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John McAfee Fled to Belize, But He Couldn’t Escape Himself

 

Photo: Brian Finke

 

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This 41-year-old piece of trash shows us just how long plastic stays in the environment

yogurtLet’s go back in time, to the year 1976. Fidel Castro has just been elected the president of Cuba, Steve Jobs founded a company called Apple, and Wild Cherry’s hit Play That Funky Music is topping the charts. At the same time, someone in Montreal finished their Yoplait yogurt and tossed the plastic carton into the trash.

Now fast forward to right now – 2017. You’re probably reading this on your iPhone. Fidel Castro and Steve Jobs have both passed away, Apple is a 700 billion dollar company, and Wild Cherry has been broken up for almost four decades (thankfully Play That Funky Music survives them). But while the world looks very different from the one in 1976, the one thing that has not changed is the plastic carton of Yoplait. This is a photo of the 41-year-old piece of garbage after it washed up on a beach in Sarasota, Florida.

Disco has long since died, but it will take 450 years for this yogurt carton to degrade, and we have been producing and consuming plastics steadily since it was tossed into the trash 40 years ago. In fact, plastic production has increased 620 percent in the past 30 years along and we now put 300 million tons of plastic materials into circulation every year.  Keep in mind, only 15 percent of these plastics are recycled. The rest, like this Yoplait carton, eventually make their way into our oceans.

Every year 8.8 million tons of plastic enter our oceans every year, but a recent UN study estimates that, at the current rate, by 2050 we will produce 33 billion tons of plastic annually and so the amount of plastic entering our waterways is set to increase as well. After entering the ocean, plastic pollution lodges in the digestive systems of marine life, entangles and strangles animals, and breaks down into harmful microplastics that choke out life on the sea floor. Plastic pollution currently threatens 817 species of marine and wildlife – that’s a whole lot of problems to accompany a disposable item we typically use for a few minutes.

This Yoplait carton reminds us that this problem is not going anywhere for a long, long time. So what can we do to fix this looming issue? There are many people working on the problem. Regions in the UK and India have instituted bans on plastic bags and disposable plastics that have proven to be very effective. But we can also do our part on a day to day basis by cutting plastic out of our lives? Remember to bring a tote bag with you to the grocery store instead of using the plastic bags there and bring your own water bottle with you when you leave the house instead of picking up a disposable one while you are out. For more tips on how to reduce your plastic waste join One Green Planet’s Crush Plastic campaign and start saving the world!

 

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What a jackhole: Trump orders ambassadors to yank their kids out of school and come home ASAP

U.S. Ambassador Denise Bauer with Belgian Prime Minister Elio Di Rupo. Bauer is being forced to return to the U.S. even though her daughter is just months from graduating high school.

It wouldn’t be a story about Donald Trump if it didn’t start with “in a break with precedent.” In this case, it’s a break with decades of precedent: Trump has told all politically appointed U.S. ambassadors around the world that they must return home by Inauguration Day, full stop, end of story, consequences be damned.

And the consequences are plenty. For starters, it means that America won’t have diplomats in place in many countries by the time Trump is sworn in. That’s a situation that would endure for months, since the Senate has to actually confirm each new ambassador, one by one. It’s also liable to frighten our allies and embolden our not-so-allies, though if anything, that’s probably to Trump’s liking.

But it’s for exactly these reasons that past presidents have always made exceptions, even for political appointees from the other party, to ensure continuity in our diplomatic relations, and also just not to be raging dicks to people who’ve gone overseas to serve our country. Lots of them, for instance, have families and young children abroad with them—children who are in the middle of their school year. Without visas, these people can’t remain in their host countries and are scrambling to either find a way to stay, or to uproot their kids and place them in new schools back home.

It’s fucking obnoxious, is what it is:

In Costa Rica, Ambassador Stafford Fitzgerald Haney is hunting for a house or an apartment as his family—which includes four school-age children and his wife, who has been battling breast cancer—struggles to figure out how to avoid a move back to the United States with five months left in the school year, according to the diplomats.

Some anonymous Trump apparatchik claimed “there was no ill will in the move,” so of course that means there was. And you can be doubly sure, because you know who didn’t have to uproot her child in the middle of his school year when her husband suddenly had to leave town? Oh right!

At a White House farewell reception that Mr. Obama held on Wednesday night for noncareer ambassadors, many of them commiserated, attendees said, comparing notes about how to handle the situation.

Some expressed dismay that Mr. Trump, whose wife, Melania, has chosen to stay in New York to avoid moving the couple’s 10-year-old son, Barron, to a new school midyear, would not ensure that such allowances were made for American ambassadors.

Yeah, her. But none of Obama’s ambassadors. Who needs ambassadors, right? Not Donald Trump. He has a very good brain, uses the best words, and knows more than the generals, so he definitely knows more than our ambassadors do—I mean, he’s obviously terrific at diplomacy.

