Category Archives: News Gate

How France’s presidential election could break – or make – the EU

Victory for ‘Brussels sweetheart’ Emmanuel Macron would cheer the EU but it has many reasons to fear a Le Pen or Mélenchon win

With two convinced Eurosceptics and an equally fervent pro-European among the four contenders with a chance of reaching the run-off, France’s too-tight-to-call presidential election could conceivably break – or make – the EU.

European officials and diplomats appear generally unconvinced that France, a core member of the bloc, will actually leave – an idea touted, not always forcefully, by the hard-left candidate, Jean-Luc Mélenchon, and his far-right rival, Marine Le Pen.

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Children discovered on brink of starvation in Belarusian orphanages

Teenagers weighing less than 3st are among those found in homes in scandal recalling Romanian orphanages of 1990s

Almost 100 children and young people have been found on the brink of starvation in orphanages in Belarus, prompting widespread public revulsion and a criminal investigation.

Prosecutors, doctors and officials from children’s homes have revealed that clusters of severely malnourished youngsters have languished at the homes for years. Some teenagers weighed as little as 15kg (2st 5lb).

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Canada’s great outdoors: readers’ travel tips

Wildlife, mountains, islands and forests … Canada’s natural wonders – from Nova Scotia to Vancouver – have left an indelible mark on our intrepid readers

Send a tip for next week’s competition to win a £200 hotel voucher

If you want to experience authentic, raw, outdoor Canada then a few days in Willmore wilderness park will take you out of your comfort zone. Motor vehicles of any kind are banned, but you can hire a horse or a trapper (both about £20 an hour) – otherwise risk it on your own. Trails wind their way through dense forests and along wild river valleys. Take a sturdy tent or knock on the doors of hunters’ wooden huts when you see them. You may be greeted with a shotgun and a suspicious snarl as we were – then a plate of yummy moose meat, cooked on a blazing fire.

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China chases billionaire who threatens ‘explosive’ allegations against elite

Guo Wengui says he is victim of a witch hunt after he vows to lift the lid on alleged corruption at senior levels of the Communist party

A flamboyant Chinese billionaire known for his love of supercars and social media has claimed he is the victim of a political witch hunt after he threatened to lift the lid on “explosive information” about corruption at the top of Chinese politics.

On Wednesday China’s foreign ministry confirmed that, at Beijing’s request, Interpol had issued a red notice for the arrest of Guo Wengui, a 50-year-old tycoon who had in recent months taken the highly unusual step of speaking out about alleged cases of corruption involving the relatives of senior leaders.

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Killer Tide: Prisons Administer Opioid Blocking Drug To Help Addicts Avoid Relapsing

NEW YORK (WCBS 880) — It’s not a miracle cure for opioid and heroin addiction, but a drug called Vivitrol is helping some addicts avoid a relapse.

“It’s an opioid blocker. So basically it attaches to the receptor in your brain that’s telling you that you want to get high,” Beverly Moskowitz tells WCBS 880’s Marla Diamond.

The non-opioid medication contains naloxone, which is used to reverse an opioid overdose. It’s being used in prisons across the country and locally in New Jersey’s Hudson and Ocean counties and in New York’s Suffolk and Orange counties, where Moskowitz is the offender services counselor.

“What it does is it takes away your cravings. It’s not a cure-all by any means, but it is a great tool to help someone on the road to recovery,” she says. 

The prison began a Vivitrol pilot program in 2015 and it has seen results, according to prison administrator Col. Kenneth Decker.

“It seems to be working here in Orange County. We have about a 20 percent, give or take, recidivism rate,” he says.

Vivitrol represents a departure from the two major medications used to treat opioid addition: methadone and buprenorphine — both opioids, and both easily manipulated.

“I’ve tried Suboxone. I always found a way to either manipulate the doctor into giving me more. I’ve sold it on the streets. I’ve miss-dosaged,” an inmate named Brittany tells Diamond. “Sometimes that is painful as well, and with this I’ve heard it’s not like that.”

Watch: Former inmate, Brittany, talks about her addiction: 

In her seven years of using opioids, Brittany has been in and out of jail.

“I was a booster,” she says. “It’s where you go to stores and you steal things, and you come back out and you have either yourself or somebody else go in and return the clothes. And they give you a gift card, and then you can go and sell the gift card for money.”

“I also did sell some drugs as well to do my habit. Thank god I did not sell my body,” she continues.

Brittany received an eight month sentence for leaving a drug treatment center and thus violating the terms of her probation. Before her April 6 release, she received an injection of Vivitrol, which lasts for 30 days.

“I just knew when I first got here it was just something that I had to get. I felt like it was the missing link,” she says.

Learn More: Killer Tide. The Opioid Epidemic

But the injections are pricey, averaging about $1,000 per dose. While the county helps former inmates get insurance and tracks their progress, they cannot force them to get follow-up shots or the treatment needed in conjunction with the medication.

A spokesman for Vivitrol’s manufacturer, Alkermes, tells Diamond the Orange County jail continues to receive free samples of the drug.

Two weeks since her release, Brittany is doing well on the drug. She’s going to counseling and has been drug free.

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Back Stories: Waco, T.X. Siege Comes To Fiery Close

NEW YORK (WCBS 880) — A 51-day standoff in Waco, Texas comes to a fiery close in today’s Back Story.

Find more 50th anniversary Back Stories and other special features here, and be sure to follow the station on Facebook and Twitter

The FBI’s plan had been to force out Branch Davidians leader David Koresh and his followers by pumping tear gas into the compound, but hours later it was in flames.

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First Roger Ailes, Now Bill O’Reilly: Sexual Harassment Scandal Ousts Top Men at Fox News

The longtime Fox News star Bill O’Reilly is out, after more than half a dozen women accused him of sexual harassment. His departure follows the similar ouster of longtime powerful Fox News CEO Roger Ailes, who was also forced out this past summer after more than 20 women accused him of sexual harassment. Over 50 advertisers boycotted “The O’Reilly Factor” over revelations O’Reilly and Fox paid $13 million to settle lawsuits by five women who accuse O’Reilly of sexual harassment and inappropriate sexual behavior. For more, we speak with civil rights attorney Lisa Bloom. She represents three women who have accused Bill O’Reilly of unwanted sexual advances.


