You’ll need good footwear.
You'll need good footwear. via World Economic Forum
Posted by EcoWatch on Sunday, September 30, 2018
You’ll need good footwear.
You'll need good footwear. via World Economic Forum
Posted by EcoWatch on Sunday, September 30, 2018
When Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh told Fox News he never drank to excess, several of his Yale classmates were so outraged they decided to set the record straight. One of them, Lynne Brookes, also accepted Chris Cuomo’s invitation to join him on CNN after Kavanaugh repeated his claim of relative sobriety under oath before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday. Cuomo asked Brookes — a Republican who admires Kavanaugh’s judicial record — why she changed her mind.
“I’ll tell you, Chris, I watched the whole hearing, and a number of my Yale colleagues and I were extremely disappointed in Brett Kavanaugh’s characterization of himself and the way that he evaded his excessive drinking question” and “was lying to the Senate Judiciary Committee today,” Brookes said. “There is no doubt in my mind that while at Yale, he was a big partier, often drank to excess, and there had to be a number of nights where he does not remember.” She said she can “almost guarantee” he doesn’t remember a night she witnessed where he was “stumbling drunk, in a ridiculous costume, saying really dumb things” to pledge a fraternity.
Brookes also dismissed Kavanaugh’s defense that his studies and sports precluded heavy drinking, noting she played two varsity sports. “I studied really hard, too,” she said. “I went to Wharton business school, I did very well at Yale, I also drank to excess many nights with Brett Kavanaugh.” She recounted a party where Kavanaugh and Chris Dudley, one of his character witnesses, humiliated a female student by barging in on her in a compromising position.
“I’m not saying it’s wrong that he drank,” Cuomo concluded after the interview, but “if he’s going to be the ultimate judge of truth in our society, a Supreme Court justice, and at 53 years old he’s going to lie about what he did when he was 15, what else will he lie about?” Watch below. Peter Weber
ROME (AP) — The magazine of the Jesuit religious order in the United States has publicly withdrawn its endorsement of Judge Brett Kavanaugh as Supreme Court justice following testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee by the Jesuit-educated Kavanaugh and the woman accusing him of sexually assaulting her decades ago.
Judge Brett Kavanaugh is almost certainly going to be appointed the next member of the Supreme Court of the United States. Whatever Christine Blasey Ford said in her testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday, and whatever Kavanaugh said in his, and however credible and convincing either one seemed, none of it was going to affect this virtual inevitability. The Republicans, if they stick together, have the necessary votes. A veneer of civility made it seem as if the senators were questioning Ford and Kavanaugh to get to the truth of whether Kavanaugh, as a drunk teen-ager, attended a party where he pinned Ford to a bed and sexually assaulted her, thirty-six years ago. But that’s not what the hearing was designed to explore. At the time of this writing, composed in the eighth hour of the grotesque historic activity happening in the Capitol Hill chamber, it should be as plain as day that what we witnessed was the patriarchy testing how far its politics of resentment can go. And there is no limit.
Dressed in a blue suit, taking the oath with nervous solemnity, Ford gave us a bristling sense of déjà vu. “Why suffer through the annihilation if it’s not going to matter?” Ford had told the Washington Post when she first went public with her allegations. With the word “annihilation” she conjured the spectre of Anita Hill, who, in her testimony against Clarence Thomas, in 1991, was basically berated over an exhausting two-day period, and diagnosed, by the senators interrogating her, with “erotomania” and a case of man-eating professionalism. Ford’s experience—shaped by the optics of the #MeToo moment, by her whiteness and country-club roots—was different. The Republicans on the committee, likely coached by some consultant, did not overtly smear Ford. Some pretended, condescendingly, to extend her empathy. Senator Orrin Hatch, who once claimed that Hill had lifted parts of her harassment allegations against Thomas from “The Exorcist,” called Ford “pleasing,” an “attractive” witness. Instead of questioning her directly, the Republicans hired Rachel Mitchell, a female prosecutor specializing in sex crimes, to serve as their proxy. Mitchell’s fitful, sometimes aimless questioning did the ugly work of softening the Republican assault on Ford’s testimony. Ford, in any case, was phenomenal, a “witness and expert” in one, and it seemed, for a moment following her testimony, that the nation might be unable to deny her credibility.
