it has the worst voting access in the district.

It’s in regard to Ossoff’s fuzzy policies that this race circles back to larger questions about the fight against Trump. Can a classic liberal, whose positions seem more in line with the pre-Trump-era Democratic party establishment, spark millennials to vote in significant numbers? If Ossoff ducks leading youthful progressives, is anti-Trump fervor and the implicit promise of shared life-experience going to be enough for them to identity with him?

It’s a question the party is wrestling with on a national scale. Many liberals are angered that the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee didn’t invest in the race for the seat vacated when Trump picked Mike Pompeo to become Director of the CIA, believing they didn’t have a shot to win in the deeply red Wichita, Kansas, district—only to find that the Republican candidate barely triumphed. Ossoff’s surprise front-runner status is a testament to the power of the anti-Trump movement, but the flaws in his coalition also speak to fractures in the larger Democratic party alliance that may sabotage his chances of electoral success.

Ossoff’s reticence to deeply engage with policy questions, and his statuesque self-control on the campaign trail, has led some observers to criticize him as stiff and lacking depth, including a recent New York magazine profiler. When I asked Ossoff for his response to the article, he said: “I’m trying to win a congressional race, not give spellbinding magazine interviews.”

But many of his millennial fans interpret his self-possession differently: as the result of growing up in an era when every stray bit of speech can end up broadcast across the world. “He knows that he’s being recorded every second,” Alexandra Brosovich, 24, whom I met at a rally, later told me on the phone. “Someone who grew up in the 1960s before cellphone videos and social media just doesn’t understand how careful you’ve got to be when everything’s recorded. He made an instant connection with me and my friends.”

Political reporters often want to call the same back-slapping, Big Mac-chomping extroversion authenticity. But maybe at heart Ossoff is simply an even-tempered, conscientious, and deliberate man. He’s the kind of guy who used the word “duplicative” in casual conversation, and at rallies tried to substitute ten-dollar words for ones like “folks.” According to his childhood friend Chambers, Ossoff even studied Barack Obama as a public persona to emulate. Ossoff summed up his own character to me by saying, “I think, for me, it’s important never to get too high and never to get too low. I just try to remain in a grounded, balanced place.”

One day, we visited a baseball field just a few minutes walk from the redbrick house where Ossoff grew up (which still had a fallen Clinton-Kaine yard sign lying by its driveway).

As Ossoff and I slung a grass-stained baseball back and forth, even after he shucked his suit jacket, his speech remained precise. When I asked about his strongest memory of that field, he answered: “Just playing catch with my dad, man, in the crisp autumn air, just as the leaves are starting to turn, when you can taste the first bite of winter, coming down here for that last time before it gets too dark, before it gets too cold.”

Those close to Ossoff acknowledge he is meticulous, but also point out that his exactingness is subordinate to his adventurousness—whether running for Congress or producing documentaries about a female battalion in Iraq. Ossoff has had a pilot license since he was a teenager. Today, in rare interludes of free time, he will gather a small group of friends before dawn, rent a Cessna, and then fly them to remote airstrips in the Appalachian Mountains, where they will hike all day before returning to Atlanta by dusk. “I love the challenge of mountains,” he told me, “the accomplishment of the summit, the vantage point, and the solitude.”

Photo by Doug Bock Clark

Despite Ossoff’s discipline, spend enough time with him and you’ll find his intensity palpable. The unspooling way he pitched the baseball at me looked effortless—he didn’t even break a sweat despite his button-up and tie—but as he pounded my palm with pinpoint accuracy, my hand numbed. Walking off the field, I asked, “What’s the event that made you who you are today?”

He looked around at the backstop and the basketball courts of the nearby elementary school. Twenty-four seconds slid by. He was new enough to this that he didn’t have an answer immediately at hand.

Then he said, with a bit of a snarl curling his voice for the first time, “I remember kids getting bullied on the playground. It really pissed me off. And right now, there are a lot of people being bullied in this country.”

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Jon Ossoff’s Race Is the First Real Battle Between Millennials and Trump

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How a Private Prison Company Used Detained Immigrants for Free Labor

Mother Jones

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When Carlos Eliezer Ortiz Muñoz arrived at the Denver Contract Detention Facility in Aurora, Colorado, in 2014, he was given a clothing package and assigned to a housing unit, where he’d have to stay for months. Like tens of thousands of other immigrants across the country who are kept in Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detention each night, Ortiz and his fellow detainees were waiting to see if they’d win their immigration cases or face deportation.