NERMEEN SHAIKH: The longtime Fox News star Bill O’Reilly is out, after more than half a dozen women accused him of sexual harassment. His departure follows the similar ouster of longtime powerful Fox News CEO Roger Ailes, who was also forced out this past summer after more than 20 women accused him of sexual harassment. Over 50 advertisers boycotted The O’Reilly Factor over revelations O’Reilly and Fox paid $13 million to settle lawsuits by five women who accuse O’Reilly of sexual harassment and inappropriate sexual behavior. A sixth woman, Dr. Wendy Walsh, has also accused O’Reilly of harassing her and then retaliating against her professionally when she refused to have sex with him.

AMY GOODMAN: On Tuesday, a seventh woman, who remains anonymous, accused O’Reilly of harassing her for months with sexually and racially offensive comments and actions. The woman is an African-American clerical worker who worked near O’Reilly. She alleges O’Reilly would make grunting noises like an animal and call her “hot chocolate.” Outside of News Corp.’s New York headquarters Wednesday, protesters handed out flyers reading “Danger: Sexual Predator Works Here” and packets of hot chocolate. Color of Change senior campaign manager Anika Collier Navaroli responded to the news of O’Reilly’s ouster.

ANIKA COLLIER NAVAROLI: At this point, we are so happy that he is gone and he’s no longer going to be able to spit all of his vile comments and everything that comes out of his mouth that’s disparaging not only to women, but specifically to black women and to black folks all over the world. So we’re very happy to see that he’ll be off the air. But we’re not done. We’re going to keep applying pressure and making sure that what’s coming out of these airwaves and what’s happening in these hallways is respectful, and making sure that women everywhere are given dignity.

AMY GOODMAN: While news about Bill O’Reilly’s dismissal was making headlines Wednesday, he was at the Vatican, where he briefly met the pope.

For more, we’re joined by Lisa Bloom, civil rights attorney at The Bloom Firm. She represents three women who have accused Bill O’Reilly of unwanted sexual advances. She is one of the women who’s being credited with bringing Bill O’Reilly down.

Lisa Bloom, it’s very good to have you with us.

LISA BLOOM: Good morning.

AMY GOODMAN: Explain what happened.

LISA BLOOM: Wendy Walsh came to me several months ago and told me that The New York Times wanted to publish her story, and all of her friends were saying to her, “Don’t do it. He’s going to come after you. This is going to be very scary.” She asked me what I thought. I said, “You absolutely have to do it, Wendy. You have to do this for your daughters. You have to do this for other women. I know you’re scared, but I will stand with you at no charge. And not only that, Wendy, but we are going to bring him down.” I promised her that months ago. Three weeks ago, the story broke with Wendy. We had a media and a legal strategy in place. We executed it for the last 18 days. And yesterday, he announced — or the company announced that he had been fired. I think the plan went flawlessly.

AMY GOODMAN: What was the plan?

LISA BLOOM: The plan was, first of all, we have to keep this story in the news. We can’t just let it be a one-day story. And that’s what it would have been. So, Wendy and I did a press conference. Again, she was very scared. We shored her up. We had to do a press conference and make the story be big, so that other accusers would call me. As an attorney, I can’t call them, and I didn’t know who they were anyway, right? But we had to keep the story going. So we released bits of it day by day, giving the story legs, as we say in journalism.

A second accuser did call me, but I needed time to vet her story. I needed to talk to her witnesses. I needed to look at her evidence. I needed to shore her up emotionally. All of these women are very scared. We got her sister in place. We got her three witnesses interviewed. And I was ready to come forward with her. She got scared. I went to North Carolina. I met with her. We shored her up. And we came out with her story a couple days ago. A third accuser, a fourth accuser came out.

I tweeted and I said on many shows that the Murdochs had only one choice, and that was to fire Bill O’Reilly. And if they didn’t, we would continue relentlessly, day after day, having more and more accusers come out publicly. We were not going to let this go. We were going to persist.

NERMEEN SHAIKH: Well, Fox News has said no one has complained about Bill O’Reilly on its hotline. So, recently, you and your client, Wendy Walsh, officially called in her complaint. This clip begins with the hotline’s automated response.

FOX NEWS HOTLINE: Now, in one or two sentences, could you please give me the primary reason for your report?

DR. WENDY WALSH: Yes. In 2013, I experienced sexual harassment as a job applicant at Fox News Channel by an employee named Mr. Bill O’Reilly.

FOX NEWS HOTLINE: Hello, ma’am?


FOX NEWS HOTLINE: Thank you so much for your patience. And now, is this your first time calling this line?

DR. WENDY WALSH: Yes, it is.

FOX NEWS HOTLINE: And how did you become aware of our phone number?

DR. WENDY WALSH: My attorney, Lisa Bloom, found the phone number in your employee ethics handbook.

FOX NEWS HOTLINE: OK. And what state was this in?

DR. WENDY WALSH: California.

FOX NEWS HOTLINE: OK. And you said you — the person that you’re wishing to report is, first name Bill, B-I-L-L?


FOX NEWS HOTLINE: How do you spell his last name?

DR. WENDY WALSH: Capital O, apostrophe, capital R, E-I-L-L-Y.

NERMEEN SHAIKH: So, can you explain why this hotline was significant and how it played into this case?

LISA BLOOM: Well, as a longtime feminist attorney, I know that I have to do more than just look narrowly at the law. And Wendy’s claims were, in fact, time-barred, because there’s a three-year statute of limitations in New York, and her claims arose from 2013. And I thought, “What else can I do?”

Well, Fox News gave me a wonderful gift the first day this story broke. And that is, they did a public statement: “No one has ever called our hotline.” And a little light bulb went off over my head. “Hotline! Aha!” I’ve had prior sexual harassment cases against Fox News. I had their handbook in my file. I pulled it out, found the hotline number. And I also looked at their internal rules, which had no time deadlines to call the hotline. And I also knew, as a feminist attorney, that once we internally complained, they would have to do an investigation.

So Wendy and I made that call. She was very brave. I had my assistant videotape it so that nobody could say later, “Oh, we didn’t get the call.” We posted that online to give the story some legs that day, to put some public shaming pressure on Fox News. Well, a couple of days later, the attorneys called us. And then I then had all the witness information and evidence in place to give them. And I was already working on accuser number two and accuser number three.

AMY GOODMAN: And this means it goes to the law firm that was supposedly doing an investigation of –


AMY GOODMAN: — of Fox –


AMY GOODMAN: — that the Murdochs said they would comply with what they said?

LISA BLOOM: Yes. That’s the Paul, Weiss law firm. They represent the company. They weren’t doing an independent investigation, as has been falsely reported some other places. And I knew them, again, from some other cases. I knew what was important to them. And I also had accuser number two a couple of days ago phone into the hotline. She chose to do it anonymously, which is an option available to her. Every woman gets to make her own choice. I support that. And yesterday I had accuser number three call into the hotline. So I had the hotline on speed dial by this week.

