December 13, 2017

Opposing Trump Court Rules Military Can Start Recruiting Transgenders After Jan 1

Transgender U.S. Army Capt. Jennifer Sims lifts her uniform 
during a July interview with The Associated Press in Beratzhausen
 near Regensburg, Germany.
Matthias Schrader/AP 
Following a federal court ruling, the Pentagon has confirmed it will allow openly transgender individuals to enlist in the military beginning Jan. 1. The Trump administration had resisted that deadline in court, seeking to have its ban on new transgender troops reinstated — but on Monday, Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly upheld an earlier decision to temporarily block President Trump's ban.
That ban has been under fire since it was issued in a presidential memorandum in August. It quickly drew several lawsuits, and two federal judges — including Kollar-Kotelly in October — moved to put it on hold while those cases were decided in the courts. As NPR's Camila Domonoske explained then, Kollar-Kotelly found "that trans members of the military have a strong case that the president's ban would violate their Fifth Amendment rights."
The administration appealed that ruling, seeking to implement its ban during the pending court cases, only to see the appeal denied by Kollar-Kotelly on Monday.
Later on Monday, a third judge issued a ruling blocking the president's ban on transgender recruits. U.S. District Court Judge Marsha Pechman ruled in Seattle in the case of a soldier based in Washington state and two men who hope to enlist.
In her decision, she noted that she was "not convinced by the vague claims" that the Jan. 1 deadline needed to be delayed. At the same time, she reiterated her October argument that trans service members have a strong case and questioned the administration's "portrayal of their situation as an emergency," considering more than three weeks passed before it filed the appeal.
"If complying with the military's previously established January 1, 2018 deadline to begin accession was as unmanageable as Defendants now suggest, one would have expected Defendants to act with more alacrity," she added in the final line of her decision. The Department of Defense has announced it will comply with the order to allow transgender recruits — but in a statement Monday, the department made clear that it is doing so reluctantly.
"This policy will be implemented while the Department of Justice appeals those court orders," a Pentagon spokesperson said in the statement, adding: "DoD and the Department of Justice are actively pursuing relief from those court orders in order to allow an ongoing policy review scheduled to be completed before the end of March."
White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said the Justice Department is also "reviewing legal options" to ensure that the president's directive can be implemented.
Kollar-Kotelly's ruling marks a new step in a twisting legal drama that promises to continue for some time — and traces its origins to an Obama-era policy announced 18 months ago.
In June 2016, then-Defense Secretary Ash Carter announced the Pentagon would be lifting a long-running ban on openly transgender service members. As part of that announcement, a one-year deadline was set for the military to begin admitting new transgender troops. But before that deadline could take effect earlier this year, it was quietly extended by six months — to Jan. 1, 2018.
Then, this past July, Trump tweeted that "the United States Government will not accept or allow transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S. Military." He later issued an official presidential memo, slightly dialing back the severity suggested in his tweet: That order prohibited the enlistment of new troops who are openly transgender, halted the use of federal funds for sex reassignment surgeries, and left it to his defense secretary to decide whether to expel trans troops who are currently serving.
Secretary Jim Mattis announced just days later that current trans troops could remain in the military "in the interim."
Now, under the injunction that was upheld Monday, new trans troops can enlist, as well — at least temporarily as long as the lawsuits against Trump's ban are still pending, and perhaps permanently, if those lawsuits are successful.
"Today's announcements — both by the court and the Pentagon — signal that there is an awareness that it's not right to make military policy by tweets," Aaron Belkin, director of the Palm Center, which works on LGBT issues in the military, tells NPR's Greg Myre. "And when there's a deliberate process of study, then that process should be respected and implemented."

Reporter Who Got Scaramucchi Gets Fired by NYorker For Sexual Misconduct

 Ryan Lizza (Neilson Barnard / Getty Images)