Before long, the private prison company that ran the detention center put Ortiz to work. Each day in his housing unit, guards assigned a crew of six detainees to clean the private and common living areas; scrub down toilets, showers, and eating tables; and sweep and mop floors. “None of us got paid anything,” Ortiz said in a court statement. But he couldn’t protest—he knew he could be sent to solitary confinement if he refused to do the cleaning. “Some of the guards would threaten us by saying, ‘¿Quieres ir al hoyo?‘” Ortiz said. “‘You want to go to the hole?'”

The GEO Group, the private prison company that operates Aurora, allegedly forced more than 50,000 immigrants like Ortiz to work without pay or for $1 a day since 2004, according to a lawsuit that nine detainees brought against the company in 2014. On February 27, a federal judge ruled that their case could proceed as a class action, breathing new life into a suit that exposes the extent to which the for-profit company relied on cheap or unpaid detainee labor to minimize costs at the Aurora facility.

“If we’re right, and these practices are illegal, it has tremendous implications on the ability of the government to use detention in the immigration enforcement architecture,” says Andrew Free, an immigration attorney on the detainees’ legal team. “It would prompt a serious rethinking of whom to detain, and how much it’s going to cost.”

GEO incarcerates more immigrants (and receives more public money to do so) than any other detention center operator, according to an analysis by the anti-detention group CIVIC. And its business detaining immigrants for ICE is only expected to grow “with this increased and expanded approach to border security,” CEO George Zoley said in a February earnings call.

According to the lawsuit, there were two ways GEO cashed in on cheap labor from detainees. There was the facility’s sanitation policy, under which detainees like Ortiz were required to work as janitors without pay. If they didn’t, they risked being punished with solitary confinement, according to GEO’s local detainee handbook. Detainees could also apply for a job in Aurora’s voluntary work program, which paid them exactly $1 a day to keep the facility running.

In a statement, GEO spokesman Pablo Paez wrote that GEO’s volunteer work program policies follow federal standards. “We have consistently, strongly refuted the allegations made in this lawsuit, and we intend to continue to vigorously defend our company against these claims,” he said. “The volunteer work program at all immigration facilities as well as the minimum wage rates and standards associated with the program are set by the Federal government under mandated performance-based national detention standards.”

ICE’s standards for immigration detention centers say that voluntary work programs are intended to give detainees “opportunities to work and earn money while confined.” Yet David Fathi, director of the ACLU’s National Prison Project, says it’s questionable whether such programs are truly voluntary for people “held in captivity, against their will.” While working may be a positive outlet for incarcerated people, Fathi says, “the problem isn’t the existence of the work program. The problem is this inherently coercive relationship that makes the workers uniquely vulnerable to exploitation and abuse.”

Some people in Aurora’s program stripped and waxed floors, while others did laundry, prepared food, cut hair, or worked in the library. Shifts lasted between three and eight hours, according to a copy of Aurora’s detainee work program policy, and detainees were paid the same $1 no matter how long they were assigned to work.

Lourdes Argueta volunteered. She was given a job as a janitor in the medical unit, where she and other detainees “clean toilets, sweep and mop floors, pull carpets and clean floors, clean windows, remove trash, clean patients’ rooms (including cleaning up blood, feces and urine), and perform other cleaning tasks,” she said in a statement to the court. She also worked in GEO’s booking area, creating new detainee files and putting together packages of clothing for new detainees.

During a deposition, GEO’s assistant business manager at Aurora testified that if there were no “voluntary workers” like Argueta, the company would need to bring in additional officers, paid at hourly wages set by rules in GEO’s contract, to get the same work done. So how much would the company have to shell out if it didn’t rely on cheap detainee labor? Under GEO’s contract with ICE, which incorporated federal wage regulations, the lowest allowable employee wage at the Aurora facility was $10.90 an hour for food service workers. A typical shift in the voluntary work program lasted approximately seven hours, according to the detainee work program policy—so if GEO had hired additional employees to do the work, it would have cost the company nearly $76.30 per shift. (That’s a lowball estimate, given that some detainees worked jobs that would have paid significantly more.) Instead, they spent $1.

That translates to huge cost savings. Take, for example, November 2012, when detainees took hundreds of voluntary work program shifts. If GEO had hired employees to do those jobs instead, the company would have spent more than $125,000 in wages and benefits that month. GEO’s actual payments: $1,680.

That number only increases if you account for Aurora’s sanitation policy, under which all detainees in the facility did janitorial work in the housing units for no pay, the lawsuit alleges. GEO employees doing the same work would have been eligible for $12.01 per hour in wages, under the company’s contract with ICE.