AMY GOODMAN: Well, let’s go to what these cases were all about, because now we’re just talking about the accusers. But I do think it’s important as people understand what is acceptable in a workplace, what is abuse. Let’s go to Dr. Wendy Walsh in her own words describing what happened after O’Reilly offered her a job at Fox News over dinner.

DR. WENDY WALSH: So when dinner was finished, he simply said, “Let’s get out of here.” I assumed he meant that we should move to the bar to continue our conversation about my career at Fox News. … And so he caught up with me and said, “No, no. Come back to my suite.” At that point, you know, I’m a woman of a certain age, I’ve had situations like this in my life, I knew how to behave. And I simply said, “I’m sorry, I can’t do that.” And he immediately got defensive and said, “What do you mean? You think I’m going to attack you or something?” … And then, very soon after, he had the executive producer of the show call me and say that they’re going to take a break from the segment for a little while, but they’d start up again later. Well, they did with the other psychologist, but not me. But I knew it was coming.

AMY GOODMAN: So, talk about Dr. Wendy Walsh’s case, why this was so important and damaging, and then the other people you’ve represented and the ones that settled. I mean, you have Bill O’Reilly responding yesterday — I don’t know if it was before or after he met with the pope — saying that the accusations were unfounded.


AMY GOODMAN: But he, personally, and Fox News have settled — what was it? Five cases –


AMY GOODMAN: — for over $13 million –

LISA BLOOM: Right, yes.

AMY GOODMAN: — of women who have accused him of sexual harassment.

LISA BLOOM: And listen, Fox News, which had every economic motivation to take his side, found, in fact, that the allegations were well-founded. They looked at our evidence. They talked to our witnesses. I was very actively, behind the scenes, working with them on the investigation. I was on the phone with them when they interviewed some of our witnesses. The witnesses came through and said, “Yes, Wendy told me the next day, in 2013, that she had had dinner with Bill O’Reilly. He had offered her a job. When she refused to go back to his hotel room with him, he said, ‘You know, you’re on your own. You’re not getting that job.’ He became very cold and mean to her.”

And ultimately, these cases, like all of the sexual harassment cases I’ve been doing for 30 years, are about women’s equality in the workplace. It’s about our right to be treated with respect and to have our careers. You know, most of us can withstand a comment or two that we don’t like. But when our jobs are threatened because we don’t sleep with the boss, that’s at a whole other level. And that’s been going on, according to multiple women, with Bill O’Reilly and others at Fox News for a very long time. And I was very angry about that. I was very motivated. I knew the first accuser in 2004 and how Bill O’Reilly treated her, bringing his lawyers out to sue her, trashing her publicly through the different media outlets that they owned. You know, enough is enough. It was time to do something. And I’m glad I could be part of it.

NERMEEN SHAIKH: Well, I want to read Bill O’Reilly’s statement yesterday. He wrote, quote, “It is tremendously disheartening that we part ways due to completely unfounded claims. But that is the unfortunate reality many of us in the public eye must live with today. I will always look back on my time at Fox with great pride in the unprecedented success we achieved and with my deepest gratitude to all my dedicated viewers. I wish only the best for Fox News Channel.”

LISA BLOOM: Can I just say something about that? You know, Sean Hannity, we never hear any complaints about him as a sexual harasser. Tucker Carlson, Matt Lauer — I mean, there are many prominent, wealthy men in the media who have zero complaints for sexual harassment. It’s only Bill O’Reilly, over and over and over again, by women, several of whom have had tapes, reportedly, of him calling and being very sexually explicit on the phone, propositioning them, telling them what he wanted to do with them sexually. It has nothing to do with him being in the public eye. It’s about his conduct and his behavior. He doesn’t get it. I don’t expect he will ever get it. I don’t expect an apology. But I’m glad he’s out of a job.

AMY GOODMAN: And then you also have the racial discrimination charges against him.


AMY GOODMAN: Explain those.

LISA BLOOM: Yes. That’s very important. That’s my African-American client. She lives in North Carolina. She’s going to be talking publicly today for the first time, later on in the day. And she alleges that in 2008 she was a temp for six months at Fox News, working for another individual there, who she said was a great boss. But Bill O’Reilly, she says, would come by her workstation when no one else was around. He would leer at her cleavage in a very noticeable way. He would say, “Mm-hmm, looking good, girl.” And he had a nickname for her: “Hot Chocolate,” which she said was — she found that to be plantational. She found that to be very offensive. And she was scared. And that’s something I want people to understand, is the fear, when you have somebody as powerful and wealthy as Bill O’Reilly coming after a temp, you know, who’s just working day to day, you know, just to make a paycheck to survive. She just kept her head down. She was frozen, as she describes it. She didn’t say a word to him. She just really wanted to keep her job.

AMY GOODMAN: Now, this goes higher than Bill O’Reilly, though he was the Fox News star. In a recent interview with The New York Times, President Trump talked about Bill O’Reilly, saying, quote, “I think he’s a person I know well. He is a good person. … I think he shouldn’t have settled. Personally, I think he shouldn’t have settled. Because you should have taken it all the way. I don’t think Bill did anything wrong.”

LISA BLOOM: So, a couple of things about that. Notice that he doesn’t say, “I don’t think O’Reilly did it.” He says, “I don’t think he did anything wrong.” And I think Trump is being very honest there. He does not think that sexual harassment is wrong. And as for settlements, I represented four of the women accusing Trump of sexual misconduct during the campaign, and I can tell you that he settled a sexual harassment case with my client, Jill Harth, back in the 1990s. So, you know, we know this is a man who will just say anything.

AMY GOODMAN: Well, tell us about that case.

LISA BLOOM: Jill Harth worked on a beauty pageant in the early 1990s. And she alleged, in a federal lawsuit that she had filed back then, that he took her into Ivanka’s room — Ivanka was a little girl at the time, she wasn’t home — pushed her up against the wall, put his hands up her skirt, groped her, grabbed her, made a lot of sexually explicit comments to her, some of which were witnessed by her then-husband. They’ve since divorced, but her husband supports her to this day. He remembers what he heard and what he saw. And Jill Harth was very brave to speak out last year. She was the first accuser to come out, and I stood with her.

NERMEEN SHAIKH: Well, I want to ask you — you mentioned earlier the question of financial incentives –


NERMEEN SHAIKH: — that Fox News had, both for retaining him and for sacking him. According to some estimates, Fox News lost $446 million when all these advertisers pulled out. But New York magazine has suggested that there’s another reason that he was taken out: 21st Century Fox’s planned takeover of the European pay-TV company Sky TV. The deal is said to be worth $14 billion.


