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Most Ohio conservatives want to pay for renewables and stop propping up coal.

Here’s the idea: Build underwater barriers in front of the glaciers most vulnerable to collapse, keeping warm ocean water from sloshing in to melt them.

Princeton glaciology postdoc Michael Wolovick presented this concept at the American Geophysical Union conference in December, as the Atlantic reports.

The Antarctic glaciers Wolovick studies are subject to disastrous feedback loops: The more they melt, the more they are exposed to melt-inducing seawater. Recent studies have suggested these massive stores of ice could collapse much faster than previously thought, potentially raising sea levels by 5 to 15 feet by the end of the century (that’s seriously bad news for coastal cities).

Wolovick has been researching the feasibility of slowing that collapse with ‘sills’ constructed out of sand and rock along the fronts of these vulnerable glaciers. Unlike a seawall, they would be entirely underwater, but would keep warm ocean water from reaching a glacier’s vulnerable base.

That could stall glacial retreat dramatically, and maybe even reverse it. In Wolovick’s virtual experiments, even the least successful version of the sills slowed a glacier’s collapse by 400 or 500 years.

It’s all still a huge if, Wolovick admits, that requires more research. But if it works, it could buy some crucial time against sea-level rise.

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Most Ohio conservatives want to pay for renewables and stop propping up coal.

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Let’s hold off on praising China’s new carbon-pricing market

This week, China announced it has launched a nationwide carbon-trading market, with the intent of slowing down its growing climate footprint and capping its emissions as soon as possible.

Most news coverage has labeled the move as a major development in the global fight against climate change. Former U.S. Vice President Al Gore, who has devoted his post-political career to fighting warming, hailed the announcement as “a tipping point in the climate crisis.”

However, some close observers in China and elsewhere suggest we pump the brakes on celebrating this week’s news. Several critical details of the Chinese plan are still outstanding, they say. Most importantly: We still don’t know what the “cap” on its cap-and-trade plan will be, how emissions permits will be distributed, or what they will set the target carbon price to.

The Guardian reports that the Chinese government has been toying with the idea of nationwide carbon trading for more than a decade, so the revelation doesn’t come out of nowhere. And as the world’s largest emitter of greenhouse gases, any effort to limit the country’s pollution is hugely important.

But Emil Dimantchev, a climate policy researcher at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, wrote earlier this year that it’s premature to call China’s new policy ambitious without the details of the trading scheme being in place. In a series of tweets this week following the announcement, Dimantchev doubled-down on that assessment.

“The policy is still missing the crucial features that will determine whether it will be a success,” he tweeted.

Separate reporting by Beijing-based carbon-market analyst Stian Reklev revealed that for its first two years the new Chinese system will only involve simulated trades. That, obviously, will have no impact on emissions in China or elsewhere.

“It’s clear the market is nowhere near ready to be launched, and they’re only doing this because [Chinese President] Xi Jinping promised the market would start in 2017,” Reklev tweeted this week.

The World Bank currently tracks 47 carbon-pricing initiatives worldwide that are either already in existence or set to open soon. The only one even remotely the size of China’s proposed market is the European Union’s Emissions Trading Scheme — a hugely complex system with mixed success, which covers about 4 percent of global emissions. Other carbon trading platforms in Washington, California, and in the northeastern U.S. police an additional 1 percent or so of global emissions — but none of them caps pollution across the entire economy of the states involved.

If China’s market eventually covers its whole economy, it would be responsible for about 30 percent of global emissions, more than double all currently existing carbon markets combined. So the higher China sets its carbon price, the more of an impact it will have on emissions elsewhere. A high price on Chinese carbon could motivate other pricing schemes around the world to raise their targets.

The world needs ambitious climate policy from China in order to meet the agreed-upon Paris goals of limiting global warming — especially with the United States’ government in the process of plopping itself on the sidelines.

This step from China is without question in the right direction. But the fact that the scheme is still apparently in the design phase should be a sign that the Asian behemoth may not yet be the planetary savior many are hoping for.

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Let’s hold off on praising China’s new carbon-pricing market

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France Is About to Vote in the Craziest Election the World Has Seen Since, Well, November

Mother Jones

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French voters will go to the polls on Sunday to vote for a new president. The election will have profound reverberations around the world. Will France take a nationalist turn to the right? Will it seek to withdraw from the European Union and restrict immigration? Will a young candidate with a pro-Europe, pro-immigration message convince enough of his voters to actually show up? Will the “French Bernie Sanders” upset the establishment and convince voters that his left-wing populism is the way to go?

Voters will choose between 11 candidates, with four clear front-runners: right-wing nationalist Marine Le Pen, independent centrist Emmanuel Macron, center-right conservative François Fillon, and left-wing populist Jean-Luc Mélenchon. Sunday’s election will narrow the field to the top two vote-getters (unless one candidate earns more than 50 percent of the vote), who will then go head to head in a runoff election on May 7.

According to polling from the Financial Times, Macron leads the pack at 24 percent, just 1 point up on Le Pen. But Mélenchon, who had been hovering just above the 10 percent mark for months, has seen a surge in popularity of late, bringing him into a tie for third place with Fillon at 19 percent. The polling backs up the consensus narrative out of France that Le Pen and Macron will face off in the May 7 election, but Mélenchon’s steep rise over the last month could upset that outcome.

When the news starts to come in from Europe this weekend, here are some key points about each of the leading candidates to keep in mind:

Marine Le Pen: The far-right firebrand has been getting a lot of the attention during the race, and polls show she is likely to get through to the second round. The 48-year-old daughter of Jean-Marie Le Pen, the founder of the far-right National Front party, Le Pen is riding a wave of anti-immigration and anti-globalization policy that could make her France’s next president. She’s doing well with the youths of France, who face high unemployment and, according to Marion Maréchal-Le Pen—Le Pen’s niece, who is a member of the French Parliament—resent immigrants because of the sense of losing their own, French, identity.

While polls showing Le Pen doing well in Sunday’s free-for-all election, she consistently lags behind both Macron and Fillon in polls of runoff scenarios. While the National Front has historically been associated with anti-immigration zealotry, Le Pen has recently stirred controversy for aligning herself with an outsider: Russian President Vladimir Putin. Under Le Pen’s leadership, National Front took out a $30 million loan from a Russian bank. Le Pen told reporters that she had to do so because French, American, and English banks won’t lend her money. She says her stance toward Russia is more about reducing American and European Union control over the world and elevating other nations to be more on equal footing with the United States. She’s also taken several pro-Russian positions, including supporting Russia’s annexation of Crimea, pulling France out of NATO and the European Union, and dropping sanctions against Russian interests.

Emmanuel Macron: A former investment banker, Macron, 39, is the country’s former economy minister. Where Le Pen favors a France-first, populist approach, Macron is pro-European Union and pro-NATO and has supported increasing sanctions against Russia if the country does not follow through on plans to address its actions in the Ukraine. The knock on Macron is that he’s too boring, and his platform is trying to be all things to all people, according to Politico, balancing “the big paradox of French political life. Voters want radical change—but they also want candidates to put forward realistic, bordering on safe, platforms.”

Macron is polling nearly 30 points higher than Le Pen in a two-way race. He’s currently about a point up on Le Pen for Sunday’s race, so it’s likely he’ll make it through to the May 7 final election.

