Two hosts of ‘The View’ test positive for Covid ahead of interview with Harris

By Betsy KleinArlette Saenz and Kate Sullivan, CNN

Updated 12:36 PM ET, Fri September 24, 2021

'The View' hosts announce co-stars' breakthrough Covid cases before VP's planned interview

(CNN)”The View” host Sunny Hostin and guest host Ana Navarro both tested positive for breakthrough cases of Covid-19 ahead of an interview with Vice President Kamala Harris.Harris did not interact with Hostin or Navarro before the show, according to a White House official. Harris went on to conduct the interview from a remote location after a delay.The positive results were announced by “The View” host Joy Behar during the show after Hostin and Navarro were asked to leave the set. Hostin and Navarro were seated at the table with the other hosts at the beginning of the program.

The tables were cleaned and disinfected after they left the set, Behar said, who continued hosting the show on set with her co-host Sara Haines. Behar said Hostin and Navarro were both fully vaccinated.

Harris has received two doses of Moderna’s Covid-19 vaccine and was administered both shots live on camera.

“I hope that you’re in a safe spot right now. We did everything we could to make sure that you were safe because we value you so much,” Behar told Harris at the start of their interview.Enter your email or view the Vault By CNN webpage to own a piece of CNN History with blockchain technology.close dialog

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Join us as we open our archives for the first time to offer collectors the opportunity to own a piece of history.Explore NowGet UpdatesHarris responded: “Thank you, Joy, and to everyone. Listen, Sunny and Ana are strong women and I know they’re fine but it really also does speak to the fact that they’re vaccinated and vaccines really do make all the difference. Because otherwise, we would be concerned about hospitalization or worse.”

CNN reported last month that data from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows more than 99.99% of people fully vaccinated against Covid-19 have not had a breakthrough case resulting in hospitalization or death.Harris called on Americans to get vaccinated and be responsible.”I’ve been watching, like many of you, with heartache, with the videos of people who are in an ICU bed, who did not get vaccinated, pleading with their family members, ‘please get vaccinated,'” Harris said.

She continued: “You know, when I think of it in the context of any one of us who have had these awful experiences of holding the hands of a loved one who is in an ICU bed, or is near death — like, don’t put your families through that. The vaccine is free. It is safe, and it will save your life. So folks just need to get vaccinated.”

This story has been updated with additional information.

Why won’t US TV news say ‘climate change’?

Mark Hertsgaard

It’s media malpractice not to mention that burning fossil fuels drives extreme weather events like Hurricane Ida

Jerilyn Collins returns to her destroyed home to retrieve medicine for herself and her father in the aftermath of Hurricane Ida in LaPlace, Louisiana.
Jerilyn Collins returns to her destroyed home to retrieve medicine for herself and her father in the aftermath of Hurricane Ida in LaPlace, Louisiana. Photograph: Gerald Herbert/AP

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About this contentThu 2 Sep 2021 06.00 EDT

The climate emergency is exploding in various parts of the world this week, but climate silence inexcusably continues to rein in much of the United States media.

Hurricane Ida has left more than a million people in Louisiana without running water, electricity or air conditioning amid a heat index topping 100F. The Caldor fire destroyed hundreds of houses and forced mass evacuations around Lake Tahoe in California. Abroad, vast swaths of Siberia were ablaze while drought-parched Madagascar suffered what a United Nations official called the first famine caused entirely by climate change.

Painstaking scientific research has established that the climate crisis escalates these kinds of extreme weather. In other words, people can now watch the emergency unfold in real time on their TV and cellphone screens.

The vast majority of news coverage instead chose climate silence

The problem is that most viewers won’t make that connection, because most stories don’t contain the words “climate change”. Six of the biggest commercial TV networks in the US – ABC, CBS, CNN, Fox, NBC and MSNBC – ran 774 stories about Ida from 27 to 30 August, an analysis by the watchdog group Media Matters found. Only 34 of those stories, barely 4%, mentioned climate change.Advertisement

Caldor fire: changing winds offer hope as firefighters battle blaze near Lake Tahoe

My own survey of the coverage confirmed the trend. Viewers were shown powerful images – roofs torn off, block after block of houses submerged in floodwaters, first responders pulling weeping victims to safety. They heard plenty of numbers: Ida was a category 4 hurricane with wind speeds of 172 miles an hour and storm surges of 7ft to 11ft. But almost never were they told what was behind all this destruction.

It’s not as if making the climate connection is scientifically controversial or journalistically difficult, as a handful of exemplary stories demonstrated.

On NPR, the reporter Rebecca Hersher said that “climate change is basically super-charging this storm … As the Earth gets hotter because of climate change, the water on the surface of the ocean – it also gets hotter. So there’s more energy for storms like Ida to get really big and really powerful.”

Communities bearing the brunt of harm caused by climate change say that for too long the fossil fuel industry has prioritized profits over the public good.

On CBS This Morning, atop a graphic reading “Massive, fast-growing storms like Ida highlight climate crisis”, the meteorologist Jeff Berardelli pointed out that a hotter planet also means “you evaporate more moisture, the ground gets drier – we’re having the worst drought in 1,200 years in the west.”

In the Washington Post, the reporter Sarah Kaplan called Ida a “poster child for a climate change-driven disaster” and quoted the hurricane specialist Kerry Emmanuel of MIT saying: “This is exactly the kind of thing we’re going to have to get used to as the planet warms.”

The vast majority of news coverage instead chose climate silence.