Then Kavanaugh came in, like an eclipse. He made a show of being unprepared. Echoing Clarence Thomas, he claimed that he did not watch his accuser’s hearing. (Earlier, it was reported that he did.) “I wrote this last night,” he said, of his opening statement. “No one has seen this draft.” Alternating between weeping and yelling, he exemplified the conservative’s embrace of bluster and petulance as rhetorical tools. Going on about his harmless love of beer, spinning unbelievably chaste interpretations of what was, by all other accounts, his youthful habit of blatant debauchery, he was as Trumpian as Trump himself, louder than the loudest on Fox News. He evaded questions; he said that the allegations brought against him were “revenge” on behalf of the Clintons; he said, menacingly, that “what goes around comes around.” When Senator Amy Klobuchar calmly asked if he had ever gotten blackout drunk, he retorted, “Have you?” (He later apologized to her.)
There was, in this performance, not even a hint of the sagacity one expects from a potential Supreme Court Justice. More than presenting a convincing rebuttal to Ford’s extremely credible account, Kavanaugh—and Hatch, and Lindsey Graham—seemed to be exterminating, live, for an American audience, the faint notion that a massively successful white man could have his birthright questioned or his character held to the most basic type of scrutiny. In the course of Kavanaugh’s hearing, Mitchell basically disappeared. Republican senators apologized to the judge, incessantly, for what he had suffered. There was talk of his reputation being torpedoed and his life being destroyed. This is the nature of the conspiracy against white male power—the forces threatening it will always somehow be thwarted at the last minute.
The Hill-Thomas hearings persist in the American consciousness as a watershed moment for partisanship, for male entitlement, for testimony on sexual misconduct, for intra-racial tension and interracial affiliation. The Ford-Kavanaugh hearings will be remembered for their entrenchment of the worst impulses from that earlier ordeal. What took place on Thursday confirms that male indignation will be coddled, and the gospel of male success elevated. It confirms that there is no fair arena for women’s speech. Mechanisms of accountability will be made irrelevant. Some people walked away from 1991 enraged. The next year was said to be the Year of the Woman. Our next year, like this one, will be the Year of the Man.
Doreen St. Félix is a staff writer at The New Yorker
By Wyatt Massey, Animal Welfare, Food Justice, Health September 27, 2018
Sue George never intended to be an activist. The soft-spoken, retired elementary school teacher was content on her century farm near Lime Springs, a town in the rolling hills of northeast Iowa with a tad under 500 people.
Then, the hog operations moved in.
George lost the need to be “Midwest nice,” she said. “I’m not willing to let our way of life go by the wayside for these people who are coming in and putting all of this manure and all of this pollution into our area. I’m not.”
So George organized her neighbors and created a legal document to protect her farm, and town, from the large-scale hog operations she said are destroying a way of life and polluting the environment.
The state, already leading the nation in pork production, is experiencing a rapid rise in large-scale hog operations. Between 1982 and 2012, the most recent U.S. Department of Agriculture census, total hog production in Iowa rose from 14.3 million a year to 20.5 million. During the same time period, the number of farmers producing hogs dropped from 45,768 to 6,266.
To continue increasing hog production, the remaining farm owners build specially designed facilities to keep the animals indoors where their food and waste can be controlled. People are divided about whether these concentrated animal feeding operations, also known as CAFOs, either are the future of American farming or symbolize profits trumping concerns for rural livelihoods, the environment, and animal welfare. In Iowa, this is more than a mere disagreement about farming techniques. It is a fight over what the Iowa landscape will look like, a fight between rural residents and industrial agriculture.
Large-scale hog operations are prevalent throughout western and central Iowa and have begun moving into the northeast. One CAFO operation expanding into northeast Iowa is Reicks View Farms. George’s group campaigned against the operations moving into her region of Iowa, including Reicks View Farms. (Representatives at Reicks View Farms have not replied to requests for an interview.)