NERMEEN SHAIKH: And British media regulator Ofcom is set to judge whether the Murdochs are, quote, “fit and proper” to own such a big company.


NERMEEN SHAIKH: So could you talk about that and how these –

LISA BLOOM: And I sent a letter to Ofcom. So, I told you that — you know, I try to think holistically and globally and not just very narrowly. And some U.K. activists, who are trying to block that very deal that you just mentioned, reached out to me a couple of weeks ago and said, “Will you help us? We don’t want Fox News to come here. We want Ofcom, the regulator, to know about what’s going on in the U.S.” because it wasn’t being widely reported there. So I took the time to send a very detailed letter to Ofcom, letting them know about the rampant toxic culture of sexual harassment and retaliation against women at Fox News, at 21st Century Fox. I sent that letter, and I’ve connected with the activists. And they delivered the letter personally to Ofcom. And I felt that was another pressure point that we could put on to get Bill O’Reilly fired, and also, on a larger point, to get them to clean up this toxic culture and actually respect the concept that we women have rights in the U.S. We have the right to be treated as equals in the workplace. And those laws should be enforced everywhere, including at Fox News.

AMY GOODMAN: Back to Donald Trump, because this is extremely significant. Two men supported him enormously — a whole network. I mean, Roger Ailes, even after he was forced out — what? Now 20 women have accused Roger Ailes. He was quietly, until there was a lot of consternation expressed, advising candidate Donald Trump. And then you have Bill O’Reilly. And you have the Donald Trump scandal. I want to go to just the clip from Access Hollywood — this was years ago — and how significant this is, in fact, describing the MO that he attacked your client with, right?

LISA BLOOM: Exactly, yes.

AMY GOODMAN: Reaching under her skirt.


AMY GOODMAN: This is, well, now the president of the United States, Donald Trump, caught on tape.

BILLY BUSH: It’s her.

DONALD TRUMP: Yeah, that’s her, with the gold. I’ve got to use some Tic Tacs just in case I start kissing her. You know, I’m automatically attracted to beautiful — I just start kissing them. It’s like a magnet. I just kiss. I don’t even wait. And when you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything.

BILLY BUSH: Whatever you want.

DONALD TRUMP: Grab ‘em by the pussy. You can do anything.

AMY GOODMAN: So, he’s talking to Billy Bush, who was at Access Hollywood. Ultimately, he was fired by NBC, Billy Bush.


AMY GOODMAN: And Donald Trump became president. But the significance of this? You say you’ve represented a number of women who accused Donald Trump.


AMY GOODMAN: He said he would sue them after the election. What’s happened?

LISA BLOOM: Well, we knew that was another lie. I knew it at the time. I said on Twitter, if he sues any of them, I’ll represent them for free, and I will subpoena all of his records and those of all of his enablers, and we will get the tapes, that we have heard rumors about these tapes from The Apprentice, where he may have said the N-word. He knew that we would get a tough response from us. We would crowdfund the defense costs. Thousands and thousands of people said, “I will help you.” I mean, it’s just another one of Trump’s lies.

AMY GOODMAN: So, the question is where this all goes from there. I was looking at Reliable Sources, Brian Stelter’s newsletter, who says, “Dylan Byers emails: Are Fox’s problems over? Not necessarily. With Ailes and O’Reilly out, attention is likely to turn to Bill Shine, the Fox News co-president and longtime right-hand man to Ailes. Shine, a key figure at Fox, has been accused by at least two of Ailes’ accusers of being intimately involved with efforts to protect the former [Fox] News chief. Moreover, as co-president, he had a direct role in re-upping O’Reilly’s contract earlier this year despite the company’s knowledge of the previous accusations.” I mean, knowledge — they were paying out. So, the question about who else is in there, and is that U.S. — is the New York state investigation –


AMY GOODMAN: — continuing around where this money, millions of dollars that’s going to pay off settlements — do the shareholders know?

LISA BLOOM: Right. So, Bill Shine has been accused more than twice of being Roger Ailes’ lieutenant and part of the cover-up and part of the conspiracy, and driving women out and paying them hush money and doing nothing to address the culture of sexual harassment. And, of course, all of the enablers have to go, if they’re really going to clean house. You know, what true justice would be would — in my view, would be actually to bring back all of the women who lost their jobs merely for complaining about sexual harassment. Of course, that’s never going to happen.

I called for another investigation, because, yes, the investigation into the funds and how they’re being paid and how they’re being earmarked, I mean, that’s somewhat interesting, I guess, to the shareholders. I don’t really care about 21st Century shareholders. I care about the women and the people who are working there. And I thought to myself, “There has to be an agency to come in and do a real investigation. What agency might that be?” I called upon the State Division of Human Rights in New York, which is entrusted, by law, to protect the human rights of all of the workers here in New York. And I wrote them a lengthy letter detailing all of the publicly available information, and asked them to do their own investigation. I gave them the code section that empowers them to do that. So far, they haven’t taken me up on it, but I’m doing a social media campaign to get them to go in there, do the independent investigation.

You know, this is a problem hiding in plain sight. Obviously, the laws are not enough to — this is a very wealthy company. They just pay women off over and over again, but they don’t do anything to change the culture. Women’s rights are human rights, just like Hillary Clinton said long ago. And I think the State Division of Human Rights should get in there and investigate.

AMY GOODMAN: Are there going to be a lot more suits against O’Reilly, even if he’s out, and Fox, for hosting him, as he hosted?

LISA BLOOM: Well, my phone has been ringing off the hook, even though phones aren’t on hooks anymore. And we have talked to a lot of women, and we’re very happy to talk to them. And I think, yes, there will probably be many more suits.

AMY GOODMAN: I want to thank you, Lisa Bloom, for being with us, civil rights attorney –

LISA BLOOM: Thank you.

AMY GOODMAN: — at The Bloom Firm, representing three women who have accused Bill O’Reilly of unwanted sexual advances. This is Democracy Now! We’ll be back in a minute.


AMY GOODMAN: That’s Elvis Presley singing “He Touched Me.” Why that song? Well, 77 advertisers publicly announced they would no longer air commercials during O’Reilly’s show. The number of ads on the show dramatically declined, and large national brands were replaced with ads for — this is according to ThinkProgress — Elvis gospel albums like He Touched Me and catheters. This is Democracy Now!,, The War and Peace Report. I’m Amy Goodman, with Nermeen Shaikh.

