Think Progress

Subscribe to Think Progress feed Think Progress
Moving news forward. - Medium
Updated: 7 hours 58 min ago

Pope Francis’ ‘new tone’ on LGBTQ issues that wasn’t

Fri, 12/09/2016 - 11:49am
It’s time to stop pretending he’s going to change the Church on this issue.CREDIT: Stefano Rellandini/AP Pool

Back in 2013, the newly elected Pope Francis made headlines by responding to a question about gay priests with the quip “Who am I to judge?” Five simple words, uttered by a new pope, triggered an avalanche of coverage predicated on one hopeful question: was the the new pontiff—unlike previous popes who railed against same-sex marriage—striking a new, more inclusive “tone” towards LGBTQ people?

In the years since, the more optimistic answer was bolstered by a steady trickle of LGBTQ-friendly gestures from the Holy Father. Francis was initially dismissive of debates over same-sex marriage, saying the church was too “obsessed” with the subject. He reportedly met with a Spanish transgender man, dined with LGBTQ prisoners, and embraced a gay couple in Washington, D.C. He reiterated the Catholic Catechism’s call that gay people should not be discriminated against, kept an LGBTQ-affirming paragraph in the official record of a synod meeting even though those present voted it down, and even made comments that appeared to entertain potential support for civil unions.

But even as Francis appeared to change the way Catholics talked about homosexuality, a counter narrative emerged.

But even as Francis appeared to change the way Catholics talked about homosexuality, a counter narrative emerged. He introduced the aforementioned synod by referring to same-sex marriage as a “passing fad.” Since he became pope, several American Catholic institutions have fired employees simply for being publicly gay. And when bishops unveiled their assessment on family issues in April, it included the line “no grounds for considering homosexual unions to be in any way similar or even remotely analogous to God’s plan for mar­riage and family.” By the time Francis offered his “apology” to marginalized gay Catholics in June of this year, the once-optimistic leaders of Christian LGBTQ advocacy groups were already expressing skepticism of his supposedly conciliatory stance.

It all culminated this week when the Vatican released a new document that appeared to directly contradict those five words that initially gave LGBTQ Catholics so much hope: it declared that men with “deep-seated homosexual tendencies” or who “support the so-called ‘gay culture’” cannot be priests.

Francis didn’t personally write the report, but it was a Vatican document all the same. Apparently, the Catholic Church—with Francis at the helm—would, in fact, continue to judge.

From the perspective of many LGBTQ people, Francis’ much-lauded new “tone” on LGBTQ issues — well intentioned or otherwise — is shaping up to be at best a series of empty gestures, at worst an outright farce.

The backlash among LGBTQ equality activists was swift, with DignityUSA executive director Marianne Duddy-Burke declaring “This document is extremely disappointing in its approach to gay men called to be priests.” But embedded within her comments was a sobering realization: from the perspective of many LGBTQ people, Francis’ much-lauded new “tone” on LGBTQ issues — well intentioned or otherwise — is shaping up to be at best a series of empty gestures, at worst an outright farce.

This more pessimistic outlook isn’t exactly new. Catholic scholars and journalists have been saying as much for some time, penning any number of corrections to media articles they say overstate the potential impact of Francis’ subtle rhetorical shift. Moreover, even if Francis wanted to radically alter the Church teaching on LGBTQ issues (the Catechism currently refers to “homosexual tendencies” as “objectively disordered”), doing so is actually far more difficult than simply declaring it as such. Even the pope has limits.

But the fact remains that if Francis wants to alter the way the Church sees LGBTQ people—outside of asking people not to oppress them—he has not publicly indicated any formal plans to do so.

The work of queer Catholic activists is far from over.

Francis’ lack of leadership on the issue is no doubt frustrating for many American Catholics, a strong majority of whom support same-sex marriage. But while he may disenchant many left-leaning U.S. faithful (who tend to be more progressive than the average American anyway), perhaps it should not be a moment to despair. On the contrary, Francis’ lack of action may ultimately spark a renewed queer liberation movement within the Church, and inadvertently heighten the voices of several gay priests who have come out to their parishes in recent years. The work of queer Catholic activists is far from over.

This also isn’t to say that Francis is the kind of traditional crusader against the cause of LGBTQ rights his predecessors have been—he isn’t. If anything, he seems largely disinterested in the whole conversation, especially when compared to Pope Benedict. He has elevated bishops like Blase Cupich who, like him, are far more moderate on the issue (setting in motion potential long-term change), and he’s far more likely to make headlines for railing against economic systems that hurt the poor, speak up for the plight of immigrants, and call for action on climate change than defame LGBTQ relationships. Heck, maybe Pope Francis will surprise us all and pivot to a major push for LGBTQ rights in the next few years.

But for now, if equality-minded Catholics were hoping Francis would be a liberating force for LGBTQ people, it may be time to switch tactics.

Pope Francis’ ‘new tone’ on LGBTQ issues that wasn’t was originally published in ThinkProgress on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

Categories: SCCDP Allies

Trump’s pick for Interior Secretary wants to sell off public lands

Fri, 12/09/2016 - 11:17am
Rep. McMorris Rodgers’ nomination is more bad news in an administration that will be terrible on climate.CREDIT: AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster

Another climate-denying nominee will be named Friday for a key environmental position in the Trump administration, multiple sources are reporting.

Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) will likely be tapped to lead the Department of the Interior, which oversees all of the U.S. public lands, including forest management, the Parks Service, and fossil fuel extraction.

McMorris Rodgers is strongly in favor of developing the United States’ fossil fuel resources. She has also opposed federal ownership of public lands and voted to make it more difficult for the president to create national monuments. McMorris Rodgers is the author of a bill that would have directed the Department of the Interior to sell off federal lands in Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, and Wyoming.

The selection is not surprising, in what is shaping up to be the most anti-environmental administration — Republican or Democrat — in modern times. The Interior Department transition team has been led by Doug Domenech, the director of a pro-fossil fuels project at the conservative Texas Public Policy Foundation.

Trump’s Interior team is great for fossil fuels, terrible for the environment

McMorris Rodgers has repeatedly expressed her support for oil. She supports expanding offshore drilling, voted for drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, and voted against raising the royalty rates for oil and gas that comes from public lands.

The Department of the Interior includes the Bureau of Offshore Energy Management, which permits offshore drilling and renewable energy. A proposed plan to include parts of the Atlantic in the bureau’s five-year plan was scrapped earlier this year after community opposition. If confirmed under the Trump administration, McMorris Rodgers will have a key role in shaping the next plan.

On the League of Conservation Voters scorecard, which tracks environmental votes in Congress, McMorris Rodgers has a lifetime score of 4 percent. Her 2015 score was zero. While she has not gone on the record about climate change often, a 2008 list of reasons she is glad she is a Republican included “We believe Al Gore deserves an ‘F’ in science and an ‘A’ in creative writing.”

McMorris Rodgers spent much of 2011 tweeting about high gas prices, which she blamed on Obama and the EPA. McMorris Rodgers plainly equates more drilling with lower gas prices, at one point tweeting a FoxNews story about Shell’s decision not to drill in the Arctic, after the company was found not to have adequately calculated its environmental impact.

body[data-twttr-rendered="true"] {background-color: transparent;}.twitter-tweet {margin: auto !important;}

Disappointed, the EPA again blocks energy production here in the US that could help lower gas prices: http://fxn.ws/gxbrzQ #gasprices

 — @cathymcmorris

function notifyResize(height) {height = height ? height : document.documentElement.offsetHeight; var resized = false; if (window.donkey && donkey.resize) {donkey.resize(height); resized = true;}if (parent && parent._resizeIframe) {var obj = {iframe: window.frameElement, height: height}; parent._resizeIframe(obj); resized = true;}if (window.webkit && window.webkit.messageHandlers && window.webkit.messageHandlers.resize) {window.webkit.messageHandlers.resize.postMessage(height); resized = true;}return resized;}twttr.events.bind('rendered', function (event) {notifyResize();}); twttr.events.bind('resize', function (event) {notifyResize();});if (parent && parent._resizeIframe) {var maxWidth = parseInt(window.frameElement.getAttribute("width")); if ( 500 < maxWidth) {window.frameElement.setAttribute("width", "500");}}

A cursory look at the shows that there is not an inverse relationship between domestic oil production and gas prices.

As production massively increased from 2009 to 2014, gas prices did not fall accordingly. There are many complex economic factors that determine gas prices, including the fact that oil is traded on a global market. To that end, McMorris Rodgers voted to lift the oil export ban last year.

The Trump administration is likely to squeeze as much oil, gas, and coal out of the United States as possible over the next four years. With McMorris Rodgers at the helm of the Department of the Interior, and Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt heading the Environmental Protection Agency, environmentalists, public lands supporters, and climate advocates are bracing for many battles ahead.

“Her congressional voting record shows lots of evidence that McMorris Rodgers will serve the interests of corporations that seek to plunder resources from public lands, rather than acting on behalf of all Americans to safeguard our wild lands and natural treasures,” said Drew Caputo, Earthjustice’s Vice President of Litigation for Lands, Oceans, and Wildlife. “President-elect Trump should retract this announcement, or the Senate should reject this nomination. If not, and if McMorris Rodgers attempts to carry out her anti-environment agenda, Earthjustice and its attorneys will see her in court.”

Trump’s pick for Interior Secretary wants to sell off public lands was originally published in ThinkProgress on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

Categories: SCCDP Allies

Muslim Americans to Trump: ‘Bring it on’

Fri, 12/09/2016 - 10:56am

Apparently making America great again™ is a part-time job. Donald Trump says he will continue to produce Celebrity Apprentice in his ‘spare time,’ which he will surely have plenty of during break from issues such as the spiraling Syrian civil war.

Down south, another drama is playing out, as Louisianans severely impacted by climate change head to the polls.

Muslim Americans are among those most targeted by Donald Trump’s rhetoric — and they’re preparing to defend themselves. Watch the full video here.

Reading List

Here’s what happens when a lethal injection goes horribly wrong.

Religious conservatives unwittingly laid the groundwork for Native Americans to defend their land.

Trump’s transition team has asked the Energy Department to name staffers who support progressive climate policies. That is very, very bad.

Soundbite

“I know what he has been through because I have been through exactly the same … All the lads have been through the same.”

