Tag Archives: West Coast Drought

America’s new recycling crisis, explained by an expert

For 30 years, China took in the world’s plastic. What happened when they stopped?

By Micaela Marini Higgs

China has been taking US plastic waste for three decades. In 2017, they stopped.

For all the campaigns encouraging people to recycle more, few lay out exactly what happens to our recyclables once they go into the blue bin. Rather than our milk jugs magically reincarnating into toys on their own, for nearly three decades American recyclables were shipped cheaply to China, where they could be sold and given new shape.

That worked well enough, until China started cracking down. With dirty waste continuing to appear in imported recyclables, the rising cost of labor, and an abundance of the country’s own potentially recyclable waste, China no longer had the same financial and environmental incentives to accept the world’s waste.

Within the recycling community, there had been rumblings that China might change its policies, but the force of Operation National Sword, announced in July 2017, still came as a surprise. Going into full effect last March, it banned 24 types of scrap and implemented much stricter and more rigorous contamination standards which have been described as “impossible to reach.” As a result, local governments and the recycling industry are now facing an unprecedented recycling crisis, especially in plastics.

Plastic recycling must now meet “impossible” contamination standards.

To put the impact of this current crisis into the context of past waste crises — like the Love Canal Disaster, where a residential neighborhood was built on a toxic waste dump with disastrous consequences, leading to the formation of the EPA’s Superfund program — and to understand how the effects of this policy are being felt across the United States, The Goods spoke to Kate O’Neill, an associate professor in the Department of Environmental Science, Policy and Management at UC Berkeley. Specializing in global environmental politics and the global politics of waste, her upcoming book Waste explores the extent to which waste can be a resource, and she has written and spoken extensively about the recycling trade with China.

What’s the history of the US sending recyclables to China?

China imported most of the world’s scrap, the good stuff as well as the more problematic, especially as its industry started to boom in the late ’90s and early 2000s. It was also connected with China’s entry into the World Trade Organization in 2001. That was a period where China’s growth started booming. It was shipping goods to Europe and the States and that enabled a cheap process of shipping the scrap back to China in the holds of the ships that had brought all the stuff over. So that made it cheaper to ship to China than, say, to ship recycling across the country. And China was the market — that’s where it went to be used. We were shipping it to China because there was demand from its manufacturing sector because it wasn’t producing enough virgin plastic. So there was an economic rationale.

Is it that China doesn’t need our recyclables now that they have enough of their own?

It produces plastics for its domestic market and has a lot of plastic scrap of its own to recycle. This is very similar to the dynamics with electronic waste, because China imported a lot of that for a while, and illegally for quite a while too, and then started really cleaning up its recycling villages and creating more industrial parks for domestic recycling. It’s trying to do the same with plastics.

I also think Beijing is very concerned about their environmental quality and image overseas. As China is taking on this role as the world’s economic superpower, there are aspects that are not just pure economics or military power, but a sort of leadership by example. We see it with efforts in China to combat climate change. I also think that they were very concerned about being seen as the world’s dump site.

How do past rumblings and claims of crisis compare to now? Is the shit hitting the fan?


Oh, the shit’s hitting the fan. Operation Green Fence was the 2013 effort to just start getting exporting countries to clean their recycling, their plastics in particular. That sent ripples, but that was more enforcing existing legislation, it wasn’t a severe cut in contamination limits. The recycling industry saw it as more of a, “Well, let’s kind of clean up our act at the collection stage and not bother the consumers with this.” What happened was that suddenly a whole cleaning services industry sprang up in Southeast Asia, so you knew you could ship it to Malaysia where it would be cleaned if it didn’t meet China’s specifications.

Absolutely no one thinks they’re going to lift this restriction at any point, and it’s really been exacerbated by the trade war with the US. [China has] had periodic disruptions, just temporary ones, on the import of other kinds of scrap like iron, copper, and aluminum. But there’s demand in their own recycling industries for that so it’d be tricky for Beijing to say no to importing that kind of scrap. But plastics now, no one sees any lifting on those restrictions anytime soon.