Jean-Luc Mélenchon: The “French Bernie Sanders,” as Mélenchon is often called by the US press, is a comparison that isn’t totally accurate, as pointed out by the Intercept. Mélenchon is running from outside the main political parties, whereas Sanders ran for the Democratic Party nomination in 2016. But that hasn’t seemed to hurt Mélenchon’s chances. The 65-year-old supporter of Hugo Chavez and the Castros in Cuba seems to be riding a growing wave of popularity among “disgruntled, blue collar voters” who, despite their troubles with the status quo in France, “do not want to vote for Le Pen,” according to Foreign Policy.

If he were to edge ahead of Macron, French voters would likely be left to choose between a far-right and a far-left candidate, a prospect that the Wall Street Journal called “a nightmare scenario for investors.” The theory underpinning the investor-worry is that both candidates in that scenario would advocate policies that would scare investors from servicing France’s debt, lower the value of its currency, and stunt economic growth. According to the Financial Times polling data, Mélenchon is polling 18 points ahead of Le Pen if the two were to compete in May.

Still, there are many in France who agree with his message—similar to Sanders’ during the 2016 US presidential election—that wealth in France is concentrated in too few hands at the top of the food chain. Mélenchon has proposed a 32-hour work week, cutting the retirement age from 62 to 60, and a 100 billion euro ($107 billion) stimulus plan. But he also proposes pulling France from NATO, a move that would remove one of the alliance’s strongest members. Mélenchon isn’t as anti-European Union as Le Pen, but he says he wants to reform the European Central Bank to respond more to political interests than economic interests.

François Fillon: As a former prime minister, the conservative 63-year-old was an early favorite to win the race. But his support plummeted after it came to light that he’d gotten his wife and two of his adult children more than $1 million in parliamentary payments for jobs they didn’t really do. Fillon insists he did nothing wrong, but some have called on him to bow out of the race. The New York Times reported in early March that “hundreds of Mr. Fillon’s former backers have distanced themselves from him,” and recent polling has put him at either third or fourth place behind Le Pen, Macron, and, at times, Mélenchon.

As far as policy positions, Fillon has strong support from Catholics and other social conservatives for opposing same-sex marriage. He’s proposed increasing the retirement age, slashing public benefits, getting rid of the 35-hour work week, and cutting 600,000 public-sector jobs. He has also said he’s ready to battle the country’s strong unions. He’s pro-European Union but has advocated better relations with Russia in order to defeat ISIS.

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France Is About to Vote in the Craziest Election the World Has Seen Since, Well, November

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Inside the Underground Anti-Racist Movement That Brings the Fight to White Supremacists

Mother Jones

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At lunchtime on May 19, 2012, 18 masked men and women shouldered through the front door of the Ashford House restaurant in Tinley Park, Illinois, a working-class suburb of Chicago. Some diners mistook the mob for armed robbers. Others thought they might be playing a practical joke. But Steven Speers, a stalactite-bearded 33-year-old who had just sat down for appetizers at a white nationalist meet and greet, had a hunch who they were. The gang filing in with baseball bats, police batons, hammers, and nunchucks were members of Anti-Racist Action (ARA) and the Hoosier Anti-Racist Movement (HARM), two groups dedicated to violently confronting white supremacists.

“Hey, bitches!” one of the anti-racists shouted before charging Speers’ table. “ARA is going to fuck this place up!”

Speers stood up and warned his seven companions to prepare to fight. His girlfriend, Beckie Williams, who had organized the lunchtime gathering on the white supremacist website Stormfront, grabbed a butter knife. Francis Gilroy, a homeless man who had driven up from Florida to find “work for whites,” as an online ad for the meeting promised, tried to pull the attackers off his companions. Williams was clubbed on the arm. Speers was hit on the head so hard he vomited.

An 80-year-old woman celebrating her granddaughter’s high school graduation at a nearby table was also pushed to the floor. A retired cop who believed he was witnessing a terrorist attack used a chair to knock out one of the masked intruders. That’s when they ran off, dragging their dazed companion.

In less than two minutes, the anti-racists had unleashed a flurry of destruction. A mosaic of smashed glass covered the floor. Blood polka-dotted the ceiling. Three people required medical care.

One group of attackers raced away in a cherry red Dodge Neon. Jason Sutherlin, a 33-year-old with the words “TIME BOMB” tattooed across his knuckles, rode shotgun. His half-brother Dylan drove, and his half-brother Cody, along with their cousin John Tucker, squeezed into the backseat with 22-year-old Alex Stuck, who’d been decked in the restaurant. They sped toward Interstate 80, which would take them home to central Indiana.

An off-duty police sergeant who’d heard a radio call about the attack spotted the Neon and turned on her siren. When she looked inside the parked car, amid the sweaty men she saw a baton, a baseball cap that said “Anti-Racist,” and a black and red scarf spelling out “HARM.” The men were arrested and charged with felony mob action and aggravated battery, which together carried up to seven years behind bars. (Speers and Gilroy were also arrested—Speers for a charge of possessing child pornography.)

Jason Sutherlin Andrew Spear

Sutherlin and his four compatriots would soon come to be known as the Tinley Park Five. Though they had launched the Hoosier Anti-Racist Movement just six months earlier, the attack would make them the public faces of a small yet militant movement that had been waging war on right-wing extremists for decades. HARM was part of Anti-Racist Action, a national group that had spent more than 20 years trying to expose and combat radical right-wing activity with tactics that ranged from counseling kids in neo-Nazi gangs to harassment and physical violence. Most of their actions received little attention, though they occasionally made headlines, like after the 2002 Battle of York, where ARA members attacked a white supremacist march in a Pennsylvania town, or the time in 2009 when pepper-spray-wielding ARA members broke up a New York City speech by the British Holocaust denier David Irving. But mostly, this war was invisible beyond the predominantly white working-class youths caught up in it.

As the election of Donald Trump has ushered white supremacists and their ideas from the fringes to the mainstream, their most militant foes have also come out of the shadows. On Inauguration Day, Richard Spencer, the white nationalist who coined the term “alt-right,” was punched in the face on a Washington, DC, street corner. The blow was caught on video, spawning countless remixes and a debate over the ethics and efficacy of “Nazi punching.” That same night, a Trump supporter shot and wounded an anti-fascist, or “antifa,” who was protesting a speech by Breitbart provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos at the University of Washington in Seattle. Less than two weeks later, “black bloc” protesters in Berkeley, California, helped force the cancellation of another Yiannopoulos speech, setting fires, smashing windows, and punching a Milo fan. Nationwide, new militant groups like Redneck Revolt are recruiting the next generation of activists who believe that white liberals are not up to the challenge of beating back right-wing extremists. The story of HARM’s rise and fall is a prequel to this moment, and a revealing tale about an underground war that’s been simmering for years and may now be poised to explode.

The seed for HARM was planted in People’s Park, a tangle of trees and footpaths in downtown Bloomington, Indiana, where in 1968 an African American graduate student named Clarence Turner opened a small store called the Black Market. In a state with a long history of white supremacism (in 1925, nearly one-third of all adult white males there belonged to the Ku Klux Klan, and the governor was a sympathizer), the shop celebrated African and African American culture by selling dashikis and Malcolm X speeches. A few months after it opened, two Klan members firebombed it on Christmas. “This will not be an open season on niggers,” Turner shouted during a rally in front of the ashen skeleton of his shop.