This amounts to nothing less than media malpractice. Scientifically accurate reporting would not only link this extreme weather to the climate crisis, it would note that climate change is caused primarily by burning oil, gas and coal. ExxonMobil and other fossil fuel companies have been lying for 40 years about their products causing dangerous climate change. Responsible journalism should tell the truth about what’s driving these terrible storms, fires and famine.

Broadcast television’s failure is especially egregious in that it’s still the leading news source for most people. (About 45% of Americans get most of their news from television, while 18% rely primarily on social media, according to the Pew Research Center.) And it repeats the mistake TV news made while covering the extreme weather events of 2020. In the face of unprecedented fires in Australia and California (remember the orange skies over San Francisco?) and kindred calamities, only 0.4% of commercial TV stories mentioned the climate crisis, Media Matters found.

This kind of journalism leaves the public not just uninformed but misinformed. It gives the impression that these storms and fires are not only terrible (which, of course, is true) but also – to use a phrase that climate breakdown has made obsolete – they’re simply “natural” disasters.

They are not. Of course, hurricanes and wildfires were happening long before human-caused climate change emerged. The climate crisis, however, makes them significantly worse. As a Weather Channel segment on Ida explained, it’s not that “climate change caused the storm, but … that a warming world made Hurricane Ida more powerful”.

What’s odd is that plenty of journalists at big US news outlets know the climate crisis is an important story. And climate coverage had been improving. During the heatwave that scorched the Pacific Northwest in July, 38% of broadcast and cable news segments made the climate connection, Media Matters reported, as did about 30% of this summer’s wildfires coverage. So newsrooms have the ability to make the point when they choose to.

In two months, world leaders will gather in Glasgow for one of the most important diplomatic meetings in history. The Cop26 summit will go a long way toward deciding whether humanity preserves a livable climate on this planet. From now to the summit and beyond, journalism has got to do better.

This story is published as part of Covering Climate Now, a global collaboration of news outlets strengthening coverage of the climate story.

Don’t Expect Real Climate Solutions From COP26. It Functions for Corporations.

Activists hold a demonstration marking the delayed COP26 UN climate negotiations on November 13, 2020, in Glasgow, Scotland. The 26th United Nations Climate Change conference was delayed for a year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Activists hold a demonstration marking the delayed COP26 UN climate negotiations on November 13, 2020, in Glasgow, Scotland. The 26th United Nations Climate Change conference was delayed for a year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

BYSimon PiraniTruthoutPUBLISHEDAugust 29, 2021SHAREShare via FacebookShare via TwitterShare via Email

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In the run-up to the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) in the U.K. in November — the 26th session of the talks that were launched in Rio de Janeiro in 1992 — the governments of the world’s richest countries are making ever-louder claims that they are effectively confronting global warming. Nothing could be more dangerous than for social, labor and environmental movements to take this rhetoric at face value and assume that political leaders have the situation under control.

There are three huge falsehoods running through these leaders’ narratives: that rich nations are supporting their poorer counterparts; that “net zero” targets will do what is needed; and that technology-focused “green growth” is the way to decarbonize.

First, wealthier countries claim to be supporting poorer nations — which are contributing least to global warming, and suffering most from its effects — to make the transition away from fossil fuels.

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But at the G7 summit in June, the rich countries again failed to keep their own promise, made more than a decade ago, to provide $100 billion per year in climate finance for developing countries. Of the $60 billion per year they have actually come up with, more than half is bogus: analysis by Oxfam has shown that it is mostly loans and non-concessional finance, and that the amounts are often overstated.

Compare this degrading treatment of the Global South with the mobilization of many hundreds of billions for the post-pandemic recovery. Of $657 billion (public money alone) pledged by G20 nations to energy-producing or energy-consuming projects, $296 billion supports fossil fuels, nearly a third greater than the amount supporting clean energy ($228 billion).

Meanwhile, the impacts of climate change are magnified by poverty. This year’s floodswildfires and record temperatures in Europe and North America have been frightful enough. The same phenomena cause far greater devastation outside the Global North.

In 2020, “very extensive” flooding caused deaths, significant displacement of populations and further impacts from disease in 16 African countries, the World Meteorological Organization’s (WMO’s) annual climate report recorded. India, China and parts of Southeast Asia suffered from record-breaking rainfall and flooding, too.Climate researchers have shown that absolute zero (not “net zero”) emissions is entirely achievable. The path is blocked not by technological factors, but by political ones.

Climate and weather events had “major and diverse impacts on population movements, and on the vulnerability of people on the move,” the WMO reported. Cyclone Amphan displaced 2.5 million people in India and Bangladesh last May. Many could return soon, but 2.8 million homes were damaged, leading to prolonged displacement. Severe storms in Mozambique piled on dangers for tens of thousands of people displaced by the previous year’s floods and who had not been able to return home.

The political leaders’ second fiction is their pledge to attain “net zero” greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 (the U.S., U.K. and Europe) or 2060 (China).

“Net zero” signifies a point at which the amount of greenhouse gases being pumped into the atmosphere is balanced by the amount being withdrawn. Once, it may have been a useful way of taking into account the way that forests, in particular, soak up carbon dioxide. But three decades of capitulation to fossil fuel companies, since the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change was signed in 1992, have turned it into a monster of deceit.

Thanks to corporate capture and government complicity, many of the greenhouse gas emissions projections in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s recent report factor in huge levels of carbon removal by dubious technologies that do not, and may never, work at scale (e.g., carbon dioxide removal, carbon capture and storage, and bioenergy with carbon capture and storage). Governments have drawn up “net zero” targets reliant on these myths.

