In the ground and off the page: why we’re banning ads from fossil fuels extractors | Membership | The Guardian

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In a bid to reduce our carbon footprint, confront greenwashing and increase our focus on the climate crisis, the Guardian this week announced it will no longer run ads from fossil fuel extractors alongside any of its content in print or online. The move will come into immediate effect, and follows the announcement in October last year that we intend to reduce our net emissions to zero by 2030.

Once upon a time, a newspaper was a rather straightforward business. You generated enough material of interest to attract a significant number of readers. You then ‘sold’ those readers to advertisers happy to pay to get their ideas, products or brands in front of consumers with cash to spend.

Of course, digital disruption over the past 20 years has upended that model, but advertising remains an important part of the media business ecosystem. At the Guardian, it is still responsible for about two-fifths of our income.

But what happens when the readers don’t like the adverts? What do you do when the message that advertisers want to spread jars awkwardly with the work your journalists are doing?

What if your journalists are some of the best in the world at revealing and investigating the deepening climate catastrophe and the disaster that is fossil fuel growth, while some of your advertisers are the very people digging the stuff out of the ground?

This contradiction has bothered us – and some of you – for some time. We came up with a rather bold answer this week: turn away the money and double down on the journalism.

“It’s something we thought about for a long time,” says Anna Bateson, the interim chief executive officer of Guardian Media Group, the Guardian’s parent company. “We always felt it was in line with our editorial values but were cautious for commercial reasons.”

She said it was the logical next step after the Guardian committed last year to becoming carbon neutral by 2030 and was certified as a B Corp – a company that puts purpose before profit. But she added that the move had to be weighed carefully, given the fact that the Guardian only recently returned to breakeven after years in the red.

“You have to be careful you are not making cavalier decisions,” she said. “ We are still having to fight for our financial future. But because of the support we get from our readers, it is less of a risk.”

On the advertising side of our business, Adam Foley said there were no complaints at all that potential customers were suddenly off-limits, adding that staff felt that “being part of a company that shares their values” was the biggest motivation for his teams.

“A statement like this reaffirms to all of us that we’re contributing to a business that really lives those values – to the extent where it is prepared to sacrifice profit for purpose.”

The response from the wider world has been a pleasant surprise. Hundreds of you have written in, pledging your support, and in some cases, one-off contributions to start making up the shortfall. (EDS: See below – I’m going to append the best responses below. In print you can use as the panel)

The environmental movement was instantly appreciative, with activists quickly urging our peers to follow suit. “The Guardian will no longer accept advertising from oil and gas companies,” Greta Thunberg tweeted. “A good start, who will take this further?” Greenpeace called it “a huge moment in the battle against oil and gas for all of us.”

Some readers have been calling for the Guardian to go the whole hog and forsake advertising from any company with a substantial carbon footprint. Bateson said that was not realistic, adding that such a move would result in less money for journalism. She said the fossil fuel extractors were specifically targeted because of their efforts to skew the climate change debate through their lobbying effort.

“We are committed to advertising,” she said. “It will continue to be part of our future. We want advertisers who want to be appear alongside our high quality journalism.”

And how will we know if this has worked?
“We will listen to our readers, we will listen to our advertisers. The response so far has been gratifying. If we continue to hear positive noises from our readers and supporters, then it will have been a success.”




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Responses from our supporters

That is such a brilliant decision and it will be tough, but it is the correct one and I am very proud of The Guardian. Barbara Syer

Following the Guardian’s decision to ban ads from fossil fuel companies I’m making a monthly contribution to support its fearless journalism: reader support is essential for independent scrutiny of the powerful in business, finance and politics. Titus Alexander, Hertfordshire, England

I live at present in Canada, home to the Alberta Tar Sands: another name for ecological devastation resulting from fossil fuel extraction. I fully support The Guardian’s action in ceasing to be a vehicle for advertising by fossil fuel extractive companies, and I’m proud to be a supporter. My monthly donation is small, but when I can I will make it much greater. Rosemary Delnavine, Canada

Congratulations. At this time it may be a bold step, indeed, within this industry, but true leaders have to take bold steps for the betterment of the quality of life, and more importantly for the life of future generations. I applaud this decision, and will spread the word. Raphael Sulkovitz, Boston MA

What a bravery! This is what the life on earth needs, thank you. Karri Kuikka, Finland (EDS: please leave her wonderful Finglish intact!)