George’s group, founded in early 2017 and called Northeast Iowans for Clean Air and Water, includes farmers, local business owners, and Amish families. Through weekly meetings at homes and farms, conversations over potlucks and on front porches, they organized, advocated, and supported legislation to stop the construction. They placed signs along the highway opposing the new operations. They asked the Department of Natural Resources not to approve the facilities. George testified before the state legislature. She even met with one of the new owners, a man she taught when he was in elementary school.
“We did everything right,” George said. “And it still didn’t work.” The confinements went up and the hogs moved in.
When campaigning state and local government failed, George and dozens of other Iowa families turned to the law instead.
More than 40 families joined George in forming a covenant—a binding legal document in which all the members agree to a set of terms. A local lawyer donated his time to draw up the terms, which stipulated that none of the properties in the covenant—more than 5,500 acres total—would ever house a CAFO or allow a CAFO to spread liquid manure on their land.
CAFO is a catchall term for production facilities housing more than 1,000 animal units, defined by the USDA as the equivalent to 1,000 pounds of animal weight, which is 1,000 beef cattle or 2,500 swine. CAFOs keep animals inside for more than 45 days a year and fall under the Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Water Act. However, each state regulates the operations differently.
Concentrating animals in one location requires more strict manure management than animals raised on pasture. Large farms produce millions of gallons of manure a year, which is more fecal waste than is produced in some American cities, according to the National Association of Local Boards of Health. The manure in most hog facilities falls through slatted floors into holding tanks. Then it’s hauled off and spread as fertilizer for crops.
Manure from CAFOs can contain E. coli, MRSA, antibiotics, and animal growth hormones. When the manure is not spread properly, these contaminants pollute waterways and private wells, as well as contribute to the rise of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. According to Local Boards of Health group, “states with high concentrations of CAFOs experience on average 20 to 30 serious water quality problems per year as a result of manure management problems.” All CAFO manure lagoons leak, according to the EPA, though certain designs can lower leakage to acceptable levels.
Water quality is a chief concern for members of Northeast Iowans for Clean Air and Water and something the covenant cannot necessarily protect. Some local facilities are near rivers, where manure runs off when a tank leaks or heavy rains fall. The area’s natural hills and karst topography—made up of limestone and especially susceptible to sinkholes—increase the likelihood that improperly applied liquid manure will run into waterways. The area is known for its natural trout streams, too. Trout fishing generates $1.6 billion annual revenue for Iowa and surrounding states. The fish need clean water to reproduce.
Several Lime Springs residents will drink only bottled water. A hog confinement sits a half-mile from Russell Stevenson’s farm, where he has lived and worked for decades. As a member of the covenant, Stevenson is concerned not if his private well will be contaminated, but when, he said. “It is not pig farming,” Stevenson said of CAFOs. “It’s a pig factory, and they ought to be regulated like one.”
Members of the covenant and activists throughout the state say CAFOs should be treated like the factories and corporations they resemble, instead of being given pollution tax exemptions and land zoned for agriculture. The operations can claim they are traditional family farms. John Ikerd, agricultural economics professor at the University of Missouri, said CAFOs are free from many of the environmental and public health regulations other operations generating similar amounts of waste must follow. The EPA’s Clean Water Act only regulates confinements of more than 2,500 hogs. Otherwise, the EPA does not regulate the confinements unless they dump waste directly into a waterway.
If the burden of proof was on the CAFO operator to prove the operation was not a threat to public health, no CAFOs could be built, Ikerd said. “Under the existing regulations, the burden of proof is on the public in general to prove that somebody is going to get sick from a particular CAFO, and that’s very difficult to prove.”
Bill Goetsch has farmed the area since he graduated from high school in the early 1980s. His wells were already contaminated when neighbors approached him about the covenant. A CAFO is a short walk up the valley from his home.
Goetsch said he was already concerned about his water, but now smells are coming down the valley. A study from Iowa State University and the University of Iowa determined air emissions from CAFOs “constitute a public health hazard.” About one in four CAFO workers in the U.S. suffers from a respiratory disease, such as bronchitis and asthma-like symptoms. A study of North Carolina residents found people living near CAFOs faced an increase in the same respiratory diseases suffered by CAFO workers. Lime Springs resident Joann Wangen said her adult children make comments about the smells when they visit her and her husband, Rick. Her guests had to stay inside during a recent Thanksgiving because the smells were so bad, she said.
