Trump: 100 days that shook the world- and the activists fighting back

Three months in, the future is totally unpredictable. But a dramatic fightback is currently underway. Four activists tell us how they are adapting to the new normal

Naomi Wolf, author, political journalist and cofounder of DailyClout: Trump didnt do this. You did this. Your own inactivity brought us precisely here

The first 100 days of President Donald Trump: how has my life changed? First of all, there was the mourning period. Not for me, but for my fellow citizens. I was just mad. And I wasnt even maddest at the Trump voters. I understood that the critical battle line now are not left versus right, but the 1% neoliberal globalisers making off with all of the loot and disembowelling the middle class. So when I find the campaign, I knew that in the US, just as in the UK, a candidate who said anything at all about people forgotten in the neoliberal race would have a solid chance.

No I was mad at my own leftwing tribe. All of January, people on the left would tackle me with dazed, grief-stricken expressions, as if they had just emerged from a multi-car pileup on a foggy road. How could this have happened? What will we do ? I couldnt even bear to participate in those conversations. Ultimately I started explaining my rage to my closest friends.

I had been calling about the possibility of this very moment for eight years, since I published a piece in the Guardian titled Fascist America in ten Easy Steps and wrote a book based on it, called The Aim of America ( 2007 ). Under George Bush Jr, the left had been very receptive to the books message about how democracies are undermined by the classic tactics of would-be authoritarians.

But once Obama was elected one of ours I had to expend the next eight years screaming like a haunted Cassandra, to a room the left had abandoned. I had yelled myself hoarse for eight years under Obama about what it would mean for us to sit still while Obama sent drones in to take out US citizens in extrajudicial killings; what it would mean for us to sit still while he passed the 2012 National Defence Authorisation Act that let any chairman hold citizens for ever without charge or trial; what it would mean for us to sit still while he let NSA surveillance, let Guantnamo to stay open, and allowed hyped terrorism stories to hijack the constitution and turn the US into what finally even Robert F Kennedy Jr was calling a national security surveillance state.

Naomi
Naomi Wolf, photographed last week at Stony Brook University, NY: I was mad at my own leftwing tribe. Photo: Christopher Lane for the Observer

For eight years, under Obama, my audiences were libertarian cowboys and red-state truckers; members of the military and police forces, who were appalled by what they were witnessing; and even conservatives, worried about our legacy of liberty. My usual audience, the shoppers at Whole Foods and drivers of hybrid autoes, the trained left, my people, sat smugly at home while the very pillars of American republic were being systematically chipped away. They were watching Downton Abbey and tending their heirloom tomato patches on weekends in the Hudson Valley, because everything was OK; yeah, he may OK drone ten-strikes, but they cant be that bad, since he was one of ours a handsome, eloquent African American, a former community organiser in the Oval Office. Seduced by the image of a charming black human on Air force One who talked about change a white woman in a pantsuit( though highly pay back Goldman Sachs) talking about that highest, hardest glass ceiling the left slumbered while US democracy was undone brick by brick by brick.

So my feeling, the first inaugural month of 2017, as the left sat shiva, was: now you are worried? Now you want action? Now that the separation of powers is a joke and the constitution has collapsed around your ears, you point a finger at Trump and say, Sudden Catastrophe?

He didnt do this. You did this.

Your own inactivity and willingness to be seduced by two-bit identity politics labels, without actually doing the hard work of being patriots and defending the actual constitution brought us exactly, exactly here.

I had sought for eight years to explain to my own people, to no avail, this: “its not” that important who sits in the White House if the structures of democracy are strong. If the structures of republic are strong you can have a madman or madwoman for four years or even eight, and then he or she is gone, and the nations freedoms live.

But if you take an eight-year nap snoozing through a systematic dismantling of the structures of republic freedoms of speech; freedom of the press; separation of powers; fourth amendment rights to privacy; and allow the suspension of due process under the guise of fighting the war on terror hell yeah, some day you will wake up and there will be a crazy human or a strongman in the White House and then nothing you do or say will make a difference any more.

So yeah, Month One: I had nightly glass of red wine to dull my rage at my own feeble delusional kind, and avoided the collective liberal mourning conversation.

Month Two: February was the month of OMG! Or else, WTF! I was part of it too, as Pres Trumps new-to-us-all methods of explosion Twitter bombs, engaging in scary political theatre, perpetrating daily acts of apparent, um, economic treason, and doing it all at a bewilderingly fast pace, demanded a learning curve from us all. It was a sense of chaos, destabilisation. OMG! He issued a traveling forbid. OMG! People are held en masse at Newark New York City taxi drivers are boycotting the airport because of the ban! OMG, Uber is profiting on picking up those rides! OMG , now we have to boycott Uber! WTF! He is rounding up immigrants! OMG he is separating families at the border! WTF did Kellyanne Conway simply promote Ivanka Trumps apparel line? Isnt that illegal? WTF! Are Chinese influence-mongers genuinely lining up at Mar-a-Lago to ingratiate themselves with the presidents son-in-law? WTF stripping the EPA of any budget to keep the air and water clean? OMG did he just say he doesnt believe in global warming? There was a creek of statelier edits from Congress, as the nations WTF? reaction evolved into: can he actually do that? Ben Cardin, the Democratic senator for Maryland, proposed a Senate resolution that Pres Trump obey the emoluments clause of the constitution, which forbids bribery( Trump had refused to put his constrains in a blind trust ). States began to pass laws, such as those protection sanctuary cities, to fight back against measures that Trump was taking federally. My day-to-day life was spent at our tech company, DailyClout, developing a group of young person to write about legislation, Congress and statehouses, and putting out news narratives, blogs and opinion pieces following these developments. DailyClout is incubated in a cool space in Manhattan called Civic Hall, which is funded by Microsoft, Google and Omidyar Networks, where we are surrounded by others largely idealistic millennials who are also building arousing new tools for new various kinds of civic engagement.