“If GEO was absorbing all of the labor costs, its profit would be less,” explains Nina DiSalvo, executive director of Towards Justice, one of the firms representing the detainees. Andrew Free, the attorney, goes further: “It turns their profits upside down,” he claims. “It would be a money-losing enterprise if they had to pay the people to operate this facility under the current contract.” (Given that the Department of Homeland Security pays an average of $126.46 per day to detain one immigrant, that may not be a stretch.)

So how does the company get away with it? The “dollar a day” policy dates back to 1978, when Congress passed an appropriations bill funding voluntary detainee work programs, says Jacqueline Stevens, the head of Northwestern University’s Deportation Research Clinic, whose research on detainee labor informed the 2014 suit. But that was before the rise of private prison companies, she adds—and it was initially implemented in government-run facilities, not those run by for-profit companies beholden to shareholders. “GEO’s privately held, so there’s an extra concern that they may be exploiting people in a way an institution run by federal government would not be,” Stevens explains.

When immigrants inside Aurora filed grievances asking why they weren’t paid more, GEO’s assistant business manager replied by saying that ICE, not the company, set the daily rate. But in February’s order, Colorado District Court Judge John Kane ruled that while ICE only reimburses GEO for $1 per detainee shift, the company could pay more if it wanted. (And in fact, in at least one other location, it appears to have paid detainees more than the $1 ICE reimbursed it for, Stevens says.) While the detainees aren’t eligible for employment under GEO’s contract, their lawsuit argues that GEO “unjustly enriched” itself by misleading them about how much it could pay.

“By far the greatest expense of running any detention facility is labor,” Fathi says. “GEO has got to be worried that if this practice is unlawful at one facility, it’s presumptively unlawful at all facilities.” If they lose, he adds, “they have to be looking at not just what they would have to pay at Aurora.”

The lawsuit also argues that the sanitation policy violated the Trafficking Victims Protection Act, a modern anti-slavery statute. To maintain cleanliness in the housing units, GEO used housekeeping crews like the one Ortiz was assigned to when he arrived at Aurora. According to GEO’s local detainee handbook, refusing to clean was considered a “high moderate”-level offense and was punishable by several possible sanctions, including up to three days of so-called “disciplinary segregation”: solitary confinement. Plaintiff Demetrio Valerga told the court in a statement that he “did the work anyway because it was well known that those who refused to do that work for free were put in ‘the hole.'” With the sanitation policy in place, the company employed just one janitor for the 1,500-bed facility.

ICE’s own standards say detainees can’t be required to work, except for keeping “immediate living areas” neat: making their beds, stacking loose papers, and keeping the floor and furniture uncluttered. Under questioning during a deposition, Aurora’s assistant warden of operations made it clear that GEO considered all parts of the housing unit (bathrooms and day areas, as well as cells) to be fair game. Yet a federal watchdog agency recently found that requiring detained immigrants to clean any common areas used by all detainees was a violation of ICE standards.

“Imagine you see people being yelled at by guards and thrown in solitary all the time,” Free says. “In order to avoid solitary yourself, you have to maintain the sanitary nature of the facility you’re being housed in. And then they say, ‘If you want, we’ll pay you a dollar a day to do something else. If you don’t, you’re still going to work when we tell you to.’ And the company that’s on the other end of this is making millions.”

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How a Private Prison Company Used Detained Immigrants for Free Labor

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8 Ways to Detox Your Home

We are exposed to more synthetic chemicals in our food, air and water, than ever before. While many people avoid chemicals in their food, the sad fact remains that most people arent aware of the nasty toxins they may inadvertently invite into their homes. While there really are countless ways to give your home a detox, here are 8 of the best ways to eliminate excess toxins from your home:

1. Skip the So-called Air Fresheners: Dont be duped by commercials claiming that you may be suffering from “nose blindness,” declaring that you need to spray air fresheners to eliminate odors in your home. Does nose-blindness actually sound right to the advertisers, or anyone for that matter? Whether they come in ozone-depleting aerosol cans, plug-in, candle or spray bottle forms, the vast majority have been found to contain dangerous phthalates. These nasty chemicals are linked to abnormally-developed male genitalia, poor semen quality, low testosterone levels and other reproductive issues. And, if that isnt bad enough, they typically contain lighter fluid, acetone (the same ingredient that makes up nail polish remover), liquefied petroleum gas and a dizzying array of other toxic ingredients that increase the risk of breathing disorders.