Ryan Lizza, the prominent Washington correspondent for the New Yorker whose reporting earlier this year led to the ouster of President Trump's communications director, has been fired for sexual misconduct.
The New Yorker on Monday announced the firing of Lizza in a statement, saying it had recently learned Lizza "engaged in what we believe was improper sexual conduct."
"We have reviewed the matter and, as a result, have severed ties with Lizza," it continued.
Lizza also provided commentary for CNN, which issued a statement moments after the New Yorker announcement, saying the network was suspending Lizza "while we look into this matter."
In an email to BuzzFeed News, Lizza denied the accusations, saying he was "dismayed that the New Yorker has decided to characterize a respectful relationship with a woman I dated as somehow inappropriate."
"The New Yorker was unable to cite any company policy that was violated," he continued. "I am sorry to my friends, workplace colleagues, and loved ones for any embarrassment this episode may cause. I love the New Yorker, my home for the last decade, and I have the highest regard for the people who work there. But this decision, which was made hastily and without a full investigation of the relevant facts, was a terrible mistake."
Following the firing, law firm Wigdor LLP said it was representing an accuser and that "in no way did Mr. Lizza's misconduct constitute a 'respectful relationship' as he has now tried to characterize it."
Lizza has covered politics for years but gained particular prominence earlier this year when Anthony Scaramucci — who at the time was President Trump's communications director — called him to rant about leaks at the White House and other members of the administration. During the call, Scaramucci infamously said that he was not "trying to suck my own cock" like then–senior White House counselor Steve Bannon.
Scaramucci was ousted four days after the publication of Lizza's story about the phone call.
Lizza's firing comes amid a major reckoning within the media, politics, and entertainment industries over sexual harassment. Beginning with allegations against film mogul Harvey Weinstein in October, there has been a nearly continuous series of reports about powerful men accused of sexual assault, rape, and other forms of harassment. Other journalists fired or suspended over allegations of improper sexual behavior include Charlie Rose, Matt Lauer, and Glenn Thrush.
Media figures have also come under particular scrutiny thanks to the "shitty media men" list, which began as a privately circulated documented that included men's names along with anonymous accusations against them.
Jim Dalrymple II

Research on How The Body Makes a Gay Baby

Gay men have, on average, a greater number of older brothers compared with their heterosexual counterparts. 

The pattern referred to as the fraternal birth order effect, isn’t new to scientists, but researchers from Canada’s Brock University, the University of Toronto and from Harvard Medical School now believe they have a biological explanation.

According to the study, published in the journal PNAS Monday, maternal antibodies in the womb may play a role in the process. 

Researchers believe that when a woman gets pregnant with her first boy, a protein linked to the male Y chromosome (which is only produced in males) enters her bloodstream.

Her body then creates antibodies, because it recognizes the protein as a foreign substance.

With every male baby, the woman has, the build-up of antibodies increases. At high concentrations, it’s possible that the antibodies enter the brain of the second male fetus. 

"That may alter the functions in the brain, changing the direction of how the male fetus may later develop their sense of attraction," study author Anthony Bogaert of Canada’s Brock University, told CNN.

To test this, the scientists collected blood samples from 142 pregnant women and tested them for antibodies to the brain protein known as NLGN4Y (also only produced in males). 

Here’s what they found:

*Mothers of homosexual sons with older male siblings had the most increased concentrations of antibodies against the protein.

*Mothers of homosexual sons with no older male siblings had the second-most increased levels of antibodies against the protein.

*Mothers of heterosexual sons had lower levels of the antibodies.

*Mothers without sons had the lowest level of the antibodies.

Bogaert and his team have been exploring the subject for more than 20 years and have found the pattern exists across cultures.

In a research project 10 years ago, his team of psychologists and immunologists tested antibody reactivity to two male-only proteins in 16 women without sons, 72 mothers with heterosexual sons, 31 mothers with gay sons and no older brothers, 23 mothers of gay sons with older brothers, and a control group of 12 men.

That research showed the immune response to the proteins and found that mothers of gay sons, especially those with older brothers, had significantly higher concentrations of the antibody than the other women. 

But psychologists warned that the effects were modest and even if a male child has multiple male siblings, the likelihood of that child being gay is still small. 

"The implications of this [new] study, especially if and when it is replicated by an independent team, are profound," Bogaert said in a university news release. "Along with more deeply understanding the exact origin of the older brother effect, it helps solidify the idea that, at least in men, there's a strong biological basis to sexual orientation” and “adds to the growing scientific consensus that homosexuality is not a choice, but rather an innate predisposition.”

But, he added, though the research is getting closer to finding a mechanism, “I wouldn’t say we’ve solved the fraternal birth order effect puzzle.”

December 12, 2017

AL Moore Voters Thought as 'Scandalous' For an LGBT Float to Ride Down The Street

Alabamans will decide today whether to elect Republican candidate Roy Moore to the Senate. The conservative, who is currently battling sexual assault accusations from multiple women, has been an outspoken opponent of LGBTQ rights.