Left Hook: A Brief History of Nazi Punching in America

By the 1990s, People’s Park had become a hangout spot for punks, ravers, hippies, petty drug dealers, and college kids looking to score. It was there around 1996 that Jason Sutherlin met Telly, another teen from a nearby town. Telly introduced Sutherlin to Nomad, a hulking, half-Puerto Rican tattoo artist. (These names are aliases that they asked me to use to avoid being targeted by white supremacists; the investigation into the Tinley Park assaults is ongoing.) Long before they would become leaders of the local anti-racist movement, the three teens “chased the same cute punk girls,” Sutherlin recalls. “At first, they were my competition, but then we became pals.”

The trio shared a love of hip-hop and punk and a hatred for bullies. It was at house parties and concerts that they got their first introduction to Indiana’s numerous white supremacist gangs—specifically, the Hammerskins and the Vinlanders Social Club. Sutherlin recalls attending a show where a Hammerskin stabbed a Latino kid. At another show, concertgoers tried to kick out a group of neo-Nazis, one of whom fired a gun into the air. (More recently, three Vinlanders nearly beat a homeless black man to death in Indianapolis in 2007.) Sutherlin was shocked by the neo-Nazis’ boldness, but he was just as impressed by how the older punks stood up to them. “That culture of not taking any shit seeped into my consciousness.”

A rampaging neo-Nazi shot Won Joon Yoon outside the Korean United Methodist Church in Bloomington, Indiana, in 1999. Andrew Spear

Sutherlin had grown up in a diverse, working-class family that moved frequently between Indiana, Texas, and Florida. “We were crazy white trash, but my mom ran a very multicultural household,” he said. He had a gay Latino babysitter and his younger sister’s dad is black. Sutherlin recalled walking down the street with her near their home outside Bloomington when she was four. “Look,” a man shouted from the window of his pickup. “He’s got his own little nigger!” When the 14-year-old Sutherlin launched a bottle of Snapple at the truck, the man jumped out and beat him up. “In that moment, I realized that if there’s anything in life worth throwing down over,” he said, “that was it.”

In July 1999, a 21-year-old Indiana University student who had fallen under the sway of a neo-Nazi cult called the World Church of the Creator went on a two-state, three-day shooting spree, wounding nine people and killing two, including a Korean graduate student in Bloomington. Still, Sutherlin and his friends weren’t overtly interested in politics yet—they just liked hanging out in the park, going to shows, drinking, and getting into fights. Sutherlin describes himself during his teens and early 20s as a “hoodrat.” One night in 1999, after he’d dropped out of school, he burglarized a house, stealing several computers to get money to buy cocaine. He was sentenced to two years. An acquaintance who was also an inmate at the same facility later joined the prison branch of the Vinlanders Social Club. “He wasn’t even racist,” Sutherlin said, “but I think the power of the group appealed to him. If you’re a disaffected young man, any strong masculine identity will hold sway over you.”

Sutherlin became active in politics after getting out of prison and having a child. “Bringing a son into this world made me feel like I had to make things better for him,” he said. Punk, rap lyrics, and his family’s diversity had fostered his interest in left-wing ideas, but now he read voraciously about slavery, capitalism, and sexism. Michelle Alexander’s book The New Jim Crow, which documents the link between race and mass incarceration, “blew my mind.” He became fascinated by the militant 19th-century abolitionist John Brown. He went on a diet and lost nearly 150 pounds.

When Barack Obama was elected president in 2008, Sutherlin took it as a sign that America might finally be reckoning with its racist past. “He was the first president I ever believed in,” he says. “Like, I was telling my family to vote for him.” But after Obama’s election, the political climate seemed to sour and the racial progress Sutherlin had hoped for never materialized. “America just would not accept a black man as its leader. It enraged me to fully realize that.”

Fanning the flames of Sutherlin’s anger was the emergence of the tea party and birtherism, and the “failure of mainstream Democratic or Republican politicians to aggressively challenge” these movements’ racist and nativist messages. This frustration led him to People’s Park, where a small crowd gathered at the former site of the Black Market one night in October 2011. Just three weeks after Occupy Wall Street took over New York’s Zuccotti Park, Occupy Bloomington was born. Sutherlin helped build a kitchen and cook communal meals, and he didn’t sleep for two days. He was thrilled to be involved in activism of some kind, even if it wasn’t directly addressing racism.

Toward the end of the year, Thomas Buhls, a former Marine and organizer for the Knights, the public wing of the Ku Klux Klan, showed up around People’s Park handing out recruitment pamphlets and talking about “white genocide.” Buhls was part of a new wave of young white supremacists who pioneered the recruitment approach since adopted by the so-called alt-right: rebranding white nationalism not as a philosophy of racial superiority, but as a common-sense extension of identity politics in which the white working class is portrayed as victims of immigration, affirmative action, and multiculturalism. In this world-view, white anti-racists were an especially loathsome threat to racial solidarity. “If I tell the obvious truth about the ongoing program of genocide against my race, the white race, Liberals and respectable conservatives agree that I am a naziwhowantstokillsixmillionjews,” wrote Robert Whitaker, a former Reagan administration aide, in his “Mantra,” a mini-manifesto that appeared online in 2006 and has served as a touchstone for white nationalists. “They say they are anti-racist. What they are is anti-white. ‘Anti-racist’ is a code word for anti-white.”

“Buhls was telling people the recession happened because of the Jew bankers, because the Latinos were stealing jobs,” Sutherlin remembers. He and Telly would confront Buhls when they got the chance, and Sutherlin told him not to bother people in the park. “His audacity, man, of showing up at the spot where the Black Market had been firebombed.”

“I wasn’t sure if I was racist or anti-racist,” recalls Alex Stuck. “I just knew I was pissed off.” A high school dropout from Terre Haute, Indiana, who also participated in Occupy Bloomington, Stuck worked at a pizza shop beneath the pub where Sutherlin was a bartender and bouncer. Stuck had a cockatiel Mohawk, a teardrop inked beneath his right eye, and an underbite reminiscent of a French bulldog. “I was your average dumb kid,” he says. “I’d tell a racist joke or use a racist slur.” But Sutherlin began to school him about white privilege, sexism, and structural racism. “Before that, I was a muggle,” Stuck says, referring to the term for Harry Potter characters without magical powers.

The magic Sutherlin introduced him to was the history of the secret war between anti-racists and white supremacists. Like most wars, this one had its own martyrs and heroes. There was the tragedy of Greensboro, North Carolina, where in 1979 Klansmen and neo-Nazis opened fire on a “Death to the Klan” rally, killing five participants. There were the Baldies, a 1980s Minneapolis street crew, whose shaved heads, bomber jackets, boots, and braces mirrored the attire of the racist skinheads they booted out of town. And then there was Anti-Racist Action, which merged the moralism of America’s abolitionist tradition with the nihilism of punk rock and viewed the culture war as a literal war on racists, sexists, and homophobes, whom they denounced as fascists. “Racism is an idea,” an anonymous ARA member said in the 2000 documentary Invisible Revolution, but “fascism is an idea mixed with action. It took fascism to establish Jim Crow and before that, slavery…Anti-Semitism has been around a long time, but it took fascism to make the Holocaust…When you cross that threshold, you negate your rights to a calm, collective conversation.”