Keep it up. Here in Canada, we’re still trying to have it both ways — sell the product internationally but discourage buying domestically. As I recall, it was the same with tobacco. Eventually, it took a change in public opinion to solve the problem. As a news source, your efforts are part of this solution. Robert Shotton, Ottawa

I applaud your decision to”walk the talk.” I will therefore continue to contribute to The Guardian. Bob Wagenseil

Bravo yr decision to eschew $ from the FFI. Please do continue to hold to the fire(s) the feet of the deniers and the willfully ignorant. Sydney Alonso, Vermont, US

I am very happy to hear that good news. It’s quite courageous on your part, and I’m happy to support you! Have a great year ahead, you’ll have my continuous support! Julien Psomas

I completely support your plan to refuse ads from fossils, despite the
financial hit to the Guardian. I have made a donation to help out. David Thompson

A very commendable decision, very much in keeping with the Guardian’s position as leader of green issues to leave a better planet for following generations. Richard Vernon, Oxford

Yay! I’m so proud of the Guardian! We can no longer support or fund in any manner the fossil fuel industry if we have any chance of survival as a civilization on this planet. You’ve taken a courageous and moral step that will hopefully embolden others to join you. Good on you! Best, Carol Ross, Missouri, US

Good decision. I’ll support you as much as I can, which unfortunately is not much as I live on age pension only. Keep up the good work, we need it desperately! Ursula Brandt, South Australia

I am absolutely delighted by this decision. So many people pledge to do something about Climate Change, but few actually are willing to get uncomfortable and DO it. I am very proud of you as my favourite source of Information and this only makes a case for me to donate next time to you again. Christiane Gross

It was great reading what The Guardian is doing re the climate. As a Guardian on-line reader from The Netherlands I’m going to contribute monthly now instead of ‘now and again’. The amount will be relatively small as I do not have a great income. I really hope more of your supporters will do so, because it is really great what you are doing.
With kind regards, Aleida Oostendorp, Netherlands

I congratulate you and your team on taking this step regarding fossil fuel companies. The Guardian’s stance on the environment and its excellent coverage of related stories and events is the major reason for my support. Well done, and good luck in the future. Deirdre Moore

Love your new policy about accepting money from fossil fuels. Will contribute more to help make up for the shortfall. Todd Misk

I live on a fixed income with a strict budget so my continuing support of your excellent news organisation represents my commitment to the fight to address climate change. Every step counts. Barbara Hirsch, Texas, US

Only when we speak truth to power can change take place. thank yo for your courageous and expensive decision. Nancy Shepherd, Vermont, US

Love your journalism, especially your investigative work and the climate change topic. And with the bold statement about not receiving any more sponsorship from the fossil extracting companies? Well, the already great newspapers became even more impressive now. Keep up the good work. Miroslav Řezníček, Czech Republic

Thank you for taking the bold step of refusing advertising from fossil fuel extractive companies. I think it is the right thing to do & hope many more companies do the same. We must all work together if we want to save our planet. It is one of the most important issues of our times. Ginger Comstock, New York, US

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Fox’s MacCallum Gives Rand Paul Safe Space For Impeachment Trial Sabotage – NewsHounds

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After rejection by Chief Justice John Roberts and some of his own colleagues for trying to out the whistleblower in an impeachment trial question, Sen. Rand Paul ran to his safe space on Fox News. There, he freely sabotaged Trump’s impeachment with disinformation that was validated by “straight news” anchor Martha MacCallum.

Yesterday, Paul deliberately flouted Justice John Roberts’ impeachment trial rules by re-submitting a previously-denied question outing the Ukraine whistleblower. When it was refused again, Paul stalked out of the trial and publicly aired his question (and the alleged name of the whistleblower) to reporters and on Twitter.

MacCallum helped reveal the whistleblower’s name without actually doing so by suggesting viewers read Paul’s tweet: “Anybody who wants to hear the whole text of that question and the names that you included, it’s on your Twitter feed and you talked about it today and I would direct them there but I’d ask you not to say them here,” she said.

She continued by asking “why you feel it’s so important to focus on the origins of this investigation and to bring that point home.” Nice way to ignore the actual findings of the investigation, Martha!

MacCallum did not mention that Roberts had signaled he would not allow whistleblower outing before the question period began, nor did she mention that top Republicans were in accord.

Instead, MacCallum cocked her head with a look of intent listening, messaging that Paul’s comments were to be taken seriously – unlike the serious impeachment accusations against Donald Trump which she conveniently ignored.

