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Laurie Penny’s In-Your-Face Feminism

Riding a new wave of feminism driven by an unlikely mix of commerce and online discourse, the British feminist doesn’t give a damn if you like her politics.

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No Labels’ Bid For The Big Time

The centrist group thinks they can build centrist grassroots army. But first they need to put together a platform.

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Al Gore is still trying to save us, one graph at a time

Al Gore still loves his graphs. He’s lost weight since going vegan and his hair has turned gray, which suits him. But watching him host the 24 Hours of Reality event this week was like stepping into a time machine. The Climate Reality Project, which Gore founded and chairs, put on the live marathon webcast from Tuesday noon to Wednesday noon EST. Everything about Gore’s presentation was the same as it ever was: the earnestly wonkish caveats, the pedantically drawn-out speech patterns, the educator’s mien. And those graphs, always those graphs. Gore had a graph for everything and a laser pointer in his hand to draw lines on them. In a typical riff, he pointed to a graph showing that California’s commitment to energy efficiency has caused its energy use to flatline even while energy use has risen in the U.S. as a whole. California, he reflexively noted, “has had the same GDP growth as the rest of the United States,” lest anyone suggest efficiency comes at an economic cost. This is someone who clearly has a lot of experience talking to economics-obsessed Americans, and who can anticipate the right-wing objection to anything. This was the webcast’s fourth year. Last year, according to the Climate Reality Project, it drew 20 million viewers worldwide over the course of the 24 hours. This year’s numbers are not yet available, but as of 6 p.m. Tuesday they were at 4 million, suggesting a similar trajectory, as there’s usually a spike toward the end. The numbers are impressive — especially given that, despite high production values, the aura was undeniably one of an infomercial, with Gore’s cohosts reading stiffly from teleprompters and conducting humorless interviews with assorted experts on the set. This year’s theme was “24 Reasons for Hope.” The reasons are the ones you would expect: the price of solar power is dropping, China is investing in clean energy, lending institutions are shifting away from investments in fossil fuels. “It’s important for people to understand we can succeed, because [climate change] can seem overwhelming,” says Ken Berlin, the Climate Reality Project’s CEO. While these bright spots are by no means illegitimate, organizing them into this theme implicitly admits that the climate movement fights a constant battle against hopelessness. Gore, as the movement’s unofficial leader, must struggle with those feelings of being overwhelmed by the massiveness of the problem and the political impediments to solving it. But he would never say so in public. A career in politics, where you never admit that you might lose a campaign, has prepared him well for being in perpetual rallying-the-troops mode. The webcast was broadcast from a stage in the Brooklyn Navy Yard in front of a huge window. Facing north, it captured a sliver of the Manhattan skyline, the Williamsburg Bridge, and a few new apartment towers on the Brooklyn waterfront. The vista was quite real, and in person it was striking, but on one’s computer screen it somehow looked fake, so it had the oddly diminishing effect of a failed attempt at glamour. The Climate Reality Project promised “a variety of international celebrities, musicians, advocates, and other special guests” at the event, and highlighted these names: Vanessa Black, Colbie Caillat, Rodne Galicha, Wanjira Mathai, Jason Mraz, Patrick Ngowi, Bunker Roy, Mark Ruffalo, Ian Somerhalder, Johan van der Berg, Daniela Velasco. It’s OK if you don’t know who most of those people are. No one does. It must be humbling to someone who not only was vice president, but who won the popular vote for the presidency. Bill Clinton has the Clinton Global Initiative, with its assembled heads of state, CEOs of the world’s largest corporations, philanthropists making massive pledges, and Earth-bestriding movie stars bringing out the paparazzi. Gore has this webcast. For the first six hours, the cohost who assisted in introducing segments was Ashlan Gorse Cousteau, a striking former anchor of E! News Now. She would introduce Gore, who would lecture on the topic of the hour’s video segments. The insights Gore shared — “We need to stop subsidizing coal and support wind and solar,” leakage of methane wipes out the advantage of natural gas over coal, energy efficiency saves money as well as emissions, President Obama has gotten serious about climate change in his second term — would not come as revelations to regular readers of Grist. And still, Gore chooses to stay up for 24 hours, on his feet and on camera for most of it, reiterating these points that must be even more unremarkable to him. Gore is as cautious and measured off-camera as he is on-camera. “I have mixed feelings” about natural gas, he tells me. “I think we need much tighter regulations of all the environmental problems caused by fracking in particular. A very short-term substitution of gas for coal, as a short-term transition, with the methane leakage fixed, and with tough regulations of the environmental damages, that’s another matter. We don’t have that right now.” He praises Obama for “providing important leadership for solving the climate crisis,” while criticizing the administration’s ongoing “below-market leasing of coal and oil and gas reserves.” On Sunday, Gore will join the People’s Climate March. Its organizers, in an effort to emphasize the economic and social-justice components of the climate movement, are not giving a special position to any of the VIPs, not even the former vice president. Listening to Gore speak, it is remarkable not that Americans didn’t choose him over the simple-minded cheerleader he ran against, but that they actually sort of did. This is not an insult; it’s a compliment. Gore will stand on his feet for 24 hours, he will talk at length with a former host of E! News, he will repeat ad nauseum the merits and drawbacks of natural gas, all to show humanity how to save itself. If only it were clear that humanity even wants to be saved.Filed under: Climate & Energy, Politics