If ARA was the brawn of the anti-racist movement, its most prominent brain was Noel Ignatiev, a Marxist, an ex-steelworker, and a former lecturer for Harvard University’s African American studies department. He founded a journal, Race Traitor, as a vehicle for his theories about how to attack and erode white privilege. Anti-racist whites must commit “treason to whiteness” by rejecting the benefits skin color confers upon them, Ignatiev argued. “Be reverse Oreos,” he told the New York Times in 1997. “Defy the rules of whiteness—flagrantly, publicly. When someone makes a racial slur in your presence, say, ‘You probably think I’m white because I look white.'” He added that “challenging people on their whiteness can lead to harsh confrontations, even blows.” Breitbart described him as the “Harvard professor who calls for the ‘destruction’ of the ‘white race.'”

White Nationalists See Trump as Their Troll in Chief. Is He With Them?

Sutherlin, Telly, and Nomad cited this legacy as inspiration for the group they formed in the winter of 2011, just before Occupy Bloomington was evicted from People’s Park. “The feeling was that Occupy had been too moderate and unfocused,” says Sutherlin’s cousin John Tucker, who worked with Sutherlin as a bouncer. He credits his interest in HARM to teenage run-ins with neo-Nazis and to the times he heard his mother, who has a dark complexion, being called “wetback” and “squaw” by strangers in Bloomington. “This was going to be something more effective,” Tucker said. “Protesting and camping is nice, but this was going to have results.”

At HARM’s first official meeting, a few dozen people showed up at Sutherlin’s apartment with potluck dishes and beer. Telly stood before the crowd and announced the new group’s name and mission. Adopting Anti-Racist Action’s four-point platform, HARM promised to fight racists with direct action, eschewing protests or legislative efforts in favor of, say, hacking neo-Nazis’ email accounts, providing security at gay pride parades, and exposing the shady pasts of bigoted candidates. “This is a war,” Telly said, “and we intend to win.”

That’s when all but about 10 people left. “Some of them were hipster liberals,” said Stuck. “Once it came down to the nitty-gritty and we started discussing tactics, they were like, ‘We don’t wanna be a part of this.'”

Those who stayed included Tucker, who’d never been involved in politics before, and Sutherlin’s affable 23-year-old half-brother, Cody. Nomad arrived later that night. Stuck recalls seeing him—muscular as a middleweight, his head Bic-razored, his throat adorned with a tattoo of a switchblade—and thinking, “That’s who I want to be.” “I was a disenfranchised white youth,” Stuck says, “and thank God that HARM got to me first. I could have easily went the opposite direction.”

Nomad had that exact fear about his 14-year-old son, who had recently come home with a neo-Nazi recruitment flyer. White supremacists had even shown up at the tattoo parlor where Nomad worked and tried to recruit him, not realizing he was a militant anti-racist—and half Puerto Rican. “They are poisoning these kids,” Nomad said.

Telly was particularly alarmed by the growing acceptance of extreme right-wing ideas and figures. “It was terrifying,” he said. The birther movement and Arizona’s 2010 anti-immigrant law were “barely veiled racist sentiments that sounded like stuff white supremacists would advocate, not what members of the Republican Party would typically find acceptable.” Telly recalled J.T. Ready, an Arizona Republican committeeman and a former member of the National Socialist Movement who killed his family and himself after the FBI began investigating his border militia group for the murder of undocumented immigrants. There was also Jack Hunter, who had worked as an aide to Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) until it came out that he’d made pro-Confederate statements and written that “John Wilkes Booth’s heart was in the right place.” These people didn’t have much influence, Telly acknowledged, but “it was fucking insane that they had any influence whatsoever. Things had gone so far to the right, and we wanted to pull them back to the left.”

With its core members assembled, HARM planned an action: It would confront Buhls, who was holding a “European Heritage” rally in downtown Bloomington. In preparation, the activists lifted weights in Sutherlin’s garage “to beef up so we could break bones better,” says Stuck, half-seriously. On the day of the rally, in April 2012, more than 100 people came out to protest Buhls, who showed up with just one friend. The HARM members didn’t have a concrete plan to challenge Buhls, and before they could do anything two protesters ran up and punched him. His “Celebrate White Heritage” sign capsized into a sea of counterprotesters. Police whisked him away in a patrol car for his own safety.

A few weeks later, HARM stormed the restaurant in Illinois. While Sutherlin and the rest of the Tinley Park Five sat in jail, their comrades found their next target: the newly formed White Student Union at Indiana University. Matthew Heimbach, a white nationalist leader from Maryland, had pioneered the first White Student Union at Towson University outside Baltimore before helping spread the concept to other schools. Bloomington’s White Student Union announced its presence on campus by planning an “American White History Month.”

But less than a week after the White Student Union made its debut, a disturbing notice was posted on the group’s Facebook page by its founder, an IU undergrad:

I just spent all night in the hospital.

While walking down 10th…a blue van pulled up and four figures poured out of the vehicle…All of them wore all black clothing and had either ski masks or bandanas covering their faces…

What’s up…? That’s the only thing they said. I got hit in the head with something from behind. I fell down and told them that was enough. At this point all…of them proceeded to kick me for what felt like hours. At some point I passed out. I didn’t think I would ever wake up again.

None of it was true—it was an elaborate psyops scheme. HARM had plastered flyers all over Bloomington denouncing the White Student Union’s founder as a racist and then promised to stop only if he handed over access to the group’s Facebook page. Amazingly, he did. Then HARM invented the story of the beating to elicit notes of sympathy from other white supremacists. Once the post was up, they “doxed” those who replied, posting their real names and email addresses online.

“Though we support direct action against white supremacy,” an anonymous HARM member gloated on the group’s website after revealing the hoax, “we also believe in proportional responses and it is our belief that this fictitious action would have been overkill.” In other words, actually beating up the college kid who started the White Student Union would have been a step too far, but harassing him and outing his sympathizers was not. Heimbach “found a young naive conservative kid and turned him into the next battle in the war against racial supremacy,” the HARM member wrote, adding that the student had agreed to disband the White Student Union as a result of the hacking. “White supremacists are like rabid dogs…Just like rabid dogs, putting them down is always the most humane approach.”

I met Telly and Nomad in Columbus, Ohio, several months after the Tinley Park attack. Sutherlin and his brothers, his cousin, and Stuck were in Chicago awaiting trial, and Telly and Nomad were participating in a fundraiser to pay bail. They led me to a carriage house behind a “big-ass, beautiful mansion,” as Nomad described it, where a crowd of about 50 people greeted us. Many were HARM and ARA members, and I wondered if any of the remaining 13 fugitives were among them. (I never found out.) They were dressed in Mad Max-style punk garb—black jeans, black hoodies, bomber jackets, and combat boots, with neck and face tattoos, septum piercings, and rainbow-colored bandannas. They included a few African Americans and a dozen women. As Bob Fitrakis, a political-science professor and voting rights activist who hosted the event, wrote, they “exuded an aura that made the Weathermen look like the Brady Bunch.”