Month Three: in March, we all began to see a massive grassroots resistance. I personally dont like that term, because you use that word to opposed a completed fascist takeover; it dedicates democracys adversaries too much power; right now we have a battered democracy on life support that needs defending from anyone wishing to pull the plug.

March was the month that dozens of new entities devoted to mobilising citizen action originating from the collective shock. There were so many forms of new organising and funding: online candidate training seminars to Knight Foundation grants for new tools to get public and municipal records to people. Existing civic tech sites such as PopVox and Countable were joined in March by a slew of new tools and sites put together by this powerful wave of activism. Our collective missions got boosted with jet fuel by the huge burst in ordinary citizens wanting and needing to take action. New platforms ranged from 5 Calls which came out of the experience of volunteers in the Clinton campaign and which sends you political action steps to take in five phone calls to DailyAction, a similar service, which emerged out of Creative Majority, a Pac that supports Democratic nominees, and USAFacts, set up by Steve Ballmer, formerly of Microsoft, which compiles and crunches federal, nation and local data from government sources. My own life mission didnt reorient, since I had cofounded DailyClouts platform in 2010. But utilize of our civic engagement tools skyrocketed. Our first product, called BillCam, lets you search a database of live country and federal bills, then pop a live bill into your blog or news articles; it lets you interact with the bills in real day and share them socially. We also made RSS feeds to stream live state and federal legislation right into the websites of local, regional and national news sites, and the websites of elected officials. In March we boosted our blog stream and videos covering new nation and federal legislation, and started to report on what people could do locally to push forward their issues. Our sites on social media grew by triple and quadruple digits.

Protesters
Protesters against Trumps travel ban order outside JFK Airport, 30 January. Photo: Xinhua/ Barcroft Images

I presented these tools in March to news outlets and candidates and campaigns around the country from Maine to Ohio to Oregon. I felt as if I was rediscovering my own nation, as the people in it were rediscovering belatedly how precious and fragile republic was, and how much it depends on an informed citizenship. We were invited to demo it in a senate office; we visited Congress too, for our first exclusive interview, with Representative French Hill of Arkansas; I had never before been inside the Senate office building, or the Congresss Longworth House Office Building. It was uplifting and moving to me. I also insured that elected officials worried about democracy, and wanting to empower real citizens, existed on both sides of the aisle.

We got our widget embedding live bills into news outlets totalling 160 million readers. In Q1 of 2017, 113,000 people searched BillCam to look at bills that would affect them that they could now affect in turn. There are still shocking days missiles to Syria, gunboats to North Korea but we stay focused.

An amazing thing happened in March. The distinguished technologist George Polisner who quit his senior-level role at Oracle in a public letter, encompassed widely in the US press, in which he demurred from Oracles CEOs intention of working with President Trump had started Civ.Works, a social platform, privacy protected so citizens can organise without fear of a corporate-buyout Big Brother. Polisner and DailyClout joined forces in March. Were working to combine Civ.Works power of organising with the power of DailyClouts streaming digital updates via RSS feeds, blogs and video, about local and federal legislation. No wonder I feel aroused about the future.

Am I happy about the current? I feel incredibly energised, hopeful and certain that if enough citizens, in our democracy and worldwide, wake up( as they are) and are able to get hold of real tools to use republic and those best-case tools are now digital and link to social and digital media we can indeed be in the midst of what another chairman called a new birth of liberty. Where I live, every day, on the frontlines of this digital revolution, there is every reason to feel in spired. That doesnt mean I am happy about where the nation is I am highly scared, just as I am frightened about the future of Europe in a parallel assault on its democracies.

But the biggest threat in the US or the UK isnt one political party or nominee. It is peoples ignorance about their own democracies and their till-now lack of real-life tools protecting children. DailyClout UK and DailyClout EU are next on our list of planned launches: the UK legislative database is entirely unsearchable, and the UK Parliaments own website ends in dead connects when you try to find actual legislation. The EU website tells you with difficulty what bills have passed but doesnt indicate you what is coming up, when you might possibly take action it offers a feed of pointless press releases instead. This lack of legislative transparency and usability had a lot to do, I believe, with the Brexit vote.

Months Four, Five and Six will see more and more of these tools from dozens of T-shirt-clad bespectacled tech revolutionaries, coming online. Geeks are the new patriots, and code is the new shot heard round the world.

Naomi Wolf lately finished a PhD at the University of Oxford and is CEO of DailyClout.io

May Boeve, environmental campaigner and director of 350. org: We will take power back. And when that happens, we need a very bold agenda

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May Boeve photographed in Dumbo Brooklyn: Were up against: the full political might of the fossil-fuel industry. Photograph: Christopher Lane for the Observer

As soon as we sang the first chorus of the hymn, the tears started. Here I go again, I guessed, screaming in church. This was three weeks ago. And the week before, and the week before that, all the way back to last Novembers election.

Sudden emotional outbursts are how Im able to understand what Donald Trumps presidency means to me. I wasnt disconnected to these emotions before, but its the unexpected and potent nature that has changed.

Im in no immediate hazard from the Trump presidency. Im not fearing expulsion, the loss of my healthcare, a racially motivated apprehend. I havent been personally attacked online or in the real world. So when I get scared and start crying, I wonder what it would feel like to be in that more vulnerable position, and Im more distressed by the damage being done.

My lens on Trump stems from work in the climate motion. My vantage point is as executive director of 350. org, a global effort to build a social movement that can confront the power of the fossil-fuel industry and accelerate our transition to 100% renewable energy.

Trump stands in direct opposition to those goals. As president, he has wholeheartedly taken the side of the petroleum, coal, and gas industry and is already watching to it that their agenda is legislated. Previous US presidents and nominees also did business with this industry, but at the same time they denounced the threat of climate destabilisation, worked actively to secure international diplomatic alliances leading to an agreement, and achieved some progress from the executive branch.