This is yet another reason why Senate Democrats need to grill the living daylights out of Rex Tillerson, the oilman who’s Trump’s nominee for secretary of state and would be in charge of our diplomatic corps. Does Tillerson think it’s a good idea to leave our embassies leaderless for an indefinite length of time, and to send a message to future diplomats that you’ll be treated like shit once your term is over? And if not, what does he plan to do about it?

If he doesn’t have good answers—and he won’t—Chuck Schumer & Co. need to do everything in their power to thwart Tillerson’s nomination. We’ll be watching.

 

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It wasn’t just Trump that got Congress to reverse its spectacularly shady ethics move.

On Jan. 2, just a few hours before new members of Congress were set to be sworn in, the House Republican caucus voted to gut the independent Office of Congressional Ethics. The outcry was fierce and immediate.

 

Speaker Paul Ryan. Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images.

Critics blasted the secrecy of the move. Watchdog groups on both sides of the aisle expressed their disapproval. Democrats hammered Republicans for reversing themselves on President-elect Donald Trump’s pledge to “drain the swamp.”

The next morning, the caucus voted by unanimous consent to restore the original rules for the OCE.

Some attributed the turnaround to a series of critical tweets from Trump, which questioned the timing of the decision — without addressing whether the change was a good idea on the merits.

With all that Congress has to work on, do they really have to make the weakening of the Independent Ethics Watchdog, as unfair as it

Trump referred to the watchdog committee’s practices — which permit the public to register concerns about House members’ potentially corrupt dealings — as “unfair.” But he went on to suggest that the OCE shouldn’t be Congress’ top priority.

Just as critical to the effort to reverse the rule change, however, were the hundreds of critics on both sides of the aisle who urged ordinary people to speak out.

Conservative watchdog group Judicial Watch blasted the move as “shameful,” “shady,” and “corrupt.”

Judicial Watch Calls Upon House to Retain Congressional Ethics Office http://jwatch.us/GXQi1w 

Photo published for Judicial Watch Calls Upon House to Retain Congressional Ethics Office - Judicial Watch

Judicial Watch Calls Upon House to Retain Congressional Ethics Office – Judicial Watch

(Washington, DC) – Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton today made the following statement regarding the proposed change to House rules that would eliminate its Office of Congressional Ethics:  It is…

judicialwatch.org

Others urged citizens to call their representatives and provided resources…

…including the direct phone numbers of individual House members.

One North Carolina representative said his office was inundated with calls from constituents demanding the GOP reverse course.

House GOP now in closed door meeting. Rep Walter Jones R-NC says his office swamped with calls on ethics changes

Other congress members told reporters a similar story.

Most members tell me blizzard of angry constituent calls were most impt factor in getting the House to sideline the amdt

After the reversal, a congressman from Idaho said, “I could have told you last night when we left this would be undone,” downplaying Trump’s influence on the decision.

Democracy works best when people hold their elected representatives accountable for trying to sneak shady things past them.

We voted for the Congress we voted for. That’s not going to change for at least the next two years. But we can still do our best to let them know we’re watching them, and that we vote.

Trump’s tweets are shiny, so it’s no wonder he’s getting much of the credit for moving the needle. Mass public outcry, however, certainly didn’t hurt when it came to getting this thing undone.

It’s not terribly surprising that a bunch of Americans would be upset about their elected representatives trying to change the rules to make it easier for them to get away with sketchy, corrupt things. Perhaps more surprising is that those same members of Congress are listening to us when we tell them how pissed we are — even if they’re doing it to preserve their own butts.

The lesson here?

Go ahead and add “call your member of Congress to complain” to your daily routine

Call. Call. Call. It can’t hurt. And it could help make politics in America just a tiny bit more honest and transparent.

 

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SICK DAY: The upcomming fight over Obamacare

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THE STORY

Congress is coughing up a fit. The topic? Obamacare.

REMIND ME.

In 2010, President Obama signed his favorite thing ever – the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare) – into law. Ever since, it’s been a political headache. The law was supposed to make it easier and cheaper for people to get health insurance. And right now, the number of people who are uninsured is at its lowest level. Ever. But critics say it does things like create losses for insurance providers and gives the gov too much power. So the GOP’s tried to repeal or hinder it dozens of times. And it’s gone to the Supreme Court four times for different reasons. But no dice on the repeal.

SO WHAT’S HAPPENING NOW?

ICYMI, one of President-elect Donald Trump’s main campaign promises was to repeal Obamacare. Yesterday, President Obama went to the Hill to get Dem lawmakers’ help in protecting his legacy. And Vice President-elect Mike Pence went to the Hill to say that getting rid of Obamacare will be the “first order of business” for the incoming administration. And since Republicans are about to control both Congress and the White House, their ‘end of Obamacare’ dreams could come true.

WILL IT BE EASY?

No. Democrats say they’re going to put up a major fight. So far, around 20 million people have signed up for insurance through Obamacare. But since it’s unclear what exactly the GOP plans to replace it with, no one really knows what will happen to those millions of people if the law goes away. The GOP says it’s working on a “smooth transition.” K.

theSKIMM

In one corner of the ring is a major part of President Obama’s legacy and the current healthcare system for millions of Americans. In the other corner is President-elect Donald Trump and a Republican-controlled Congress that’s been waiting for this moment for years. Rumble in the GOP jungle.