It seems like this is a type of crisis we’ve never had to face before, but based on impact does it compare to anything else?

Only nuclear waste. Obviously it’s not the same as a widespread nuclear waste accident, but I think it’s the most widespread, and I would definitely call this the most high-profile and prolonged period I’ve seen waste in the global press in many, many years.

Thinking back over early waste crises, again, it’s not quite the same danger to human health, but it’s on par with Love Canal and those big events in the ’60s and ’70s. We’ve really been displacing those risks — out of sight, out of mind — either to poor minority communities in the case of hazardous waste, or now to displacing our plastic and paper waste to communities where — although it’s used in China — it was being disassembled and reprocessed by people who are very much being exposed to the worst risks.

How is this going to start impacting our lives here in the US?

It already has in so many ways. There’s the ripple effect for our lives and also globally. Initially the plan was just to divert the plastics to different places like Southeast Asia. That has not been working because countries like Malaysia and Thailand have become overwhelmed with plastic and stopped importing. India just announced it would not take plastics, so the quest for markets is still ongoing.

There’s a lot of campaigns for consumer education, getting rid of what the industry calls “wish cycling” [the well-intentioned attempt to recycle nonrecyclables, which causes contamination and more waste] and encouraging people to properly wash recyclables. You’ve got a shift away from single-stream recycling, when you put everything into the one big container, to multiple stream, where you’re separating recyclables into different containers.


We’re seeing an increase in landfilling, and because most states have fees for landfills, that’s creating an additional expense [for municipalities]. Plastics went from [selling for] like $300 a ton at their peak to now where you almost have to pay to get rid of them. Municipalities are cutting back on their recycling and what they will pick up, some places have stopped recycling altogether. This includes not just plastic but also glass, not because it was ever exported to China but because it’s difficult and expensive to recycle in the first place, so when you’re losing money because of plastics you’re not going to keep propping up a real economic loss generator like glass.

After years of hearing that we should recycle more, it’s pretty shocking to realize that we don’t have an infrastructure that can deal with all of it.

Recycling started in the ’70s and ’80s but it took a while to really spread and certainly to become kind of mandatory. [Over the past 20 years] there was no matching or building of recycling capacity along with the increase in recycling programs. I was living in New York in the mid ’90s and I remember when the recycling came in, that maps directly onto the years when we started exporting to China.

There’s an interesting debate warming up about if we should focus on improving our recycling or if that is going to enable our continued consumption of plastics. In other words, let’s not focus on recycling, let’s just focus on not using plastics. I personally think that we need to do both, and I’m concerned about this argument that we shouldn’t even be improving recycling, that we just need to focus on not using plastic, because that seems like a lot harder of a goal to reach.

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A third of pet owners would consider making their animal vegan, according to a new study

dog carrot
The interest in feeding animals a vegan diet is growing.
 picture alliance / Getty
  • About a third of people are interested in putting their pets on a vegan diet, according to a new study.
  • And 27% of vegan respondents have already done so.
  • Over half said certain measures would need to be met before they committed to the change.
  • More research is needed before experts can recommend a vegan diet for potential nutritional benefits.

Veganism has been on the rise among humans for a while, but new research shows the trend has started to gain momentum in the animal kingdom.

A survey of more than 3,670 dog and cat owners from around the world found that 35% are interested in putting their pets on a vegan diet while 27% of respondents who follow a vegan diet themselves have already done so.

More than half (55%) said that certain measures would need to be met in order for them to commit to changing their pet’s diets, such as gaining veterinarian approval and ensuring their animal’s nutritional needs are met.

You might think that those considering the switch are vegan themselves, but in actual fact, just 6% of the survey’s respondents followed the plant-based lifestyle.

The study’s lead author, Dr. Sarah Dodd of the veterinary college at the University of Guelph, Canada — which conducted the study — said she was surprised at how many pet-owners were already feeding their animals exclusively vegan food.