In 2016, Moore was suspended from his position as Alabama chief justice for telling probate judges to defy federal orders regarding same-sex marriage. He has also opposed transgender rights.

“There’s no right to believe you are a person of the opposite sex or opposite gender,” Moore said at a community center in Henagar, Alabama, in November.

His campaign has some LGBTQ advocates in the state concerned but not deterred.
“There’s no sin in sexuality,” said Megan Henry, an LGBTQ ally who has lived in Alabama for 20 years. “That’s an argument down here, and that also goes along with what’s happening in our political climate with Roy Moore.”

Henry, 39, is a board member with Pride on the Plains, an LGBTQ group in Opelika, Alabama. Still, in its inaugural year, the group applied in October to sponsor a gay pride-themed float in the town’s annual Christmas parade. It would be the first float of its kind in the parade’s-20 year history.

Soon after the group announced it would sponsor the float, a firestorm erupted on social media, according to Henry. Some residents, she explained, were unhappy the float would be included in the family-friendly event because it would feature a drag queen.

“It’s terrifying,” she said. “The same people who are upset with what we’re doing are the same people that are going to vote Roy Moore to the Senate.”

The Opelika Chamber of Commerce, a nonprofit group that organized the parade, received multiple angry phone calls from residents over the float.

“We got folks that thought they shouldn’t have an entry in our parade because it is a Christmas parade, and they did not personally agree with that,” said chamber president Pam Powers-Smith. She said she informed the callers that the chamber does not discriminate against any group.

From left above, Drew Garbe, Ethan Burt (board member in Black shirt), Seth McCollough ( treasurer in redshirt), Timothy Peacock (board member), Bryant Stokes (vocalist), Katie Denney (vocalist), Megan Henry (board member), Aaron Spraggins (board member in green shirt), Chad Peacock (president), Addison Vontrell/Drew Fitch Miss Pride on the Plains. This pic represents the board members and talent that attended the Opelika Christmas parade. Courtesy Pride On The Plains 
For Michael Thomason, who lives and grew up in the neighboring town of Auburn, it was a welcoming sight. The 60-year-old said he never imagined he would march in a Christmas parade as an out gay man.

“I actually teared up two or three times, because never in my life did I think I could actually walk in a parade and wave a rainbow flag and everybody knowing that I’m gay,” Thomason told NBC News. “It was just a wonderful feeling, and I really was actually shocked at how it hit me.

Thomason had his reservations about marching that day. He was aware some locals had been posting negative comments on social media. But the crowd, to his surprise, was mostly cheerful.

“The only person that stood out to me was this one woman,” he recalled. “Once she saw us and realized we were a gay organization, she turned her back to us.”

As Thomason walked along the parade route in a leopard-print Santa Claus hat, he greeted parade-goers with “Merry Christmas.” Most people, he recalled, said it right back. He noticed a man and a woman standing on a balcony. As the float passed underneath, the couple unraveled a rainbow flag. At that moment, Thomason recalled, the crowd erupted in applause.

“Just a recognition and acceptance from the people is what really what made me feel really good,” he said.


Thomason said Auburn has become more accepting of its LGBTQ neighbors over the years. When he was a teenager, people knew he was gay, he said, but he couldn’t talk about it. He said he had to drive hours away to Montgomery or Atlanta to find a gay bar. Now, Auburn has a gay bar of its own.

Despite some progress, Thomason has his concerns.

“I’ve never really been scared until recently,” he said, citing the 2016 election of President Donald Trump and Moore’s race for the Senate.

“I thought we were on a really good trajectory, but every now and then it makes me take pause and stand back and think, ‘Well, have we really accomplished anything?’” Thomason added. 

"They want to let businesses put signs that say ‘We don’t serve gays.’ That carries you back to the ‘60s where [businesses had signs that said] ‘We don’t serve colored folks,’ you know? It’s just mind-boggling seeing it, but I never thought we’d get this way again.”


Henry started getting nervous in the days leading up to the parade. She said, “there were some really hateful things on social media.” Some residents, she said, were acting like the pride float was more than just a float. “It seemed to be a symbol for change that some Alabamans weren’t ready to accept,” she said.

“When I got in that truck, I did have some trepidation,” Henry recalled. But as the rainbow-emblemed float wound its way throughout the old railroad town, spectators greeted it with applause and cheers of “Merry Christmas,” she said. Then, as the procession made its way over a hill, she spotted a couple unraveling a rainbow flag from the balcony of a two-story wrought iron building. It was the same flag Thomason had seen.