— Chris Unsworth, English soccer player

Muslim Americans to Trump: ‘Bring it on’ was originally published in ThinkProgress on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

Categories: SCCDP Allies

Obama orders intelligence agencies to review Russian hacking during election

Fri, 12/09/2016 - 10:22am
“The President has directed the Intelligence Community to conduct a full review of what happened during the 2016 election process.”President Barack Obama shakes hands with Russian President President Vladimir Putin before a bilateral meeting at United Nations headquarters. CREDIT: AP Photo/Andrew Harnik

President Barack Obama has initiated a “full review” into whether Russian hackers tampered with the 2016 presidential election.

Intelligence agencies have been directed to fully investigate the possibility of foreign hacking that could have affected the 2016 election process, Lisa Monaco, the White House’s homeland security and counterterrorism adviser, told reporters Friday morning at the Christian Science Monitor breakfast.

“We maybe crossed into a new threshold, and it is incumbent upon us to take stock of that, to review, to conduct some after-action, to understand what this means, what has happened and to impart those lessons learned,” Monaco said.

The review is a continuation of investigations into ongoing threats that took place earlier this summer, she said.

Russia has been the chief suspect for hacking attempts related to the U.S. presidential election. The intelligence community blamed the Russian government for encouraging hackers to target Democratic Party officials, mainly by hacking of the Democratic National Committee’s emails. Those emails invited intense scrutiny of presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and the Clinton Foundation, and revealed candid, private conversations between Democratic party leaders—including Clinton’s campaign chief John Podesta—regarding her primary opponent Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-VT).

Along with its connection to the DNC hacking, Russia has been blamed for possibly interfering with election day itself. A group of computer scientists lobbied Clinton to push for ballot recounts in states that were “too close to call” on election night and where some ballot irregularities were flagged. In Wisconsin, a state that traditionally votes Democratic but narrowly broke for Donald Trump last month, is likely to be the first—and perhaps only—state to complete a full recount. The computer scientists believe they have found evidence of manipulation or hacking in at least three states but have not publicly released their findings.

The intelligence community is expected to complete its review by Obama’s final day in office, Jan. 20. But the administration said it would be cautious with regards to how many of their findings — if any — will be released to the public.

Monaco said the “lessons learned” from the review would be reported to a “a range of stakeholders,” adding that the intelligence community members would determine what information is made public, Politico reported.

“That’s going to be first and foremost a determination that’s made by the intelligence community,” she said. “We want to do so very attentive to not disclosing sources and methods that may impede our ability to identify and attribute malicious actors in the future.”

Obama orders intelligence agencies to review Russian hacking during election was originally published in ThinkProgress on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

Categories: SCCDP Allies

Carrier says it will spend millions automating Indiana plant, plans to lay off workers Trump ‘saved…

Fri, 12/09/2016 - 8:12am
Carrier says it will spend millions automating Indiana plant, plans to lay off workers Trump ‘saved’The deal keeps getting worse.United Technologies CEO Greg Hayes shakes hands with Vice President-elect Mike Pence before Pence speaks at Carrier Corp Thursday, Dec. 1, 2016, in Indianapolis. CREDIT: AP Photo/Darron Cummings

As part of the deal President-elect Donald Trump and Vice President-elect Mike Pence struck with Carrier, the company has promised to make a $16 million investment in its Indianapolis facility — an investment management plans to use on developing technology that will allow them to replace human workers with robots.

The company’s plans were confirmed by Greg Hayes, CEO of United Technologies, Carrier’s corporate parent, during a CNBC interview earlier this week.

“We’re going to… automate to drive the cost down so that we can continue to be competitive,” Hayes said. “Is it as cheap as moving to Mexico with lower cost labor? No. But we will make that plant competitive just because we’ll make the capital investments there. But what that ultimately means is there will be fewer jobs.”

This news comes on the heels of Trump blasting Chuck Jones, president of the United Steelworkers 1999 union that represents Carrier workers, for the sin of correctly pointing out that Trump exaggerated the number of jobs his deal “saved” during a December 1 news conference at the factory. Trump said the company agreed to keep 1,100 jobs at the Indianapolis factory when the real figure is closer to 800, with 550 workers at the factory facing layoffs despite Trump’s deal. In addition, Carrier still plans to ship 700 jobs from a separate factory in Huntington, Indiana, to Mexico. And as part of the deal, Indiana taxpayers will dole out $7 million in tax breaks to the company.

After Trump smeared him on Twitter, Jones received threats against his family.

The details of the Carrier deal have finally been released. Trump exaggerated big league.

In an op-ed published in the Washington Post on Thursday, Jones wrote, “what I can’t abide…is a president who misleads workers, who gives them false hope.”

“We’re not asking for anything besides opportunity, for jobs that let people provide for their families,” he continued. “These plants are profitable, and the workers produced a good-quality product. [United Technology made a profit of $7.6 billion in 2015.] Because of corporate greed, though, company leaders are racing to the bottom, to find places where they can pay the least. It’s a system that exploits everyone.”

It’s unclear when Carrier’s technological investments will allow it to lay off some of the 800 workers whose jobs were spared in the short-term. United Steelworkers 1999 didn’t immediately respond to an inquiry about what they know regarding when job cuts are happening and who will be affected. As Jones detailed in the Post op-ed, the union was completely cut out of negotiations between Trump and Carrier.

While the timing remains unclear, Jones said on Thursday that he expects cuts beyond the 550 layoffs that will happen in spite of Trump’s deal.

“Automation means less people,” he said during a CNN interview. “I think we’ll have a reduction of workforce at some point in time once they get all the automation in and up and running.”

Despite Trump’s pro-worker campaign rhetoric, the details of the Carrier deal and Trump’s nomination of fast food executive Andrew Puzder as labor secretary suggests he doesn’t have an issue with companies replacing humans with machines. Puzder is a proponent of replacing human workers with robots, telling Business Insider last March that machines are “always polite, they always upsell, they never take a vacation, they never show up late, there’s never a slip-and-fall, or an age, sex, or race discrimination case.”

CNN, citing a McKinsey & Co. study, reports that “45 percent of the tasks that U.S. workers are currently paid to perform can be automated by existing technology. That represents about $2 trillion in annual wages.”

Carrier says it will spend millions automating Indiana plant, plans to lay off workers Trump ‘saved… was originally published in ThinkProgress on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

Categories: SCCDP Allies

Trump spokeswoman says he will produce The Apprentice in his ‘spare time’

Fri, 12/09/2016 - 8:03am
When asked whether the future President would be taking a salary from his side gig, Conway punted.Credit: SCREENSHOT, CNN

While President, Donald Trump will still be credited as an executive producer on The Celebrity Apprentice, Variety reported on Thursday.

According to Trump spokeswoman Hope Hicks, Trump maintains a “big stake” in the show, financially speaking. As the show returns to NBC, President-Elect Trump stands to profit from its success.

Trump is also likely to be paid “in the low five-figures, at minimum” per episode, according to Variety, by though his exact compensation has yet to be determined. His fee will come from MGM, while the show will air on NBC — so as President, Trump will be on the payroll of a show aired on one of the major news networks.

Trump to be part-time president, keep lucrative job with ‘Celebrity Apprentice’

Although NBC’s entertainment and news divisions are separate, this still represents a massive, unprecedented conflict.

On Friday, however, Trump campaign manager Kellyanne Conway dismissed concerns — by comparing Trump’s moonlighting on the reality television show to President Obama playing golf.

President Obama, however, was not accruing financial benefit from playing golf. Nor did his golf habit represent a conflict of interest with a major cable network. And, contrary to Conway’s objection that Obama was allowed a free pass, his golf rounds in fact drew staunch criticism — including criticism from Conway and Trump.

body[data-twttr-rendered="true"] {background-color: transparent;}.twitter-tweet {margin: auto !important;}

Kellyanne Conway on Trump remaining Celebrity Apprentice EP: Were we so concerned about hours Obama spent golfing?

 — @NewDay

function notifyResize(height) {height = height ? height : document.documentElement.offsetHeight; var resized = false; if (window.donkey && donkey.resize) {donkey.resize(height); resized = true;}if (parent && parent._resizeIframe) {var obj = {iframe: window.frameElement, height: height}; parent._resizeIframe(obj); resized = true;}if (window.webkit && window.webkit.messageHandlers && window.webkit.messageHandlers.resize) {window.webkit.messageHandlers.resize.postMessage(height); resized = true;}return resized;}twttr.events.bind('rendered', function (event) {notifyResize();}); twttr.events.bind('resize', function (event) {notifyResize();});if (parent && parent._resizeIframe) {var maxWidth = parseInt(window.frameElement.getAttribute("width")); if ( 500 < maxWidth) {window.frameElement.setAttribute("width", "500");}}

“He’s a very transparent guy, everyone can see what he’s doing,” Conway said of Trump, who has yet to release his tax returns. Host Alisyn Camerota then pointed out that time spent on The Celebrity Apprentice would not be time Trump spent doing his job as President.

“Well, okay, but were we so concerned about the hours and hours and hours spent on the golf course of the current president? I mean, presidents have a right to do things in their spare time, or their leisure time. Nobody objects to that,” said Conway.

While Obama did spend more time strictly on the golf course than his predecessor, President George Bush, he spent far less time on actual vacation. According to a Politifact tally in September, at that time President Obama had spent 217 days on vacation during his eight-year presidency. During his eight-year term, Bush spent 533 days on vacation.

body[data-twttr-rendered="true"] {background-color: transparent;}.twitter-tweet {margin: auto !important;}

President Obama has a major meeting on the N.Y.C. Ebola outbreak, with people flying in from all over the country, but decided to play golf!