We Talked to Experts About What Terms to Use for Which Group of Racists

Fitrakis, a paunchy man with a ducktail mullet, was running for Congress as the candidate of the Green Party, which had co-sponsored the evening with ARA. His supporters, who had paid $25 to attend, mingled awkwardly with the radicals. Circulating among them was the Green Party’s then-vice presidential candidate, an anti-poverty activist named Cheri Honkala. “Dude,” Nomad said to me after a woman wearing a pearl brooch offered him a glass of zinfandel on a silver tray. The switchblade tattooed across his throat wiggled as he spoke. “This is a little out of my league.”

“These kids are the future,” said a sweaty, elderly man who asked that I not use his name because he was a “prominent professor.” He wore a black blazer over a T-shirt with a peace sign. “This is what the left needs—working-class, radical youth who aren’t afraid to get their hands dirty and scare the bejesus out of the teabaggers!”

“I guess there’s a time and a place for everything, even electoral politics,” Nomad said as he handed me a PBR, glaring at the clean-cut and middle-aged partygoers around us. He took a swig from a bottle of Southern Comfort he’d stashed in his back pocket. “But—and I hate to use gendered language like this—liberals are fucking pussies, man. Sometimes you’ve got to put on the big-boy boots and stomp through some mud.”

After Honkala made a speech about her work as a housing activist in Philadelphia, Telly and two other ARA members sat at the front of the room and described what had happened at the Ashford House. Nomad, standing beside me, snorted tearfully into a red handkerchief when Telly read a letter Jason Sutherlin had sent from jail. “People might think our actions are extreme,” Telly told the crowd, “but these guys”—neo-Nazis—”are often so far beyond the law that they don’t respond to legal appeals. They don’t care if hate crime legislation is enacted; it makes no difference to them. The situation in America has reached a critical tipping point, and we need to fight back with whatever tactics are effective at sending these guys back into the caves they crawled out of.”

“Right on, brother,” a snowy-haired man said.

Other Green Party members golf-clapped. The professor in the black blazer raised his champagne glass.

A hand suddenly shot up in the crowd. “Am I hearing you right?” asked an elegant African American woman with a bundle of silver-streaked hair and a “No War in Iraq” button on her straw purse. “You guys advocate violence?” She’d never heard of HARM or ARA and had been attracted by their names, she explained, but weren’t they just as bad as the people they were fighting? “Doesn’t your approach make you just like the Nazis?”

“Bullshit,” an ARA activist fake-sneezed, flashing a shit-eating smile. The questioner stormed out of the room. Telly ran a hand over his shaved head and sighed. “We’re not remotely the same,” he told the remaining crowd. “We support a diversity of tactics.” He reminded listeners that most of ARA’s actions were nonviolent—removing swastika tattoos from ex-convicts, counseling juvenile offenders, providing security at protests. “Violence is never our default response, and it’s a tiny fraction of what we do,” he said. “But it is one weapon in our tool kit. We’re not afraid to acknowledge when nonviolence is obviously not working. What you’re doing, what the liberal left is doing, frankly isn’t working.”

Five months later, I met Jason Sutherlin at East Moline Correctional Center, a turreted fortress circled by razor wire rising out of the cornfields of western Illinois, where he’d been sentenced to six years following a plea deal. His brothers, his cousin, and Stuck were sent elsewhere in the state to serve terms ranging from three and a half to six years. (A sixth Ashford House attacker, 28-year-old Jason Hammond, was later arrested and sentenced to three and a half years. His twin brother, Jeremy, is serving a 10-year sentence for hacking the security company Stratfor.) The rest of the Tinley Park attackers remain at large and are unknown.

Sutherlin shook my hand, the T-I-M-E on his knuckles interlacing through mine, as he sheepishly slipped the B-O-M-B hand into the pocket of his prison denims. “That guy acts tougher than he is,” he said, nodding toward a beefy prisoner sitting near us in the visitation room, bouncing his son on a leg adorned with a large swastika tattoo. Sutherlin’s eyes are cottonseed blue and heavily lidded, and his slightly upturned nose gives him a wary, porcine appearance. On his bicep is a tattoo that says “Fools Rush In,” and he has the physique of a dead lifter, a huge torso held up by a pair of tiny sawhorse legs. “My best friend in here is a queer black dude,” he told me, grinning. “But the Nazis don’t mess with us.”

How Trump Took Hate Groups Mainstream

White supremacist gangs have an active presence in some Illinois prisons, and Sutherlin told me a story about a white guard who had approached him one day and said, menacingly, “I know why you’re in here.” Later, Sutherlin found himself alone with the same guard. The guard walked up to Sutherlin and flashed a photo of his wife, who is African American. “I think you’ll be all right in this prison,” the guard said. “I totally misread the dude,” Sutherlin told me. “He was congratulating me.”

Why risk so much to fight racism? I asked. Is this even his fight?

“My sister is black,” he said, “and that gave me a different experience of growing up in Indiana. Today, racism has reached a whole other level. It literally makes me sick to my stomach.”

“But why is violence necessary?” I pressed him. “You seem awfully preoccupied with morality—isn’t violence wrong?”

“Part of me feels bad for the whole attack,” he said. “Some central part of me thinks that all violence is oppression, and it’s never, ever right to oppress another person for their beliefs, identity, sexuality, or any other reason, no matter how heinous. But another part of me thinks that these guys aren’t worth that consideration—they’re such scumbags. All you can do is stop them from influencing others at this point.”

“Is it a danger to dehumanize them?”

“Yeah, man, it is. I think about that every day. I don’t want to dehumanize anybody.”

I later spoke with Brandon Spiller, whom Sutherlin had hit in the head with a steel baton at Tinley Park. He told me that being attacked had strengthened his conviction that whites are under siege in America. In the months after the assault, he said he’d received dozens of threatening phone calls from ARA members at his home in Wisconsin. “It’s definitely made me more likely to use my gun next time,” he said.

This is one of the paradoxes of militant anti-racist tactics: Attempting to stop hate crimes by policing thought crimes may reinforce the narrative of victimization that radicalizes some extremists in the first place. Research also suggests that violent protest may drive would-be allies toward more reactionary positions. Even Ignatiev, the anti-racist intellectual, doubts the efficacy of attacks like the one at the Ashford House. Activists should focus on dismantling the institutions and social structure that perpetuate racism, he has written. “Race is not the work of racists.”

Heimbach, now the head of the white nationalist Traditionalist Worker Party, told me that groups like ARA help his cause. (Heimbach was filmed shoving a protester at a Trump campaign rally in Louisville, Kentucky, in April 2016.) “They help reinforce our narrative of white victimization and make recruitment easier.”

Beckie Williams, however, wrote two weeks after the attack that the incident had caused her to abandon the white power movement. “Because of the relentless harassment by the ARA TERRORISTS,” she posted on Stormfront, “my already tenuous health is being impacted in a extremely severe way. My only recourse is to step away from activism for the sake of my continued survival.” (The other targets of the Tinley Park attack could not be reached for comment.)