Before Trumps election, the climate motion had made some serious advance. Thanks to the good work of movements around the world, the social licence of this industry is on the decline. Investors are pulling their dollars, banks are cancelling loans, and public is supportive of fossil-fuel companies is low.

Ditto for the politicians who back them up. Take congressman Lamar Smith of Texas : 45% of his constituents , not unacquainted with his ties to the oil industry, were less inclined to vote for Smith when as chair of the house science committee he failed to investigate ExxonMobils alleged climate cover-up.( 350. org is under subpoena from Smiths office for our efforts to get the truth out about Exxon .) From the political arena to our energy markets, it felt like the tide was ultimately beginning to turn in our direction.

But then along came Donald Trump to declare climate change a hoax( the only head of state in the world to do so ), promising to revive the coal industry( declining in the US, thanks to terrific organising ), and appointing known climate-change deniers to head the very offices responsible for regulating the problem.

When Trump won, a new kind of desperation settled over climate activists. Were fairly accustomed to despair already climate sorrow circles have started up in Australia, home to devastating heatwaves, fires, drought, and a basically decimated Great Barrier Reef but this felt like something new.

One week after the election, I was at a collect with motion leaders across the faith, labour, LGBTQ and reproductive justice movements. We were each asked to write down one hard truth about the election that we hadnt yet said out loud. One person wrote: The small window of day we had to dramatically reduce emissions may have just closed.

At the very time when we need to be taking great leapings forward, Trump and his allies are dragging us backwards with an ideology that puts corporate power above all else and youd be hard pressed to find a decide of corporations more desperate to hold on to power than the likes of Exxon, Chevron and numerous coal and gas companies with less brand recognition.

At least now theres no mystery about what were up against: the full political might of the fossil-fuel industry. Two examples register highly on that score. The first is the appointment of former ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson as secretary of state. The second is the construction of the Dakota Access pipeline.

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A successful protest against the Dakota Access Pipeline slated to drill beneath the Missouri River and through sacred Sioux grounds has been reversed by Trump Photograph: DDP USA/ Rex/ Shutterstock

The Tillerson appointment stands out because even the most cynical and pessimistic among us didnt predict that a person at the pinnacle of big petroleum would be in charge of diplomacy in the Trump regime. As my colleague Bill McKibben has said, you might as well ask Ronald McDonald to head up the Department of Agriculture. And Exxon isnt just any oil company: it has concealed what it knew about climate change, as early as the late 1970 s, in order to continue making money on a product it knew was wrecking the planet. It money climate-denying thinktanks and retained the same firms that helped tobacco companies claim that nicotine isnt addictive. It should be bad enough to have the entire cabinet made up of the 1 %, but the state post provides Tillerson and Exxon with far too much temptation to officially use the US foreign policy apparatus to keep extracting more oil.

The night I considered that Trump indicated Tillerson for the post, I burst into tears and crawled into bed. It was a feeling close to panic, in recognition of what might happen and how powerless I felt. Thank goodness Im part of a big team, some of whom love battle and were quick to start writing and rendering statements denouncing his appointment. Reports came out last week that of all the cabinet members, Tillerson is doing the best chore maintaining a close relationship to the president. Because this man is used to operating in privacy, well have to stay vigilant to understand the moves hell be making.

Then there is the remarkable narrative about the Dakota Access pipeline and the historic resistance at Standing Rock. At no other day has there been this much widespread opposition to a pipeline, for the many reasons pipelines merit our opposition. This represented an alliance of tribes whose rights, subsistences and lives have been systematically desecrated by the US government and firms. The camp at Standing Rock itself was a symbol of everything Trumpism cannot be: spiritually grounded, connected to history and land, fundamentally respectful of the rights of nature and peoples, infused with art and music and heart. It moved people to act in solidarity all over the world. Many moved fund out of the banks invested in the project.

And the resistance ran. The forces at Standing Rock peacefully made sure that the Obama administration put a stop to the construction and allowed further review of the pipelines viability.

So it was with cruelty the same cruelty seen in the enactment of the Muslim travel ban and the gamble with the healthcare of 24 million people that Trump signed an executive order to begin construction immediately. At the end of March, oil began to flow through the pipeline. This is why Im still weeping in church. The minute I start to feel numb, I believe Ill lose some hope and resolve.

And there is another animating objective. Progressives share so much, but so often our human nature and lopsided structures get in the way. Can we use this moment to be honest with one another in a new and different way, and clear up longstanding disagreements and inequalities that enable us to be aligned behind a common vision? Because I believe we will take power back. And when that happens, we need to legislate a very bold agenda that propels political prospects far, far away from where Trump has dragged them.

This work is already under way: its the work of dialogues between unions and environmentalists; big, well-funded international organizations and smaller grassroots ones; centrist and more radical activists; and those who believe change comes from disrupting unjust laws and those whose work is to pass just ones.

Its the work of the Peoples Climate March, which will take place on Saturday, 29 April in Washington DC and throughout the rest of the country. Its message aspires to the future were trying to build, and its being organised by a diverse cross-section of the entire movement.

That tearful day in church ended on a high note. Afterwards, some friends and I went to New Yorks MoMA PS1 museum to see the Rev Osagyefo Uhuru Sekou perform. Rev Sekou is a Pentecostal minister, an author and a gospel and blues musician, who has been active in the Movement for Black Lives. Yes, I went to church twice that day, and no, that isnt the norm for me! And where reference is sang What a time to be alive, the revolution has come, I didnt feel like crying I felt like getting back to work.

Alicia Garza, co-founder, Black Lives Matter: We are in for a long fight and not all of us will make it

Alicia
Alicia Garza: The resistance is real. Photograph: Kristin Little

20 January 2017 marked a turning point for the entire world. Since the outcome of the elections were announced on 8 November 2016 Id been feeling mostly numb, unable to process what potential impacts would be for me, my family and the person or persons I care about. I felt the need to be quiet, to be somewhere quiet. To have space to think.