Kleptocracy? How Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner Personally Profit From Their Roles in the White House

Are Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner personally profiting from their official roles in the White House? According to the Associated Press, Ivanka Trump secured three new exclusive trademarks in China the very same day she and her father, President Trump, had dinner with Chinese President Xi Jinping at Trump’s private Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida. The China trademarks give her company the exclusive rights to sell Ivanka-branded jewelry, bags and spa services in China. The New York Times reports Japan also approved new trademarks for Ivanka for branded shoes, handbags and clothing in February, and she has trademark applications pending in at least 10 other countries. Ivanka no longer manages her $50 million company, but she continues to own it. Ivanka also serves in the Trump administration as an adviser to the president. So does her husband, Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner. For more, we speak with Vicky Ward, New York Times best-selling author, investigative journalist and contributor to Esquire and Huffington Post Highline magazine.


NERMEEN SHAIKH: The Associated Press is reporting Ivanka Trump secured three new exclusive trademarks in China the very same day she and her father, President Trump, had dinner with Chinese President Xi Jinping at Trump’s private Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida. The China trademarks give her company the exclusive rights to sell Ivanka-branded jewelry, bags and spa services in China. The New York Times reports Japan also approved new trademarks for Ivanka for branded shoes, handbags and clothing in February, and she has trademark applications pending in at least 10 other countries. Ivanka no longer manages her $50 million company, but she continues to own it. Ivanka also serves in the Trump administration as an adviser to the president. So does her husband, Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner. Earlier this month in an interview with CBS This Morning‘s Gayle King, Ivanka Trump talked about potential conflicts of interest.

GAYLE KING: When we talk about the Ivanka Trump brand, you are no longer running the day-to-day.

IVANKA TRUMP: No, I’m no longer –

GAYLE KING: What have you done with your business?

IVANKA TRUMP: I have no involvement with any of it. And I felt like proximity to my father and to the White House and with my husband taking such an influential role in the administration, I didn’t want to also be running a business. So, I put it into trust. I have independent trustees. I have no involvement in its management, in its oversight, in its strategic decision-making.

GAYLE KING: But the trustees are family members, right? Your brother-in-law and your sister-in-law?


GAYLE KING: So, from a –

IVANKA TRUMP: But they’re completely independent, and I’m transparent about that.

GAYLE KING: Can you see, from the public point of view — yes, you put it in trust, but it’s family members — they’re thinking, “Well, is she really not involved?” Do you really not get on the phone and say, “What’s going on?” Do you have no involvement whatsoever?

IVANKA TRUMP: I take — I take a legal document very seriously, and I wouldn’t go through the pains of setting this up, if I intended to violate it.

AMY GOODMAN: The AP says sales of Ivanka Trump’s merchandise have surged since her father was elected president.

To talk more about this, we’re joined by Vicky Ward, New York Times best-selling author, investigative journalist, contributor to Esquire and the Huffington Post Highline magazine.

Vicky Ward, welcome to Democracy Now!

VICKY WARD: Thank you.

AMY GOODMAN: OK, let’s go back to this moment, that became very famous, of course, the president of China, Xi Jinping, the president of the United States, Donald Trump, seated at the dinner at Mar-a-Lago.


AMY GOODMAN: Next to them, Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump.


AMY GOODMAN: That same day, she got three exclusive trademarks from China to sell her merchandise?

VICKY WARD: Right. Well, I mean, it — you know, it speaks for itself. I mean, I wish I could tell you I was surprised, but I’m really not. I’m doing a lot of reporting — I’m spending half my time in D.C. these days — actually looking at this subject of the commercialization of the White House in real time, which I think is a narrative that has been slightly drowned out because of the theater and chaos of the last 80 days. And, you know, we’ve all been so consumed with the fight between the Kushner camp and the Bannon camp that this very real kind of story of horrifying kleptocracy, you know, that’s never happened to this country before — and, you know, the White House is turning into the Kushner piggy bank and the Trump piggy bank. I mean, and it’s outrageous.

AMY GOODMAN: Well, explain what she’s saying. She’s saying, “Oh, no. It’s in a trust.” But –

VICKY WARD: Oh, please. So, it’s in a — right, first of all, the Trumps and the Kushners are real estate –


VICKY WARD: — families and business. You know, these real estate developers are — and I wrote a book about the New York real estate world, so it’s something I’m very familiar with — they are family businesses. So, it is in a trust run by Jared Kushner’s brother, Josh. OK, so just to show you how closely everything is entwined, not only is Jared an investor in Josh, Josh is an investor in Jared. Josh’s healthcare business, Oscar, is in Jared’s building, the Puck Building. So, you know, they –

AMY GOODMAN: Wait, wait. You have to explain it.


AMY GOODMAN: This is a self insurance company here in New York that people buy.

VICKY WARD: Right. So, he, Josh Kushner, is a very successful venture capitalist, who also started a healthcare business, Oscar, predicated on Obamacare. And its current valuation is $2.7 billion. Now, interestingly, Peter Thiel, who’s part of the sort of, you know, Kushner new businessmen, you know, the new brigade, you know, the sort of –

AMY GOODMAN: Billionaire supporter of President Trump.

VICKY WARD: The sort of — yeah, the businessman, exactly.

AMY GOODMAN: Spoke at the RNC.

VICKY WARD: Exactly, the crony capitalism going on inside of there. He, I think, put in — bought out the — went in and took out the entire second round of Oscar, so he’s right in there. But there is no question. I mean, the Kushners are even more of a tight-knit family than –

AMY GOODMAN: Is that the reason why Jared Kushner was not there for the week of the negotiations around “repeal and replace,” that he was in Aspen?

VICKY WARD: Well, I think you have to ask that question. In fact, it’s sort of — no one pointed it out. And, by the way, nor was Gary Cohn and Dina Powell, who are both part of the Kushner army, you know. And a lot of people were raising eyebrows. Most people, when they go to work for a White House, don’t decide to swan off on holiday during the president’s first hundred days.

AMY GOODMAN: Or the most — the most pivotal week he has had so far.

VICKY WARD: Right, his first — so, you know, Jared Kushner’s self-interest, I think, is a huge — and Ivanka’s self-interest has sort of been ignored. I mean, it’s been covered, but it’s been overcome by the noise of the other stories. But I think, increasingly now, we’re going to see it really, really matter, because it is just a story of plain, outright corruption, and it’s not legal.

NERMEEN SHAIKH: Well, in addition to the three trademarks that Ivanka Trump was granted with China, last year China granted preliminary approval for 38 trademarks protecting Trump’s name. So explain why this issue of trademarks is relevant and what kinds of regulations apply to Ivanka and Kushner relative to compared to what apply to Trump, President Trump.