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Biden Uses ‘Orient’ After Shylock Gaffe

Trades one slur for another.

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Many People Are Killing With Rented Guns at Shooting Ranges

In 2009, Marie Moore, pictured above, took her son Mitchell to a Florida shooting range and rented some guns. While Mitchell lined up, Marie killed him with a single shot to the head, then shot herself. She’d had a history of mental illness. She’s one of many such Americans who have killed with rented firearms.Read more…

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Okla. Republican Calls Muslims ‘Cancer’

Refuses to apologize.

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Biden Apologizes for ‘Shylock’ Comment

A known slur for Jews.

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Rubio: We Need Romney’s Foreign Policy

The Florida senator is warning about the threat of big powers like Russia and the need for a bigger U.S. military. If that sounds a lot like Romney to you, you’re paying attention.

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GOP Senate Candidate Plagiarizes Rove

Publishes health plan similar to Crossroads survey.

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Fewer hungry humans (but still too many)

Which country has the highest percentage of hungry people? I’ll put the answer at the bottom. (Hint: it’s not located in Africa.) The United Nations’ annual report on hunger has arrived bearing sobering factoids like this one, along with some remarkably good news: There are now 100 million fewer chronically hungry people than there were 10 years ago. The improvements vary dramatically. In southeast Asia, 30 percent of people were undernourished in 1992; now it’s down to 10 percent, a stunning accomplishment. But in the Middle East (here labeled western Asia), the percentage of undernourished people has actually gone up. Worldwide, 11 percent of people still go through most of their lives hungry. The UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization says that the Millennium Development Goals on hunger are within reach “if appropriate and immediate efforts are stepped up.” What form should those efforts take? The UN urges everyone to remember that hunger is a fundamentally political problem: Lack of food, as we’ve said, is not the problem. The world produces enough food for everyone to be properly nourished and lead a healthy and productive life. Hunger exists because of poverty, natural disasters, earthquakes, floods and droughts. Women are particularly affected. In many countries they do most of the farming, but do not have the same access as men to training, credit or land. Hunger exists because of conflict and war, which destroy the chance to earn a decent living. It exists because poor people don’t have access to land to grow viable crops or keep livestock, or to steady work that would give them an income to buy food. It exists because people sometimes use natural resources in ways that are not sustainable. It exists because there is not enough investment in the rural sector in many countries to support agricultural development. Hunger exists because financial and economic crises affect the poor most of all by reducing or eliminating the sources of income they depend on to survive. And finally it exists because there is not yet the political will and commitment to make the changes needed to end hunger, once and for all. But how do you go about fixing those problems and mustering the political will? The new report suggests: Hunger reduction requires an integrated approach, which would include: public and private investments to raise agricultural productivity; better access to inputs, land, services, technologies and markets; measures to promote rural development; social protection for the most vulnerable, including strengthening their resilience to conflicts and natural disasters; and specific nutrition programmes, especially to address micronutrient deficiencies in mothers and children under five. In other words, the technical solutions can help with the political solutions and vice versa. This is a bit of a chicken and egg problem: Which do you do first: stop the war, or help farmers grow more food? If people are hungry, perhaps it’s better to send grain rather than soldiers. But if militants grab and sell the grain, we’re back to square one. The answer to the chicken and egg question seems to be: both. As for the answer to the question I began with: Haiti is the nation with the highest percentage of hungry citizens. An astonishing 52 percent of people there are undernourished. Filed under: Article, Food, Politics

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Rand Paul Falls for ISIS Hoax

The libertarian senator claims John McCain was pictured with the jihadists, even though that’s been proven false.