 — @realDonaldTrump

function notifyResize(height) {height = height ? height : document.documentElement.offsetHeight; var resized = false; if (window.donkey && donkey.resize) {donkey.resize(height); resized = true;}if (parent && parent._resizeIframe) {var obj = {iframe: window.frameElement, height: height}; parent._resizeIframe(obj); resized = true;}if (window.webkit && window.webkit.messageHandlers && window.webkit.messageHandlers.resize) {window.webkit.messageHandlers.resize.postMessage(height); resized = true;}return resized;}twttr.events.bind('rendered', function (event) {notifyResize();}); twttr.events.bind('resize', function (event) {notifyResize();});if (parent && parent._resizeIframe) {var maxWidth = parseInt(window.frameElement.getAttribute("width")); if ( 500 < maxWidth) {window.frameElement.setAttribute("width", "500");}}body[data-twttr-rendered="true"] {background-color: transparent;}.twitter-tweet {margin: auto !important;}

Can you believe that,with all of the problems and difficulties facing the U.S., President Obama spent the day playing golf.Worse than Carter

 — @realDonaldTrump

function notifyResize(height) {height = height ? height : document.documentElement.offsetHeight; var resized = false; if (window.donkey && donkey.resize) {donkey.resize(height); resized = true;}if (parent && parent._resizeIframe) {var obj = {iframe: window.frameElement, height: height}; parent._resizeIframe(obj); resized = true;}if (window.webkit && window.webkit.messageHandlers && window.webkit.messageHandlers.resize) {window.webkit.messageHandlers.resize.postMessage(height); resized = true;}return resized;}twttr.events.bind('rendered', function (event) {notifyResize();}); twttr.events.bind('resize', function (event) {notifyResize();});if (parent && parent._resizeIframe) {var maxWidth = parseInt(window.frameElement.getAttribute("width")); if ( 500 < maxWidth) {window.frameElement.setAttribute("width", "500");}}body[data-twttr-rendered="true"] {background-color: transparent;}.twitter-tweet {margin: auto !important;}

Look: President #Obama playing golf at Farm Neck on Martha's Vineyard in August just minutes afte... http://t.co/EyeNOKYhTl via @MailOnline

 — @KellyannePolls

function notifyResize(height) {height = height ? height : document.documentElement.offsetHeight; var resized = false; if (window.donkey && donkey.resize) {donkey.resize(height); resized = true;}if (parent && parent._resizeIframe) {var obj = {iframe: window.frameElement, height: height}; parent._resizeIframe(obj); resized = true;}if (window.webkit && window.webkit.messageHandlers && window.webkit.messageHandlers.resize) {window.webkit.messageHandlers.resize.postMessage(height); resized = true;}return resized;}twttr.events.bind('rendered', function (event) {notifyResize();}); twttr.events.bind('resize', function (event) {notifyResize();});if (parent && parent._resizeIframe) {var maxWidth = parseInt(window.frameElement.getAttribute("width")); if ( 500 < maxWidth) {window.frameElement.setAttribute("width", "500");}}

On Friday, Conway did not answer whether or not Trump would be collecting a salary for his “spare time” work on The Celebrity Apprentice.

“I haven’t discussed that with him directly, however, there are many options,” said Conway.

Trump’s involvement with The Celebrity Apprentice represents a conflict not only for the President-Elect, but for NBC as well. Technically speaking, Trump’s involvement with Apprentice stems from MGM and the series’ creator Mark Burnett, but NBC is in business with both of those entities. NBC is also in the business of news — putting the network’s journalists in a terrible ethical situation.

The same company will be both indirectly employing the President, and responsible for reporting on his Presidency. That presents a real problem. How will NBC reporters, for example, cover the conflict created by Trump and his financial relationship with their parent company?

The public got a small taste of this earlier this year. In October, the Washington Post published leaked Access Hollywood footage of Trump bragging about sexual assault. The footage was owned by NBC’s entertainment division. According to reporting by People, NBC executives planned to edit the footage to obscure then-Today host Billy Bush’s involvement, a charge an NBC spokesperson denied.

Trump’s continued involvement with Apprentice also represents an about-face for NBC. During the campaign, the company issued a press release cutting ties with Trump over his statements regarding immigrants. “To that end, the annual Miss USA and Miss Universe Pageants, which are part of a joint venture between NBC and Trump, will no longer air on NBC,” the release stated.

The announcement also noted that Trump had already said he would no longer be part of the Apprentice. “He would never be back on Celebrity Apprentice, as long as I’m here,” NBC entertainment chairman Robert Greenblatt said last year.

Clearly, that has changed.

On a gubernatorial level, there is some precedent for Trump’s involvement with the show while holding elected office: While Governor of Minnesota in 2000, Jesse Ventura moonlighted as an analyst for for Xtreme Football League games.

Ventura initially insisted that his moonlighting wouldn’t interfere with his gubernatorial activities, but his involvement sparked serious ethical questions. Lawmakers later criticized him for taking time off during the legislative session to travel out-of-state and promote the football league. Ventura’s job-approval rating plummeted.

Ventura accepted the controversial employment from Vince McMahon, wrestling magnate and husband of Trump’s current Small Business Administration head Linda McMahon.

Trump spokeswoman says he will produce The Apprentice in his ‘spare time’ was originally published in ThinkProgress on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

Categories: SCCDP Allies

Trump’s online bullying lands him $1 million donation from Boeing

Fri, 12/09/2016 - 8:00am
Boeing’s stock fell 1 percent after Trump threatened to cancel an order for Air Force One planes.Air Force One in 2015. CREDIT: AP Photo/Elaine Thompson

President-elect Donald Trump’s social media attacks on Boeing sent its stock prices tumbling. Boeing has responded by pledging $1 million to help underwrite inaugural events, according to a company official who spoke with USA Today.

News of the Boeing donation came mere days after Trump called on the government to cancel Boeing’s contract to build a brand new 747 Air Force One “for future presidents,” saying it would cost $4 billion. Boeing secured the contract in January to replace the current Air Force One jumbo jets within the next decade.

body[data-twttr-rendered="true"] {background-color: transparent;}.twitter-tweet {margin: auto !important;}

Boeing is building a brand new 747 Air Force One for future presidents, but costs are out of control, more than $4 billion. Cancel order!

 — @realDonaldTrump

function notifyResize(height) {height = height ? height : document.documentElement.offsetHeight; var resized = false; if (window.donkey && donkey.resize) {donkey.resize(height); resized = true;}if (parent && parent._resizeIframe) {var obj = {iframe: window.frameElement, height: height}; parent._resizeIframe(obj); resized = true;}if (window.webkit && window.webkit.messageHandlers && window.webkit.messageHandlers.resize) {window.webkit.messageHandlers.resize.postMessage(height); resized = true;}return resized;}twttr.events.bind('rendered', function (event) {notifyResize();}); twttr.events.bind('resize', function (event) {notifyResize();});if (parent && parent._resizeIframe) {var maxWidth = parseInt(window.frameElement.getAttribute("width")); if ( 500 < maxWidth) {window.frameElement.setAttribute("width", "500");}}

The donation “matches the amount Boeing gave to President Obama’s 2013 inauguration,” USA Today reported using Federal Election Commission records.

Boeing said in a statement that the company was under contract for a development deal worth “$170 million to determine the capabilities of these complex military aircraft that serve the unique requirements of the President of the United States.” And early government budget estimates of the cost of two planes are about $1.6 billion. In public documents, the Pentagon “budgeted $4 billion in total spending through 2021 to buy two new Air Force Ones from the company,” Salon reported.

Trump’s sharp Twitter attack sent defense and aerospace industry stocks tumbling by nearly $2 a share, or roughly one percent, before markets opened. Later that day, Boeing chief executive Dennis A. Muilenberg — who made comments that were viewed as veiled criticism of Trump’s trade poliies— spoke with the president-elect about bringing down program costs, the Washington Post reported. Stock prices rose up slightly by closing bell. The following day, Trump said that Muilenberg was “a good man” and “a terrific guy” and that “we’re going to work it out.”

Trump’s ability to influence stock markets and turn public opinion was not lost on GOP strategist Karl Rove who said that his comments destabilized the stock “held by millions of Americans.” As president, Trump’s influence could lead to more companies bending over backwards to accommodate his complaints. Robert Reich, a former Secretary of Labor under President Bill Clinton, called Trump a “despot” for using “sticks (public criticism) and carrots (public commendation plus government sweeteners) to get big corporations to do what Trump wants them to do.”

However, Trump senior adviser Kellyanne Conaway told CNBC on Wednesday that she viewed Trump’s public criticisms as an “opportunity.”

“President-elect Trump sees that he has this massive online platform,” Conaway said. “And he sees an opportunity to communicate right to people by cutting through the noise or the silence, whatever the case may be, through social media platforms.”

Carrier union leader receives threats after Trump smears him on Twitter

Yet Trump’s online bullying has had dire consequences on private citizens. He has tweeted out inaccurate statements that leave many people at risk of harassment by his supporters. He has also dismissed allegations made by assault victims, with his supporters trying to cast doubt on those women.

Trump’s online bullying lands him $1 million donation from Boeing was originally published in ThinkProgress on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

Categories: SCCDP Allies

Trump will have to deal with what is left of Aleppo

Fri, 12/09/2016 - 7:54am
A nightmare of a situation is steadily deteriorating.Smoke rises in a east Aleppo neighborhood during a battle between forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar Assad and rebels in Aleppo, Syria, Monday, Dec. 5, 2016. CREDIT: AP Photo/Hassan Ammar

An already nightmarish situation is steadily getting worse in Aleppo, as the United Nations warned of summary killings and mass disappearances on Friday.

“Family members say they lost contact with the men, between the ages of 30 and 50, after they fled opposition-controlled areas of Aleppo around a week or ten days ago,” Rupert Coleville, Spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, said in a statement. “There are also approximately 150 activists inside opposition-controlled Aleppo who fear being detained by Government forces if they attempt to leave. Given the terrible record of arbitrary detention, torture and enforced disappearances by the Syrian Government, we are of course deeply concerned about the fate of these individuals.”

Syria has largely fallen out of the American media cycle. But this is just the latest development in Syria’s civil war that is nearing its five year anniversary. Aleppo, Syria’s biggest city, is divided into the rebel-held East and government-held West but recent advances by government-aligned troops mean the war could be at a turning point. The rebel-held part of the city still has around 100,000 civilians inhabiting it, while 30,000 are thought to have fled to government-controlled areas.

“What makes the Syrian war so dangerous is Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s determination to fight not simply by attacking opposing combatants, as the laws of war allow, but by targeting and indiscriminately firing upon civilians and civilian infrastructure in opposition-held areas, blatantly flouting those laws,” Kenneth Roth, the executive director of Human Rights Watch, wrote in the NY Review of Books. “Hospitals, markets, schools, and apartment buildings — the institutions of modern urban life — have all been targeted with unrelenting cruelty. For the past year, Assad’s attacks have been supplemented and intensified by the Russian air force under Russian President Vladimir Putin’s command without a discernible change in targeting strategy.”

When President-elect Donald Trump comes to power in January, Syria will be one of the major foreign policy challenges he faces. In the past, Trump has indicated a willingness to let Russia sort out the problems facing Syria, and his son supposedly held talks about Syria with Russia supporters last month. During the presidential debate, Trump said Russia is fighting ISIS in Syria and that the United States shouldn’t get involved.