2. Reduce the Amount of Plastic You Use: Just because you may have switched to BPA-Free (Bisphenol-A) plastic doesnt mean you are safe from the damage plastics can cause. Many manufacturers removed BPA from their plastics, replacing the toxic ingredient with equally damaging compounds known as EAs, which is short for estrogen activity. These synthetic chemicals pose a threat to human health, and to children in particular, increasing aggression, damaging the immune system, and wreaking havoc on hormones. Switch to stainless steel or glass water bottles, food storage containers, or other household items.

3. Stop Heating Food in Plastic Containers in a Microwave Oven: The heat increases the leaching of the toxic ingredients into the food stored in them. In research published in the journal Environmental Health, both BPA-free plastic and BPA-containing plastic were found to have estrogen activity, which means that they can throw off the delicate hormonal balance when they leech into our food or water.

4. Make the Laundry Switch: Most commercially-available laundry detergents and fabric softeners are loaded with harmful, and even cancer-causing, ingredients. While it may be tempting to assume that the amounts used were approved by the government as safe, the vast majority of ingredients used in laundry products were never tested for safety prior to their being allowed for use in consumer products. Heres a sampling of the chemicals in most laundry products: alpha-terpineol (linked to disorders of the brain and nervous system, loss of muscle control, depression and headaches), Benzyl acetate (linked to pancreatic cancer) and pentane (linked to headaches, nausea, dizziness, fatigue, drowsiness and depression).

Related: How to Make Your Own Fabric Softener and Laundry Soap

5. Stop Cooking with Teflon-coated Cookware: Teflon, also known as perfluorooctanoic acid or PFOA, has been linked to cancer, birth defects and heart disease. DuPont, the makers of this nasty carcinogen, declared in an interview with the Washington Post over a decade ago, that: processes will be developed to ensure that perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) would not be released into the environment from finished products or manufacturing plants. However, more and more research shows that were paying a high price for this non-stick cookwareits showing up in tissue samples from most humans along with the drinking water of over 6.5 million Americans. Some samples ranged between 5 and 175 times the level considered safe by new research. Simply choose Teflon-free cookware options, including many that seem to be much safer non-stick choices.

6. Start Filtering Your Drinking Water: Our tap water now contains a myriad of toxic ingredients, including: lead, chlorine, fluoride and even sometimes prescription medications and hormones. As you learned above, 6.5 million Americans now drink water with Teflon. Choose the best quality water filter you can afford. If thats a simple pitcher model, it is likely better than nothing at all (assuming you choose one that isnt loaded with all sorts of chemical ingredients).

7. Add a Water Filter to Your Showerhead: While youre picking up a water filter, be sure to add one to your shower head. There are many affordable options that simply attach to a standard showerhead. Most of our water now contains chlorine, which we breathe in and absorb through our skin in the shower; however, most showerhead filters remove chlorine.

8. Choose Sustainable and Healthier Flooring Options: Carpets contain a whole host of toxic ingredients including the carcinogen formaldehyde. Vinyl plank flooring and linoleum can off-gas chemicals for years after they are installed. Choose wood, tile, bamboo, cork or another type of healthy flooring option when you are renovating or building your home.

Related:
Dont Believe in Herbal Medicine? 10 Things to Change Your Mind
The 5 Best Herbs to Soothe Your Nerves
Should You Actually Starve a Fever?

Dr. Michelle Schoffro Cook, PhD, DNM is the publisher of the free e-news Worlds Healthiest News, president of PureFood BC, and an international best-selling and 20-time published book author whose works include: Boost Your Brain Power in 60 Seconds: The 4-Week Plan for a Sharper Mind, Better Memory, and Healthier Brain.

Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

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8 Ways to Detox Your Home

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A Recently Bankrupt Coal Company Is Being Honored at Mar-a Lago

Mother Jones

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President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort will host the opening reception Wednesday evening for a conference where a recently bankrupt coal company will be a guest of honor. The annual Distressed Investing Summit will bestow one of its “Restructuring Deal of the Year” awards to Arch Coal for clearing $5 billion in debt after it filed for bankruptcy in 2016.

“They emerged from bankruptcy in 2016 after shedding huge amount of debt, obligations to workers, and environmental cleanup,” Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal director Mary Anne Hitt says. “When a company is in bankruptcy, you don’t have a lot of leverage in there with all the lawyers and stakeholders. To have them feted at Mar-a-Lago as a turnaround is salt in the wound for workers and people representing the public interest.”