On top of this, the 2015 Paris agreement left rich nations to decide what share of global emissions they would take responsibility for. So the U.K. government, which laughably describes itself as “leading the world” on climate, uses targets for emissions cuts at half the level that scientists say is necessary.

The politicians’ third and more complex deception is in the technology-centered “decarbonization” measures they embrace in the name of “green growth.” These rely on tweaking, rather than transforming, the big technological systems through which most fossil fuels are consumed — transport networks, electricity grids, urban infrastructure, and industrial, agricultural and military systems.

An example is electric vehicles, promoted as the principal means to reduce transport sector emissions. Governments ignore the carbon footprint of the vehicles’ manufacture and electricity use (unless and until the grids are 100 percent green), and the roads and parking spaces that the vehicles use.

Alternative approaches focus on expanding public transport, shifting to non-motorized modes (walking, cycles, electric scooters), and reducing the total number of journeys, especially in cities. In a climate emergency, they ask, shouldn’t we stretch our imaginations beyond lives made miserable sitting in rush-hour traffic?Tackling climate change involves subverting, confronting, confounding and defeating corporate power.

But governments avoid or oppose such solutions, because they would involve confronting the corporate power of oil companies, car manufacturers and property developers, in whose interests it is to perpetuate car culture.

A second example of governments’ corporate-based technology approach involves home heating and cooling. Small-scale technologies that can slash the energy throughput needed — proper insulation, electric heat pumps instead of gas, small-scale renewables generation — are eschewed. Instead, political leaders advocate incremental change to large systems, at a pace that suits the companies that control them.

In the U.K., architects protest as the government loosens building regulations, when it should be tightening them to ensure that new houses are near-zero-carbon. Trades unions in Leeds campaign for insulation and heat pumps — the right solution for the city’s housing stock — instead of a scheme to swap the gas network for hydrogen, that is little more than a survival strategy for the companies producing oil and gas on the North Sea.

In the U.S., community groups advocate zero-carbon energy systems as part of an integrated approach to a “just transition” away from fossil fuels.

Governments resist because the corporations resist. Energy corporations fear decentralized electricity generation outside of their control; property developers despise regulation that compels them to use zero-carbon building techniques; gas distributors hate electric heat pumps. Just as oil companies and car manufacturers dread radical decarbonization of transport, petrochemical giants fear plastic-free supply chains, big agribusiness is terrified by low-carbon food systems, and so on.

Climate researchers have shown that absolute zero (not “net zero”) emissions is entirely achievable, by reducing energy throughput and living differently. The path is blocked not by technological factors, but by political ones: by the dynamics of wealth and power that constitute capitalism — the same dynamics that force the burden of climate change on the Global South.

Tackling climate change involves overcoming those dynamics. It is not so much about replacing bad government with good government, as it is about subverting, confronting, confounding and defeating corporate power. It is about developing a vision of our collective future that goes beyond capitalism.

We see glimpses of the social forces that could achieve this. Resistance to neocolonial resource extraction, which is at the heart of the fossil-fuelled economy, rages across the Global South. In the Global North, there are acts of great heroism — by the saboteurs of the Dakota Access pipeline, for example — and new waves of direct action, by Extinction Rebellion and others, and school strikes in response to climate change.

Climate change protesters often accuse governments of “inaction.” Let’s look at it from a different angle: Governments are acting, but they are acting in accordance with capital’s economic imperatives.

They are allowing global average temperature to rise far more than 2 degrees Celsius above the preindustrial level, and pushing the resulting suffering on to hundreds of millions of people outside the rich world. They are empowering fossil fuel producers and corporations in fossil-intensive industrial sectors to dabble with dangerous techno fixes and false “solutions” in the name of economic “growth.” They are protecting their system.

The most powerful response to looming climate catastrophe will come not from within the COP26 process, but from outside it, in the actions of grassroots organizers, communities, social and labor movements, and of society as a whole.

United States nears first major steps to control CO2 emissions

As scientists raise alarm on global warming, the US is close to adopting sweeping green energy and emissions measures.

Wildfires burn in the US West for a fourth consecutive summer as Washington, DC strives to adopt new climate policies [David Swanson/Reuters]
Wildfires burn in the US West for a fourth consecutive summer as Washington, DC strives to adopt new climate policies [David Swanson/Reuters]

By William Roberts24 Aug 2021

The United States is preparing to adopt a raft of new energy policies that will for the first time put the US – the world’s second-worst polluter after China – on a path to meeting its pledge to cut greenhouse emissions in half by 2035.

In a series of measures pending on Tuesday before the US Congress and new directives by the Biden administration, the US economy would begin a broad shift to electric vehicles, solar and wind with reductions in carbon pollution from fossil fuels.KEEP READINGUN climate report ‘code red for humanity’: Guterres‘World War Zero’: Biden names John Kerry as US climate envoyUS climate envoy Kerry to visit Shanghai for climate talksEU reaches ambitious climate deal that could transform economy

“We are moving in the right direction. The question is, will we move fast enough,” said Dan Lashof, the US director of the World Resources Institute, a global research organisation dedicated to working with governments on climate change.

The UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change issued a dire report on August 9 that concludes global warming is happening faster than previously understood and drastic cuts to worldwide emissions are needed to hold the global temperature rise under 2C (3.6F) – the threshold to avoid devastating consequences for humanity.

Since taking office in January, President Joe Biden has rejoined the Paris climate accord – abandoned by his predecessor Donald Trump – and pledged to cut US greenhouse emissions 50 percent.