VICKY WARD: Well, so, you know, he is protected by a conflicts clause, isn’t he? There’s some clause that he can hide behind. They are not supposed to do — if they’re working in the White House, to do anything that might leverage their position there for their own commercial gain. So, I would ask you — I have sources covering this every day, who say, “Well, let’s look at Ivanka.” What is she doing policy-wise? Nothing. But what she is doing is wearing clothes. She’s in a — she’s in a business that sells clothes, shoes. That’s what she does. So, what she’s doing every day is using — you know, they’re very good at public relations, Jared and Ivanka. They’ve just hired a Hollywood public relations person. I know from personal experience, having reported on them, having reported on Jared, all the leaks I — you know, every time you see a person close to Jared, that is Jared talking.

AMY GOODMAN: I mean, I can hear the headlines here.


AMY GOODMAN: You know, you accused her of wearing clothes. But, I mean, I think –


AMY GOODMAN: — what you’re talking about is in the — for example –

VICKY WARD: That’s right.

AMY GOODMAN: — on the Sunday night show on — when she went on and — on 60 Minutes


AMY GOODMAN: — wearing a bracelet, and the next day showing that in her 60 Minutes interview –


AMY GOODMAN: — and saying, “You can buy this for $10,000.”


AMY GOODMAN: But also, she owns her company, even if it’s in a trust, right?


AMY GOODMAN: She will profit from its –

VICKY WARD: So, to your part about the trademarks, so you have — I mean, there she is charming the Chinese premier, and suddenly, oh, great, you know, great for business for Ivanka Trump in China. I think it was also reported, the Philippines, you know, she’s got trademarks there. I’ve met Robbie Antonio, the real estate developer who facilitated that. And the first time I met Robbie Antonio, all he could talk to me about –

AMY GOODMAN: Explain who he is.

VICKY WARD: He’s this — they call him the Trump — his family, the Trumps of the Philippines. And all he could talk to me about — this was before Trump ran for president — was, you know, he’d just come off the golf course with Donald Trump. And, I mean, they’re all in awe of this family.

AMY GOODMAN: And then you have –

VICKY WARD: And lo and behold, you know –

AMY GOODMAN: And then you have the scandal this week, but this goes to Donald Trump, where he calls Erdogan –


AMY GOODMAN: — the president of Turkey, to congratulate him on winning this referendum that leads to –


AMY GOODMAN: — a dictatorship of Erdogan –


AMY GOODMAN: — at the same time that you have him last year being interviewed by Steve Bannon on Breitbart radio, saying he has a conflict of interest because he has two towers in Istanbul.

VICKY WARD: Correct. I mean, it goes on and on and on. The question is, you know, why is — sort of why are we all sitting here talking about it, and nothing being done? And perhaps, you know, time — time will tell. I mean, one thing that I’ve thought about is, for example, Jared Kushner has talked about, you know, bringing in this council of innovators. Now, it’s just not possible, in a council of innovators — it may not be a bad idea, by the way, but it’s not possible that a venture capitalist brother is going to not benefit from that. And –

AMY GOODMAN: So what are the laws? You said this is illegal.

VICKY WARD: Well, he’s not the — Jared Kushner is not supposed to benefit from his position in the White House. So, but for something to be done about it, I would suspect, in the same way with Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky, if you go back and sort of study that, it takes time, and it takes a smoking gun to — it takes a real smoking gun. Quite interesting –

NERMEEN SHAIKH: What would constitute a smoking gun?

VICKY WARD: Well, so, quite interesting — well, who knows, for example, during the transition — and this is pure speculation — who knows what Jared was talking — we know he was talking to the Russians. We know he was talking to the Russia — Russian bank, you know, that’s backed by the government. He very quickly volunteered to testify — which means, by the way, he doesn’t have to testify under oath — and explain what those conversations were about. He was certainly, during that time, according to all my sources in the real estate world, talking to the Chinese, because he has got a real problem with his building 666 Fifth Avenue. And Anbang, this Chinese insurance company, which has very close ties to the Chinese government, until a few weeks ago, were rumored to be paying a price that, I can tell you, every — people I know who are very close to that deal were saying, was at least a billion dollars too high. Why does a Chinese company close to the government want to pay over a billion dollars too much for a building that’s got — that’s got real — you know, it has got real problems, actually, due to Jared’s plans for it? You know, he wants to — and right now the market is not in his favor. And I think even the Kushners saw the conflicts. And kind of that story has disappeared, but not for long, because the only people who are going to come in, most likely, and invest in that building are foreign buyers.

AMY GOODMAN: And then you have The New York Times reporting Japan also approved new trademarks for Ivanka for branded shoes, handbags, clothing in February. She has trademark applications pending in over the 10 other countries. But Japan very significant with Shinzo Abe here, and she was with him –


AMY GOODMAN: — almost as much, it looked like, at least, the public views, as President Trump.

VICKY WARD: Right. But I think what we have — I mean, one of the things — obviously, you can hear I wasn’t born here. Believe it or not, German is my second language. And I actually know people very close to Angela Merkel. So, my takeaway from what they’ve told me is that Ivanka did not contribute very much to — I mean, the photo looked nice, her sitting next to Angela Merkel, but I don’t think that the chancellor came away thinking she contributed much on policy. And, you know, I hear the same — you know, I’m also working on a magazine story about foreign policy. You know, when people sit in — people who actually know what they’re talking about, who spent years studying the Middle East, spent — they then listen to what Jared has to say on foreign policy, they all just sort of want to cry.


VICKY WARD: Because he knows nothing.

AMY GOODMAN: And that’s now his portfolio.

VICKY WARD: He knows absolutely nothing. But, so, what I would say is that — so I think the self — what are these two people actually in there to do? Their only experience is working for their parents. That’s it. So, what, if it’s not — it seems to me it’s all about self-interest. They’re not — they’re not qualified to do anything else.

AMY GOODMAN: We’re going to leave it there, Vicky Ward, New York Times best-selling author, investigative journalist, contributor to Esquire and The Huffington Post.

This is Democracy Now! When we come back, Anand Gopal joins us. He’s recently back from Iraq. We’ll talk about Iraq and Syria. Stay with us.