Many advocates point out failures in the design of the state’s master matrix, which guides the siting of proposed operations. The process awards points depending on the building’s distance from homes, schools, and water sources; the overall point score determines whether a project is approved and where it’s sited. Critics of the current matrix point out how equal points are awarded to CAFO owners for doing things with vastly different implications. For example, proposals that include tree planting or that provide enough space for a truck to turn around in are weighted the same as having an emergency containment area for manure spills. A 2018 study found the DNR approved 97 percent of requested building permits.
Confinements of up to 1,249 hogs—considered a small operation—do not need to create a manure management plan or file a construction permit. Confinements of up to 2,499 hogs do not need a construction permit, either. According to DNR data, 3,745 sites in Iowa have fewer than 2,499 hogs. But the total number is likely much higher than that. A 2017 report using satellite imagery identified more than 5,000 hog and cattle lots in Iowa the DNR did not know about. More than 1,000 of those facilities are believed to require state oversight.
Weak state regulations mean CAFOs can move in wherever they please, members of Northeast Iowans for Clean Air and Water said. They point to an operation being approved on an environmentally sensitive site in Allamakee County. Former Iowa DNR director Chuck Gipp said if a CAFO could be built there, then a CAFO could be built anywhere. The hog facility was approved.
Tyler Bettin, public policy director for the Iowa Pork Producers Association, said the matrix system removes the burden from county supervisors to approve the building of each new operation and allows the DNR to better enforce regulations. “The master matrix continues to be very effective,” he said. “It’s a stair-step approach to regulation, so it requires our larger farms to go above and beyond the minimum requirements.”
George is among the advocates in Iowa wanting to revise the matrix to be more rigorous in assigning points. She’d also like it to give more control to counties and local supervisors, who can account for community desires and unique geographic features, like karst terrain or wetlands.
State Sen. David Johnson is among the political voices calling for stricter CAFO regulation. He helped design the state’s matrix in 2002. Johnson introduced 15 state bills related to CAFOs, such as stopping all CAFO construction until the number of impaired waterways in Iowa drops from 750 to 100 and the matrix is redesigned.
None of the bills Johnson introduced made it out of the agriculture committee.
George’s covenant is intended to fill the gap left by these failed state and federal legislative attempts at increasing regulation of CAFOs. By ensuring that confinements will not be introduced onto designated lands, the covenant is protecting a small area of Howard County.
This fall, the group may look to expand the number of people and properties involved in the covenant. The agreement gives George some freedom from worrying about whether another hog operation will move into her backyard. Creating the covenant took a lot of time and hard work, she said, but it strengthened local connections in ways she did not expect. “We have a common bond between us,” she said. “I feel that we’re a tighter-knit community, and we’re all on the same page.”
Individuals and groups across the state have contacted George about the covenant. She has information ready for them—an example of their covenant, a timeline of their process, and important questions to ask the group.
Iowa isn’t the only state with a growing CAFO presence. Trouble with CAFOs and environmental damages got national attention in 2016 in North Carolina when Hurricane Matthew flooded manure lagoons into waterways and the Atlantic Ocean; Hurricane Florence has flooded manure lagoons again. Similar battles between local communities and CAFO operators are playing out in Kansas,Wisconsin, Michigan, Arkansas, Illinois, and Minnesota. According to the USDA, the United States has more than 45,000 CAFOs.
For many consumers, the farms are out of sight and out of mind. People need to know the price that small communities are being forced to pay to produce these goods, Stevenson said. “It boggles my mind that there are so many people who live in towns and cities and they have no idea what’s going on [on] these farms.”
Swetnick’s father, 95, said Wednesday he was shocked to learn from a Washington Post reporter that his daughter had made the explosive allegations. She said in an affidavit that Kavanaugh was present at a house party in 1982 where she alleges she was the victim of a gang rape.
Kavanaugh immediately issued a statement in response: “This is ridiculous and from the Twilight Zone. I don’t know who this is and this never happened.”