After China, the US is the second-largest producer of greenhouses gases in the world emitting more than 6.6 billion tonnes of CO2 per year.

“We have got to cut our emissions by 50 percent or more this decade to have a shot at limiting warming to less than 2C,” Lashof told Al Jazeera.

Clean energy

Major incentives and investments for new clean energy are contained in two major pieces of legislation now pending in Congress, a $1 trillion infrastructure spending bill and a $3.5 trillion budget policy.

Both passed the US Senate and are headed for consideration in the House of Representatives this week where Democratic Party unity – which has been shaken – will be required to win passage.

The infrastructure bill, which passed the Senate on a bipartisan vote of 69-30, includes $65bn to modernise the ageing US electric grid, boost carbon-capture technologies and shift power generation to clean sources like hydrogen.

It further includes $7.5bn for electric vehicle charging stations – key to enabling mainstream adoption of electric vehicles – and $5bn for government purchases of electric and hybrid school buses.

These new federal investments “are helpful”, Lashof said, “but by themselves are by no means adequate”.

New policies

More of the effect from what the US is considering is to be found in an enormous $3.5 trillion budget measure, which sets broad top-line spending goals for Congress.

“We will take on the existential threat of climate change by transforming our energy systems toward renewable energy and energy efficiency,” Senator Bernie Sanders, chairman of the Senate Budget Committee said when the budget resolution passed the Senate on August 10.

The budget bill includes clean energy, manufacturing, and transportation tax incentives and carbon polluter fees, clean energy technology, clean electricity rebates, financing and research.

The budget authorises up to $135b across five years for a Civilian Climate Corps to be composed of hundreds of thousands of young workers similar to the US’s 1930s-era Civilian Conservation Corps to work on green public projects.

Corpsmembers would be paid $15 an hour and receive educational benefits for work on renewable energy projects and community conservation.

Final details of many of the Climate Corps plan and other clean energy policies are being hammered out in congressional committees across Congress and will be passed in spending bills to be approved in September.

Electric vehicles

new executive order signed by President Joe Biden on August 5 calls for half of all new vehicle sales in the US to be electric by 2030. At the same time, Biden ordered tougher emissions and fuel economy standards for gas vehicles.

“In order to meet the US’s environmental goals, we have to electrify and clean our transportation system, starting from the light-duty vehicles to transit, heavy-duty and everything else,” said Gil Tal, director of electric vehicle research at the University of California-Davis. Video

In light of the UN’s alarming report, the imperative to shift to electric vehicles is urgent, Tal told Al Jazeera. “There is no way to do enough right now. Whatever we can do, we need to push to the max,” Tal said.

In California, the US’s most populous state, where climate-driven wildfires are raging now for a fourth consecutive summer, Governor Gavin Newsom has ordered that all new cars and trucks sold in the state must be electric by 2035.

Narrow path

The prospect of congressional approval of new funding and policies to address climate change and cut US emissions is a win for progressives like Sanders and the Democratic Party’s Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez who had campaigned on the issue in 2020.

“We’ve had four years of Trump and we’re back in the Paris agreement,” Lashof said.

“The risk is that this is just barely enough if it all gets through. It’s a serious setback if it gets pared back.”

While both the infrastructure bill and budget measure appear headed in tandem for congressional passage, the internal politics in Washington remain tricky and the path to approval is narrow.

House Democrats hold only a 220 to 212 seat majority over Republicans, which leaves House Speaker Nancy Pelosi little room to manoeuvre between warring progressive and moderate wings of her party.

House leaders have set votes on the infrastructure and budget measures as soon as Tuesday.


When Kabul falls, America is in danger again


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When Kabul falls, America is in danger again

© Getty Images

As Baghdad was falling to the forces of the United States and its coalition partners in March 1991, Iraqi Minister of Information Mohammed Saeed al-Sahaf, better known to Americans as “Baghdad Bob,” was offering an entirely different account of the events taking place on his doorstep. Among his most memorable quotes — and there were many — were  “There are no American infidels in Baghdad. Never!” and “They are not even [within] 100 miles [of Baghdad]. They are not in any place. They hold no place in Iraq. This is an illusion … they are trying to sell to the others an illusion.”

As numerous analysts have pointed out, officials in Kabul and Washington appear to be no less delusional than Saddam Hussein’s minister. Moreover, they have been fooling themselves for even longer than Baghdad Bob. American officials have not ceased to believe that the Taliban would abide by the terms of the Feb. 29, 2020, Doha agreement, which was advertised as the first step in a process that would lead both to American and NATO withdrawal of their forces and a settlement between the Taliban and the Afghan government. Yet little has materialized from the Taliban commitment to “intra-Afghan dialogue and negotiations.” On the contrary, in a manner reminiscent of Gen. Vo Nguyen Giap’s ultimately successful offensives against the Army of [South] Vietnam, which were stepped up after Henry Kissinger negotiated the 1973 Paris Peace Accords — for which he won the Nobel Peace Prize — the Taliban has stepped up its operations against the Kabul government’s forces throughout the country. 

Nevertheless, even as the Taliban offensive continued to intensify, Biden administration officials believed in the negotiations’ positive outcome and insisted that while the Taliban might control the Afghan countryside, it would not attempt to seize urban areas, and especially provincial capitals. When the Taliban did just that, administration officials posited that the Taliban would not attempt to seize major provincial capitals such as Kunduz, Herat, Kandahar or Mazer-i-Sharif. Kunduz, Lashkar Gah, Herat and Kandahar have fallen; it appears to be only a matter of days before Mazer-i-Sharif falls as well.