Inaction on Climate Change Equals Human Annihilation

(Photo: Asian Development Bank)Only dramatic and concerted action on multiple fronts can prevent the human disasters now unfolding in Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan and Yemen from becoming the global norm. (Photo: Asian Development Bank)

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Not since World War II have more human beings been at risk from disease and starvation than at this very moment. On March 10th, Stephen O’Brien, under secretary-general of the United Nations for humanitarian affairs, informed the Security Council that 20 million people in three African countries — Nigeria, Somalia, and South Sudan — as well as in Yemen were likely to die if not provided with emergency food and medical aid. “We are at a critical point in history,” he declared. “Already at the beginning of the year we are facing the largest humanitarian crisis since the creation of the U.N.”  Without coordinated international action, he added, “people will simply starve to death [or] suffer and die from disease.”

Major famines have, of course, occurred before, but never in memory on such a scale in four places simultaneously. According to O’Brien, 7.3 million people are at risk in Yemen, 5.1 million in the Lake Chad area of northeastern Nigeria, 5 million in South Sudan, and 2.9 million in Somalia. In each of these countries, some lethal combination of war, persistent drought, and political instability is causing drastic cuts in essential food and water supplies. Of those 20 million people at risk of death, an estimated 1.4 million are young children.

Despite the potential severity of the crisis, U.N. officials remain confident that many of those at risk can be saved if sufficient food and medical assistance is provided in time and the warring parties allow humanitarian aid workers to reach those in the greatest need. “We have strategic, coordinated, and prioritized plans in every country,” O’Brien said. “With sufficient and timely financial support, humanitarians can still help to prevent the worst-case scenario.”

All in all, the cost of such an intervention is not great: an estimated $4.4 billion to implement that U.N. action plan and save most of those 20 million lives. 

The international response? Essentially, a giant shrug of indifference.

To have time to deliver sufficient supplies, U.N. officials indicated that the money would need to be in pocket by the end of March. It’s now April and international donors have given only a paltry $423 million — less than a tenth of what’s needed. While, for instance, President Donald Trump sought Congressional approval for a $54 billion increase in U.S. military spending (bringing total defense expenditures in the coming year to $603 billion) and launched $89 million worth of Tomahawk missiles against a single Syrian air base, the U.S. has offered precious little to allay the coming disaster in three countries in which it has taken military actions in recent years. As if to add insult to injury, on February 15th Trump told Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari that he was inclined to sell his country 12 Super-Tucano light-strike aircraft, potentially depleting Nigeria of $600 million it desperately needs for famine relief.    

Moreover, just as those U.N. officials were pleading fruitlessly for increased humanitarian funding and an end to the fierce and complex set of conflicts in South Sudan and Yemen (so that they could facilitate the safe delivery of emergency food supplies to those countries), the Trump administration was announcing plans to reduce American contributions to the United Nations by 40%.  It was also preparing to send additional weaponry to Saudi Arabia, the country most responsible for devastating air strikes on Yemen’s food and water infrastructure. This goes beyond indifference.  This is complicity in mass extermination.

Like many people around the world, President Trump was horrified by images of young children suffocating from the nerve gas used by Syrian government forces in an April 4th raid on the rebel-held village of Khan Sheikhoun. “That attack on children yesterday had a big impact on me — big impact,” he told reporters. “That was a horrible, horrible thing. And I’ve been watching it and seeing it, and it doesn’t get any worse than that.” In reaction to those images, he ordered a barrage of cruise missile strikes on a Syrian air base the following day. But Trump does not seem to have seen — or has ignored — equally heart-rending images of young children dying from the spreading famines in Africa and Yemen. Those children evidently don’t merit White House sympathy.

Who knows why not just Donald Trump but the world is proving so indifferent to the famines of 2017?  It could simply be donor fatigue or a media focused on the daily psychodrama that is now Washington, or growing fears about the unprecedented global refugee crisis and, of course, terrorism.  It’s a question worth a piece in itself, but I want to explore another one entirely.

Here’s the question I think we all should be asking: Is this what a world battered by climate change will be like — one in which tens of millions, even hundreds of millions of people perish from disease, starvation, and heat prostration while the rest of us, living in less exposed areas, essentially do nothing to prevent their annihilation?

Famine, Drought and Climate Change

First, though, let’s consider whether the famines of 2017 are even a valid indicator of what a climate-changed planet might look like. After all, severe famines accompanied by widespread starvation have occurred throughout human history. In addition, the brutal armed conflicts now underway in Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan, and Yemen are at least in part responsible for the spreading famines. In all four countries, there are forces — Boko Haram in Nigeria, al-Shabaab in Somalia, assorted militias and the government in South Sudan, and Saudi-backed forces in Yemen — interfering with the delivery of aid supplies. Nevertheless, there can be no doubt that pervasive water scarcity and prolonged drought (expected consequences of global warming) are contributing significantly to the disastrous conditions in most of them. The likelihood that droughts this severe would be occurring simultaneously in the absence of climate change is vanishingly small.

In fact, scientists generally agree that global warming will ensure diminished rainfall and ever more frequent droughts over much of Africa and the Middle East. This, in turn, will heighten conflicts of every sort and endanger basic survival in a myriad of ways. In their most recent 2014 assessment of global trends, the scientists of the prestigious Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) concluded that “agriculture in Africa will face significant challenges in adapting to climate changes projected to occur by mid-century, as negative effects of high temperatures become increasingly prominent.” Even in 2014, as that report suggested, climate change was already contributing to water scarcity and persistent drought conditions in large parts of Africa and the Middle East. Scientific studies had, for instance, revealed an “overall expansion of desert and contraction of vegetated areas” on that continent.  With arable land in retreat and water supplies falling, crop yields were already in decline in many areas, while malnutrition rates were rising — precisely the conditions witnessed in more extreme forms in the famine-affected areas today.

It’s seldom possible to attribute any specific weather-induced event, including droughts or storms, to global warming with absolute certainty.  Such things happen with or without climate change.  Nonetheless, scientists are becoming even more confident that severe storms and droughts (especially when occurring in tandem or in several parts of the world at once) are best explained as climate-change related. If, for instance, a type of storm that might normally occur only once every hundred years occurs twice in one decade and four times in the next, you can be reasonably confident that you’re in a new climate era.

It will undoubtedly take more time for scientists to determine to what extent the current famines in Africa and Yemen are mainly climate-change-induced and to what extent they are the product of political and military mayhem and disarray. But doesn’t this already offer us a sense of just what kind of world we are now entering?

History and social science research indicate that, as environmental conditions deteriorate, people will naturally compete over access to vital materials and the opportunists in any society — warlords, militia leaders, demagogues, government officials, and the like — will exploit such clashes for their personal advantage.  “The data suggests a definite link between food insecurity and conflict,” points out Ertharin Cousin, head of the U.N.’s World Food Program.  “Climate is an added stress factor.” In this sense, the current famines in Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan, and Yemen provide us with a perfect template for our future, one in which resource wars and climate mayhem team up as temperatures continue their steady rise.