“That percentage, 27%, might sound like a small number, but when you think of the actual numbers of pets involved, that’s huge, and much higher than we expected.”

Cat eating treat

Dodd also stated that the study suggests the interest surrounding vegan pet diets may increase in the coming years.

“People have been hearing about how vegan diets are linked to lowered risks of cancer and other health benefits in humans. There is also growing concern about the environmental impact of animal agriculture.

“So, while only a small proportion of pet-owners are currently feeding plant-based diets to their pets, it is safe to say that interest in the diets is likely to grow.”

But she added that the study, which was published in the journal PLoS One, indicates that more research is needed into the nutritional benefits and consequences of feeding one’s pet a vegan diet.

An RSPCA spokesperson concurred, telling The Independent that there is a paucity of research in terms of vegan pet diets, which renders it difficult to draw any conclusions on its benefits.

“Dogs are omnivores and can eat a wide variety of food types so they can survive on a vegetarian diet as long as the diet is well-balanced,” they said.

It is a different story for cats, however, who are “strict carnivores” and depend on specific nutrients found primarily in meat, such as taurine, vitamin A and arachidonic acid.

“We are aware of vegan/vegetarian pet food which includes these nutrients but these are relatively new to market and we have not seen any long-term studies about the effects of feeding cats a diet like this,” the spokesperson added.

“However, we are also not aware of any cases of health problems associated with them. We would like to see more scientific evidence about the effects of such specialised diets on cats and cannot advise feeding them at this time.”


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Peter Frampton Talks Degenerative Muscle Disease Diagnosis, Farewell Tour

“In a year’s time, I might not be able to play,” says Frampton, who was diagnosed with Inclusion-Body Myositis. “I want to go out screaming”

Musician Peter Frampton poses for a portrait in New York. The English-born Frampton, now 65, released, Acoustic Classics, a CD of stripped-down versions of his best-known songs, in FebruaryPeter Frampton Portrait Session, New York, USA - 25 Feb 2016

Peter Frampton decided to launch a final tour after getting diagnosed with the muscle disease Inclusion-Body Myositis.

Scott Gries/Invision/AP/REX/Shutterstock

About eight years ago, Peter Frampton started to notice that his ankles felt a little tight in the morning. He initially dismissed it as one of the many pains that comes with getting older, but as time passed, his legs began feeling weak as well. He tried to ignore the signs that something was wrong until four years ago when a fan kicked a beach ball onto the stage at one of his concerts and he fell over when he tried to kick it back. “My legs just gave out,” he says. “We all joked, ‘He’s fallen and he can’t get up.’ But I was embarrassed.”

Two weeks after the beach ball incident, he tripped over a guitar cord on his stage and collapsed again. He was also noticing that his arms were getting so weak that loading heavy objects onto the overhead compartments of planes was becoming extremely difficult. When his tour had some time off, he finally booked an appointment with a neurologist to see what was happening. He was diagnosed with the inflammatory muscle disease Inclusion-Body Myositis (IBM) and sent to Johns Hopkins in Baltimore, Maryland where he was teamed up with Dr. Lisa Christopher-Stine, the director of their myositis clinic.

“I inherited this incredible team of doctors who are so passionate about what they do that it’s ridiculous,” says Frampton. “Then it was revealed to me that it wouldn’t just affect my legs and my arms, but it’s going to affect my fingers. That was the most troubling thing, obviously, for me.” He is still able to play guitar without any difficulty, but with the window now beginning to possibly close forever, he booked a farewell tour that will keep him on the road this summer and possibly a bit longer.

We spoke to Frampton about coming to terms with IBM, what fans can expect from the tour, the secret albums he’s been frantically recording in Nashville, how the huge success of Frampton Comes Alive! doomed the rest of his career, touring with David Bowie in the Eighties and much more.