Shades of Baghdad Bob. Unfazed by reality, Biden administration spokesmen project confidence that the Taliban will not try to seize Kabul. Instead, the administration continues to put its faith in negotiations and has dispatched chief negotiator Zalmay Khalilzad on yet another doomed foray to Doha.

This week, in response to the rapid fall of nine provincial capitals to the Taliban, the Afghan government replaced the army chief of staff. The change appears to have had no impact on increasingly dire forecasts as to when, not if, Kabul will fall. U.S. officials reportedly now predict that Kabul will fall much sooner than expected. Previous assessments predicted that the Afghan capital would surrender to the Taliban in six to 12 months after the departure of American forces. Now officials reportedly assert that Kabul could fall within 90 days. Given the degree to which Afghan government forces have melted away, rather than fight the Taliban, 90 days may be an optimistic prediction — which may be why some officials feel that the city will surrender in as little as a month. 

Subsequent to the fall of Saigon in 1975, the Vietnamese government had no official relations with Washington until they were restored two decades later. But throughout that period, Vietnam did not serve as a base for attacks on the United States. The same cannot be assumed of the Taliban and Afghanistan. 

It is true that the Taliban is unlikely to project its power beyond Afghanistan’s borders. It is hemmed in by several Central Asian states, as well as Pakistan and Iran, all of which harbor varying degrees of suspicion regarding the group. And it can safely be said that the Taliban leadership wisely will refrain from doing anything to provoke China, Afghanistan’s other far more powerful neighbor.

On the other hand, the Taliban’s commitment at Doha to prevent the renewal of an al Qaeda presence in the country — or for that matter, that of terrorist groups such as ISIS — is likely to go the way of American dreams of a coalition Afghan government. There have been numerous reports that the Taliban never ruptured its ties with al Qaeda, nor that it has any quarrel with ISIS. These organizations may, therefore, find that they can operate freely on Afghan soil. If once again they can train terrorists as they did prior to 9/11, another attack on Americans, whether overseas or in America itself, cannot be ruled out. 

The time for Washington’s reverie about an acceptable outcome to what it calls the “forever war” is long past over. There will be no acceptable outcome. If the Biden team remains committed to withdrawing all American forces by the end of this month, it had better come up with another way to ensure that the updated version of Afghanistan circa 2001 does not come back to haunt Americans after two decades of bloody and costly conflict.

Dov S. Zakheim is a senior adviser at the Center for Strategic and International Studies and vice chairman of the board for the Foreign Policy Research Institute. He was under secretary of Defen

White House doubles down on its harsh criticism of Facebook following Biden’s ‘killing’ remarks

 21 hours ago

Biden on Friday accused Facebook of ‘killing people’ by way of coronavirus misinformation

Marisa Schultz

By Marisa Schultz , Jacqui Heinrich| Fox News

Psaki says administration is working with Facebook to limit COVID misinformation

Fox News White House correspondent Peter Doocy has a heated exchange with Press Secretary Jen Psaki

The White House isn’t backing down from its harsh criticism of Facebook after President Biden on Friday accused the social media giant of “killing people” with misinformation about coronavirus vaccinations. 

A Biden administration source revealed to Fox News on Saturday that the very public callout of Facebook followed months of frustration with the platform for failing to stamp out “dangerous” information about the vaccinations that have spread online. 

The White House has been seeking help from Facebook and other social media sites since February on stopping misinformation from going viral, such as the myth that getting the shot will cause infertility. 


While Facebook has made positive public statements on how they’ve partnered with the government and taken aggressive action to curb vaccine misinformation, the White House believes that the Big Tech company has fallen short. 

“They’ve been withholding information on what the rules are, what they have put in place to prevent dangerous misinformation from spreading [and] how they measure whether it’s working,” a Biden administration official told Fox News. 

The tensions reached a boiling point amid the spread of the highly contagious Delta variant, vaccine hesitancy among young people and polls showing the majority of unvaccinated people believe myths about the vaccine.


As coronavirus cases are on the rise and vaccination rates have slowed in the United States, the White House launched this week an effort to crack down on misinformation, starting with a warning from U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy on Thursday that bogus information about coronavirus is an “urgent threat” to public health. 

The Surgeon General’s office issued a new report titled, “Confronting Health Misinformation,” that makes recommendations for social media platforms to “impose clear consequences for accounts that repeatedly violate platform policies.”

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki also announced Thursday that the Biden administration has been “flagging” content for Facebook to remove.


“We’re flagging problematic posts for Facebook that spread disinformation. We’re working with doctors and medical experts…who are popular with their audience with accurate information,” she said. “So, we’re helping get trusted content out there.”

Biden took the effort one step further Friday by claiming inaction by Facebook and other platforms to take down false information is costing people their lives to a preventable illness.

“The only pandemic we have is among the unvaccinated, and they’re killing people,” Biden said.

The White House comments drew a quick rebuke from Facebook. 

“The White House is looking for scapegoats for missing their vaccine goals,” a Facebook spokesperson told NBC’s Dylan Beyers.

And while the White House is having a public spat with the Big Tech giant, some Republicans and critics are accusing the White House of being too cozy with Facebook in their efforts to take down posts they deem as problematic. 

“Democrats are all about the First Amendment except when they don’t like what’s being said,” Rep. Lance Gooden, R-Texas, told Fox News Saturday. Gooden just recently formed a House caucus aimed at reining in Big Tech.


“Normalizing government collusion with Big Tech to censor anything they deem to be misinformation actually puts our First Amendment rights in jeopardy,” said Gooden.