Every step I took felt like walking on eggshells. The first few weeks after the election everyone around me seemed to be unsure, fearful and riddled with anxiety. I was too. Quick to lash out, slacken to listen. I had nothing to start from except what Id heard during the campaign.

And yet, at the same time, I did know what was coming. Perhaps somewhere my cells were reorganising to protect my heart from what was inevitable. More suffering, more uncertainty. More people dying for trying to live. During the campaign, the surrogates for our current president unabashedly attacked Black Lives Matter activists as terrorists and cop murderers. In the aftermath of the election, there were many different answers. Some decided to continue their work as before and felt that not much had changed. Others decided to demonstrate their resistance by doing a direct action at the inauguration. Others shared information about the key players in the incoming administration, attempting to support others in the network to understand more clearly the new political agenda. All of us remain committed to the work of black liberation.

During the holidays, my family and I talked over dinner about personal security. I described to them a new set of protocols we would need to begin using in order to ensure our safety, insofar as that was even possible. My parents described their anxiety of what was to come. A lawsuit filed by a rabid conservative former district attorney hung over our heads as someone charged us and other activists with starting a race war. Indeed, the election of Donald Trump was just a nuclear plume slowly rising over the United States.

What Ive learned in the first 100 days of this administration is that you can never stop dreaming about freedom. Ive spent the past few months being relatively quiet. Listening. Brushing up on my reading about the right wing in the United States and the movement it has been diligently constructing for the past 30 years. Ive taken to business practices of listening more and also listening less. Listening more to whats not being said, watching as the various factions on the right joust for power and influence. Ive taken stock of the damage, as the right wing now controls the presidency, the supreme court, Congress and the majority of state parliaments. Listening less to voices that refuse to deal with our political reality as it actually is, as opposed to how they want it to be.

The low phases over the past few months have been many. Executive order after executive order that sought to punish the communities that induce America great Muslims, undocumented immigrants, black people, females, faggot communities, transgender people. A law and order agenda that seeks to criminalise anyone who disagrees with the administrations aims. An attorney general who refuses to protect each person equally. A secretary of education who seeks to privatise public education. A secretary of housing and urban development who seeks to slash an already paper-thin budget for housing set aside for those living in poverty. A chief strategist with white supremacist leaningswho is responsible not just for advising the president, but who, to all intents and purposes, is the one pushing the many decisions that this so-called chairman espouses on television. And of course, the recent bombings of Syria and Afghanistan. Certainly, we are in for a long oppose and not all of us will make it.

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A Protest against proposed Republican legislation that would change Medicaid funding, New York. Photograph: Justin Lane/ EPA

I comfort my mothers who are concerned about the state of their healthcare. Theyre both in their 60 s and have recently retired. And so, while the Affordable Care Act isnt perfect, it is what they have and it is what they depend on. And it is what they deserve, what every human being on this Earth deserves to be cared for.

And yet I am hopeful. The disorganisation of our political scenery offers abundant opportunities for new strategies and a transformation in the way we care for each other. I greet the opportunity to be closer to my neighbours, to fight for myself, my family and my loved ones with every fiber of my being. Inside of the quiet, the cynicism dissipates. We have no choice other than to fight back, to take back what was always flawed but still holds the promise of what could be.

I remember that the resistance is real and it lives. The day before the president is inaugurated, I join more than a million women in the street of Washington, DC ; for many, this was their first time on a demo. When the president followed orders from his chief strategist to institute a travel prohibition on Muslims, airports were shut down by those fighting for republic and those caught in the crosshairs of such a ridiculous endeavor were given legal subsistence and reunited with their families. I work with the National Domestic Workers Alliance, a prominent voice and political vehicle for the millions of domestic workers in the United States who are still excluded from most federal labour protections and so when the president initially nominated a man for secretary of labour who was known for his opposition to workers rights, we participated in the resistance to stop him from being confirmed. Representatives returned to their home districts and were forced to face their constituents in ways that they havent had to in decades.

And so, while there are many challenges to overcome, it is good to know that we are not alone in attempting to find the solutions necessary to save our lives and the lives of millions who are vulnerable not only in the United States, but around the world. Wherever there is oppression, there is resistance. Im happy to know which side Im on.

Linda Tirado, writer on poverty: My instinct is to set off around the country asking impertinent questions

Linda
Linda Tirado photographed in Washington, DC: At least I have fertile land and a defensible perimeter. Photograph: Scott Suchman for the Observer

I live in the heart of Trump country, in Meigs County, Ohio, a rural county struggling with poverty and addiction. My neighbours are precisely the people the right wing have been preying on and propagandising while the left abandoned them for decades. I wasnt awfully surprised to find Clinton had lost. Id just published a column in the Guardian about why so many people would be voting for Trump. But I sob on election night and then get well and truly drunk, because I didnt want to think about what was coming next.

My household is bracing of natural disasters. I wrote a volume, Hand to Mouth , about what a precarious life feels like, but this is the first time Ive felt precarity coming in my bones and also “ve had enough” income to assuage my dreads of: not enough food , not enough warmth , not sufficient anything on hand to deal with situations of emergency. I have a garden, as anyone in the country does, but we got serious about it after the election. This is the first year Ive thought that food costs will spike enough to make it worth focusing on the garden as a food source , not just a pastime. Increased immigration raids will likely leave food rotting in the fields and shipping costs will probably go up as they do during periods of uncertainty; imported food will be more expensive.

And the more the country talked about Russia, the more sense it made to expand the plans we had for a few tomatoes and beans to include asparagus and maybe some root veggies because theyll keep just fine. The logic: oil and power expenses tend to spike when Russias doing a thing and were bombing the Middle East. Then we thought: maybe berry shrubs. A few fruit trees. And a herb patch. And perhaps we should borrow a tiller at this phase or buy one? Just now, Im mapping out two weeks of my schedule around harvest time so I can be home to do the food preservation. Were not about freeze-dried food storage yet; right now people are still only joking about nukes.