Trump’s assertion that Russia is fighting ISIS in Syria is wrong. Russia’s involvement in Syria has been strictly to support the Assad regime against all opponents. It has repeatedly bombed hospitals and other civilian infrastructure in what Secretary of State John Kerry has called “war crimes.”

Despite his past stances and continued defense of Russia, it is still unclear what role Trump will take on Syria. While all the current evidence suggests Trump trusts the Russian role in Syria, there are those who maintain hope that the next administration takes a proactive role in settling the conflict.

“We hope that the new U.S. administration will play the normal and logical role of the U.S. as the defender of democracy that helps people gain their rights,” Riad Hijab, the head of the High Negotiations Committee, an organization representing Syrian opposition and rebel forces, said in an interview in Saudi Arabia. “Without a political transition, there will be no peaceful solution in Syria and no stability, not just in Syria but in the region.”

Going forward, Trump will have many big decisions to make on Syria. Until now, the U.S. has had an active role in trying to scale down the war through various attempts by Kerry to negotiate ceasefires with his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov. But the current strategy has widely been viewed as below par, to say the least, and experts familiar with the conflict suggest Trump’s administration would do well to apply more pressure on Russia.

“The reluctance to publicly pressure Russia for its actions in Syria meant that a powerful strategy was not deployed,” Roth wrote. “Assad at this stage is beyond shaming for his military’s war crimes, but Putin is not... Public pressure on Putin should be seen as a necessary companion to peace negotiations rather than an obstacle, particularly because Russia had been so unresponsive to private entreaties.”

Hope isn’t high though, with activists telling various media that the situation in Aleppo, and Syria more generally, is beyond repair. The situation for Syrians may be dire, but it could continue to deteriorate should Trump turn a blind eye to the country and let Russia have free reign.

“Even after Aleppo falls, President-elect Trump will have to address the war in Syria, whether he wants to or not,” Owen Matthews and Sophia Slater wrote in Newsweek. “Ignoring the conflict, and its aftermath, will not make it go away; a failed state in the Levant would be a disaster for all sides.”

Trump will have to deal with what is left of Aleppo was originally published in ThinkProgress on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

Categories: SCCDP Allies

Trump transition asks Energy Department to name staff who support Obama climate policies

Fri, 12/09/2016 - 7:21am
A memo sent to the department asks for names of those involved in Obama climate policies and U.N. climate meetings.CREDIT: AP Photo/Mark Lennihan

The Trump transition team has asked for a list of Energy Department employees and contractors who attended United Nations climate meetings and worked on key Obama administration climate policies, including the social cost of carbon, according to a Bloomberg report.

The requests, detailed in a memo sent to the Energy Department by the Trump transition team, suggests that President-elect Trump is not backing down from his campaign promises to completely abandon the Obama administration’s approach to U.S. climate and energy policies, and instead adopt a policy that is much friendlier to fossil fuels and much more hostile to regulations that seek to curb greenhouse gas emissions and climate change.

The social cost of carbon is a metric used to calculate the concrete benefits of certain climate policies — basically, the economic damages associated with an increase in carbon emissions. Right now, the social cost of carbon is used in various kinds of rule-making, from the Department of Energy to the EPA. But Republican lawmakers have long been critical of the metric, and Donald Trump’s energy advisers have made no secret of their desire to kill the metric altogether.

Trump’s newest policy promises show a deep misunderstanding of energy and the economy

Trump has also been very vocal about his disdain for the U.N. Paris climate agreement, a historic agreement in which nearly 200 nations agreed to significantly reduce their greenhouse gas emissions in an effort to avoid the worst consequences of climate change. Trump has called the agreement “bad for U.S. business” and said that it allows “foreign bureaucrats control over how much energy we use” — a false claim, as the agreement is built off of emission limits pledged by each country independently.

According to two Energy Department employees, who spoke with Bloomberg on the condition of anonymity, the memo sent to agency staff “unsettled” many within the agency. But a person close to Trump’s transition team told Bloomberg that the memo was merely meant to “ensure transparency on the formation of existing, Obama-era policy.”

In addition to seeking information about specific staff and contractors, the memo also singled out the Department’s Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) unit, which has helped support research and development of clean energy projects. According to Bloomberg, the transition team asked for “a complete list of ARPA-E’s projects,” as well as specific information on “Mission Innovation,”an agency initiative meant to accelerate the public and private transition to clean energy, and “Clean Energy Ministerial,” a global forum aimed at advancing clean energy technologies.

The transition team’s focus on ARPA-E seems to suggest that Trump is looking to follow through on another campaign promise to pull all federal funding on clean energy development. That would put Trump at odds with a majority of his voters, however, as 75 percent of them want the government to help accelerate the growth of clean energy — not kill it.

Trump transition asks Energy Department to name staff who support Obama climate policies was originally published in ThinkProgress on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

Categories: SCCDP Allies

A man died last night who probably would have lived if Donald Trump had lost

Fri, 12/09/2016 - 7:06am
Republicans on the Supreme Court consolidate their power.High school students protest President-elect Donald Trump’s election outside the Supreme Court CREDIT: AP Photo/Susan Walsh

Last January, the Supreme Court held in Hurst v. Florida that “the Sixth Amendment requires a jury, not a judge, to find each fact necessary to impose a sentence of death.” It wasn’t even a close decision. Eight justices agreed with the result, with Justice Samuel Alito as the lone voice in dissent.

Nevertheless, the Court’s four Republican members voted last night to allow a man to be executed, despite the fact that a jury never determined that he should be killed.

Alabama executed Ronald Bert Smith Thursday night, even though a jury determined that Smith should receive life without parole. That sentence was overruled by a judge, who condemned Smith to die in an apparent violation of Hurst.

Significantly, four justices, Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor, and Elena Kagan, voted to grant Smith a stay of execution on Thursday night. Yet, in an eight justice court, four is not enough, and none of the Court’s four Republicans crossed over to save Smith’s life.

This appears to be a departure from the Court’s ordinary practice. Under the Supreme Court’s rules, four justices can decide that the Court will hear a case, but it takes five to issue a stay. In death penalty cases in particular, this can lead to the anomalous result where the Court announces that it will decide an inmate’s fate, and yet the inmate is executed while the case is still pending for want of the fifth vote to grant a stay.

To prevent such a result, a fifth justice typically provides a “courtesy” vote to grant the stay in order to preserve the life of the inmate while the case is still pending.

Admittedly, the Roberts Court at times departed from this practice. Yet, in the aftermath of Justice Antonin Scalia’s death, when it seemed likely that Democrats would gain a majority on the Supreme Court, courtesy votes resumed:

body[data-twttr-rendered="true"] {background-color: transparent;}.twitter-tweet {margin: auto !important;}

On Nov. 3, Chief Justice Roberts cast "courtesy fifth" vote to spare Thomas Arthur from execution. No such vote tonight for Ronald Smith.

 — @adamliptak

function notifyResize(height) {height = height ? height : document.documentElement.offsetHeight; var resized = false; if (window.donkey && donkey.resize) {donkey.resize(height); resized = true;}if (parent && parent._resizeIframe) {var obj = {iframe: window.frameElement, height: height}; parent._resizeIframe(obj); resized = true;}if (window.webkit && window.webkit.messageHandlers && window.webkit.messageHandlers.resize) {window.webkit.messageHandlers.resize.postMessage(height); resized = true;}return resized;}twttr.events.bind('rendered', function (event) {notifyResize();}); twttr.events.bind('resize', function (event) {notifyResize();});if (parent && parent._resizeIframe) {var maxWidth = parseInt(window.frameElement.getAttribute("width")); if ( 500 < maxWidth) {window.frameElement.setAttribute("width", "500");}}

In fairness, courtesy votes are typically granted if the Court decides that it wants to hear a case, and the fact that four justices would have stayed Smith’s execution does not necessarily mean that they wished the full Court to hear the case. Nevertheless, if the four Democrats decided that they did not wish for the Court to hear Smith’s case, a likely reason is because they feared what could happen to the Court’s death penalty precedents once a ninth justice is appointed by President Trump.

If Chief Justice Roberts were still contemplating the likelihood that he will spend the rest of his career in the minority, by contrast, it is much more likely that he would have provided the same sort of courtesy vote that he did on November 3rd.

It’s also worth noting that, last August, Justice Breyer provided the fifth vote to stay a lower court decision permitting a transgender high school student to use the bathroom that aligns with his gender identity. In the Court’s order announcing that decision, Breyer explained that he was doing so “as a courtesy.”

At the time, many Court-watchers speculated that Breyer extended this “courtesy” in the hopes that it would be repaid when death penalty cases reached the Court in the future. If that is the case, Breyer appears to have miscalculated.

A man died last night who probably would have lived if Donald Trump had lost was originally published in ThinkProgress on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

Categories: SCCDP Allies

A botched lethal injection ends in agony

Fri, 12/09/2016 - 7:04am
Ronald B. Smith appeared to be conscious and gasping for breath during his lethal injection.CREDIT: Alabama Department of Corrections via AP

On Thursday night, Ronald B. Smith became the latest death row inmate to suffer during a lethal injection. The Alabama prisoner heaved and gasped for air for 13 minutes on the execution table, and there were reportedly no attempts to stop the procedure.

Smith’s 34-minute execution, consisting of the injection of a three-drug cocktail, began shortly after 10:30pm. But after the first drug, midazolam, was administered to render him unconscious, it was evident that Smith was conscious and in excruciating pain.

According to AL.com, he “appeared to be struggling for breath and heaved and coughed and clenched his left fist.” The head of the Department of Corrections (DOC) stepped in to test his level of consciousness by “calling out Smith’s name, brushing his eyebrows back, and pinching him under his left arm,” but the coughing and gasping didn’t let up. Smith also moved his right arm and hand after a second consciousness test was conducted.

In total, Smith’s suffering lasted between 10:34 and 10:47, at which point the remaining drugs were injected. Per Alabama Prison Commissioner Jeff Dunn’s own admission, there was no talk of halting the procedure and that the executioners stuck closely to “protocol.”

Smith ultimately died at 11:05, but his torturous demise is just the latest in a spate of botched executions involving midazolam, a controversial sedative at the heart of major legal battles in the past two years.