Fox News’ Audrey Conklin contributed to this report. 

Young Republicans see shift in GOP: ‘From outright denial to climate caucus’

BY SHARON UDASIN – 07/01/21 04:30 PM EDT 395Share to Facebook Share to Twitter  

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Twenty-four-year-old Republican Danielle Butcher is watching with anticipation as GOP leaders move from “outright denial to now having a climate caucus” — a move she sees as the first step in integrating climate action into formal party policy.

Butcher, the executive vice president of the American Conservation Coalition (ACC), spoke to The Hill’s Equilibrium on Tuesday, just a week after Rep. John Curtis (R-Utah) launched the Conservative Climate Caucus and the same day that House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), who serves on the House Climate Crisis Committee, unveiled a new task force on energy, climate and conservation. 

The party’s “progress is huge, when you apply the context,” Butcher said.                                               

“This is an excellent first step,” she continued. “The first thing you have to do in achieving climate action is start talking about these problems.”

To Butcher, integrating climate action into Republican politics speaks to her party’s historic conservation core — the GOP with a deep-seated, rural heritage, was responsible for creation of the National Park Service and the Environmental Protection Agency under former Presidents Theodore Roosevelt and Richard Nixon.

“I also see this as us reclaiming our heritage,” she said.

The party has changed a lot since then, with former President Trump —  who cast doubt on climate change and diluted multiple environmental regulations during his time in office — still the de facto leader of the party.

But with two-thirds of Americans indicating that the government should do more on climate change — a stance that Butcher observed “is especially true among young people” — she said Republicans need to be talking about these issues and involving the younger generation in the discussions.

“The GOP has notoriously struggled with young people,” she added.

As Butcher noted, a spring 2020 survey from the Pew Research Center showed that 65 percent of Americans felt that the federal government is doing too little to reduce the effects of climate change. Meanwhile, an April 2021 Gallup poll showed that 74 percent of Republicans — and 99 percent of Democrats — believe that global warming will eventually affect humans.

Nonetheless, according to Gallup, only 29 percent of Republicans said they believe that these effects have already begun, while 82 percent of Democrats believe that they have started, and just 11 percent of Republicans said they believe global warming will pose a serious threat in their own lifetime, while 67 percent of Democrats believe that it will do so.

Following the launch of the Conservative Climate Caucus Rep. Kathy Castor (D-Fla.), chair of the Select Committee on Climate Crisis, told The Associated Press that she hopes Republicans are serious about addressing climate change.

“There is no more time for half measures,” Castor said. “If my Republicans colleagues really want to do something, they need to start voting in favor of real solutions.”

Climate policy has been a sticking point in negotiations over President Biden‘s infrastructure plan this month, with multiple provisions left out of the deal made with Republicans.

For 22-year-old Justin Branum, the ACC’s Alabama chair, reaching fellow Republicans who are reluctant to acknowledge climate change means straying from tactics that he describes as “alarmism.” Residents of conservative states, he elaborated, care about wildlife and tend to see their land as a “gift from God,” but are often accustomed to seeing climate change associated with apocalypse on television.

This need to access older, climate hesitant Republicans has made both Branum and Butcher excited about the passing of a particular piece of legislation in the Senate last week, the bipartisan Growing Climate Solutions Act. The bill authorizes the Depart of Agriculture to establish a voluntary environmental credit market — through which farmers and private forest landowners who engage in sustainable land use can acquire and sell carbon credits.

The main purpose of the legislation, according to the Senate Agriculture, Nutrition & Forestry Committee, is to “break down barriers for farmers and foresters interested in participating in carbon markets so they can be rewarded for climate-smart practices.” Some such practices include planting carbon-trapping crops to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions.

But farmers across the Corn Belt are only planting a small fraction of the carbon-capturing “cover crops” touted by the bill, a new analysis published by the Environmental Working Group found, according to Inside Climate News.

The study showed that in 2019, only 3.2 million out of 68 million acres of corn and soybean included cover crops. To put a significant dent in U.S. emissions, the current “cover crop acres would have to increase fourteen-fold to get close to the number of acres needed to achieve a miniscule reduction,” according to the study.

Although the bill received support from a bipartisan slate of senators and environmental groups, it failed to win over five progressive legislators: Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) and Cory Booker (D-N.J.).

While the senators did not provide a specific reason for their dissent, the Climate Justice Alliance NGO slammed the bill for boosting “harmful market-based approaches” that put low-income populations at a disadvantage.

The progressives, Butcher said, “are voting with some of the biggest climate deniers in the Senate.” She was referring to the three Republicans who also opposed the bill: Sens. Jim Inhofe (Okla.), Josh Hawley (Mo.) and Mike Lee (Utah).

Branum, the ACC chair from Alabama, likewise expressed his disappointment with the progressive rejection of their plan, stressing that he favors a bipartisan approach to climate action, such as the joint work of Sens. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) and Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) on the Senate Energy & Natural Resources Committee.

“Climate change can’t be solved from just a Republican line vote or from a Democratic line vote — it can’t be challenged every time a new government comes,” Branum said, noting that the two parties need to come together on “the 80 percent we agree on to help the environment.”

In Branum’s opinion, that 80 percent does not include the Green New Deal and other progressive policies “based on bigger government” that “don’t technically deal with climate change.” Some examples of policies that would help curb climate change, according to Branum, would include the integration of more nuclear energy, the deregulation of the green energy sector and the continued existence of fossil fuels alongside renewables.