Besides, these sections of the countrys turning into a rainforest. A decade ago this part of Ohio didnt reach such high temperature. Now summers are lush and humid, while wintertimes are becoming harsher. So its not such a bad idea, if you happen to have the land and the time to get the work done, to be working on sustainability. Partially thats environmentalism, but its an economic consideration too. Its a thing we talk about over dinner at home or with friends. We also talk about power. Electricity is expensive, so is heating petroleum, and gas aint free either. Power will merely get more expensive as regulations are rolled back and the market is left to its own devices. Water is already a scarce commodity. Might as well put in some solar panels if you can afford it.

I expended the weeks between the election and the inauguration mostly glued to Twitter. I tried to help people reason through what had just happened. I impatiently explained the philosophical and historical definition of fascism versus the hyperbolic version. I demanded we all grow up and focus on the important stuff: not what had happened, but what was coming. My audience grew and split into groups people who liked my satirical round-ups of the incoming administrations peccadilloes, people who liked that I discussed the reasons we were vulnerable to a demagogue, people who just wanted someone to explain what the fuck is had happened.

I started taking more note of political conversation I hear around me, too, here in rural Ohio, where they went for Trump hard. Consensus seemed to be constructing that voting Trump hadnt ran but as it was a last-ditch try anyway, it was worth waiting to see. Nobody quite agreed on what he was supposed to have done or, instead, there were a lot of things. Largely, he was supposed to have interrupted everything but not exactly like this. He needed to get off that stupid Twitter, anyway, everyone agreed on that. I keep wondering what these people didnt learn from the Tea Party.

Once the inauguration was over, I largely discontinue trying to explain anything to anyone online; emotion was riding too high and we were back to violating news instead of analysis and I was scheming a garden, so I started joking that no matter what happened, at the least I had fertile land and a defensible perimeter. When the children werent listening, we talked about what guns to buy.

First US shale gas arriving at Ineos plant in Scotland – BBC News

Media captionTanker carrying shale gas arrived at the Scotland

The first shipment of US shale gas is arriving in Scotland amid a fierce debate about the future of fracking in the UK.

A tanker carrying 27,500 m3 of ethane from US shale fields will dock later at Grangemouth, the refinery and petrochemicals plant owned by Ineos.

The company said the gas would replace dwindling North Sea supplies and secure the future of the plant’s workforce.

But many politicians and environmental groups have criticised the shipment.

Q& A: What is fracking ? Fracking could ‘transform’ the UK Labour pledges to ban fracking MSPs back fracking prohibit as SNP abstain Media captionIneos boss Jim Ratcliffe says shale gas could transform the UK as it has done the US Media captionTime-lapse footage of the huge shale gas storage tank being constructed at Grangemouth

Over And Over Again, The Military Has Conducted Dangerous Biowarfare Experiments On Americans

On September 20, 1950, a US Navy ship merely off the coast of San Francisco employed a giant hose to spray a cloud of microbes into the air and into the city’s famous cloud. The military was testinghow a biological weapon assault would affect the 800,000 residents of the city.

The people of San Francisco had no idea.

The Navy continued the tests for seven days, potentially causing at least one death. It was one of the first large-scale biological weapon trials that would be conducted under a “germ warfare testing program” that went on for 20 years, from 1949 to 1969. The goal “was to deter[ the use of biological weapons] against the United States and its friends and to retaliate if deterrence failed, ” the government explained afterwards. “Fundamental to the development of a deterrent strategy was the need for a thorough examine and analysis of our vulnerability to overt and covert attack.”

Of the 239 known exams in that program, San Francisco was notable for two reasons, according to Dr. Leonard Cole, who documented the episode in his book “Clouds of Secrecy: The Army’s Germ Warfare Tests Over Populated Areas.”

Cole , now the director of the Terror Medicine and Security Program at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School, tells BusinessInsider that this incident was “notable: first, because it was really early in the program … but also because of the extraordinary coincidence that took place at Stanford Hospital, beginning days after the Army’s exams had taken place.”

Hospital staff were so shocked at the appearance of a patient infected with a bacteria, Serratia marcescens , that had never been found in the hospital and was rare in the area, that theypublished an article about it in a medical periodical. The patient, Edward Nevin, died after the infection spread to his heart.

Bacillus subtilis, then known as Bacillus globigii, was one pathogen that was used in testing.WMrapids/ Wikimedia Commons

S. marcescens was one of the two types of bacteria the Navy ship had sprayed over the Bay Area.

It wasn’t until the 1970 s that Americans, as Cole wrote in the book, “learned that for decades they had been serving as experimental animals for the organizations of their government.”

San Francisco wasn’t the first or the last experimentation on citizens who hadn’t given informed consent.

Other experimentations involvedtesting mind-altering medications on unsuspecting citizens. In one shocking, well-known incident, government researchers studied the effects of syphilis on black Americans without informing the men that they had the disease they were told they had “bad blood.” Researchers withheld treatment after it became available so they could continue examining the illness, despite the devastating and life-threatening implications of doing so for the men and their families.

But it was the germ warfare tests that Cole focused on.

“All these other tests, while terrible, they affected people counted in the hundreds at most, ” he says. “But when you talk about exposing millions of people to potential damage, by spreading around certain chemicals or biological agents, the quantitative effect of that is just unbelievable.”

“Every one of the[ biological and chemical] agents the Army utilized had been challenged” by medical reports, he says, despite the Army’s contention in public hearings that they’d selected “harmless simulants” of biological weapons.

“They’re all held pathogens now, ” Cole says.

Here are some of the other difficult-to-believe germ warfare experiments that occurred during this dark chapter in US history. These tests were documented in Cole’s book and verified by Business Insider using congressional reports and archived news articles.