What The Supreme Court Just Did To The Death Penalty

Scientists and pharmacologists agree that “midazolam is incapable of inducing a ‘deep, comalike unconsciousness,” like other sedatives administered during past executions. The medical community, legal experts, and human rights advocates call the use of midazolam — an unregulated drug that isn’t approved by the Federal Drug Administration for lethal injection — cruel and unusual.

In 2015, the controversy made it to the U.S. Supreme Court, which dealt a huge blow to opponents of the death penalty. In the final opinion, authored by Justice Samuel Alito, the court ruled that there must always be a mechanism to administer the death penalty, regardless of its reliability.

Smith was one of five death row inmates who filed a lawsuit against Alabama for its new use of midazolam as the sedative in the three-part cocktail. They said that midazolam wouldn’t be effective in masking the pain associated with the other two drugs used to stop heart and lung function. In lieu of the three drugs, the five prisoners fought to be executed with one hefty dose of midazolam.

A botched lethal injection ends in agony was originally published in ThinkProgress on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

Categories: SCCDP Allies

The last Senate race of 2016 is playing out on a disappearing battleground

Fri, 12/09/2016 - 5:31am
Foster Campbell is a rare voice in Louisiana politics because he talks about climate change — a lot.Aerial view of St. Bernard Parish, Louisiana. CREDIT: AP Photo/Gerald Herbert

NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA — On Saturday, Louisianans will head to their local precincts to settle the country’s last outstanding Senate race. In just a few decades, many of those precincts could be underwater.

Louisiana is simultaneously the first state in the U.S. to literally lose ground to climate change and the home of some of the most aggressive climate deniers in politics.

“We are the canary in the coal mine,” Cynthia Sarthou, executive director of the Gulf Restoration Network, told ThinkProgress. “We are the first coastal community along the Gulf Coast really facing the challenge that is going to face all the other states as sea level rises.”

CREDIT: Screenshot, Foster Campbell for U.S. Senate ad

To national Democrats, Senate runoff candidate Foster Campbell represents a final shot to weaken the Republicans’ hold on the Senate. But in Louisiana politics, Campbell stands out for another reason: he talks about coastal erosion and climate change — a lot.

“Nineteen out of the top 20 scientists in the world believe we have global warming,” Campbell told the Baton Rouge Advocate in September. “It’s because of problems we’ve done as humans. It’s a priority with me.”

That’s not an easy position to tout in Louisiana, where much of the state economy is based on the fossil fuel industry. Even the other Democrat in the race, Caroline Fayard, initially gave the familiar “I’m not a scientist” response when asked if humans were responsible for climate change.

Campbell also recently released an ad touting his support for a lawsuit to force energy companies to pay to restore coastal wetlands damaged by oil and gas development. The ad accuses his runoff opponent, Republican John Kennedy, of being “in the pocket” of oil and gas companies.

Kennedy, who currently maintains a comfortable lead over Campbell, has pledged to fight for oil and gas companies and repeal “needless regulations.”

“Too many people in Louisiana are hurting from the liberal policies that this administration has heaped on our oil and gas industry,” he said.

“We are the canary in the coal mine.”

This is the more typical position of Louisiana’s current representatives in Congress, most of whom enjoy close relationships with oil and gas companies. With President-elect Donald Trump poised to take office, Sarthou noted the state delegation is “front and center” in the chorus of Republican lawmakers calling for a repeal of regulations and executive orders that hamper oil and gas development.

“We are the state that’s now feeling the greatest impacts from climate change. And yet we are also the state whose delegation is one of the most resistant to reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, diversification of our fuel sources,” Sarthou said. “To me, it’s shooting yourself in the foot. It’s totally ignoring the danger when you, in fact, are the one who’s going to bear the biggest brunt of that issue.”

Disappearing marshland, once a cypress forest, outside New Orleans. CREDIT: AP Photo/Gerald Herbert

In a recent interview, Campbell laid out the stakes even more bluntly: “If we continue to fail on this front, Louisiana will soon disappear.”

This isn’t hyperbole. Decisions made during the next four years could deal a fatal blow to Louisiana’s coastal communities, many of which are already facing inevitable destruction from sea level rise. Trump has vowed to expand offshore drilling and weaken regulatory agencies that protect communities from pollution. But even under today’s status quo, current projections show that the future is dim for Louisianans.

While national attention is on its Senate race, Louisiana is also preparing its Coastal Master Plan, an assessment of coastal erosion and sustainable strategies to restore land that gets updated every five years. The projections for sea level rise have already increased dramatically since the 2012 plan was released.

“In the last five years, the state’s worst case scenario in the last plan has become the best case scenario this time. That tells you a lot,” Sarthou said.

While crafting the new plan, Louisiana’s government has been forced to acknowledge the reality that much of its coast is unsalvageable. In a little-noticed move, the state recently designated certain flood-prone areas “Resettlement Zones,” in which residents are encouraged to voluntarily relocate or fend for themselves when the area inevitably floods.

One of Gulf Restoration Network’s resettlement zone maps.

The Gulf Restoration Network created maps of the regions that fit the government’s criteria, estimating that about 2,000 people already live in these resettlement zones and hundreds of thousands more will be displaced within the next 50 years.

Now, the organization’s attention will turn to helping these communities — many of which are still deeply skeptical that climate change exists, Sarthou said—lobby the government for short-term resources and funds to relocate.

Trump and Republican leadership are preparing to scale back regulation and expand oil and gas drilling on the basis that climate change is not a real threat. But for Louisiana, climate change has become a question of how to adapt, not how to prevent.

“Louisiana is going to be one of the biggest losers,” Sarthou said.

The last Senate race of 2016 is playing out on a disappearing battleground was originally published in ThinkProgress on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

Categories: SCCDP Allies

Inside the child sexual abuse scandal that’s enveloping English soccer

Fri, 12/09/2016 - 5:01am
There are over 350 allegations and counting.The Chelsea football club flag is waved on the pitich prior to the start to of the English Premier League soccer match between Chelsea and Leicester City, at Stamford Bridge stadium in London, Saturday, Oct. 15, 2016. CREDIT: AP Photo/Alastair Grant

When former professional soccer player Andy Woodward was only 11 years old, a coach at his youth soccer club began to sexually assault him. The abuse continued for years. The coach, Barry Bennell, used his position of power and threats of violence to keep Woodward silent. It was a neverending nightmare, one that only got worse when Bennell began dating, and later married, Woodward’s older sister, making the two brother-in-laws.

In 1995, while Bennell was being investigated for abusing other young boys, Woodward came forward privately and to police. But that wasn’t enough for him. Sensing that there were other victims — possibly hundreds — he waived his anonymity and told his full story to the Guardian last month.

It turns out that Woodward’s suspicions were correct. Since the cover story was published just three weeks ago, over 350 allegations similar to Woodward’s have been made against 55 clubs (some professional, some not), and investigations have been launched by several prominent soccer organizations and 21 police forces in the U.K.

One victim that came forward has referred to it as a “pedophile ring.”

The sheer volume of the reports and allegations is staggering, and it might still only be the tip of the iceberg. Here’s a look at what we know about the allegations so far, how far up the scandal goes, and what happens next.

What are the allegations?

Woodward, now 43, told the Guardian that Bennell sexually abused him repeatedly from the ages of 11 to 15 while he was a player at the Crewe Alexandria club. He says that Bennell, who had a reputation as one of the premiere youth soccer coaches in the country, methodically targeted the “softer, weaker boys.” The pedophile kept Woodward silent for so long by threatening to ruin his career or by threatening physical violence, often showing off his nunchuck skills as a warning.

After hearing Woodward’s story, 44-year-old Chris Unsworth came forward publicly as well, saying he was raped between 50 and 100 times.

“I would never have come forward if I hadn’t seen Andy on television,” Unsworth said.

“I know what he has been through because I have been through exactly the same … All the lads have been through the same.”

body[data-twttr-rendered="true"] {background-color: transparent;}.twitter-tweet {margin: auto !important;}

Thank you every single person from my heart. This will give real people a voice. We are united to make change I really now totally believe.

 — @AndyWoodward2

function notifyResize(height) {height = height ? height : document.documentElement.offsetHeight; var resized = false; if (window.donkey && donkey.resize) {donkey.resize(height); resized = true;}if (parent && parent._resizeIframe) {var obj = {iframe: window.frameElement, height: height}; parent._resizeIframe(obj); resized = true;}if (window.webkit && window.webkit.messageHandlers && window.webkit.messageHandlers.resize) {window.webkit.messageHandlers.resize.postMessage(height); resized = true;}return resized;}twttr.events.bind('rendered', function (event) {notifyResize();}); twttr.events.bind('resize', function (event) {notifyResize();});if (parent && parent._resizeIframe) {var maxWidth = parseInt(window.frameElement.getAttribute("width")); if ( 500 < maxWidth) {window.frameElement.setAttribute("width", "500");}}

Four other players have publicly come forward as victims of Bennell, including Steve Walters at Crewe; David White and Jason Dunford while playing for Whitehill, a junior club in Manchester run by Bennell; and Ian Ackley, who says that Bennell raped him “hundreds of times” during his time on a youth soccer team in Derbyshire.

But this goes far beyond just Bennell. Woodward inspired many who were abused by other coaches to come forward as well, including Newcastle United’s Derek Bell and David Eatock.

According to the Guardian, in the 1970s, Bell was sexually abused hundreds of times between the ages of 12 and 16 by his youth coach, George Ormond, who was convicted for sexually abusing boys in 2002. Ormond later went on to coach at Newcastle United, where he abused David Eatock.

“I know what he has been through because I have been through exactly the same … All the lads have been through the same.”

Paul Stewart, a former top-tier player in England, came forward to talk about the sexual abuse he suffered at the hands of Frank Roper, a prominent youth soccer coach who died 11 years ago. Stewart said that Roper threatened to kill his parents and brothers if he told anyone.

Two former players in the Southampton youth system, Dean Radford and Jamie Webb, told the BBC that they were “groomed and abused” by a former club employee. Gary Johnson, a former Chelsea player, has alleged that Eddie Heath, the club’s former scout, sexually abused him. In the past few days, there have been allegations made against coaches in Scotland and Ireland as well.

Last week, Bennell was charged with eight offences of sexual assault against a boy under the age of 14, likely all occurring between 1981 and 1985. Bennell has already been jailed three times for the rape and abuse of boys.

Was there a cover up?

All of these allegations have many wondering whether this is another Penn State situation — was it an open secret within many of these clubs that boys were being sexually abused? Did the people in charge actively work to cover this up?