Interviewed at his home in Silver Spring, Md., Martin Swetnick said he had no idea that his daughter was suddenly in the news as he hadn’t spoken to her in 10 years. He had long fallen out of regular contact with his children, the retired space scientist said, an estrangement he blames on his focus on career over family.
“The only time we communicate is on my birthday when she sends me an email,” Swetnick said.
Swetnick said he worked for the Department of Defense and NASA, as the “program scientist for unmanned lunar exploration,” and was often away from home.
“I was busy traveling around the country,” he said. “We didn’t have a good relationship.”
He said his daughter was born in Brooklyn but grew up in Silver Spring and then Montgomery Village, where she lived while attending high school. He described her as a “typical girl.”
“She was not shy,” he said. “She was a good-looking girl.”
According to her online résumé, Swetnick attended Montgomery County Community College, where she took pre-med courses. But by the mid-1990s, she had jumped into the exploding world of Web development, accumulating a string of IT and software certifications. A contract job at the State Department started her on government work.
Her experience has included work for U.S. embassies, Customs and Border Protection and the Internal Revenue Service. She has held security clearances at the Departments of State, Justice, Treasury and Homeland Security, according to her résumé.
“She never went to college, but she bootstrapped herself and became a computer expert,” her father said. “She’s a sharp woman.”
On her résumé, Swetnick described herself this way: “She is a hands-on team player; having no problem stepping into new or difficult roles, situations and projects,” it says. “She is highly professional, ethical, responsible and hard working.”
As she moved among government contracting jobs, Swetnick has repeatedly encountered trouble paying her taxes.
In 2015, the state of Maryland filed an interstate lien against her property in the District. The bill included over $32,000 in unpaid taxes from 2008, and another $27,000 in interest on the seven-year-old debt. Court records reflect the full amount due of nearly $63,000 was satisfied 15 months later, in December 2016. It is not clear from court records whether the bill was paid or if the lien was released because of a decision that the bill was unwarranted.
Similarly, the IRS in 2016 assessed Swetnick a bill of over $40,000 in unpaid taxes from 2014. The federal government filed a lien on her property for the amount in 2017. The debt was listed as satisfied and the lien was released in March of this year.
Swetnick now lives in a newly built apartment complex in City Center, an expensive enclave in downtown Washington. There is almost no trace of her on social media. One of the few online tidbits that appears to be posted by her: a five-star Yellow Pages review of Bistro Provence in Bethesda.
“Yannick Cam’s done it again!” wrote a “jswetnick” in 2010. “. . . Great French cuisine, a wonderful wine selection, indoor and outdoor dining, and authentic atmosphere.”
Swetnick’s accusations against Kavanaugh came a day before the Senate Judiciary Committee will hear from Christine Blasey Ford, the California professor who said Kavanaugh assaulted her at a party when they were both teenagers. A second woman, Deborah Ramirez, told the New Yorker magazine that Kavanaugh exposed himself to her when they were both at Yale. Kavanaugh has unequivocally denied both charges, as he did in response to Swetnick on Wednesday.
According to her affidavit, Swetnick met Kavanaugh and his friend and Georgetown Prep classmate Mark Judge in the early 1980s at house parties. She alleges that the teens who attended tried getting girls drunk “so they could then be ‘gang raped’ in a side room or bedroom by a ‘train’ of numerous boys,” she wrote. “I have a firm recollection of seeing boys lined up outside rooms at many of these parties waiting for their ‘turn’ with a girl inside the room. These boys included Mark Judge and Brett Kavanaugh.”
Swetnick said she herself had been gang raped in one of these trains “where Mark Judge and Brett Kavanaugh were present” and soon after, told two others about her experience.
“During the incident, I was incapacitated without my consent and unable to fight off the boys raping me,” she said, adding that she was “drugged with Quaaludes or something similar . . . ”
One of Swetnick’s high school teachers remembers her as a student who got A’s and B’s.
“She was a good student,” said David Kahn, 76, who taught Swetnick’s modern world history class at Gaithersburg High. “She was relatively quiet, but was sharp and pleasant.”
Swetnick’s father said he could shed little light on his daughter’s high school years. “I was busy traveling around the country,” he said. “We didn’t have a good relationship.”