You managed to keep this all very secret for the past four years. Nobody knew a thing.
It wasn’t at a place where it was necessary to tell anybody. My children and my band knew. That was it, literally. My crew didn’t even know. At the beginning of the next tour, I fell one more time. “Wow, he must be getting old!” I guess they just thought that. Yes, we did keep it to ourselves until there was a need to bring it up. The need is now because right now I can play great guitar and we are recording like maniacs at my studio in Nashville. We’ve done two albums already. I want to record as much as I can in the shortest space of time. We’re actually working on three projects. I’m very much feeling that I’m playing like always. Some people are saying even better, but I’d let them say that.

In a year’s time, I might not be able to play. Right now, it’s progressing but I’m still at the top of my game. We decided to do a farewell tour now since I don’t want to go out and not be able to play well. If I’m going to do a farewell tour, I want to play good. I want to rock it. I know that this tour, I will be able to do everything I did last year and the year before. That’s the most important thing to me. I want to go out screaming as opposed to, “He can’t play anymore.” I’m not going to do that. I’m a perfectionist and I can’t do that. I want to obviously go out there playing my best at all times until I can’t. That’s why this is the farewell tour. We might be able to do the same thing on a limited basis in Europe in the spring of the following year, but I don’t know that yet.

What sort of setlist are going to put together for these shows?
A bit of everything, I guess. It’s got to be. The fans are hoping we’ll do some stuff we haven’t done in a long time or have never done. We will be digging deep as well as doing the familiar and the needed ones for those who are coming. But we will be diving deep. I have no idea what the setlist will be yet, but it will definitely be different than the last couple of tours.

Are you thinking yet about where the last show might happen?
I’m not because they are still adding them. But I can’t say. I don’t know.

After the last show, might you continue to play select shows and just not tour?
I can’t say at this point. Beyond my fingers, which is the guitar-playing part, there’s my legs too. Getting around is getting more difficult. I don’t want to stop playing. That’s the last thing I want to stop doing. I’m going to be playing as long as I can play, but this will be the last extended tour. I can’t say what I’ll be doing next year.

Does the disease have any impact on your singing voice?
No. There is another part to the disease that can affect swallowing, but it’s only 50 percent of the people that have it. I don’t have it, thank goodness. I’ve been lucky. And that wouldn’t affect my singing voice either. That’s all good.

What sort of treatment are you getting for it?
There’s no specific treatment for IBM. They have traditional medicine that is working. They are coming out with some drug trials. I’m hoping to be involved with those. That is something that is in the future. Right now, the only thing that works for me is exercise. I work out like a maniac all the time. It’s strengthening the muscle that I have. It seems to be the best possible thing for IBM is to work out every day.

Tell me about these two new albums you’re working on.
I can’t! [Laughs] There’s actually three projects. There’s a double album, but I can’t tell you what it’s about since that would spoil the surprise. We’re working on sorting out the release. Hopefully that will come out in June when the tour starts. There’s that and another single album that we’re finishing off tracking next week and then after, if I can muster it, we’re going to do yet another project. They’re all different. As I say, I can’t really say what they are since it’s not time.

How are you doing emotionally in the light of all this?
Obviously it’s not the best thing to wake up to every morning, but I’m a very positive person. I always have been. I’m a resilient person too. If you look at my career, you’d go, “Yes, this guy is pretty resilient.” You can’t really knock me down too far before I brush myself off, pick myself up and move on. Maybe a huge door is closing in my life, but then there’s lots of other doors that open. The first thing we’ve already started with Johns Hopkins is the Peter Frampton Myositis Research Fund. One dollar from every ticket on the tour is going to go straight to Johns Hopkins, that fund. I’m going to obviously do some work with John Hopkins. It’s a very boutique – I hate to use that word, but it is – disease. Only 24,000 people in this country know they have it. But I’m sure there’s a lot more that just think they are getting old like I did.

When you think about raising money for a drug company to do all these trials, that’s why it has taken time. There’s not a lot of return there, so I understand the situation. That’s another reason why now is a good time to announce this so we can start raising some awareness for it.