The answer, it unfortunately seems, is yes.

Woodward told the Guardian that during his time at Crewe, many openly alluded to Bennell’s abuse in the locker room.

“That’s how football worked back then: ‘We can talk about it within these walls, but we keep it watertight and it doesn’t go any further.’”

“Other players would say directly to my face: ‘I bet he does this to you, we know he does that.’ There was all that dressing-room bravado,” Woodward said. “Then, outside the club, it was never discussed. That’s how football worked back then: ‘We can talk about it within these walls, but we keep it watertight and it doesn’t go any further.’ Nobody wanted to break that circle of trust.

“That club has been never been held accountable. My belief, after all these years, is that it must have been well known within the club that he had young boys staying over.”

Woodward is far from alone in that sentiment.

“I believe there was a conspiracy, there was a pedophile ring, and there was people at those football clubs who had a duty to look after the welfare of young boys coming through their system,” Dunford, who was allegedly abused by both Bannell and Roper, said.

“This is their potential future stars, and their future stars are being sexually assaulted and sexually abused by a member of their staff.”

body[data-twttr-rendered="true"] {background-color: transparent;}.twitter-tweet {margin: auto !important;}

Andy Woodward is a modern day hero what he has started will reform the way our children are protected from evil sexual predators

 — @jpdoafc

function notifyResize(height) {height = height ? height : document.documentElement.offsetHeight; var resized = false; if (window.donkey && donkey.resize) {donkey.resize(height); resized = true;}if (parent && parent._resizeIframe) {var obj = {iframe: window.frameElement, height: height}; parent._resizeIframe(obj); resized = true;}if (window.webkit && window.webkit.messageHandlers && window.webkit.messageHandlers.resize) {window.webkit.messageHandlers.resize.postMessage(height); resized = true;}return resized;}twttr.events.bind('rendered', function (event) {notifyResize();}); twttr.events.bind('resize', function (event) {notifyResize();});if (parent && parent._resizeIframe) {var maxWidth = parseInt(window.frameElement.getAttribute("width")); if ( 500 < maxWidth) {window.frameElement.setAttribute("width", "500");}}

Johnson, a former Chelsea star, took things even farther last week, telling the Daily Mirror that he was paid £50,000 by the prestigious club just last year to keep quiet about his allegations that Heath had sexually abused him in the 1970s.

“I think that they were paying me to keep a lid on this,” he told the Mirror. “Millions of fans around the world watch Chelsea. They are one of the biggest and richest clubs in the world. All their fans deserve to know the truth about what went on. I know they asked me to sign a gagging order and how many others are there out there?”

What happens next?

In the weeks and months to come, most officials involved expect the list of allegations to grow.

Individual clubs like Newcastle, Manchester City, and Crewe, have all opened inquiries to investigate their handling of the allegations. On Wednesday, the three Chelsea bosses who provided Johnson with the hush money last year met with the striker to apologize.

“I know they asked me to sign a gagging order and how many others are there out there?”

“They admitted they had made mistakes about the confidentiality clause and said they would not do that again,” Johnson said. The club has hired an independent lawfirm to investigate the abuse by their former scout, as more victims have come forward with allegations against Heath.

The Football Association has also launched an independent inquiry. Greg Clark, the FA chairman, called the allegations of hush money payments “morally repugnant,” adding that any club found guilty of the practice will be punished. But Clark wanted to assure everyone that the sport is much safer today.

“We can never be complacent, but thankfully huge progress has been made in the last 10 years when it comes to safeguarding,” he said. “All clubs now have dedicated people tasked with keeping kids safe, but there’s always more to be done.”

Woodward, meanwhile, has been overwhelmed by the response the past few weeks. He joined with fellow survivors Walters and Unsworth to form The Offside Trust, an independent trust that aims to support victims of child sex abuse in all sports, not just soccer, and come forward and begin the path towards healing.

Inside the child sexual abuse scandal that’s enveloping English soccer was originally published in ThinkProgress on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

Categories: SCCDP Allies

Trump to be part-time president, keep lucrative job with Celebrity Apprentice

Thu, 12/08/2016 - 5:43pm
Yes, this is real life.CREDIT: Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP

The presidency isn’t enough for Donald Trump.

While in the Oval Office, he’ll moonlight as an executive producer for Celebrity Apprentice, the NBC show he starred on for more than a decade.

It is not merely a ceremonial role. Trump will be paid at least five-figures per episode, Variety reports.

The arrangement is an unprecedented, ongoing financial entanglement between NBC, which also operates on of the nation’s leading news organizations, and a sitting president. Trump will be paid by MGM, which produces the show.

In June 2015, after Trump made bigoted remarks about immigrants, NBC publicly severed its financial relationship with him and said he would no longer be participating in The Apprentice.

CREDIT: NBCUniversal.com

He would never be back on Celebrity Apprentice, as long as I’m here,” NBC entertainment chairman Robert Greenblatt said.

That, apparently, is all in the past.

The unusual arrangement also raises questions about the role Mark Burnett, the creator of The Apprentice, played in bottling up footage that could have damaged Trump’s presidential campaign.

body[data-twttr-rendered="true"] {background-color: transparent;}.twitter-tweet {margin: auto !important;}

As a producer on seasons 1 &amp; 2 of #theapprentice I assure you: when it comes to the #trumptapes there are far worse. #justthebegininng

 — @billpruitt

function notifyResize(height) {height = height ? height : document.documentElement.offsetHeight; var resized = false; if (window.donkey && donkey.resize) {donkey.resize(height); resized = true;}if (parent && parent._resizeIframe) {var obj = {iframe: window.frameElement, height: height}; parent._resizeIframe(obj); resized = true;}if (window.webkit && window.webkit.messageHandlers && window.webkit.messageHandlers.resize) {window.webkit.messageHandlers.resize.postMessage(height); resized = true;}return resized;}twttr.events.bind('rendered', function (event) {notifyResize();}); twttr.events.bind('resize', function (event) {notifyResize();});if (parent && parent._resizeIframe) {var maxWidth = parseInt(window.frameElement.getAttribute("width")); if ( 500 < maxWidth) {window.frameElement.setAttribute("width", "500");}}

BuzzFeed News reported that Burnett “threatened staffers who could release potentially damaging outtakes of the show.” A source told BuzzFeed that Burnett “is pro-Trump and has made clear to his teams that he will sue anyone who leaks.”

Burnett denied the allegations. He also released a statement denying he was even a Trump supporter.

I am not now and have never been a supporter of Donald Trump’s candidacy. I am NOT ‘Pro-Trump.’ Further, my wife and I reject the hatred, division and misogyny that has been a very unfortunate part of his campaign.

Burnett’s conduct after the campaign suggests he was being less than candid. In addition to keeping Trump on as a paid executive producer, Burnett is also reportedly helping Trump plan his inaugural festivities.

According to the New York Times, Burnett suggested “a parade up Fifth Avenue, a helicopter ride to Washington from New York that could hold the attention of millions of people expected to watch from around the world.”

The Times described Burnett as one of Trump’s two “oldest friends.”

Asked about the arrangement spokesperson Hope Hicks said that Trump had “a big stake in the show.” Trump has previously described himself holding 50% ownership.

Trump’s decision to maintain a paid position with the Celebrity Apprentice reflects his overall disregard for conflicts of interest that could impact his presidency.

Trump is reportedly planning to maintain ownership over his far-flung business empire. That decision will make him the beneficiary of a stream of payments from foreign governments — something that is expressly prohibited by the Constitution.

Legal experts, including the Chief Ethics Counsels for Barack Obama and George W. Bush, told ThinkProgress last month that if Trump does not sell his businesses he will violate the Constitution on his first day in office.

Presidential elector says he will reject Trump, cites foreign payments prohibited by Constitution

Trump’s pledge to maintain ownership but relinquish “control” does nothing to resolved the legal and ethical issues, the experts said.

Trump to be part-time president, keep lucrative job with Celebrity Apprentice was originally published in ThinkProgress on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

Categories: SCCDP Allies

Fossil fuel executives, Republicans celebrate Trump’s EPA nominee

Thu, 12/08/2016 - 2:06pm
A conservative think tank touts more drilling, less environmental protections.Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt arrives at Trump Tower in New York on Wednesday. CREDIT: AP Photo/Andrew Harnik

While Democrats vowed to fight the nomination of a climate denier to head up the Environmental Protection Agency, Republican congressmen and fossil fuel industry leaders celebrated on Thursday.

They laid out a straightforward agenda of rolling back environmental regulations, increasing fossil fuel production, and embarking on a public campaign to re-educate Americans against climate change.

Lawmakers at what was billed as “the premier energy and climate policy event in America,” hosted by the Texas Public Policy Foundation and the Heritage Foundation in Washington, D.C., framed the debate between addressing climate change and producing more fossil fuels as one between government overreach versus states and workers rights.

“We’re winning this thing, very clearly,” Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-TX) said. Recounting a 20-year history of opposing climate change action, Inhofe alleged that the U.S. public now believes that climate change is not a concern.

“The American people are smarter than the people on the floor trying to keep this thing going,” Inhofe, chair of the Senate Committee on Environment Public Works, told the audience.

Inhofe recounted the infamous story of being asked by his granddaughter why he doesn’t believe in climate change — a story he says demonstrates how the EPA is brainwashing the nation’s children. Under the newly announced nominee for administrator, climate denier and current Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt, that will change, Inhofe said.

“Scott Pruitt and I are going to do something to try to save our next generation,” he said.

Senate Democrats gear up to fight Trump’s ‘dangerous’ EPA nominee

Pruitt has been a staunch opponent of the EPA — fighting the Mercury Rule, which seeks to limit the amount of toxic heavy metals from power plants; fighting the Waters of the United States Rule, which seeks to protect drinking water sources for a third of Americans; and fighting the Clean Power Plan, a carbon-reduction plan that is seen as the country’s best chance of complying with the Paris climate agreement, which is seen as the world’s best hope of preventing catastrophic global warming.

Pruitt will be received by like-minded members of Congres.

Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT), another speaker at the event, said he welcomes Pruitt’s leadership at the EPA. Like Inhofe, he framed the current debate as one between out-of-touch bureaucrats and local people. Washington’s federal agencies need a “fundamental attitude adjustment,” he said.

With Republican control of the House, Senate, and White House, Lee said his first order of business would be to use the Congressional Review Act to roll back methane emissions regulations and a rule requiring coal mining to take place at a safe distance from drinking water sources. In addition, “Trump needs to reverse the moratorium on coal leasing,” Lee said.