“We don’t have to transform society to reduce emissions,” Butcher added. “We want to improve everyone’s standard and quality of life, but we don’t want to take over the economy or ban companies.” 

“When consumers want something, the market delivers it,” she said. “That’s how you stay competitive in a free market system.”

Going forward, Butcher said she is confident that the younger generation of Republicans — and particularly young women — will help shape a future GOP that prioritizes environmental protection. 

“Our generation, Gen-Z, is inspired by these younger millennials who are paving the way for us,” Butcher said.

Vaccine Refusal in Trump Country Makes It a Sitting Duck for COVID Delta Variant

Anti-vaxxers and anti-maskers gather at Indiana University's Sample Gates to protest against mandatory COVID vaccinations that the university is requiring for students, staff and faculty during the upcoming fall semester on June 10, 2021.
Anti-vaxxers and anti-maskers gather at Indiana University’s Sample Gates to protest against mandatory COVID vaccinations that the university is requiring for students, staff and faculty during the upcoming fall semester on June 10, 2021.

BYWilliam Rivers PittTruthoutPUBLISHEDJune 15, 2021SHAREShare via FacebookShare via TwitterShare via Email

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READING LISTPOLITICS & ELECTIONSChomsky: Republicans Are Willing to Destroy Democracy to Retake PowerECONOMY & LABOR25 Richest Americans Pay Few Taxes — Partly Thanks to the “Family Fund” LoopholePOLITICS & ELECTIONSAfter Weeks of Wasted Time, Senate Democrats Demand Action on InfrastructurePOLITICS & ELECTIONSA GOP Lawmaker Wants to Ban Critical Race Theory — Without Knowing What It IsPRISONS & POLICINGRep. Cori Bush Introduces Bill to Decriminalize Possession of All DrugsPOLITICS & ELECTIONSVaccine Refusal in Trump Country Makes It a Sitting Duck for COVID Delta Variant

Great Britain had great plans for June 21. English citizens had been calling it “Freedom Day,” the day that nation’s COVID restrictions would be lifted after the pandemic’s long siege. A well-managed vaccine rollout has more than half the population fully inoculated, and everything appeared to be moving in the right direction.

Upon the emergence of the COVID-19 variant dubbed “Delta,” however, the U.K.’s plans have changed. Prime Minister Boris Johnson has delayed “Freedom Day” for another four weeks, with a potential for more if the variant is not better contained.

The Delta variant of COVID first emerged from the coronavirus wave that subsumed much of India earlier this spring. Reports strongly suggest that it is far more contagious than the original version of the virus, and is doing more damage to those who become infected. It took four weeks for Delta to become the dominant COVID strain in Great Britain, and at present it has spread to more than 60 countries worldwide.

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The U.S. is one of them. At present, the Delta variant represents approximately 10 percent of all new infections here, and that rate is doubling every two weeks. “Dr. Scott Gottlieb, the former commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, said Sunday that a coronavirus strain known as the Delta variant is likely to become the dominant source of new infections in the U.S.,” reports CNN, “and could lead to new outbreaks in the fall, with unvaccinated Americans being most at risk.”

There were almost 13,000 new cases of COVID diagnosed yesterday, and 145 recorded deaths. While these numbers represent an astonishing decrease from the horrific toll the nation endured last winter, the number of new daily infections remains simply unacceptable in a country so flush with vaccines that medical experts fear whole batches will go bad for lack of use.

As of Monday, almost 44 percent of the U.S. population over 12 years old has received both doses of the vaccine, and 52.5 percent has received one. Children under 12 remain completely unvaccinated. In a nation of 328 million people, slightly more than 174 million have gotten at least one dose. This, for lack of a better phrase, is a dramatic chink in our COVID armor, especially in the face of an exceptionally virulent variant like Delta.

As with all things these days, the question of “why?” boils down to the deliberately deluded garbage politics of the right. A Washington Post analysis shows COVID rates plummeting in states with high numbers of vaccinated people, and rising in states with fewer vaccinated people. This is simple math, really, but disquieting to confront in the face of the highly contagious Delta variant.

So where are the politics? Where they always are: in the states. “The top 22 states (including D.C.) with the highest adult vaccination rates all went to Joe Biden in the 2020 presidential election,” reports NPR. “Some of the least vaccinated states are the most pro-Trump. Trump won 17 of the 18 states with the lowest adult vaccination rates.”The conspiracy theories that have enveloped the effective distribution of this medicine to Trump supporters have morphed into their own sort of bent, all-encompassing multiverse, where all the “answers” are spelled with the letter “Q.”

Adherence to nihilistic anti-science Trumpism is not the sole factor for the lower rates in these various states. Less than a quarter of Black people have received at least one shot as of last week, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the lowest among the ethnic and racial groups listed. A large part of the problem is access: There have been a number of issues with the vaccine rollout, particularly impacting people who lack access to transportation or cannot take time off work to get a shot. Meanwhile, some vaccine hesitancy persists within Black communities; it is an understandable byproduct of generations of unspeakable abuses of that community by the medical field.

However, among the largely white Trump supporters who are refusing the vaccine, the hesitancy has a very different root. Many people across the country appear to be saying no to the vaccine because doing so will shore up their pro-Trump street cred. The conspiracy theories that have enveloped the effective distribution of this medicine to Trump supporters have morphed into their own sort of bent, all-encompassing multiverse, where all the “answers” are spelled with the letter “Q” and mask mandates are equated with the Holocaust.