He said Swetnick wasn’t closely supervised by her parents but never mentioned any type of sexual assault as a teen or showed any signs of trauma or depression.
“Maybe we were poor parents,” he said. “She lived her life. We didn’t discuss it.”
If her father wasn’t paying close attention, some of the family’s neighbors were.
Donald Fontaine said he will never forget how the Swetnicks welcomed his own family to their Montgomery Village cul-de-sac in 1969 or 1970.
“We were the first black family to move here, and the guy got fired for selling us this house,” recalled Fontaine, 89, during an interview in that same house. The Swetnicks, including a young Julie, brought over cake and fruit.
“That’s why I remember how appreciative we were when the Swetnicks welcomed us,” said Fontaine, who was a scientist at IBM.
Told of the accusations, Fontaine said he would “certainly believe her.”
“She was not a flirtatious girl,” Fontaine said. “She was a pretty intelligent young lady.”
The neighborhood was stocked with scientists and federal government employees, recalled another neighbor, Bob Shewmaker, 78.
“It was all PhD’s and master degrees around here,” said Shewmaker, who said he had a security clearance from his time at the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission, where Swetnick’s mother worked for a time.
“The party thing was going on,” recalled Shewmaker, who said he instantly recognized Swetnick when her face appeared on television Wednesday. “There’s no question about that.”
At least one of Kavanaugh’s classmates scoffed at the notion that Swetnick would have been a regular at parties with Georgetown Prep students.
“Never heard of her,” said the person, who declined to be named because members of the class have agreed not to speak on the record to reporters. “I don’t remember anyone from Prep hanging out with public school girls, especially from Gaithersburg.”
But Swetnick’s attorney, Michael Avenatti, said her credibility should be assessed in the light of the background checks she had previously passed to secure multiple security clearances.
“She has been fully vetted, time and time again,” Avenatti said on MSNBC. “She is an honest and courageous woman.”
Marc Fisher, Aaron C. Davis, Julie Tate, Alice Crites, Andrew Ba Tran and Donna St. George contributed to this report.
‘The safety and dignity of women is no longer secondary to the needs of powerful men.’ — Time’s Up is calling for Brett Kavanaugh to withdraw his nomination to the Supreme Court
'The safety and dignity of women is no longer secondary to the needs of powerful men.' — Time's Up is calling for Brett Kavanaugh to withdraw his nomination to the Supreme Court
Posted by NowThis Politics on Wednesday, September 26, 2018
‘Waste Land’ — 67 Superfund sites across 45 states
Silver Bow/Deer Lodge Counties, Mont. Silver Bow Creek/Butte area, Silver Bow/Deer Lodge counties, Mont., 1986. (Photograph by David T. Hanson)
Liquid Disposal, Inc., Utica, Mich., 1986. (Photograph by David T. Hanson)
Tooele Army Depot (North Area), Tooele, Utah, 1986. (Photograph by David T. Hanson)
Sharon Steel Corp. (Midvale Smelter), Midvale, Utah, 1986. (Photograph by David T. Hanson)
California Gulch, Leadville, Colo., 1986. (Photograph by David T. Hanson)
Northwest 58th Street Landfill, Hialeah, Fla., 1986. (Photograph by David T. Hanson)
Smuggler Mountain, Aspen, Colo., 1986. (Photograph by David T. Hanson)
Baxter/Union Pacific Tie Treating, Laramie, Wyo., 1986. (Photograph by David T. Hanson)
Atlas Asbestos Mine, Fresno County, Calif., 1985. (Photograph by David T. Hanson)
East Helena Smelter, East Helena, Mont., 1986. (Photograph by David T. Hanson)
Petro-Processors of Louisiana, Inc., Scotlandville, La., 1986. (Photograph by David T. Hanson)
Perdido Ground Water Contamination, Perdido, Ala., 1986. (Photograph by David T. Hanson)
Triptych of Rocky Mountain Arsenal, Adams County, Colo., 1986. (Photograph by David T. Hanson)
Cover of “Waste Land” by David T. Hanson. (Photo courtesy of Taverner Press)