Lawmakers were not the only ones dancing on the grave of the Obama administration’s most ambitious environmental regulations. The fossil fuel industry, including leaders from Peabody Energy, the Texas Independent Producers & Royalty Owners Association, and the Quintana Group, a fossil fuel investment fund, was heavily represented. (At a conference about clean energy and climate, no representatives from the solar or wind industry were listed on the event’s day-long program.)

The Koch brothers, Big Oil, and Texas utilities are already shaping Trump’s environmental agenda

Introduced to the audience as “one of the largest coal owners in the United States” and a “third-generation oilman,” Quintana’s Corbin Robertson suggested that Republicans go on a media offensive against the EPA and environmental regulations. He urged attendees and lawmakers to take out ads in newspapers challenging the science of climate change.

“I think of myself as an environmental educator,” Robertson said, educating the crowd on how the earth has been warming since the 1750s (other attendees said “since Genesis”) and that sea-level rise was constant.

Robertson insists that carbon dioxide, which does in fact drive climate change, is simply “a trace element in the atmosphere does not cause weather.”

On the other hand, “we don’t know beans about the effects of water vapor,” Robertson said.

(Actual scientists, including Dr. J. Marshall Shepherd, the 2013 President of American Meteorological Society and director of the University of Georgia’s (UGA) Atmospheric Sciences Program, can fully explain why water vapor is a red herring in the climate change conversation.)

These are the organizations that have a voice in shaping the forthcoming Trump administration: The Heritage Foundation and the Texas Public Policy Foundation, the two hosts of Thursday’s event, are closely tied to Trump’s transition team and emerging White House staff.

Trump, for his part, has repeatedly denied that climate change is a real, existential threat to our coasts and our global stability.

Fossil fuel executives, Republicans celebrate Trump’s EPA nominee was originally published in ThinkProgress on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

Categories: SCCDP Allies

WATCH: Muslim-Americans prepare to defend themselves from hate in a ‘Trump society’

Thu, 12/08/2016 - 1:29pm
Muslim-Americans prepare to defend themselves from hate in a ‘Trump society’“I’m ready for it. Bring it on.”https://medium.com/media/46db8d5762b85deb431a70f553a283e1/href

2016 has been a difficult year to be Muslim in America. Politicians employed and embraced Islamophobic rhetoric on the campaign trail, and incidents of hate exploded across the country after election day. According to the FBI, 2015 saw a 67% increase in hate crimes against Muslims, the worst year on record since 2001, and by the time it’s over, 2016 is expected to be worse.

“The overwhelming response, I think for most of us, is shock, but also a palpable kind of hurt and fear,” said Imam Johari Abdul-Malik, Director of Outreach at Dar Al Hijrah Islamic Center, one of the largest mosques in northern Virginia. “The unfortunate reality is that people tend to be emboldened if their leaders say something or do something.”

But many members of Dar Al Hijrah also saw the election of Donald Trump as a clarion call.

“The arc bends towards justice. It is possible in America to achieve this objective, but they will not be achieved without struggle,” saidImam Johari.” CREDIT: Katelyn Marmon/ThinkProgress

“Now more than ever, it’s expected that Muslims be vigilant in terms of being vocal for their rights and their responsibilities, challenging people who may be trying to spread the negative narrative about Muslims,” said Adburahman Hassan.

For Hanan Seid, the urge to speak up isn’t new, but the election made it stronger.

“The feeling of always knowing to walk into a room and [being] prepared to defend yourself, that feeling has always been there,” said Hanan. “Now we know what we’re about to lose…We’re about to lose the freedom of being here because we’re afraid to speak out.”

“The way I feel about the next four years is that I’m ready for it. Bring it on.”

“Spoken word to me is a political outlet,” said Hanan Seid. “I decided to fight those battles on stage. With the limelight, with everything.” CREDIT: Victoria Fleischer/ThinkProgress

Transcript:

HANAN: I’m an immigrant, African American female and I am a Muslim living in America. That’s like magical. That’s why I defend myself and that’s why I would like to see the next generations and the generations after that to be not afraid of being unapologetic and being who they are 100 percent.

TEXT: 2015 was the most dangerous year to be Muslim in America since 2001.

PRESIDENT-ELECT DONALD TRUMP: Donald J Trump is calling for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States.

I think Islam hates us.

It’s like they’re protecting each other but they’re really doing very bad damage.

TEXT: 2016 is expect to be worse.

But members of the Dar Al-Hijrah Islamic Center aren’t backing down.

ABDURAHMAN: Donald trump’s rhetoric has basically given people a reason or even somewhat I would say legitimacy to actually justify their hatred towards muslims.

TAQWA: People call in give us death threats. and we’ve had someone throw like a fake bomb.

ISMAEL: You’re not only scared about who you are, but who you believe in.

HANAN:It’s been there for quite a long time, the only reason it hasn’t been vocalized it hasn’t been talked about as much is because we don’t tally it, And now people are not afraid to record it.

ISMAEL: I’m trying to help my mosque, create Facebook for them. We can use this technology to empower, to raise our voice and raise our agenda.

HANAN: We defend each other if that makes any sense. So we sit there and we kind of talk about the elections, be open about it. Talk about it to younger generations to empower them to be ready for this Trump society.

TAQWA: If we don’t stand together and defend ourselves and stand up for ourselves, who’s going to do it? Can we take this frustration and turn it into something good?

HANAN: Well a lot of people think that the only way we can really defend ourselves and fight this Trump society is by empowering only the Muslim community, right? When in reality if we empowered ourselves and other religions, other people together. That way we have a bigger army, we have a bigger voice.

ABDURAHMAN: The better that you have these coalitions working together, the more progress I think can be done in terms of working towards uniting the country

TAQWA: I believe that it’s like a test for us, of how we stand by our faith and like how we help others.

ISMAEL: For me, for my Muslim community, it’s time for us basically to wake up, it’s time for us to reach out non-muslim people outside so we can have a partner who works with us, who can fight the good fight with us.

HANAN: Honestly I have been preparing for moments like this since, like I said before. I’m ready for it. Bring it on.

WATCH: Muslim-Americans prepare to defend themselves from hate in a ‘Trump society’ was originally published in ThinkProgress on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

Categories: SCCDP Allies

The world turned upside down

Thu, 12/08/2016 - 12:35pm
CREDIT: AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki

Donald Trump’s administration keeps taking shape, and keeps getting scarier. A climate denier is set to lead the EPA at the worst possible time, and the Department of Labor will be headed by an opponent of raising the minimum wage — who also happens to be a misogynist. Let’s not even talk about the Department of Justice.

Do all these cabinet appointments make you want to stage a public protest of Trump’s administration? Well more bad news: Trump has a say in where you can and can’t do that.

CREDIT: CNN screengrab

The leader of United Steelworkers 1999 union, which represents Carrier workers, had some choice words for Trump. Now, he’s being attacked for taking a stand.

Reading List

Ohio lawmakers have approved the most extreme abortion ban in the country. Gulp.

PSA: Stop erasing the humanity of trans* people, in life and in death.

Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, potential future Secretary of State, does not think Vladimir Putin’s human rights abuses are a problem.

Feeling a bit helpless? Want to support the work we do? Donate to ThinkProgress . Give $40 and we’ll throw in a t-shirt.

Soundbite

Among all of these DREAMers, there are some awfully bad people. Some of these DREAMers go on to the age of 37 or 38 or maybe older, and that’s if they tell the truth.”

— Rep. Steve King (R-IA)

The world turned upside down was originally published in ThinkProgress on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

Categories: SCCDP Allies

Trump cons the media on climate

Thu, 12/08/2016 - 10:32am
Meetings with Al Gore and Leonardo DiCaprio are not the story.President-elect Donald Trump speaks to members of the media in the lobby at Trump Tower in New York, Dec. 6, 2016. CREDIT: AP Photo/Andrew Harnik

This week, President-elect Donald Trump met with some of the biggest names in climate activism: former vice president Al Gore and actor Leonardo DiCaprio. His daughter Ivanka, a trusted adviser and business partner, met with both of them as well. Then Trump named an unabashed enemy of the Environmental Protection Agency to head it.

Speculation over how Ivanka’s purported interest in climate change and desire to involve key figures like Gore might influence her father’s extreme views generated significant buzz —a convenient distraction from Trump’s most anti-environmental action to date, the selection of Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt to lead the EPA.

Google search trends, though an imperfect measure of public attention, show a much bigger spike for Trump and Gore than Pruitt. Combined interest in Gore and DiCaprio appears to match interest in Pruitt just one day after his selection was reported.

CREDIT: Google Trends

As a candidate, Trump was quite clear about his intentions for the environment. He pledged to end all federal spending on clean energy research and development, plus all other spending on anything to do with climate change. He vowed to “cancel” the landmark Paris climate agreement. He has repeatedly denied the reality of climate change. Nevertheless, the hope that he would soften those extreme positions as president persisted.

Building on anonymously-sourced reports that Ivanka wanted to take on a more substantive role, with climate change as one of her key issues, the announcement that she was meeting with Gore on Tuesday — specifically to discuss climate — generated significant interest. That only increased when it was revealed Gore spent the bulk of his time with the president-elect and found the conversation “very productive.”

Ivanka Trump will not save the planet

On Wednesday, Trump and his daughter met with DiCaprio, and reportedly received a presentation on the economic benefits of renewable energy and sustainable infrastructure. That same day, the president-elect selected Pruitt to run the EPA.

Pruitt has obfuscated the scientific consensus regarding climate change, claiming falsely that “scientists continue to disagree about the degree and extent of global warming and its connection to the actions of mankind.” In his current position, he has been a vocal opponent of the EPA and President Barack Obama’s most significant climate action, the Clean Power Plan. Pruitt also has deep ties to the fossil fuel industry: In 2011, for instance, he sent a letter to the EPA criticizing restrictions on air pollution from natural gas production. The New York Times discovered that an Oklahoma-based oil and gas company had actually written the letter, and then publicly praised Pruitt for sending it.

Pruitt’s selection was widely regarded as the worst-case scenario for environmental groups. Democratic Senators are gearing up to fight his nomination, which several referred to as “dangerous.” While Trump taking a meeting with Gore represented a “glimmer of hope” for some observers, the president-elect is largely following through on his campaign promises: filling his administration with people who deny or dismiss the threat of climate change and setting the stage for a wholesale assault on regulations designed to ensure access to clean air and water.