From Minneapolis to St. Louis

A C-1 19 Flying Boxcar, one type of plane are applied to release chemicals.Official USAF photo

The military tested how a biological or chemical weapon would spread throughout the country by spraying bacteria as well as various chemical powders including an especially controversial one called zinc cadmium sulfide. Low flying airliners would take off, sometimes near the Canadian perimeter, “and they would fly down through the Midwest, ” falling their warheads over cities, says Cole.

These sprayings were tested on the ground too, with machines that would release clouds from city rooftops or intersections to see how they spread.

In the book, Cole cites military reports that documented various Minneapolis exams, including one where chemicals spread through a school. The clouds were clearly visible.

To prevent suspicion, the military pretended that they were testing a way to mask the whole city in order to protect it. They told city officers that “the tests involved efforts to measure ability to lay smoke screens about the city” to “hide” it in case of nuclear attack, according to Cole’s account.

The potential toxicity of that controversial compound zinc cadmium sulfide is debated. One component, cadmium, is highly toxic and can cause cancer. Some reports suggest a potential that the zinc cadmium sulfide could perhaps degraded into cadmium, but a 1997 report from the National Research Council concluded that the Army’s secret exams “did not uncover residents of the United States and Canada to chemical levels deemed harmful.” However, the same report noted that research on the chemical use was sparse, mostly based on very limited animal studies.

These air tests were conducted around the country as part of Operation Large Area Coverage.

“There was evidence that the powder after it was released would be then situated a day or two afterward as far away as 1,200 miles, ” Cole says. “There was a sense that you could really blanket the country with a similar agent.”

St. Louis.Joe Raedle/ Getty Images

City tests were conducted in St. Louis, too.

In 2012, Lisa Martino-Taylor, a sociology prof at St. Louis Community College-Meramec, released a report theorizing that the army’s experiments could be connected to cancer rates in a low-income, mostly black neighborhood in the citywherezinc cadmium sulfide had beentested. She said she was concerned that there could have been a radioactive component to some testing, though she did not have direct evidence for that possibility.

Her report, however, inspired both senators from Missouri to write to the Army secretary, “demanding answers, ” the Associated Press noted at the time.

While Martino-Taylor’s suggestion remains purely hypothetical, “the human dimension is never mentioned” in most Army documents, Cole writes in the book. Instead there’s just a discussion of how well the particulates spread and what they learned about the possibility of biological attacks from them.

1966: “A Study of the Vulnerability of Subway Passengers in New York City to Covert Attack with Biological Agents”

The Times Square subway station during rush hour.Stephen Chernin/ Getty Images

The New York subway system experimentations are among the most shocking in terms of the numbers of people exposed, according to Cole.

In a field test called “A Study of the Vulnerability of Subway Passengers in New York City to Covert Attack with Biological Agents, ” military officials tried to see how easy it would be to unleashbiological weapons employing the New York City subway. They would break light bulbs full of bacteria on the tracks to see how they spread through the city.

“If you can get trillions of bacteria into a light bulb and hurl it on the track as a train pulls into a station, they’ll get pulled through the air as the develop leaves, ” Cole says, travelingthrough the tunnels and into different stations.

Clouds would engulf people as trains pulled away, but documents say that they “brushed their garb, appeared up at the grating apron and strolled on.” No one was concerned.

In a 1995 Newsday story, reporter Dennis Duggan contacted retired Army scientist Charles Senseney, who had testified about the experiments to a Senate subcommittee in 1975. In his testimony, he explained that one light bulb full of bacteria dropped at 14 th Street easily spread the bacteria up to at the least 58 th Street.

But he declined to reveal anything to the Newsday reporter. “I don’t want to get near this, ” Senseney said to Duggan. “I[ testified ], because I was told I had to by the people at the Department of Defense … I better get down the phone.”

Experiments continued in New York for six days use Bacillus subtilis , then known as Bacillus globigii , and S. marcescens .

A paper from the National Academy of Sciences analyzing military experiments notes that B. globigii is “now considered a pathogen” and is often a cause of food poisoning. “Infections are rarely known to be fatal, ” the report said though fatal cases have occurred.

Particularly controversial tests

A US Navy vessel at Norfolk Supply Center, the location of a particularly controversial experiment.U.S. Navy photo by Bill Campbell

Another controversial experiment described in Cole’s book involved a test at the Norfolk Naval Supply Center. The experimenters packed crates with fungal spores to see how they would affect the people unpacking those crates.

Cole’s book notes that “portions of a report about an army exam in 1951 involving Aspergillus fumigatus … indicate that the army intentionally exposed a disproportionate number of black people to the organism.” Most of the employees at the furnish center were black.

In the military reports indicated by Cole, researchers claim they are preparing for an attack that might target black citizens. He quotes from a section that reads: “Since Negroes are more vulnerable to coccidioides than are whites, this fungus illnes was simulated.”

When these experiments were first indicates that there is 1980, the racial aspect of these tests engendered dispute and skepticism about the “army’s interest in the public welfare, ” according to Cole.


Tests revealed by an unexpected source

content-1474990004-tests-revealed-by-an-

Many of these experiments on the American public were first investigated by what we would consider questionable sources.

One 1979 Washington Post news storydiscusses open air experimentations in the Tampa Bay area involving the release of pertussis, or whooping coughing, in 1955. Country records show that whooping cough cases in Florida spiked from 339( one death) in 1954 to 1,080( 12 demises) in 1955, according to that story.

But it’s hard to trace how accurate the information about the whooping cough release is: The only documentation goes back to an investigation by the Church of Scientology.

The Church of Scientology formed a group called American Citizens for Honesty in Government that spent substantial amounts of time investigating controversial experimentations run by the Army and CIA, according to the Post. Through FOIA requests they uncovered a number of documents related to these experiments in the late 1970 s.

Cole understands why some people are skeptical of those reports. “I certainly am not a member and I guess a lot of what they do is quackery, ” he says, but “in this case, I have no reason to believe any of this isn’t real.”