“It felt like everything!” Henry said. “Oh, it was like the moment. Everybody in the community that came to the parade was there spreading love and everyone cheered and no one booed, and it was beautiful.”

At one point, she said, the parade passed a local courthouse, where Lee County Probate Judge Bill English refused to issue marriage licenses to gay couples in 2015. He was following orders from Moore, the then-Alabama Supreme Court Justice.

“When we went past his office, it felt pretty good," Henry said.


Alabama is one of 28 states that does not have laws prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, and is one of 32 states that does not protect against discrimination on the basis of gender identity or presentation. White evangelical Christians — many of whom oppose same-sex marriage — are a dominant political force in the red state.

The cities of Opelika and Auburn, located in Lee County, revolve around the University of Auburn, where Apple CEO and openly gay businessman Tim Cook graduated in 1982. Henry said the area is a stepping stone toward LGBTQ equality in Alabama.

“We’re more progressive than the rest of the state,” she explained.

Despite its progressiveness, Auburn scores four points out of 100 on the Human Rights Campaign Municipal Equality Index. The index measures municipalities on “their non-discrimination laws, the municipality as an employer, municipal services, law enforcement and the city leadership's public position on equality.”

But the town is making strides, according to Henry. City officials, including the mayors of both Opelika and Auburn, she said, are working with Pride on the Plains. The real challenge isn’t political, Henry insisted: It’s cultural.

“The more literally out physically we are in participating in community events, people are going to realize, ‘Wow, this is your music teacher, this is your banker, this is just your friend, your daughter,’ and hopefully we can just change hearts and minds.”

Henry said the LGBTQ community also faces “a lot of religious ideology,” which she said plays a “huge part in politics in the South.” She said she will vote for Moore’s opponent, Doug Jones, on Tuesday.

In a statement on his campaign website, Jones said he “will work for the betterment of all of the people of Alabama without regard for partisan politics.” The site mentions civil rights as one of Jones' priorities, though it does not specify LGBTQ rights. But in a YouTube video, the Democrat can be heard speaking against the Trump Administration’s controversial ban on transgender soldiers in the military.

Henry said she isn’t sure if Jones will be a vanguard on LGBTQ rights, but she thinks he will be “100 percent” better than Moore on the issue.

“I don’t think he’s going to take us backward,” Henry said. “Roy Moore will take our country backward if he can.”

Moore has, after all, insisted "homosexual conduct should be illegal" on more than one occasion — and as recently as 2015.

The Log Cabin Republicans, a conservative group that advocates for LGBTQ rights, released an advertisement on December 1 urging Christians not to vote for the Republican.

“This election is about more than 'LGBT issues' — this is about a man who, even prior to the allegations of sexual assault, waged and will continue to wage an all-out war on the humanity of LGBT Americans,” Log Cabin Republican president Gregory T. Angelo said in an email to NBC News. “Roy Moore has made a career of it in Alabama, and if he is elected he will take his bigotry national.”


Drew Garbe, a 22-year-old transgender man who participated in the parade, grew up in Opelika. He said Alabama has been slow to embrace progress.

“There are a lot of things that are different from 30 years ago,” he said, “but the one thing that isn’t different is how LGBT people get treated.”

Garbe, who starred as the float’s drag king, said he had concerns after seeing negative comments on social media.

“But once we got there and we got rolling, and people started clapping for us and standing up cheering for us, I mean, I almost cried, and I don’t cry,” he said. “People stood up, and they were clapping and yelling for us, and somebody even dropped a gay pride flag from their balcony for us, and the fact that he even took the time to do that is astounding.”

Garbe said the float brought visibility to his corner of Alabama. “I’m hoping this brings more inclusivity and people realize they’re not so different from us,” he said. 

A manager at a local movie theater, Garbe came out as transgender his freshman year of college and began his medical transition in 2016. It scared him, he said, because so many people in Opelika know him. It’s not uncommon to run into old acquaintances at the gas station or the grocery store, he said.

“People have been pretty accepting of the fact that I’m trans,” he said. “A lot of people actually, they ask me a lot of questions, which I don’t mind at all.”

Garbe said he will cast his vote for Jones on Tuesday. He is optimistic LGBTQ rights will prevail in the state regardless of who wins, he said, recalling the families who showed up to the parade.

Some of the kids, he remembered, were waving rainbow flags.

“The way the kids looked at us and smiled and cheered and everything for us,” Garbe said, “it just gives me hope for the future.”