There will be those like Morning Joe host Joe Scarborough who will likely continue to claim they “just know” Trump “has to believe” in climate science, but such speculation is baseless when examined alongside the president-elect’s actions. He has vowed repeatedly to reverse the previous administration’s climate action, cripple the agencies tasked with protecting the environment, and turn his focus to fossil fuels. We shouldn’t be surprised to see him do just that.

Trump cons the media on climate was originally published in ThinkProgress on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

Categories: SCCDP Allies

How religious conservatives unwittingly laid the groundwork to help Native Americans save their…

Thu, 12/08/2016 - 10:31am
How religious conservatives unwittingly laid the groundwork to help Native Americans save their landFun fact: Native Americans have religious freedom too.CREDIT: AP/David Goldman

Much has been written about the success of the Standing Rock protests, where a sustained campaign launched by self-described “water protectors” hailing from more than 300 indigenous tribes managed to pressure the Army Corps of Engineers into reevaluating its support for the construction of the controversial Dakota Access Pipeline. Although it remains unclear whether the decision will withstand a Donald Trump administration, many commentators and environmental advocates have heralded the victory as a bellwether for the power of activism.

Michael McNally, a professor of religion at Minnesota’s Carleton College and an expert on sacred land disputes, saw the Army’s decision as both energizing for indigenous rights advocates and a deterrent against businesses who want to build on sacred land.

“Standing Rock is oxygen to the activists who can see the effects of prayer and ceremony,” he told ThinkProgress in an interview. “But it also serves as a cautionary tale to developers, that it may be cost effective to take seriously when a tribe has concerns over cultural and sacred sites — it’s better to try to negotiate something before there are camps and roadblocks.”

But as the “protectors” dig in for the winter to make sure the Army maintains its position under the Trump administration, McNally suggests there is a another way for indigenous groups to win victories for the preservation of their sacred lands without months of exhausting activism: argue cases on religious freedom grounds by citing the Religious Freedom and Restoration Act (RFRA), the same law used to great effect by conservative Christian groups and companies such as Hobby Lobby to win “religious liberty” fights.

“Standing Rock is oxygen to the activists who can see the effects of prayer and ceremony.”

Native American claims to sacred land have a long and fraught legal history, with tribes often losing cases when they cite religious freedom — including the Standing Rock Sioux, who actually lost their legal battle to protect the land in North Dakota. The tribe accused the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers of violating the National Historic Protection Act (NHPA) and National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) when it issued permits allowing for the construction of the pipeline, arguing companies and the government did not adequately consult with tribes beforehand about the religious, cultural, and environment impact of a potential spill (as is required by law).

But a D.C. District Court judge did not agree, and the Army’s recent decision to reevaluate building at Standing Rock appears to be more influenced by environmental concerns and the unprecedented wave of native activism than any religious claims.

Oak Flat demonstrators in Washignton, D.C. in 2015. CREDIT: Jack Jenkins/ThinkProgress

The legal battle over Arizona’s Oak Flat region, which pits the Resolution Copper company against the Apache tribe, is also centered around NHPA and NEPA — an ominous sign for its legal future.

“NHPA and NEPA are procedural in nature, but their legal teeth…is pretty weak,” McNally said. “That is probably one of the reasons why [Standing Rock advocates] lost in federal court for the preliminary injunction.”

McNally suggests that tribes could avoid what he called the “he-said-she-said” nature of these and many other future cases by reframing them under RFRA, a law passed in 1993 to correct a controversial Supreme Court decision that failed to protect the religious rights of two Native Americans.

“An ember of possibility for RFRA protection of Native American sacred sites has begun to glow again…”

Native Americans have filed suit using RFRA before, with less-than-inspiring results. In 2008, the Navajo Nation and other tribes sued the U.S. Forest Service for allowing a ski resort to use artificial snow created with treated sewage on Arizona’s San Francisco peaks, a mountain the tribe deem sacred. The tribes contended that fake snow defiled their religious site and constituted a “substantial burden” on their spiritual beliefs under RFRA, but the Ninth Circuit ruled against them anyway, arguing that the bar for a “burden” on faith is much higher.

But as McNally points out in a February 2015 article in the Journal of Law and Religion, the legal understanding of religious liberty — and the threshold for “substantial burden” — shifted after the landmark 2014 Supreme Court case Burwell v. Hobby Lobby, when justices granted the craft giant’s evangelical Christian owners an exemption from the Affordable Care Act’s contraception mandate, citing their faith. The deeply controversial case radically expanded the legal definition of “religion” — specifically as contained within RFRA — in ways many believe to be deeply problematic. But it may also have the unintended consequence of giving Native Americans and Native Hawaiians a new legal mechanism for defending land they deem to be sacred.

A group of veterans at Standing Rock on Monday, December 5. CREDIT: AP/David Goldman

“The Hobby Lobby decision clearly opens the door for rethinking the Ninth Circuit’s interpretive posture in Navajo Nation,” McNally writes, explaining that the new decision has the potential to overturn previous lawsuits where judges deemed RFRA to be inadequate for sacred land claims. “An ember of possibility for RFRA protection of Native American sacred sites has begun to glow again, oxygenated by the Supreme Court’s recent holding in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby.

“RFRA expands the definition of religion,” McNally added in an interview with ThinkProgress. “Hobby Lobby says that RFRA is bigger [than] the First Amendment.”

…It’s worth repeating that RFRA was originally created specifically to help protect the religious claims of Native Americans.

To be sure, many progressives are wary of the newly expanded interpretation of RFRA since the law could enhance the ability of right wing religious groups to use it for their own purposes. Moreover, it’s not entirely clear that such a defense would hold up in court, as Native Americans have thus far only made use of the Hobby Lobby decision in a dispute between two tribes.

But tribes are running out of legal options, and it’s worth repeating that RFRA was originally created specifically to help protect the religious claims of Native Americans, among other groups. And while environmental activists may prefer to win what they consider to be environmental cases on environmental terms, the outlook for climate-related fights under a Trump administration looks increasingly bleak. More to the point: Native Americans and Native Hawaiians often see no distinction between the categories of “environmental” and “religious” — for many who gathered at Standing Rock, the two concepts are theologically inextricable, which is why the protest was often called a “prayer camp.”

McNally and others argue that courts have spent decades ignoring the validity of Native religious claims, misunderstanding indigenous faith as an amorphous form of “spirituality” that is difficult to parse legally. But perhaps now — thanks in large part to the media attention drawn by Standing Rock demonstrators, who often listed their religious concerns in public speeches — Native American tribes can make inroads, using RFRA as their vehicle.

As McNally notes, while the Standing Rock protests were a triumph for prayerful activism, it’s always preferable to have legal precedent on your side.

“It would be a lot nicer if a federal judge had just decided [in favor of the tribes],” he said.

How religious conservatives unwittingly laid the groundwork to help Native Americans save their… was originally published in ThinkProgress on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

Categories: SCCDP Allies

Steve King: There are ‘awfully bad people’ among DREAMer population

Thu, 12/08/2016 - 10:08am
In reality, these DREAMers go through a lengthy, rigorous vetting process.Rep. Steve King (R-IA) CREDIT: AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall, File

Rep. Steve King (R-IA) claimed Thursday that there are “awfully bad people” among the DREAMer population — people brought to the country as children who are protected under President Obama’s executive action on immigration.

“Among all of these DREAMers, there are some awfully bad people,” King said in an interview with CNN host Alisyn Camerota. “Some of these DREAMers go on to the age of 37 or 38 or maybe older, and that’s if they tell the truth.”

When pressed to give an example of “awfully bad” DREAMers, King pointed to drug traffickers “hauling an average of about 65 pounds” of marijuana across the Texas border, saying they would qualify for Obama’s executive action known as the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) initiative, which grants temporary deportation relief and work authorization.

“I’ve been down there and helped arrest people that are smuggling drugs in,” King said. “I have watched as these packs of marijuana are on the backs of young men that are walking across the border. They’re hauling an average of about 65 pounds. Some of them every day they take another load. They would qualify too.”

body[data-twttr-rendered="true"] {background-color: transparent;}.twitter-tweet {margin: auto !important;}

@SteveKingIA: Among all of these "dreamers," there are some awfully bad people.

 — @NewDay

function notifyResize(height) {height = height ? height : document.documentElement.offsetHeight; var resized = false; if (window.donkey && donkey.resize) {donkey.resize(height); resized = true;}if (parent && parent._resizeIframe) {var obj = {iframe: window.frameElement, height: height}; parent._resizeIframe(obj); resized = true;}if (window.webkit && window.webkit.messageHandlers && window.webkit.messageHandlers.resize) {window.webkit.messageHandlers.resize.postMessage(height); resized = true;}return resized;}twttr.events.bind('rendered', function (event) {notifyResize();}); twttr.events.bind('resize', function (event) {notifyResize();});if (parent && parent._resizeIframe) {var maxWidth = parseInt(window.frameElement.getAttribute("width")); if ( 500 < maxWidth) {window.frameElement.setAttribute("width", "500");}}

In reality, it’s unlikely that drug traffickers crossing the border on a daily basis could qualify for DACA at all. Applicants must undergo a long process that includes providing years of documentation, undergoing background checks, and submitting biometric data. They must also ensure that they entered the country before June 15, 2007 and have not left the country without permission since then.

King’s hard-line approach on immigration — while not new — was in response to the softened rhetoric that President-elect Donald Trump appeared to take during an interview published Wednesday regarding DREAMers.

“They got brought here at a very young age, they’ve worked here, they’ve gone to school here,” Trump told Time magazine. “Some were good students. Some have wonderful jobs. And they’re in never-never land because they don’t know what’s going to happen.”

Trump’s rhetoric may not mean much, however. The president-elect made campaign promises to end the DACA initiative within his first 100 days in office. His advisers include anti-immigrant politicians like Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, who has called for extreme vetting of immigrants from majority-Muslim countries and the creation of a Muslim registry. Another Trump adviser, Rep. Lou Barletta (R-PA), cracked down hard on undocumented immigrants when he was mayor of Hazleton, Pennsylvania. And this week, Trump selected retired Marine Gen. John Kelly, who favors the continuation of private, for-profit immigration detention centers, to run the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

Steve King: There are ‘awfully bad people’ among DREAMer population was originally published in ThinkProgress on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

Categories: SCCDP Allies

Pages