Might you play Frampton Comes Alive! straight through at some point on the tour?
I don’t think so. I think it will be all-encompassing of what we do in the final setlist that we put together. It’ll probably change along the way. I did that for nearly two years, which was highly successful, but I’ve done that. This will be something different.

Do you think in hindsight that album became so successful that it was almost damaging to your career?
[Laughs] Damaging? Damaging squared! It’s a phenomenon that if something gets so big, for whatever reason, and it is worldwide, it becomes in your face until you get to the point where you can’t stand to listen to it anymore. [Laughs] I truly believe we got to that point. And hey, I was dying to hear myself on the radio and then it got to the point where I thought, “I wish they wouldn’t play me so much.” And then instead of the guitar, it’s the face on the cover of everything. The combination of how big it was and the way I looked, that gave it the “squared.” If I hadn’t been so damn good looking…[laughs]…I wouldn’t have been on the cover of all the magazines, but I would have retained my credibility.

But my credibility has always been there amongst those who know. That’s the beauty of my career as far as I’m concerned. Thanks to David Bowie, myself and a few other people and a Grammy for my instrumental album, my career got turned around. I’ve had a very long, successful career since the beginning of the 2000s when things really started turning around again. I’ve even seen people putting the public down for putting me down in the Seventies. I’ve seen people, at this point, still coming to my defense. I’m taking partial blame for the satin pants, okay? I take responsibility for the satin pants. That’s it! [laughs]

And for being shirtless on the album cover?
Well, they pushed…let’s not go there. [laughs]

I like I’m In You.
Thanks. It could have been a lot better had I been in a better mental state at that point, but my head exploded just before we went in the studio there. It was a vast change in lifestyle or affect on my lifestyle.

What did you learn by playing guitar on the Bowie tour in 1987?
This was a dream that I had ever since we went to school together. We got to know each other and played guitar together at school. And then he went and did his career and I did my career. When Humble Pie had their first package tour in Europe, David was our special guest. That was great to see him again on that. He’d just released “Space Oddity” as that tour happened. He went straight to Number One and Humble Pie were at Number Three or Number Four or whatever it was. It was a great tour, but it was just David and a twelve-string. No makeup. No nothing. And he killed.

The next thing is that he becomes huge and my live album happens. He saw exactly what was happening to me as far as where the image had got misconstrued, let’s put it that way, and knew me as a guitar player. So when he invited me to play guitar on Never Let Me Down and then the Glass Spider tour, he had an agenda for me. He’s always been there on the other end of the phone to talk about stuff, kind of like an older brother. That was the best thing that could have happened to me at that particular moment. He saw what had happened and phoned me up and said, “Hey, do this. Will you come on the road with me?” It was the most fantastic thing.

I’ve been on the same stage, but not at the same time, as David so many times in an evening. Now we’re actually going to be onstage together. It was the biggest thrill of my life. What could be bigger? I remember seeing David playing in a local band before I even went to the school since my dad was David’s art teacher. I remember seeing this band play on the school steps and this thing with hair sticking straight up and playing the saxophone doing Elvis Presley songs. I looked at my dad and said, “Dad, who is that?” He said, “Oh, that’s Jones.” I said, “I want to be him.” I was 11 at the time. That was how it started, so you can imagine what a huge thrill it was to eventually be brought on stage and playing with David. There is nothing better.

To play “Heroes” right by the Berlin Wall must have been unreal.
Yeah. And then my part of the piece where I got to display a really lovely solo was “Loving The Alien.” That was so phenomenal. The whole tour was, for me, kind of circus-like since there were so many people, but the effect was phenomenal. He took it to the limit for that tour. I was very glad to be on it.