After buying Sutherlin another microwave cheeseburger, I suggested that, while his actions might be appropriate in a society like Nazi Germany, in a democracy like ours, maybe they’re not. But he didn’t buy that; he believes it’s the responsibility of groups like HARM to police the boundary between democracy and fascism, keeping right-wing extremists in check, disorganized and unable to spread their ideas in public or harass people. “We’re not living in a fascist society,” Sutherlin said. “I know that. But it’s happening all around us, in fits and starts.”

As Sutherlin scarfed down a third vending-machine cheeseburger, I asked him about Tony Horwitz’s book Midnight Rising: John Brown and the Raid That Sparked the Civil War, which I’d mailed him. “I feel like that book found me at just the right moment,” he said, a bead of grease dribbling down his chin. We’d been discussing the lesser-known details of Brown’s life, like his murder of slavery advocates at Pottawatomie Creek in Kansas in 1856, and the fact that his raid on Harpers Ferry was widely denounced as fanatical violence, even by President Abraham Lincoln. “I don’t know if we’re headed for a similar moment in American politics,” Sutherlin continued. “But if we are, I want to be someone who did something to stop it, not someone who played it safe and stood by.”

Ten feet away, the guy with the swastika tattoo kissed his son goodbye, and a guard led him away. The brawny, bearded Nazi could have been mistaken for one of Sutherlin’s brothers, the resemblance was so strong.

In January, just before Trump’s inauguration, I spoke with Sutherlin and Telly. All six of the Tinley Park attackers had been released from prison and HARM had gone dormant. Telly lives on the East Coast and has helped create a new group, the Torch Network, which combines several of the most radical ARA chapters, including those in Chicago, Philadelphia, and Central Texas. It promises to be just as militant as ARA, if not more. “New groups call me up and ask for advice,” Telly said. He cited the emergence of anti-fascist groups like the John Brown Militia, Redneck Revolt, and the Bastards Motorcycle Club as reasons to be optimistic, but otherwise he was gloomy. “I don’t know what to tell them,” he said. “We lost. Someone like Trump is what we were trying to prevent from happening.”

“I thought we were being alarmist,” Sutherlin said with a chuckle when I called him at his home outside Bloomington, “but it turns out things were way worse than even we imagined.” He’s no longer on parole and has been lying low, taking care of his six-year-old son and going to anti-Trump rallies but avoiding more militant activism. Since the election, he said, he’d also heard from people who were inspired by his example and seeking his advice. One was a childhood friend, a “gun-loving backwoods survivalist” who had never been political until Trump was elected but recently bought more weapons and talked about defending himself against the radical right wing. “I think a lot of people are now realizing that you can’t be neutral,” Sutherlin said. “A lot of people are suddenly realizing you have to pick a side and go to war.”

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Inside the Underground Anti-Racist Movement That Brings the Fight to White Supremacists

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The US Women’s Soccer Team Scored a Much-Needed Pay Bump

Mother Jones

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On Wednesday, the US women’s national soccer team notched a notable victory in its pursuit for equal pay. After a multi-year labor dispute, the team came to an agreement with the US Soccer Federation that will carry a big bump in compensation and expanded benefits.

The deal, which was part of an ongoing collective bargaining negotiation, will last five years and include the 2019 World Cup and 2020 Olympics. It is expected to significantly raise players’ base compensation and game bonuses, match per diem stipends with their counterparts on the men’s national team, bolster travel benefits, and improve financial aid for players who are pregnant or adopting, ESPNW reported on Wednesday. The US Women’s National Team Players Association, the union representing the players, would also gain some rights to licensing and sponsorship deals.

This week’s announcement ends a long and contentious fight over the team’s union agreement with US Soccer, the governing body for the sport. The fight came to a boil last February when US Soccer sued the union. At odds was whether a 2013 memorandum of understanding between the two sides could stand in for an earlier, expired collective bargaining agreement. The legal challenge came after the union’s former executive director, Richard Nichols, allegedly told US Soccer officials that the memorandum wasn’t valid and that, if the two sides failed to come to an agreement by the end of that February, the national team would be free to strike before the Olympics in Rio (Nichols denied saying this). A federal judge eventually ruled that, under the 2013 agreement set to expire that December, the team could not strike. But after talks stalled late last year and the players’ union changed leadership, the two sides spent the last four months hashing out an agreement.

And last March, five top players on the women’s national team filed a complaint to the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission accusing the national soccer federation of wage discrimination. Financial details from the filing alleged that despite bringing in a projected $18 million in revenue to US Soccer, players on the women’s team earned four times less than their male colleagues. Jeffrey Kessler, who represents the players in the EEOC complaint, told Mother Jones that the charges remained pending and would continue.

As the New York Times reported, the enhanced pay announced this week is not necessarily on par with that of players on the men’s squad, though it means that some players could see their incomes double and earn between $200,000 and $300,000 in a year.

US Soccer president Sunil Gulati said in a statement that the new CBA represents “an important step to continue our longstanding efforts to drive the growth of women’s soccer in the United States.”

Current and former players also lauded the agreement. Megan Rapinoe, a midfielder on the women’s national team, said in a tweet that the agreement reflected a “crucial step” in the national team’s future.

The members of the women’s national soccer team aren’t the only women athletes who’ve made progress toward equal recently. Last week, after threatening to boycott the world championships in Michigan and earning the backing of several players’ unions and 20 US Senators, the US women’s hockey team reached a last-minute agreement with USA Hockey to improve compensation, benefits, and opportunities for future players. It included the prospect of each player making at least $70,000 before performance bonuses in the Olympics and world championships. Previously, the players were paid just $1,000 per month during a six-month training period before the Olympics.

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The US Women’s Soccer Team Scored a Much-Needed Pay Bump

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In Private, It Turns Out That Trump Is Pretty Much the Same

Mother Jones

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Roger Cohen writes about the Trump-Merkel meeting a couple of weeks ago:

When Donald Trump met Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany earlier this month, he put on one of his most truculent and ignorant performances. He wanted money—piles of it—for Germany’s defense, raged about the financial killing China was making from last year’s Paris climate accord and kept “frequently and brutally changing the subject when not interested, which was the case with the European Union.”

…Trump’s preparedness was roughly that of a fourth grader…Trump knew nothing of the proposed European-American deal known as the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, little about Russian aggression in Ukraine or the Minsk agreements, and was so scatterbrained that German officials concluded that the president’s daughter Ivanka, who had no formal reason to be there, was the more prepared and helpful.

Merkel is not one to fuss. But Trump’s behavior appalled her entourage and reinforced a conclusion already reached about this presidency in several European capitals: It is possible to do business with Trump’s national security adviser, Lt. Gen. H. R. McMaster, with Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis, and with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, but these officials are flying blind because above them at the White House rages a whirlwind of incompetence and ignorance.

I’m sure glad that Republicans are restoring the respect for America that we lost after eight years of that empty suit Barack Obama.

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In Private, It Turns Out That Trump Is Pretty Much the Same

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EPA’s justice work helps many groups, says ex-official. Trump’s cuts will scrap that.

When reports detailed the Trump administration’s planned budget cuts to the Environmental Protection Agency leaked earlier this month, it seemed like Mustafa Ali was a marked man.