NBC News reached out to the campaigns of Jones and Moore, but they could not be reached for comment.

by Julie Compton 

"President Trump Kept Kissing Me" In Trump Tower

Three women who publicly accused Donald Trump of sexual misconduct have spoken out once again, hoping their stories would make a difference in light of the #MeToo movement, which has led to several powerful men being held accountable after facing multiple allegations of sexual harassment.
"It was heartbreaking last year," Samantha Holvey told NBC News host Megyn Kelly on Monday. Holvey who represented North Carolina at the 2006 Miss USA pageant, has said Trump would come and personally inspect her and the other contestants before the competition.

"We're private citizens, and for us to put ourselves out there to try and show America who this man is and especially how he views women, and for them to say 'meh, we don't care,' it hurts," Holvey said. "And so now it's just like, alright, let's try round two. The environment's different. Let's try again." 
Holvey described her alleged encounters with Trump to Kelly, saying he used to look at her "like I was just piece of meat." 
"The first interaction with Trump is that he lined all of us up and he goes down – and I thought this was going to be a meet and greet, like, ‘Hi, how are you? It’s nice to meet you,’ and it was not," Holvey, who was 20 at the time of the pageant, said.

"It was just looking me over like I was just a piece of meat, I was not a human being, I didn’t have a brain, I didn’t have a personality, I was just simply there for his pleasure. It left me feeling very gross, very dirty, this is not what I signed up for."

She said Trump also walked in backstage to the hair and makeup area, where the contestants were only wearing robes. "He comes in like he owns the place and like he owns you," Holvey said. "He was looking at us, eyeing us up and down."
Holvey, Jessica Leeds, and Rachel Crooks, who appeared together on Kelly's show, are three of at least 16 who have accused Trump of sexual harassment dating back three decades, with allegations that range from groping and unwanted kissing to making lewd propositions.
Trump has repeatedly rejected these claims, dismissing his accusers as liars and denying that he has ever been inappropriate with women, despite a bombshell 2005 Access Hollywood tape in which he can be heard bragging about kissing women and grabbing them "by the pussy." Although the president initially apologized for those remarks, calling it "locker room talk," he has recently suggested that it is not actually his voice on the tape.

In a statement to Kelly on Monday, the White House once again labeled the allegations as "false claims," saying, "The timing and absurdity of these false claims speak volumes and the publicity tour that has begun only further confirms the political motives behind them."

Crooks told Kelly the White House response was "laughable."

Crooks, whose account was published in the New York Times last October, said she first encountered Trump in 2005 when she was 22 years old and working as a receptionist for a development company with offices in New York City's Trump Tower.

Recounting her story on Monday, Crooks told Kelly she decided to introduce herself to Trump while he was waiting for the elevator.

"He shook my hand and his kind of gave me the normal double-cheek kiss but then he held onto my hand and he kept kissing me," Crooks said. "He kept asking me maybe a question, 'Where you from?' Kissing me again, and again. It was right outside the elevators, right outside my office. I don’t know how many times back and forth, multiple, and then he kissed me on the lips. It happened so fast."
Trump told the Times that the incident described by Crooks never took place. Crooks told Kelly she was "shocked and devastated" after the alleged encounter. She said she ran back to her office while Trump got on the elevator. She said she called her sister and told her, "I don't know what just happened, but I felt horrible." 
She said that a few days later, Trump came into her office and asked her for her phone number. "I remember saying, 'What do you need that for?'" Crooks told Kelly. She said he told her he was going to give it to his modeling agency and have them call her. "But of course, I never heard from anyone," Crooks said.

"I was so uncomfortable and a little threatened, like I didn't have a choice in agreeing to do that," she said. "You feel like you have to say yes. You don't want to be the nasty girl, the mean girl who doesn't comply and who puts up a fight. I wish I had been stronger."

Leeds, who first went public with her accusations to the New York Times less than a month before the presidential election, told Kelly she encountered Trump while she was on an airplane from Dallas or Atlanta in the 1970s.

Before the story was published, Trump had told the Times that "none of this ever took place," and began shouting at the reporter who was questioning him. He has continued to deny Leeds' allegation. Leeds told Kelly that the stewardess asked her if she wanted to come up to first class and she agreed. Leeds said she was seated next to Trump, but at the time, she didn't know who he was.

"They served a meal and after the meal was cleared, all of a sudden he was all over me," Leeds said. "Kissing and groping and groping and kissing. And believe me my memory of it was that nothing was was just this silent groping going on."