To wrap on your farewell tour, how do you think it will feel when you step offstage at the end of the last show?
I’ve thought about that, but I know that all my kids will be there. My ex-wives will be there. [Laughs] I hope not. No, they probably will. It’s going to be a party and a celebration of what’s going to come. We’re going to celebrate. We’re not going to look backwards. We’re going to go forward. I know I’ve got so much more to do. It will be an emotional evening, obviously. I have such a great support group. My kids. My ex-wives. [Laughs] I’m very lucky.

And you’re a fighter. You fought through the Eighties. You fought through the Sgt. Pepper movie. You fought though everything and you can fight through this too.
Thank you! You said that! I didn’t say that! Well, I echo your feelings.


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Everyone around you is grieving. Go Easy.





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Lawmakers OK Deal to Avert Shutdown; Trump Hesitant

It’s down to the wire.

A group of House and Senate negotiators agreed in principle to a deal to avoid another federal government shutdown; it includes $1.375 billion for fencing and other physical barriers at the Mexican border but not the $5.7 billion for wall construction President Trump demanded, The New York Times reports.

“The agreement would allow for 55 miles of new bollard fencing, with some restrictions on location based on community and environmental concerns, according to two congressional aides, who requested anonymity to disclose details of the private negotiations. That is a fraction of the more than 200 miles of steel-and-concrete wall that Mr. Trump demanded—and 10 miles less than negotiators agreed on last summer, before Democrats took control of the House.”

Trump has doubled down on his demand for a wall since the last partial government shutdown ended, most recently at a rally in El Paso, Texas, last night.

But it’s unclear whether Trump will oppose the new deal, Bloomberg reports, citing an unnamed “administration official.”

It’s “very difficult” to comment “until we actually see the language,” White House spokesman Hogan Gidley told Fox News. “We don’t know what’s in it at this time.”

The new deal includes an agreement to limit the number of beds used for migrants held in detention. It would also “provide $1.7 billion more for border security, including technology at ports of entry, more officers and humanitarian aid,” the Times reports.

Both houses of Congress must pass the proposed legislation, which must be signed by Trump. The current temporary government funding bill expires on Friday.

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Trump Pulls U.S. Out of Nuclear Treaty With Russia


Bombs away?

The Trump administration said it would leave the landmark Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces treaty tomorrow, accusing Russia of violating its terms, the Associated Press reports.

The 1987 treaty bans ground-launched cruise missiles with a range between 310 miles and 3,400 miles. The U.S. says Russia has been developing such missiles in violation of the treaty; Russia denies that, the AP reports.

“Some analysts worry the demise of the centerpiece of superpower arms control could fuel a new arms race. U.S. officials fear that China, which is not party to the treaty, is gaining a significant military advantage in Asia by deploying large numbers of missiles with ranges beyond the treaty’s limit.”

If the U.S. goes through with the withdrawal, it will become effective in six months, giving both sides time to resolve their differences. The AP says that is unlikely.

After that, the U.S. will be free to test and deploy such weapons, though senior unnamed “Trump administration officials” told the AP that the U.S. is not in a position to test or deploy such weapons and one official said that only non-nuclear missiles are being considered for future development and potential deployment.

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Portrayal of confrontation between Catholic students and tribal elder


After a weekend marked by bitter recriminations over race and political bias, with the nation transfixed by viral videos depicting a confrontation between a crowd of Catholic schoolboys and a Native American elder, calls went out Monday — the federal holiday celebrating the life of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. — for restraint.

In the Twittersphere, a warning not to leap to conclusions gained currency across the political spectrum. As the events in question grew murkier, some who had reacted angrily sought to muffle their own social-media megaphones, chastened by yet another illustration of how the Internet widens the ideological differences among Americans, sowing confusion and discord. “This whole nation needs to take a deep breath before rushing to judgment,” advised Dana Loesch, the spokeswoman for the National Rifle Association, who is hardly known for her mild approach to rhetorical combat.

But for President Trump, the dispute was not to be missed. It offered red meat to a president who has eagerly stoked the culture wars, while seizing every opportunity to discredit the news media.