The Selective Impact of Climate Change

In some popular accounts of the future depredations of climate change, there is a tendency to suggest that its effects will be felt more or less democratically around the globe — that we will all suffer to some degree, if not equally, from the bad things that happen as temperatures rise. And it’s certainly true that everyone on this planet will feel the effects of global warming in some fashion, but don’t for a second imagine that the harshest effects will be distributed anything but deeply inequitably.  It won’t even be a complicated equation.  As with so much else, those at the bottom rungs of society — the poor, the marginalized, and those in countries already at or near the edge — will suffer so much more (and so much earlier) than those at the top and in the most developed, wealthiest countries.

As a start, the geophysical dynamics of climate change dictate that, when it comes to soaring temperatures and reduced rainfall, the most severe effects are likely to be felt first and worst in the tropical and subtropical regions of Africa, the Middle East, South Asia, and Latin America — home to hundreds of millions of people who depend on rain-fed agriculture to sustain themselves and their families. Research conducted by scientists in New Zealand, Switzerland, and Great Britain found that the rise in the number of extremely hot days is already more intense in tropical latitudes and disproportionately affects poor farmers.

Living at subsistence levels, such farmers and their communities are especially vulnerable to drought and desertification.  In a future in which climate-change disasters are commonplace, they will undoubtedly be forced to choose ever more frequently between the unpalatable alternatives of starvation or flight.  In other words, if you thought the global refugee crisis was bad today, just wait a few decades. 

Climate change is also intensifying the dangers faced by the poor and marginalized in another way.  As interior croplands turn to dust, ever more farmers are migrating to cities, especially coastal ones.  If you want a historical analogy, think of the great Dust Bowl migration of the “Okies” from the interior of the U.S. to the California coast in the 1930s. In today’s climate-change era, the only available housing such migrants are likely to find will be in vast and expanding shantytowns (or “informal settlements,” as they’re euphemistically called), often located in floodplains and low-lying coastal areas exposed to storm surges and sea-level rise. As global warming advances, the victims of water scarcity and desertification will be afflicted anew.  Those storm surges will destroy the most exposed parts of the coastal mega-cities in which they will be clustered. In other words, for the uprooted and desperate, there will be no escaping climate change.  As the latest IPCC report noted, “Poor people living in urban informal settlements, of which there are [already] about one billion worldwide, are particularly vulnerable to weather and climate effects.”

The scientific literature on climate change indicates that the lives of the poor, the marginalized, and the oppressed will be the first to be turned upside down by the effects of global warming. “The socially and economically disadvantaged and the marginalized are disproportionately affected by the impacts of climate change and extreme events,” the IPCC indicated in 2014. “Vulnerability is often high among indigenous peoples, women, children, the elderly, and disabled people who experience multiple deprivations that inhibit them from managing daily risks and shocks.” It should go without saying that these are also the people least responsible for the greenhouse gas emissions that cause global warming in the first place (something no less true of the countries most of them live in).

Inaction Equals Annihilation

In this context, consider the moral consequences of inaction on climate change. Once it seemed that the process of global warming would occur slowly enough to allow societies to adapt to higher temperatures without excessive disruption, and that the entire human family would somehow make this transition more or less simultaneously. That now looks more and more like a fairy tale. Climate change is occurring far too swiftly for all human societies to adapt to it successfully.  Only the richest are likely to succeed in even the most tenuous way. Unless colossal efforts are undertaken now to halt the emission of greenhouse gases, those living in less affluent societies can expect to suffer from extremes of flooding, drought, starvation, disease, and death in potentially staggering numbers.

And you don’t need a Ph.D. in climatology to arrive at this conclusion either. The overwhelming majority of the world’s scientists agree that any increase in average world temperatures that exceeds 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) above the pre-industrial era — some opt for a rise of no more than 1.5 degrees Celsius — will alter the global climate system drastically.  In such a situation, a number of societies will simply disintegrate in the fashion of South Sudan today, producing staggering chaos and misery. So far, the world has heated up by at least one of those two degrees, and unless we stop burning fossil fuels in quantity soon, the 1.5 degree level will probably be reached in the not-too-distant future.

Worse yet, on our present trajectory, it seems highly unlikely that the warming process will stop at 2 or even 3 degrees Celsius, meaning that later in this century many of the worst-case climate-change scenarios — the inundation of coastal cities, the desertification of vast interior regions, and the collapse of rain-fed agriculture in many areas — will become everyday reality.

In other words, think of the developments in those three African lands and Yemen as previews of what far larger parts of our world could look like in another quarter-century or so: a world in which hundreds of millions of people are at risk of annihilation from disease or starvation, or are on the march or at sea, crossing borders, heading for the shantytowns of major cities, looking for refugee camps or other places where survival appears even minimally possible.  If the world’s response to the current famine catastrophe and the escalating fears of refugees in wealthy countries are any indication, people will die in vast numbers without hope of help.

In other words, failing to halt the advance of climate change — to the extent that halting it, at this point, remains within our power — means complicity with mass human annihilation. We know, or at this point should know, that such scenarios are already on the horizon.  We still retain the power, if not to stop them, then to radically ameliorate what they will look like, so our failure to do all we can means that we become complicit in what — not to mince words — is clearly going to be a process of climate genocide. How can those of us in countries responsible for the majority of greenhouse gas emissions escape such a verdict?

And if such a conclusion is indeed inescapable, then each of us must do whatever we can to reduce our individual, community, and institutional contributions to global warming. Even if we are already doing a lot — as many of us are — more is needed.  Unfortunately, we Americans are living not only in a time of climate crisis, but in the era of President Trump, which means the federal government and its partners in the fossil fuel industry will be wielding their immense powers to obstruct all imaginable progress on limiting global warming. They will be the true perpetrators of climate genocide. As a result, the rest of us bear a moral responsibility not just to do what we can at the local level to slow the pace of climate change, but also to engage in political struggle to counteract or neutralize the acts of Trump and company. Only dramatic and concerted action on multiple fronts can prevent the human disasters now unfolding in Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan, and Yemen from becoming the global norm.

[Note: On Saturday, April 29th, folks from all over the United States will participate in the People's Climate March in Washington, D.C.  You can get information on the march by clicking here. Joining the march, or otherwise supporting its objectives, is a good way to begin the resistance to climate genocide. For those who wish to aid the victims of famine in Africa and Yemen, donations can be made to the U.N.'s World Food Program by clicking here.]