She had previously told the Times that Trump "was like an octopus" and, "His hands were everywhere."

Leeds said that she wondered why the man sitting across the aisle from her or the stewardess did not come to her rescue.

"His hand started going up my skirt," Leeds said. "I’m not a small person. I managed to wiggle out and stand up, grabbed my purse and I went back to the airplane."

She said that a few years later she bumped intro Trump and his first wife Ivana Trump at a fundraising gala in New York City.

She said that while she was handing out his table assignment at the gala, Trump told her, "I remember you. You were that....woman from the airplane," Leeds said, adding that he called her "the worst name ever." Kelly confirmed that it was the c-word.
At a press conference hosted by Brave New Films in New York City on Monday, the three women shared their stories again and called for Congress to investigate the president for sexual harassment.

"If they were willing to investigate Sen. Franken, it's only fair they do the same for Trump," Crooks said at the conference.

We Are Loosing the Conservation Efforts to Protect Whales{Canberra Hides Japanese Whaling Video}

 Images of a Japanese whaling operation(above) have been released after a five-year legal battle.
Australian customs officials filmed the footage in 2008 but Canberra tried to suppress the pictures saying they could harm relations with Tokyo.
The Australian government was forced to release them after a prolonged Freedom of Information bid by anti-whaling group Sea Shepherd.
International Business Times

North Atlantic right whales are facing a severe threat of extinction after this year saw the death of 17 of the species, leaving their numbers dwindling at around 450 individuals in the wild.
Given the situation, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is set to watch their migration down south along the Atlantic coast and has cautioned fishermen and boats in the region to steer clear of them. 
But, NOAA scientists warned the species is already under severe threat and extinction could be a very real possibility.
In a November report, the organization said the deaths of right whales in American and Canadian waters was a blow to the already declining numbers; this prompted a meeting of officials on last Tuesday to discuss the future of the species.
The meeting of the regulatory New England Fishery Management Council saw officials discuss the possibility of extinction.
According to them, 2017 marked a year of high mortality and it also coincided with a year of poor reproduction, which left only about 100 breeding female North Atlantic right whales.
RightWhaleDaytonaBeachTangled_Dec2010_NOAA_2_take2A tangled right whale being released near Daytona Beach Photo: NOAA
"We are very concerned about the future of North Atlantic right whales," said Barb Zoodsma, a right whale biologist for NOAA Fisheries, in an NOAA media release in November.
"We lost 16 right whales in U.S. and Canadian waters this year. This is troubling for a population of about 450, particularly because we estimate that only about 105 of those are breeding females who are producing fewer calves.”
The meeting saw a reinforcement of the need to control vessel-strikes and entanglements in fishing gear, seen as a major cause of death in right whales.
Current restrictions include rules on where and how traps, pot gear, and gillnet gear can be set. These restrictions also include seasonal closures, said the report.
This is because the right whales travel more than 1,000 miles from their feeding grounds off Canada and New England to the warm coastal waters of South Carolina, Georgia and Florida's east coast every winter.
DeadRightWhale_Canada_webA dead whale in Canada found in 2017 Photo: NOAA
Tom Pitchford, the wildlife biologist for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, said in the report that "any disturbance could affect behaviors critical to the health and survival of the species.”
study published in the Endangered Species Journal in November said that stress hormone level in right whales is a major cause of death. Spike in stress hormones was seen in both whales that died from are entangled and those that died in swift vessel-strikes.
Even in whales that survived fishing accidents, the stress hormone levels eventually affect their numbers by impacting their ability to reproduce.  
"The current status of the right whales is a critical situation, and using our available resources to recover right whales is of high importance and high urgency," said Mark Murray-Brown, an Endangered Species Act consultant with NOAA, in the release.
According to an analysis by the Anderson Cabot Center in the same study, 83 percent of all North Atlantic right whales have been entangled at least once in fishing gear, with more than half of them experiencing more than one entangling.
NOAA Fisheries, the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and the U.S. Coast Guard have issued collective reminders to boaters and coastal residents that North Atlantic right whale birthing season begins in mid-November and runs until mid-April and that boaters keep their vessels at a minimum 1,500 feet distance from the whales.
Vessels 65 feet or longer are required to slow to 10 knots or less in certain areas along the East Coast during this period.
Another study from the New England Aquarium has questioned current conservation efforts and their effectiveness. The paper says that there is no evidence that these regulations are reducing mortality rates of right whales.