Weighing in Tuesday morning on Twitter, Trump described Nick Sandmann, an 11th-grade student at Covington Catholic High School in Park Hills, Ky., and his fellow students as “symbols of Fake News and how evil it can be.” Yet he also suggested that the Catholic teenagers could use the attention to “bring people together.”

Donald J. Trump


Nick Sandmann and the students of Covington have become symbols of Fake News and how evil it can be. They have captivated the attention of the world, and I know they will use it for the good – maybe even to bring people together. It started off unpleasant, but can end in a dream!

62.4K people are talking about this

That the students at the center of the latest controversy over race and political malice were wearing hats trumpeting his campaign slogan, “Make America Great Again,” put Trump at center stage. That their cause found support on the president’s favored television channel made his input all but inevitable.

The president first entered the fray on Monday night, lending his support to a campaign to vindicate the students, whose cause has been taken up by conservative media and a GOP-linked public relations team. Trump tweeted in defense of Sandmann, who was censured on social media when early footage of the Friday encounter in front of the Lincoln Memorial showed him grinning as an Omaha elder, Nathan Phillips, 64, beat a drum in prayer.

The all-male college preparatory school was closed Tuesday because of security concerns, according to a local Fox News affiliate, which cited a letter from the principal, Robert Rowe. “After meeting with local authorities, we have made the decision to cancel school and be closed on Tuesday, January 22, in order to ensure the safety of our students, faculty and staff,” the letter stated.

Local officials say they are investigating threats of violence against the school and individual students. Kenton County Commonwealth’s Attorney Rob Sanders said he cannot say anything more about the nature of the threats and did not answer questions about who investigators believe were behind them or who were targeted.

Members of the American Indian Movement Chapter of Indiana and Kentucky condemned threats of violence against the students.

“That’s horrible. Any threat of violence against a child is completely, completely wrong.” said Lance Soto, co-chair of the group.

Soto said the group is holding a “peace vigil” Tuesday outside the Catholic Diocese of Covington, which he said has not reached out to the organization or other indigenous people in the area.

“We would like to say, ‘We are here. There is an indigenous community here that you can reach out to,’” he said.

Thomas Pearce, also a co-chair of the group, blamed Trump for the clash at Lincoln Memorial and for the fallout that followed.

“I think it was something that happened in an environment that was filled by hatred from our president … That’s all I can say,” Pearce said.

Trump blamed the media, which he said was responsible for “early judgements proving out to be false.”

Trump’s verdict appeared to draw on Tucker Carlson’s segment Monday night on Fox News. It signaled the White House’s endorsement of a rival narrative, which first took shape on, the libertarian website, after fuller video of the encounter emerged.

Donald J. Trump


Looking like Nick Sandman & Covington Catholic students were treated unfairly with early judgements proving out to be false – smeared by media. Not good, but making big comeback! “New footage shows that media was wrong about teen’s encounter with Native American” @TuckerCarlson

84.9K people are talking about this

The opposing account casts the teenager and his classmates as victims twice over, not just of verbal abuse on the Mall but also of online vilification drawing on headlines that appeared to reach conclusions about the episode based on incomplete evidence.

At first, politicians sounded the alarm. Celebrities professed outrage. School officials joined the Catholic Diocese of Covington in apologizing for the students, who were threatened as their private information poured out online.

Organizers of the March for Life, an annual antiabortion event that had drawn the teenagers to the nation’s capital, initially called the students’ behavior “reprehensible,” but in a revised statement Sunday said, “It is clear from new footage and additional accounts that there is more to this story than the original video captured.” Rep. Thomas Massie (R-Ky.) praised the students, tweeting that “in the face of racist and homosexual slurs, the young boys refused to reciprocate or disrespect anyone.”

Massie weighed in again Monday to thank Trump for supporting his constituents.

Thomas Massie


Thank you @realDonaldTrump for supporting our CovCath students.