Skimm This
 

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House GOP scraps plan to gut ethics watchdog after emergency meeting

House Republicans at an emergency conference meeting on Tuesday withdrew a proposal to gut an ethics watchdog.

The new Congress hadn’t even formally gaveled in on before GOP leaders held an emergency conference meeting to discuss the blowback against the party’s vote Monday evening to gut the chamber’s independent ethics watchdog.

Tuesday’s meeting came after President-elect Donald Trump issued a series of tweets questioning the timing of the proposed changes, which would have put the independent Office of Congressional Ethics under oversight of the House Ethics Committee.

Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) both opposed the changes.The House established OCE in 2008 in response to a series of ethics scandals plaguing multiple GOP lawmakers, including three who went to prison.

–This breaking news report will be updated.

 

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My Six Wishes For You This Year

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By Jan M. Flynn –  

 

Bye-bye, 2016. A lot of folks were happy to see you go; you didn’t play very nice.

And hello, 2017. We hope you behave yourself better than predecessor, but I suspect we’re in for a wild ride. Not to be Debbie Downer here, but it’s hard not to believe this is going to be a challenging year, and I mean truly challenging on a level we haven’t seen in a long time. At least not those of us who are lucky enough have lived in a relatively safe and prosperous environment.

I always have mixed feelings on January 1; I’m a little melancholy to see another festive season draw to a close, the time when our normal preoccupations simmer down and we focus on making merry (or escaping, or simply coping). On the other hand, the prospect of a fresh start is invigorating. It’s a chance to set intentions, which I like much better than resolutions, to let go of the past as the decorations are packed away, and ratchet up the energy to take on a whole new year.

This year the transition is more unsettling. The events of November were so jarring that the holiday season seemed like a respite from  psychic whiplash, and I feel my neck cramping up again. There is just so much uncertainty, so much unknown, so many upended assumptions. It’s like the rulebook was rewritten all in one night, and nobody even knows yet what it says.

However, that doesn’t mean we have to slide into despair. Far from it. I’m going to sound very cornball here, but I’m 100% sincere in my belief that we are entering a time that calls on each of us to show up in a way we may never have before. How we conduct ourselves going forward is suddenly critical. While sobering (step away from the mimosas), the idea that  it absolutely matters what each of us does and says and chooses in the coming days is exciting.

Here is what I wish for you, and for everyone you care about and influence. Because even if you didn’t think so previously, you just became very, very important:

  1. Courage. Nobody likes uncertainty, and lots of us don’t cotton much to risk. The coming year is likely to contain lots of both. I wish you the courage to take necessary risks to do what you know in your gut is right, whether it’s showing up to protest a pipeline or speaking your truth calmly and deliberately at a dinner party. All of us are going to need to find a way to embrace uncertainty, so I wish you the courage to do that as well. Don’t wimp out.
  2. Judgement. No, I don’t mean the judge-y kind, where you sit back and rain lofty condemnation on actions and people you don’t like. I mean discernment, rigorous critical thinking, and the discipline to examine news articles, actions, tweets, posts, whatever, for credibility and veracity. Beware of your own biases, because we all have them, and when unexamined they can so easily be used against us. Check your sources, folks. Don’t be anybody’s tool.
  3. Civility. This is key. In case you were hoping the screaming match of the election cycle was over, think again. We have collectively staggered into a realm wherein the loudest and most vituperative voice commands the attention. You have to be better than that. You have to develop the skill to say what you need to say, forthrightly and without apology, but also without calling names or stooping to hostile derision. Don’t be a hater, in any sense of the word.
  4. Faith. By this I mean faith in humanity, as disappointing as individual humans can be. Take the long view, however that makes the most sense to you. We are part of something much bigger than any one of us. Don’t give up.
  5. Resolve. The antidote to insecurity, to fear itself, is action. Do whatever it is you can do; especially do what you haven’t done before. Speak up at the meeting. Join the group. Send whatever money you can to credible organizations that support the most vulnerable among us, that support transparency in government, that support democracy. You don’t have to turn your life inside out, but do something. Don’t sit back.
  6. Joy. I warned you I was going full cornball here. But if ever there were a time when the need to nurture and cultivate joy was front and center, this is it. No regime, administration, or policy-gone-awry should have the power to extinguish the life-affirming core of who you are. And you can’t make a happier world by being unhappy all the time. Take excellent care of yourself and those you love. Eat good stuff; get plenty of sleep; delight in life at every opportunity. Make cool things: gatherings, songs, stories, art, home brew, whatever it is you like to make. Remember, if one individual’s life (and joy) isn’t important, then why is a mass of people’s? Like Marianne Williamson says, don’t play small.

So there they are, my New Year’s wishes for you. May 2017 treat you and yours kindly — but if and when it doesn’t, remember we’re all in this together.

And you? What are your intentions for the new year? Please comment and share!

 

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