Ali, an agency vet who helped lead the EPA’s environmental justice efforts for 24 years, oversaw an office that was going to lose close to 80 percent of its funding under Trump’s plan. That proposal sent a clear signal that the Trump White House wasn’t all that interested in helping vulnerable communities living amid environmental contamination.

Within a week of the budget leak, new EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt had a three-page resignation letter from Ali on his desk. It was gracious in tone, encouraging Pruitt to seize his “once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to bring people together,” and beseeched him to protect initiatives like the Collaborative Problem-Solving Model and Environmental Justice Small Grants Program that had helped more than 1,400 communities, according to Ali.

Neither Pruitt nor anyone else in the Trump administration has acknowledged his letter, says Ali. Since then, he’s taken a new role at the non-profit Hip Hop Caucus, where he’ll continue to work on environmental and economic justice, as well as voting rights, aiming to “move vulnerable communities from surviving to thriving.”

Ali spoke to Grist about the struggle for environmental justice and the effect that the Trump administration’s proposed cuts would have on veterans and young people. Our conversation has been edited and condensed for clarity.

Q. The EPA’s Office of Environmental Justice was created during President George H.W. Bush’s administration, and you worked at the agency through three other administrations after that. During that time, did you feel like there was always progress?

A. Yes, I did. Of course some administrations are a bit more wedded to the issue, but there was always at least incremental progress, moving toward improving the public health and the environment for communities of color, low-income communities, and indigenous populations.

Q. But your assessment is that environmental justice wasn’t going to be a priority any longer?

A. I was worried about being able to continue this very critical work that many leaders and lots of community folks have invested in for decades. I didn’t want to take steps backward by rolling back regulations that are necessary to protect the health, the environment, the lives of our most vulnerable communities. And that was it for me. I tried to be as patient as I could to see if we were going to prioritize the lives of these communities. And I just didn’t see it.

Q. Is the environmental justice movement only focused on communities of color?

A. There is a false narrative out there. Yes, these issues are definitely about disproportionate impacts that are happening in communities of color, but we also have strong relationships with brothers and sisters who are in Appalachia, who are in the Rust Belt, and many other places. And many low-income white communities are facing very, very similar challenges. This is a movement about people and about health. The environmental justice movement is inclusive, and it touches lots of different people.

Q. What will happen without a fully-staffed Office of Environmental Justice?

A. It means less information. Communities for years have been struggling to capture the information needed to verify and support what they’re seeing on the ground — health impacts, those types of things. Information is critical. The geographic information systems (like the EJSCREEN mapping tool) allow people to plug in their address and get a much better understanding of what contaminants are in the air or water near their community and what are some of the possible health impacts. Not having information means you’re weakening those systems and you’re weakening the ability for people to be able to protect themselves. So that’s a challenge.

Q. Who can fill that information gap going forward?

A. There are some really great organizations that have already been helping out. You have the Union of Concerned Scientists who have been doing work with some of vulnerable communities. Thriving Earth Exchange is another one. And then there are a number of colleges and universities.

Q. Are there other unforeseen consequences to the sharp budget cut the Trump administration is proposing for the EPA?

A. The EPA has been hiring a lot of veterans over recent years, because veterans get a preference for federal government jobs. So when you’re talking about cutting 3,000 jobs, or maybe 5,000 jobs, a big part of that is going to be veterans. And then some of the newer hires are young people who have done everything right. They went to school, did well, got a job. And now you’re going to cut those positions.

I always think about that quote from Dr. King, “We may have all come on different ships, but we’re in the same boat now.” Sometimes we don’t realize that we’re all connected. The communities I focus on, the most vulnerable communities, a number of veterans live in those communities after they come back home. And young people live in those communities. So the question to be answered is: Do you really care about these folks’ lives?

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EPA’s justice work helps many groups, says ex-official. Trump’s cuts will scrap that.

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A Federal Appeals Court Just Ruled Against Trump’s “Muslim Ban”

Mother Jones

A panel of three federal appeals court judges on Thursday dealt another blow to President Donald Trump’s executive order temporarily banning people from seven predominantly Muslim countries and all refugees from entering the United States. The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals panel ruled against the Trump administration and upheld a Seattle court ruling that blocked implementation of the ban. That means that travelers from the seven countries, as well as refugees, can continue to enter the United States as the case proceeds through court.

In a unanimous decision, the judges rejected the Trump administration’s argument that courts could not challenge the president’s executive order: “The Government has taken the position that the President’s decisions about immigration policy, particularly when motivated by national security concerns, are unreviewable, even if those actions potentially contravene constitutional rights and protections.” The judges argued there was no precedent to support this argument, saying that it “runs contrary to the fundamental structure of our constitutional democracy.” It also noted “the serious nature of the allegations the States have raised with respect to their religious discrimination claims.”

President Trump immediately responded to the decision, tweeting:

Last Friday, a federal judge in Seattle temporarily blocked the ban in response to lawsuits by the state governments of Washington and Minnesota alleging the ban was discriminatory and harmful to its residents. The Trump administration filed an emergency motion opposing the decision, and judges heard oral arguments on Tuesday over whether to uphold the judge’s ruling. During the hearing, judges expressed skepticism of the Justice Department’s claim the executive order was justified and that courts should not be challenging the president’s assessment of national security risks.

Noah Purcell, the solicitor general for Washington state, argued the order caused chaos, urging the court to serve as a check on executive power. “It has always been the judicial branch’s role to say what the law is and to serve as a check on abuses by the executive branch,” said Purcell. “That judicial rule has never been more important in recent memory than it is today.”

Yet judges also grilled the solicitor general, pressing him to identify precisely how the travel ban discriminated against Muslims if the order didn’t affect the majority of the Muslim population, as well as to specify the number of people harmed. Purcell argued the state did not need to prove the ban harmed every Muslim, but that there was a clear intention to do so, citing Trump’s campaign promise to ban Muslim visitors. He also alluded to Trump adviser Rudy Giuliani’s comments about how Trump had asked for advice on how to legally implement a Muslim ban.

Trump lashed out against the courts on Wednesday, calling the hearing “disgraceful.” “I don’t ever want to call a court biased, so I won’t call it biased,” Trump told a gathering of law enforcement officials in Washington, DC. “But courts seem to be so political, and it would be so great for our justice system if they would be able to read a statement and do what’s right.”

He added, “I think it’s sad. I think it’s a sad day. I think our security is at risk today.”

The executive order, signed on January 27, led to widespread protests throughout the country and confusion among Customs and Border Protection officers over how to implement the directive. Hundreds of people were detained at airports or barred from entering the United States, and at least tens of thousands of visas were revoked. At least four states have sued the Trump administration over the order, in addition to dozens of lawsuits brought by civil rights groups such as the American Civil Liberties Union and the Council for American-Islamic Relations.

The decision will likely be appealed and head to the Supreme Court.

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A Federal Appeals Court Just Ruled Against Trump’s “Muslim Ban”

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Diet and Climate Change: Cooking Up a Storm

One of the most prestigious medical journals in the world editorialized that climate change represents the biggest global health threat of the 21st century. Currently, chronic diseases are by far the leading cause of death. Might there be a way to combat both at the same time? For example, riding our bikes instead of driving is a win-win-win for the people, planet, and pocketbook. Are there similar win-win situations when it comes to diet?