The summit, hosted by financial company The M&A Advisor, has held its opening cocktail reception at Mar-a-Lago for the past two years, ever since Trump emerged as a serious contender for president. In its invitation email, M&A Advisor names Arch Coal as one of its winners alongside a number of other firms, including energy companies Alpha Natural Resources, Midstates Petroleum Company, and Venoco, an oil and gas development company.

Here’s how the invitation describes Mar-a-Lago, “the new Winter White House”:

The agenda for roundtables that are held at a nearby hotel reads like a laundry list of Trump’s campaign themes: “Making America Great Again,” “Informing and Silencing The Media,” and the “Art of Dealmaking: Getting Deals Done In The New Economic Order.”

Not everyone agrees that Arch Coal’s 2016 bankruptcy deal warrants celebration. During the bankruptcy proceedings, environmental opposition forced the company to abandon its proposal that taxpayers should foot the entire bill to clean up its abandoned mines. The company also laid off hundreds of its miners that same year.

In the years before bankruptcy, United Mine Workers of America complained that Arch Coal moved 40 percent of its employees’ health care coverage to Patriot Coal, a volatile offshoot company. When Patriot went under, those health benefits were at risk and continue to be because of Arch Coal’s bankruptcy. Patriot and Arch Coal are only two examples of a larger problem. The union shop has been pressing Congress for a long-term solution for 22,000 miners’ benefits in jeopardy because of coal bankruptcies—an issue that won’t go away no matter what happens to federal environmental regulations.

The idea that the coal industry can recover is a cherished narrative for Trump. Earlier this week, at a campaign-style rally in Kentucky, the president claimed that he will “save our coal industry” and put miners back to work with executive orders that are expected any day. Trump likes to blame “terrible job-killing” regulations, but there are other pressures beyond federal regulation driving coal out of business, namely competitive natural gas.

Nonetheless, on Wednesday evening, a coal turnaround will be celebrated. Even though it might only be, as the Sierra Club’s Hitt notes, “one of many of the alternative facts they like to celebrate at Mar-a-Lago.”

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A Recently Bankrupt Coal Company Is Being Honored at Mar-a Lago

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Meet the Latest Trump Aide Who’s Even Worse Than All the Other Trump Aides

Mother Jones

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The White House is like a rotten onion these days: every time we peel back a layer, it smells worse and worse. First we all heard about Steve Bannon, the Breitbart News CEO who plays the Rasputin role in the West Wing, whispering in Donald Trump’s ear about Muslim terrorists and Mexican rapists. Then we all learned about Stephen Miller, the 31-year-old wunderkind who is, if anything, even more glib and hardcore than Bannon. Now we’re all learning about Sebastian Gorka:

For years, Gorka had labored on the fringes of Washington and the far edge of acceptable debate as defined by the city’s Republican and Democratic foreign policy elite. Today, the former national security editor for the conservative Breitbart News outlet occupies a senior job in the White House and his controversial ideas — especially about Islam — drive Trump’s populist approach to counterterrorism and national security.

….For him, the terrorism problem has nothing to do with repression, alienation, torture, tribalism, poverty, or America’s foreign policy blunders and a messy and complex Middle East. “This is the famous approach that says it is all so nuanced and complicated,” Gorka said in an interview. “This is what I completely jettison.”

For him, the terror threat is rooted in Islam and “martial” parts of the Koran that he says predispose some Muslims to acts of terror. “Anybody who downplays the role of religious ideology . . . they are deleting reality to fit their own world,” he said.

Last month, as he celebrated at the inaugural ball…Gorka said he had one last message for America’s troops — “the guys inside the machine” — and its enemies. He turned toward the host, his medal glinting in the TV lights. “The alpha males are back,” he said.

It’s a sewer in there. But here’s the funny thing: Gorka might well be right but for entirely the wrong reasons. Young men who live in a wide swath of the world stretching from North Africa to Central Asia probably are more prone to violence than they are in the developed North. But it has nothing to do with Islam. That’s just the handiest thing to latch onto. It’s all about lead:

The Trumpies got struck down for temporarily banning immigration from a set of seven seemingly arbitrary countries, so instead they should create a rule that temporarily bans immigration from any country that phased out leaded gasoline later than, say, 2001. They might have to fiddle a bit with the numbers, which they have plenty of experience doing, and maybe add some weird second condition in order to get only the countries they want, but with a little creativity they could make it work. And it’s not based on ethnicity, religion, or even nationality. You’re welcome!

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Meet the Latest Trump Aide Who’s Even Worse Than All the Other Trump Aides

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