Many of the documents Scientologists made publicwere the same documents he’d received doing his own research, redacted in the same places.

Perhaps the hardest question is how much datum is still missing.

As Cole writes in the book 😛 TAGEND

Many details about the army’s exams over populated areas remain secret. Most of the test reports are still categorized or cannot be located, although a few of the earlier ones have become available in response to Freedom of Information Act requests and in conjunction with the Nevin case. Among those available, sections have been blocked out and pages are missing.

What we learned

content-1474990135-what-we-learned.jpgMilitary officers were called to testify before Congress in 1977 after information about these biological warfare experiments was revealed.

At the time, those officials said that deciding just how vulnerable the US was to a biological attack “required extensive the investigations and developing to decide precisely our vulnerability, the efficacy of our protective measures, and the tactical and strategic capability of various types of delivery systems and agents, ” according to a record of that witnes quoted in “Clouds of Secrecy.”

Cole too says it’s hard to see these events now from the perspective that people had then.

There was “a different mindset in the country then …[ a] Cold War mentality, ” he says. But, he argues, that doesn’t justify glossing over the already known potential danger of the agents used.

At the same time, part of what the military knows about how cloud of chemicals spread comes from these experiments.

Cole says that knowledge gleaned from these biological warfare testing programs helped inform the US reaction when reports came in on the potential use of chemical weapons in the first Gulf War.

So what’s happening now ?

We now have different fears as a society.Jason Reed/ Reuters

Cole says that the obvious question that’s on people’s intellects is what’s happening now. After all, if secret exams could pass then, what prevents them from continuing? Are they, in fact, still going on?

He doesn’t think it’s likely.

“I would never swear on their own lives or my life that nothing illegitimate is pas, but based on what I do know, I don’t have any sense that there’s illicit activity now that would involve risking exposure to tons of people, as occurred in the 50 s and 60 s, ” he says.

Biological agents are still studied and tested, but informed consent is more widely appreciated now. There’s also less of a Cold War mentality that would be used to justify this research.

Still, more recent reports show that experiments in this area went on longer than we thought.

In 2001, a New York Times report uncovered projects testing biological weapons that began under the Clinton administration and continued under the second Bush administration. A 1972 pact theoretically proscribed developing biological weapons, but this program justified it with the argument that new weapons needed to be studied in order to develop adequate defenses.

And the “War on Terror” creates other concerns, according to Cole.

After the 2001 anthrax assaults, funding for bioterrorism research spiked by $1.5 billion. Thenin 2004, Congress approvedanother $ 5.6 billion bioterror research project.

These projects are meant to protect society from the dangers of biological agents, but they may have an unintended consequence, Cole says.

“Thousands and thousands of people became familiar with pathogens that they were not familiar with before, ” he says. “You now have many more people that could potentially do bad with these organisms, and it merely takes one person.”

Read more:

It’s time to decriminalize narcotics , commission report says

Global Commission on Drug Policys annual report calls for aim to criminal and civil penalties for possession and use and more research into regulatory models

World leaders called for the decriminalization of drugs on Monday, in a report released by a commission that includes the former UN secretary-general Kofi Annan and former presidents of Colombia, Mexico and Brazil .

The Global Commission on Drug Policys annual report recommended that countries should objective civil and criminal penalties for drug use and possession in a report that follows the commission on human rights sharp criticism of the UNs lacklustereffort to combat drug abuse. Commission member Richard Branson, head of the Virgin group, called the UNs latest session on medication policy fatally flawed in April.

The former Swiss president and president of the commission, Ruth Dreifuss, told the Protector: Politician should show and prove to the people that what they are doing is to save the lives of these people and bring them to the health services they need to avoid overdoses and to create a climate so when these people are in need, they are able to find help.

The commissions report highlighted effective decriminalization policies, such as in Portugal, where drug possession is not a criminal offense. It also denounced harsh penalties for drug-related offenses, such as in the Philippines where there have been thousands of extrajudicial killings of drug users and dealers following the election of president Rodrigo Duterte, who has publicly urged citizens to go ahead and kill junkies and dealers.

Global drug policy has significantly been driving in punitive measures in recent decades, but drug use has not slowed. From 2003 to 2014, the number of people aged 15 -6 4 around the world who had eaten an illicit medication in the past 12 months jumped 33%, to 247 million.

The commissions proposals for how to address the problem come amid a shift in global politics toward rightwing populism. This changing political climate could have a harmful impact on decriminalization endeavors because conservative policywas rooted in ideology and was not not really fact-oriented, Dreifuss warned.

I would say to really bring the issue[ decriminalization] into rationality, which is what was lacking for so many years, will be quite difficult, said Dreifuss. But this is also why we are here and why we suppose a broad, global dialogue about what is intake, what are the medications, what are the responses, what are the failure of the responses, is our duty.

Commission member Michel Kazatchkine, former executive director of the Global Fund to Fight Aids, Tuberculosis and Malaria, said the trend toward rightwing politics should not interfere with decriminalization efforts.

He cited the recent US election, in which, despite Donald Trumps victory in the presidential tournament, marijuana legalization efforts have been successful in country elections. People understand that this is an issue about the human right to privacy, that there is no reason the nation would interfere with the lives of the millions of people who use drugs without causing harm to anyone, said Kazatchkine.

Fellow commission member Csar Gaviria, a former president of Colombia, also quoth the election as an example of how drug policy can fall outside partisan politics.

But when go looking for global political leadership to steer away from punitive drug policy, Gaviria warned not to look to the UN. The only answer they have for everything is: the conventions, the conventions, the conventions, Gaviria said dismissively of the international bureau, which held its first specialsession on narcotics in 18 years in April.

Three of these UN drug policy conventions are targeted in the commissions report for breeding national public policies that violate the UNs own declaration on human rights.