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Rand Eats Up Those McCain-ISIS Rumors

It’s one of the many head-scratching things about Syria that the libertarian Kentucky senator tells The Daily Beast.

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GOP’s Latest Attempt to Fool Women

It sounds great—four GOP Senate candidates call for over-the-counter birth control access. But it’s all a stunt, and it won’t succeed.

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GOP’s Latest Bid to Fool Women

It sounds great—four GOP Senate candidates call for over-the-counter birth control access. But it’s all a stunt, and it won’t succeed.

Continue reading GOP’s Latest Bid to Fool Women

Need a fracking supporter? Hire a homeless person.

In bizarre energy industry news of the day, the North Carolina Energy Coalition seems to have brought in some homeless men to stand in as fracking supporters at a state hearing on developing fracking operations in the state. The men were bussed 200 miles from Winston-Salem to Cullowhee, N.C., where the hearing took place, for the day. From Asheville’s Citizen-Times: “They were clueless,” said Bettie “Betsy” Ashby, a member of the Jackson County Coalition Against Fracking. “At least two of them I met definitely came from a homeless shelter. One of them even apologized to me and said, ‘I didn’t know they were trying to do this to me.’ One said, ‘I did it for the…’ and then he rubbed his fingers together like ‘for the money.’” Several of the men were wearing turquoise shirts or hats that said “Shale Yes” on the front and “Energy Creates Jobs” and “N.C. Energy Coalition.com” on the back. It’s not a new tactic: If you can’t find people who actually support your cause, just pay uninformed members of underprivileged groups to fake it! What is the mission of the N.C. Energy Coalition, exactly? From the group’s website: Our website will provide the facts about the offshore and onshore production processes, environmental issues and economic impacts with no political spin. The Coalition will not advocate on issues but instead, provide the facts to let the public, business community and elected officials decide for themselves. The organization is also sponsored by the American Petroleum Institute. Just this June, North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory (R) signed off on the legalization of fracking in the state. At the same time, the state also passed a bill that makes the disclosure of the ingredients in the chemical cocktail used in fracking punishable as a misdemeanor. (For what it’s worth, the originally proposed version of that bill would have made said disclosure a felony.) I’d be interested, at the very least, to know if the N.C. Energy Coalition will help its paid protestors to get actual jobs at the state’s new fracking wells. Because that’s supposed to be the huge benefit of this “energy boom,” right? I guess a few bucks an hour and a bus ride to Cullowhee is a good place to start!Filed under: Article, Business & Technology, Climate & Energy, Politics

Continue reading Need a fracking supporter? Hire a homeless person.

Bobby Jindal vs. ‘Science Denier’ Obama

The likely 2016 Republican White House hopeful says it’s liberals who get science wrong. But will anyone buy it?

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Grimes’s Embarrassing Gun Gaffe

The Kentucky Senate candidate tries to show Mitch McConnell how it’s done on guns (and therefore politics) in her new TV ad—but only ends up shooting herself in the foot.

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Grimes’ Embarassing Gun Gaffe

Allison Grimes tries to show Mitch McConnell how it’s done when it comes to guns (and therefore politics) in her new tv ad—but only ends up shooting herself in the foot.

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Independent Winning for Senate in Kansas

Red state may toss GOP incumbent.

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Dunkin’ Donuts cleans up its palm-oil act

If you were looking for an excuse to stop and get a cruller at Dunkin’, here you go: Dunkin’ Donuts just committed to buy all its palm oil from sources that do not cut down the rainforest. In case you didn’t know: Doughnuts have been fried in palm oil ever since the public health push to get rid of transfats. The demand for palm oil has driven farmers to clear forests, threatening many species, including orangutans. Cutting down these forests also has major long-term consequences for humans. So if you’re getting doughnuts from Tim Hortons or Krispy Kreme, you have yet another reason (besides the 190 reasons here) to feel guilty. There is a way to do palm oil right. Back in July Cargill pledged to provide palm oil that did not cause deforestation, and yesterday it announced it was joining The Forest Trust. That gives doughnut companies the opportunity to get the oil they need without encouraging irresponsible destruction. “More and more consumers, investors, and suppliers around the world have shown that zero deforestation palm oil is possible – and in fact, more and more it is what consumers and investors expect,” Forest Heroes, a group that has been pressuring companies to abandon deforestation-dependent oil, said in a press release. Some 60 percent of palm oil is now produced responsibly. We are close to the tipping point where palm oil will stop being a synonym for “evil” and become an exemplar of a well-managed commodity.Filed under: Article, Food, Politics

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