As I discuss in my video below, the foods that create the most greenhouse gases appear to be the same foods that are contributing to many of our chronic diseases. Researchers found that meat (including fish), eggs, and dairy had the greatest negative environmental impact, whereas grains, beans, fruits, and vegetables had the least impact. And not only did the foods with the heaviest environmental impact tend to have lower nutritional quality, but they also had a higher price per pound. So, avoiding them gives us that triple win scenario.

The European Commission, the governing body of the European Union, commissioned a study on what individuals can do to help the climate. For example, if Europeans started driving electric cars, it could prevent as much as 174 million tons of carbon from getting released. We could also turn down the thermostat a bit and put on a sweater. But the most powerful action people could take is shift to a meat-free diet.

What we eat may have more of an impact on global warming than what we drive.

Just cutting out animal protein intake one day of the week could have a powerful effect. Meatless Mondays alone could beat out a whole week of working from home and not commuting.

A strictly plant-based diet may be better still: Its responsible for only about half the greenhouse gas emissions. Studies have suggested that moderate diet changes are not enough to reduce impacts from food consumption drastically. Without significant reduction in meat and dairy, changes to healthier diets may only result in rather minor reductions of environmental impacts. This is because studies have shown that the average fossil energy input for animal protein production systems is 25 calories of fossil energy input for every 1 calorie producedmore than 11 times greater than that for grain protein production, for example, which is around 2 to 1.

Researchers in Italy compared seven different diets to see which one was environmentally friendliest. They compared a conventional omnivorous diet adhering to dietary guidelines; an organic omnivorous diet; a conventional vegetarian diet; an organic vegetarian diet; a conventional vegan diet; an organic vegan diet; and a diet the average person actually eats. For each dietary pattern, the researchers looked at carcinogens, air pollution, climate change, effects on the ozone layer, the ecosystem, acid rain, and land, mineral, and fossil fuel use. You can see in the video how many resources it took to feed people on their current diets, all the negative effects the diet is having on the ecosystem, and the adverse effects on human health.

If people were eating a healthier diet by conforming to the dietary recommendations, the environmental impact would be significantly less. An organic omnivorous diet would be better still, similar to a vegetarian diet of conventional foods. Those are topped by an organic vegetarian diet, followed by a conventional vegan diet. The best, however, was an organic vegan diet.

The Commission report described that the barriers to animal product reduction are largely lack of knowledge, ingrained habits, and culinary cultures. Proposed policy measures include meat or animal protein taxes, educational campaigns, and putting the greenhouse gas emissions information right on food labels.

Climate change mitigation is expensive. A global transition to even just a low-meat diet, as recommended for health reasons, could reduce these mitigation costs. A study determined that a healthier, low-meat diet would cut the cost of mitigating climate change from about 1% of GDP by more than half, a no-meat diet could cut two-thirds of the cost, and a diet free of animal products could cut 80% of the cost.

Many people arent aware of the cow in the room. It seems that very few people are aware that the livestock sector is one of the largest contributors to greenhouse gas emissions. But thats changing.

The UKs National Health Service is taking a leading role in reducing carbon emissions. Patients, visitors, and staff can look forward to healthy, low-carbon menus with much less meat, dairy, and eggs. Evidence shows that as far as the climate is concerned, meat is heat.

The Swedish government recently amended their dietary recommendations to encourage citizens to eat less meat. If we seek only to achieve the conservative objective of avoiding further long-term increases in [greenhouse gas] emissions from livestock, we are still led to rather radical recommendations such as cutting current consumption levels in half in affluent countriesan unlikely outcome if there were no direct rewards to citizens for doing so. Fortunately, there are such rewards: important health benefits… By helping the planet, we can help ourselves.

In health,
Michael Greger, M.D.

PS: If you havent yet, you can subscribe to my free videoshereand watch my live, year-in-review presentations2015:Food as Medicine: Preventing and Treating the Most Dreaded Diseases with Diet, and my latest, 2016:How Not to Die: The Role of Diet in Preventing, Arresting, and Reversing Our Top 15 Killers.

Related
Never Too Late to Start Eating Healthier
Combating Common Diseases With Plants
One in a Thousand: Ending the Heart Disease Epidemic

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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Diet and Climate Change: Cooking Up a Storm

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Darrell Issa is Suing His Defeated Opponent for Libel

Mother Jones

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Days after narrowly winning reelection to his House seat, Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) is celebrating his victory—by suing his opponent for libel and defamation. The unusual move follows the first time the Southern California Republican faced a serious campaign challenge: He beat Democrat Doug Applegate by just 1,982 votes. The San Diego Union-Tribune reported today that on the day before the election, Issa, known for his role in the Benghazi hearings and for being the richest member of Congress, filed a libel lawsuit against Applegate and his campaign, alleging that two campaign ads damaged his reputation. He is seeking $10 million in damages.

The specter of a wealthy politician pursuing his defeated rival in court recalls Donald Trump’s campaign promise to prosecute and imprison Hillary Clinton if he was elected. But Issa, a Trump supporter, may have a hard time prevailing. First of all, he is the very definition of a public figure, which means he faces a higher burden of proof in a libel case than a private citizen. And, as Peter Scheer, the executive director of the First Amendment Coalition, observes, the Supreme Court has recognized many times that “First Amendment protections for speech are at their very, very, very highest during a political campaign.” Scheer doubts Issa can clear this bar. “This lawsuit doesn’t stand a chance. It’s a waste of the court’s time and it’s certainly a waste of his opponent’s time and money.”

So why bother? Issa may be seeking to set the record straight after an uncomfortably close race. Or, Scheer says, he may be seeking to punish Applegate “by causing him to have to retain counsel, and to spend a lot of money unnecessarily defending a frivolous lawsuit.”

The Union-Tribune noted that Issa’s lawsuit does not detail how exactly he may have suffered $10 million worth of damages as a result of Applegate’s ads. Issa says he’ll donate any damages he wins to charity.

One of the Applegate ads that Issa is suing over cited a 2011 New York Times article titled “A Businessman in Congress Helps His District and Himself.” But the ad also includes what Issa’s lawsuit calls a “fake, doctored headline” that said he had “gamed the system to line his own pockets.” That language wasn’t in the Times article. The article did report that Issa had “secured millions of dollars in Congressional earmarks for road work and public works projects that promise improved traffic and other benefits to the many commercial properties he owns.” (Issa later sold one of those properties at a loss, and the earmarked funds never made it to the road project.)

The second ad that Issa is suing over allegedly misrepresented his stance on funding 9/11 emergency workers. The ad stated that “tea party Republicans voted to deny healthcare to 9/11 first responders.” Issa did in fact vote against the legislation referenced in the ad, but, the lawsuit claims, it was not just tea partiers who voted it down.

Applegate hasn’t yet responded publicly to the lawsuit. On Tuesday, Applegate announced his intention to run again for Congress in 2018.

While Issa’s motivations for filing the suit remain unclear, perhaps he is upset that his own campaign ads didn’t pack the same punch as his opponent’s. As one Republican political operative who asked to remain anonymous told me during the campaign, “I don’t know if you’ve looked at Darrell Issa’s TV ads, but they are the worst fucking TV ads I’ve ever seen in my life.”

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Darrell Issa is Suing His Defeated Opponent for Libel

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