Donald J. Trump


Looking like Nick Sandman & Covington Catholic students were treated unfairly with early judgements proving out to be false – smeared by media. Not good, but making big comeback! “New footage shows that media was wrong about teen’s encounter with Native American” @TuckerCarlson

“Not good, but making big comeback!” the president wrote of the treatment of Sandmann, who released a statement over the weekend maintaining that he was blameless. Trump quoted a chyron splashed across the screen during the Fox News segment, “New footage shows that media was wrong about teen’s encounter with Native American.”

Carlson criticized the media for circulating an incomplete clip, which he called “an entire morality play shrunk down to four minutes for Facebook.” He was particularly hard on conservative commentators who had joined liberals in sympathizing with the Native leader, singling out Bill Kristol, the co-founder of the now-defunct Weekly Standard magazine, for a since-deleted tweet asking his followers to mull over the “contrast between the calm dignity and quiet strength of Mr. Phillips and the behavior of #MAGA brats who have absorbed the spirit of Trumpism.”

“It wasn’t just left versus right — it was the people in power attacking those below them, as a group,” Carlson said, suggesting that Republicans had been moved to speak out to “inoculate themselves from charges of improper thought.”

Still, the partisan fault lines that seemed to shape the disagreement were reinforced on Monday, when the Louisville Courier-Journal reported that Sandmann’s family had retained the Louisville-based public relations firm RunSwitch PR. One of the firm’s partners, Scott Jennings, served in the George W. Bush administration and “is regarded as one of Mitch McConnell’s closest outside political confidants,” according to his profile for the Harvard Kennedy School’s Institute of Politics.

“You’re hardly a Trump partisan,” Carlson said of Robby Soave, an associate editor at who joined the Fox News host on his show Monday night. Soave was among the first to question whether the Catholic teenagers were in the wrong. “It was all there,” Soave told Carlson. “You just had to watch the almost two hours of footage.”

Soave’s analysis gained broad attention over the weekend, disseminated by high-profile members of the media, such as CNN’s Jake Tapper.

“I, like many others may have reacted too quickly,” wrote Meghan McCain of ABC’s “The View,” who also shared the Reason rebuttal on Twitter. “Apologize for being part of a media pile on.”

“I Failed the Covington Catholic Test,” announced a headline in the Atlantic, where Julie Irwin Zimmerman, a writer based in Cincinnati, which lies across the Ohio River from Covington, gave voice to a media mea culpa. She said that in the future, she will reserve judgment until she has more facts, and, until then, “stick to discussing the news with people I know in real life, instead of with strangers whom I’ve never met.”

She also wrote that the story of the Catholic students and the tribal elder was a “Rorschach test — tell me how you first reacted, and I can probably tell where you live, who you voted for in 2016, and your general take on a list of other issues.”

But not everyone was convinced that a fuller picture of the events in Washington exonerated the students.

Walter M. Shaub Jr., who departed as the federal government’s top ethics watchdog in 2017 after clashing with the Trump administration, objected to Soave’s conclusion. Waleed Shahid, communications director for the left-wing Justice Democrats, argued that the earlier footage was in fact “so much worse.” And the writer and activist Amy Siskind asked why the school’s chaperones had not intervened.

Jake Tapper


.@reason: “Video footage strongly contradicts Native American veteran Nathan Phillips’ claim that Covington Catholic High School boys harassed him. The media got this one completely wrong,” writes @robbysoave 

The Media Wildly Mischaracterized That Video of Covington Catholic Students Confronting a Native…

Journalists who uncritically accepted Nathan Phillips’ story got this completely wrong.

Walter Shaub


This @robbysoave is wrong: “white, MAGA-hat-wearing male teenagers remained relatively calm & restrained.” Maybe ripping off a shirt, jeering, mocking native music, & doing a tomahawk motion is restrained on Planet White Power. But staring a man down is still aggressive on Earth.

4,347 people are talking about this


Waleed Shahid


The earlier footage of Native American veteran Nathan Phillips being mocked by Trump supporters is so much worse.

18.9K people are talking about this

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