For example, the UN drug control pacts and over-reaching national laws have helped create a situation whereby 5.5 billion people around the world suffer from little or no access to adequate ache relief medication because of, among other reasons, restrictions placed on prescribing opiates and other pain medications, research reports said. This lack of access infringes the international right to the highest attainable standard of health.

The report specifically called for the abolishment of the death penalty for drug-related offenses, an objective to criminal and civil penalties for drug possession and personal use, alternatives to punishment for those found with medications, more research into regulatory models for drug use and for UN member states to remove penalization of drug possession as a treaty obligation.

Read more: www.theguardian.com

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Marvels First Abortion

Given the GOP’s anti-abortion rhetoric–as well as Friday’s shooting at a Planned Parenthood in Colorado–the abortion storyline in Netflix’s’ Jessica Jones’ seems all too timely.

Every second its there, I get raped again and again, she says .

Last Thursday, Scandal s Planned Parenthood episode indicated Olivia Pope receiving a vacuum aspiration abortion. But last Friday, Marvels new Netflix series Jessica Jones depicted something even rarer: a medical abortion, after a rape, behind bars.

A week afterwards, any dialogue around abortion is unavoidably refracted through the lens of Fridays tragic shooting at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs, which left three dead. Details of that shooting, including the suspects motive, are still emerging. But in the wake of a string of arsons at Planned Parenthood clinics and a renewed wave of extreme rhetoric following this summers doctored undercover videos, it is safe to say that honest media the representatives from abortion has rarely is becoming more timely, or more poignant.

One abortion on ABCs Scandal was already enough to send extreme pro-lifers into a tizzy last weekend, especially because Olivias procedure was set to the soundtrack of Silent Night. But two abortions on television in the same week is practically unheard of. Thats not just a coincidence; its an unprecedented sign that female showrunners like Shonda Rhimes and Jessica Jones boss Melissa Rosenberg arent going to shy away from indicating a common medical procedure for womencontroversy, critics, and extremists be damned.

For those who didnt binge on Jessica Jones over the vacation, heres a primer for context: Jessica( Krysten Ritter) is a superhero who gave up her cape to be a private investigator after a period of being mind-controlled and repeatedly raped by a villainous Brit named Kilgrave( David Tennant ). At the start of the series, Jessica rescues another of Kilgraves victims, Hope( Erin Moriarty ), who then goes to jail for the deaths of her parents, which she perpetrated while still under Kilgraves control. Its there that Hope realizes that she is pregnant, and chooses she wants an abortiona first in Marvel history.

I can feel it growing like a tumor, she tells Jessica, who indicates advising the on-call doctor.

But Hope is already one step ahead of her: Two months. Thats the soonest the doctor can get to me.

Every second its there, I get raped over and over again, she says.

Her choice to have an abortion in this situation is not uncommon. A 1996 study found that 50 percentage of women who became pregnant as the result of rape chose abortion. When miscarriage and adoption were factored in, less than one in three women opted to keep the child.

What is uncommon is for a quandary like hers to be shown on television. An honest look at current challenges incarcerated females face in accessing the procedure? Thats subject matter so criminally underexplored that it apparently took a superhero to get it on the small screen.

Eventually, Jessica agrees to help Hope end her pregnancy by smuggling in an abortion pill. Dangerous? Potentially. Illegal? Yes. Unrealistic? Not necessarily.

Incarcerated women can legally receive abortions, but barriers to access sometimes lead them to deem desperate measures. A 2009 survey of health professionals who provided care in correctional facilities painted a spotty picture of abortion access behind bars. Only 68 percent of respondents said that inmates in their facilities could receive elective abortions, and only 54 percentage of those respondents reported that they help inmates arrange appointments.

Providers in red states also indicated more limited access than those in blue statesa reflection of the fact that standards for reproductive healthcare in prison are largely decided at the local level.

In New York, where Jessica Jones is define, a 2008 NCLU investigation found that less than half of the states counties had policies on abortion access for women in prison, and less than a quarter unimpeded access to the procedure. In this context, Hopes conclusion that she has no choice but to seek outside help is, sadly, all too believable.

Thats sure, Jessica observes.

Most abortion storylines on television, as Kevin Fallon noted last week, present the procedure as a decision that requires grand, emotional handwringing. Not Scandal , and certainly not Jessica Jones . For some girls, abortion is indeed a difficult decision. For others, like Olivia Pope and Hope, it is more straightforward. Television has focused so predominantly on examples of the former that any instances of the latter still seem shocking. But they shouldnt be. A longitudinal analyse of 667 women who had received an abortion published in July found that 95 percent did not regret their procedure at all period phases over three years. In fact, its common for women to feel relieved and happy after an abortion.

Hope chanting please work fast after taking the pill instead of, say, screaming is not some sign that shes so hardened by her situations that she doesnt feel the emotional pain that abortion adversaries insist must stem from the procedure. Many women, especially women with a rape-related pregnancy, actively want an abortion without second-guessing or regrets.

Television has just rarely acknowledged that truth. Nor has it run anywhere near recognizing the overall frequency of abortion.

Nearly three out of ten 10 women in the United States will have an abortion by age 45. The ratio of female television characters under 45 who have had abortions likely has a denominator in the hundreds of thousands. The fact that television demonstrates so rarely depict abortionand that, when they do, its usually presented as an agonizing decisionisnt merely an error of omission; its a complete violate from reality. As Shonda Rhimes told Vulture in 2011, the rarity of abortion storylines is ridiculous.

But with women like Rhimes and Rosenberg in charge of high-profile shows, perhaps thats about to change. In a 2011 interview, Rosenberg called herself exceedingly pro-choice[ and] very outspoken about it, very much a feminist.

It shouldnt take a pro-choice showrunner to acknowledge the existence of abortion and illustrate it fairly. But as the reaction to last weeks Scandal episode demonstrated, portraying abortion on television is still a heroic attempt. Jessica Joness days as a uniform-wearing superhero might be behind her but, fortunately, shell take that job.

Read more: www.thedailybeast.com