"Social Media is Ripping the Country Apart" Former FaceBook Exec

Another former Facebook executive has spoken out about the harm the social network is doing to civil society around the world. Chamath Palihapitiya, who joined Facebook in 2007 and became its vice president for user growth, said he feels “tremendous guilt” about the company he helped make. “I think we have created tools that are ripping apart the social fabric of how society works,” he told an audience at Stanford Graduate School of Business, before recommending people take a “hard break” from social media.

Palihapitiya’s criticisms were aimed not only at Facebook, but the wider online ecosystem. “The short-term, dopamine-driven feedback loops we’ve created are destroying how society works,” he said, referring to online interactions driven by “hearts, likes, thumbs-up.” “No civil discourse, no cooperation; misinformation, mistruth. And it’s not an American problem — this is not about Russians ads. This is a global problem.”

He went on to describe an incident in India where hoax messages about kidnappings shared on WhatsApp led to the lynching of seven innocent people. “That’s what we’re dealing with,” said Palihapitiya. “And imagine taking that to the extreme, where bad actors can now manipulate large swathes of people to do anything you want. It’s just a really, really bad state of affairs.” He says he tries to use Facebook as little as possible, and that his children “aren’t allowed to use that shit.” He later adds, though, that he believes the company “overwhelmingly does good in the world.”

Palihapitiya’s remarks follow similar statements of contrition from others who helped build Facebook into the powerful corporation it is today. In November, early investor Sean Parker said he has become a “conscientious objector” to social media, and that Facebook and others had succeeded by “exploiting a vulnerability in human psychology.” A former product manager at the company, Antonio Garcia-Martinez, has said Facebook lies about its ability to influence individuals based on the data it collects on them and wrote a book, Chaos Monkeys, about his work at the firm.

These former employees have all spoken out at a time when worry about Facebook’s power is reaching fever pitch. In the past year, concerns about the company’s role in the US election and its capacity to amplify fake news have grown, while other reports have focused on how the social media site has been implicated in atrocities like the “ethnic cleansing” of Myanmar’s Rohingya ethnic group.

In his talk, Palihapitiya criticized not only Facebook but Silicon Valley’s entire system of venture capital funding. He said that investors pump money into “shitty, useless, idiotic companies,” rather than addressing real problems like climate change and disease. Palihapitiya currently runs his own VC firm, Social Capital, which focuses on funding companies in sectors like healthcare and education.

Palihapitiya also notes that although tech investors seem almighty, they’ve achieved their power more through luck than skill. “Everybody’s bullshitting,” he said. “If you’re in a seat, and you have good deal flow, and you have precious capital, and there’s a massive tailwind of technological change ... Over time you get one of the 20 [companies that become successful] and you look like a genius. And nobody wants to admit that but that’s the fucking truth.”