It is not difficult to foresee what comes next. If COVID holds to its pattern of finding all the gaps in our defenses, and if Delta is as bad as they say, we can expect to witness the return of terrible infection numbers to the regions that continue to shun the vaccine. By all accounts, the vaccines remain highly effective in their ability to stave off the Delta variant, especially if those receiving two-dose vaccines make sure to get both shots.

The United States is reopening from shore to shore, and there is great gladness for it. Vaccinated people are being told with high confidence that they can return to a semblance of normal … but with less than half the country fully vaccinated, and with a stunning portion of that half clinging to their Trump-spawned delusions, I still fear that we are reopening too soon.

The rise of the Delta variant makes this concern all the more pressing. If Trump had a single care for the people who make him possible, he would embark on a vaccination campaign in all the states he carried in 2020, but he will not do this unless forced to. He will squat in his Bedminster lair plotting revenge, even as those he owes his power to die preventable deaths every day.

Joe Biden: The incredible vanishing president

Damon Linker, Senior correspondentFri, June 11, 2021, 2:52 AM·6 min read

President Biden.
President Biden. Illustrated | Getty Images, iStock

Images of Joe Biden giving speeches and shaking hands with foreign dignitaries during his ongoing trip to Europe will take up space in the news over the coming week. But once he returns to the United States, the pattern that’s prevailed over the past five months will likely resume.

Which means the president will once again disappear.

It was common for Democrats during the 2020 presidential campaign to talk encouragingly about how boring a Biden administration would be in comparison to the nonstop cycle of chaos, cruelty, and outrage that prevailed under President Trump. Where Trump tweeted partisan provocations day and night, keeping reporters and pundits furiously scribbling, analyzing, and denouncing 24/7, life under a Biden presidency would return to normal, with a slower pace and the president receding from public view, allowing other people and topics to proliferate, and our nation’s public life to settle down and heal, perhaps even with a modicum of unity returning.- ADVERTISEMENT -

That isn’t what’s happened. Biden has indeed stepped back — in comparison to Trump, absolutely, but even compared to Barack Obama and George W. Bush. Biden simply doesn’t say or do very much in public. He’s content, instead, to allow surrogates, staffers, and Democrats in Congress to take the lead in getting the administration’s message out. The result is that it often feels as if we have no president at all.

Yet the nation hasn’t quieted. On the contrary, the virtual wars that roiled the country over the previous four years have continued. The primary difference is that the president plays very little part in them. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. But it’s not especially encouraging either. Indeed, it points to deeper cultural and political changes that set the context for the presidency.

Beyond the desire to do the opposite of Trump, there are several strong arguments in favor of the president playing a smaller role in our politics. Treating the president like a monarch isn’t healthy for a democracy, so anything that reduces his role is good. A less prominent head of the executive branch might allow power to flow back to Congress or the states and away from the imperial presidency. A largely invisible president is less likely to whip up war hysteria.

Story continues:

Trump dismisses climate change, calls on Biden to fire joint chiefs

BY RACHEL FRAZIN – 06/10/21 12:36 PM EDT 1,3887,755Share to Facebook Share to Twitter  

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Former President Trump issued a statement Thursday dismissing the threat of climate change and saying that President Biden should fire the joint chiefs of staff if they view it as a big problem for the country.

The message from Trump, whose is still banned on Twitter, Facebook and other social media platforms, comes as Biden makes his first foreign trip as president to Europe.

Biden is expected to discuss climate change during the trip with other European leaders.

Trump repeatedly downplayed climate change during his presidency, calling it a hoax and working to remove regulations put into place by the Obama administration to reduce U.S. carbon emissions. Biden in his first week in office returned the U.S. to the Paris climate agreement that Trump had removed the nation from.

Trump’s emailed statement on Thursday also took Biden’s comments out of context.

“Biden just said that he was told by the Joint Chiefs of Staff that Climate Change is our greatest threat. If that is the case, and they actually said this, he ought to immediately fire the Joint Chiefs of Staff for being incompetent!” Trump said in a statement on Thursday. 

While the Joint Chiefs of Staff have repeatedly warned of the threat of climate change, Biden in his address Wednesday to American troops in the United Kingdom upon his arrival in Europe was referring to a warning the Joint Chiefs gave him at the start of his tenure as vice president.

“When I went over in the Tank in the Pentagon, when I first was elected vice president, with President Obama, the military sat us down to let us know what the greatest threats facing America were,” Biden said.

“And this is not a joke: You know what the Joint Chiefs told us the greatest threat facing America was? Global warming. Because there’ll be significant population movements, fights over land, millions of people leaving places because they’re literally sinking below the sea in Indonesia, because of the fights over what is arable land anymore,” he added. 

Those officials are no longer in office, as the current Joint Chiefs were appointed by Trump. 

The current chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Mark Milley, testified before Congress on Friday that climate change was a threat. 

“Climate change is a threat. Climate change has significant impact on military operations, and we have to take it into consideration,” he said. “Climate change is going to impact natural resources, for example. It’s going to impact increased instability in various parts of the world. It’s going to impact migrations and so on. And in addition to that, we have infrastructure challenges here at home, witness some of our hurricanes and stuff.

“But the president is looking at it at a much broader angle than I am. I’m looking at it from a strictly military standpoint. And from a strictly military standpoint, I’m putting China, Russia up there. That is not, however, in conflict with the acknowledgement that climate change or infrastructure or education systems — national security has a broad angle to it. I’m looking at it from a strictly military standard,” he added.

In response, Sen. Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.) said, “I just think it’s peculiar that the president would go to another continent and tell our service members there that the No. 1 threat is climate change, albeit a threat.”