December 11, 2017

UN Amb.Nikki Haley Says Women Accusing Trump Should be heard

Nikki R. Haley, the United States ambassador to the United Nations, last week. “I think any woman who has felt violated or felt mistreated in any way, they have every right to speak up,” Ms. Haley said on CBS’s “Face the Nation.” CreditBrendan Mcdermid/Reuters 
WASHINGTON — Nikki R. Haley, the American ambassador to the United Nations, said on Sunday that women who have accused President Trump of sexual misconduct “should be heard,” a surprising break from the administration’s longstanding assertion that the allegations are false and that voters rightly dismissed them when they elected Mr. Trump.
Ms. Haley, a former governor and one of the highest-ranking women in Mr. Trump’s administration, refocused attention on the allegations against the president by insisting that his accusers should be treated no differently than the scores of women who have come forward in recent weeks with stories of sexual harassment and misconduct against other men.
“They should be heard, and they should be dealt with,” Ms. Haley said on CBS’s “Face the Nation.” “And I think we heard from them prior to the election. And I think any woman who has felt violated or felt mistreated in any way, they have every right to speak up.”
Her remarks are the latest indication that the president’s behavior toward women — more than a dozen have accused him of unwanted touching, forcible kissing or groping — may not escape renewed scrutiny at a time when an array of powerful men have had their careers derailed because of their improper treatment of women, some of which took place decades ago.
The #MeToo movement has engulfed prominent members of both political parties. Democrats have appeared determined to grab the moral and political high ground, largely forcing their accused party members to resign. Republicans have been more divided: Even as some accused members have stepped down, the party has largely stood by Mr. Trump. And it remains bitterly split over how to respond to the case of Roy S. Moore, the Republican Senate candidate in Alabama who has been accused of molesting an underage girl and attempting to date other teenagers when he was in his 30s.
Some of the women who first accused Mr. Trump during the campaign last year have expressed a renewed desire to press their case. Three of them will be interviewed by Megyn Kelly on NBC’s “Today” show on Monday.
So far, though, the upheaval in societal norms about sexual conduct in the workplace has swirled around the president but left him largely unscathed.
Undaunted, the president has used Twitter to mock other men who have been accused, including Senator Al Franken, Democrat of Minnesota, who announced his plans to resign after several harassment allegations. Mr. Trump has defended and endorsed Mr. Moore, calling the claims against him “troubling” but insisting that he is needed in the Senate to advance the Republican agenda.
Through it all, the White House has repeatedly sought to deflect and discredit any attempt to revisit the “Access Hollywood” tape, in which Mr. Trump crudely bragged about kissing women and grabbing their private parts, or to examine again the allegations from the women who came forward weeks before the 2016 election to accuse Mr. Trump of crude sexual behavior.
In recent months, Mr. Trump has privately been casting doubt that the “Access Hollywood” tape is authentic, despite publicly acknowledging shortly after its release in October 2016 that “I said it, I was wrong, and I apologize.” 
And he has steadfastly denied all of the women’s accusations, calling them “made-up stuff” and “totally fake news.” Asked about the sexual misconduct accusations against the president and whether the women were lying, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the White House press secretary, said that they were and that “the president addressed the comments back during the campaign.”
Still, Mr. Trump may not have the luxury of waving aside the allegations against him forever as the maelstrom of sexual misconduct complaints that has toppled the careers of politicians, media figures and business executives grows.
In the new and less forgiving environment, Juliet Huddy, a former Fox News anchor, came forward last week to accuse Mr. Trump of having kissed her on the lips when they were riding in an elevator in 2011. Ms. Huddy said she did not feel offended or threatened, but said she had matured and now would have rejected his affections.
“He went to say goodbye and he, rather than kiss me on the cheek, he leaned in on the lips,” Ms. Huddy said last week on the “Mornin’!!! With Bill Schulz” podcast. Ms. Huddy, who formerly worked as a host on “Fox & Friends,” has also accused Bill O’Reilly, the former Fox News host, of sexually harassing her.
One woman who had previously made allegations against the president, Summer Zervos, a former contestant on Mr. Trump’s show “The Apprentice,” has filed a lawsuit against him, claiming that Mr. Trump and his associates defamed her by dismissing her account, and those of other women, as “lies” and “nonsense.” The lawsuit, if it is allowed to move forward, could provide a legal forum for other women to repeat their allegations.
Among those who could be given a new platform to lodge accusations against the president is Temple Taggart, who claimed that when she was competing in the Miss USA pageant in 1997, Mr. Trump kissed her on the mouth. She expressed dismay recently that her accusations against the president did not have more political effect last year.
“With Trump, it was all brushed under the rug,” Ms. Taggart said.
Jessica Leeds, who last year accused Mr. Trump of grabbing her breasts and trying to put his hand up her skirt, said recently that she would be happy to tell her story under oath as part of Ms. Zervos’s lawsuit.
The president’s lawyers are seeking to have the lawsuit dismissed. But in the meantime, Ms. Haley’s remarks suggest that the political environment in Washington may be evolving.
In her first year, Ms. Haley has proved herself to be a valued and loyal member of the president’s cabinet, serving as a confidante on foreign policy issues, especially during the debate over whether to declare that Iran was no longer in compliance with the 2015 nuclear deal.
Viewed as a rising star in the Republican Party and a potential presidential candidate when she was governor of South Carolina, Ms. Haley was discussed as a possible replacement for Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson when it was thought that Mr. Trump might fire him. And her high-profile service as the nation’s top diplomat at the United Nations could help propel her if she decides to pursue a return to elective office.
But her comments on Sunday suggest she is also willing to depart from the approved White House script. Initially, Ms. Haley talked generally about women who come forward to accuse men of misconduct, saying that “women who accuse anyone should be heard.”
But she went on to specifically refer to the women who came forward in October last year to make allegations against Mr. Trump. Asked whether the election meant the allegations against the president should be a settled issue, Ms. Haley said that was for “the people” to decide.
“I know that he was elected,” she said. “But, you know, women should always feel comfortable coming forward. And we should all be willing to listen to them.”

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