Paul claimed his question did not name the whistleblower, thus contradicting Chief Justice Roberts. Politico explains that while Paul may not have technically outed the whistleblower, he “named a person referred to in conservative media as the purported whistleblower.” But MacCallum didn’t challenge Paul’s disingenuousness.

So, we got a stream of Democratic demonization, unquestioned. Paul claimed his question discussed “two Obama partisans who worked in the National Security Council” one of whom now supposedly works for Rep. Adam Schiff and “one of them is someone who is involved in the origins of the impeachment inquiry.”

MacCallum nodded in agreement.

Paul persisted with his claim that “there are stories and reports now that they, a few years ago, were heard saying, you know what? We’ve got to do everything we can to bring down the president, to take down the president.”

You may recall that Fox described MacCallum as the embodiment of “ultimate journalistic integrity and professionalism” when it pleaded with the DNC to hold a debate on the network. But “ultimate professional” MacCallum never bothered to ask Paul his source for that smear. Nor did she note that even if true, that does not disprove any of the evidence uncovered during the House impeachment investigation. No, Fox’s “ultimate professional” continued nodding as Paul promoted his unsubstantiated, pro-Trump propaganda deflection and whataboutism.

Paul went on with his conspiracy theory (and MacCallum continued nodding in agreement) about “six people who were Obama partisans who worked for the National Security Council who all are transmitting stuff back and forth and my question is, did they have discussions predating the official impeachment inquiry?” We also heard about House Manager Adam Schiff’s supposed dishonesty in the process but none about Trump’s dishonesty – and it’s Trump’s behavior that is on trial.

But MacCallum responded to Paul by saying that questions about the origin of the Ukraine investigation, just like those about the origin of the Russia investigation, “are certainly valid questions.” She called it “frustrating” that there’s no cross examination. But she wasn’t promoting the calling of any witnesses, oh no. She meant Paul had no opportunity to see Schiff “try to answer” Paul’s questions. She later “asked,” on behalf of “anybody at home who says, yeah, I’d like to know the answer to these questions, why doesn’t the Senate Judiciary Committee or the DOJ, someone, start to look into this, just as we saw happen with the origins of the Russia investigation? Is that gonna happen?”

“Maybe eventually,” Paul replied. He quickly segued to promoting himself as “a big defender of whistleblowers.” He claimed that the whistleblower is only protected from being fired so he or she should come forward (and death threats are A-OK).

And Rand Paul wouldn’t be a Republican if he didn’t play the victim. “I never identified anybody as a whistleblower,” he disingenuously reiterated. “That’s why it’s unfair to exclude my question.”

Finally, in the last minute of the 7:15 interview, MacCallum asked if Paul saw “anything wrong” with Trump’s Ukraine phone call and whether he saw it as “a request for a political favor?”

Paul falsely claimed that there was a lot of corruption and that Trump “would actually be going against the law if he didn’t investigate the Bidens” (i.e. hold up aid to Ukraine) and that Trump’s actions were “completely within compliance with the law.”

FACT CHECK: The Pentagon sent a letter to four congressional committees last May certifying that Ukraine had taken sufficient anti-corruption measures to warrant the release of aid. The Department of Defense announced in mid-June that it would release $250 million but the White House blocked that assistance in July.

FACT CHECK: Furthermore, the Government Accountability Office found that Trump violated the law by withholding the aid.

But “ultimate professional” MacCallum never mentioned any of that to her viewers.

You can watch MacCallum enable Paul’s gaslighting propaganda below, from the January 30, 2020 The Story.

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Pirates Inbox: Chris Archer, Chad Kuhl | Pittsburgh Pirates

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PITTSBURGH — The holiday break is over and the new year is upon us, which means it’s time to kick the Hot Stove talk to another level. While the Pirates finalize their roster with an eye on Opening Day, we’ll answer some of the questions you’ve sent to the Pirates Inbox.

The Pirates are short on great starting options, so the chance of this is small. But, say they trade or acquire a starter and Mitch Keller and Chad Kuhl look good. Any chance they could try Chris Archer as a late-inning reliever, possibly a closer if they trade Keone Kela? He seems to be his best as a two-pitch pitcher and he’s an emotional guy. It seems like he could be a great reliever.
–Jason D.

It’s an interesting question, and it may not take an additional starter to bump somebody out of the rotation on Opening Day. Take a look at their top options heading into the new year, and you can easily come up with six pitchers worth taking a long look at: Joe Musgrove, Trevor Williams, Archer, Keller, Steven Brault and Kuhl.

I think you’re on the right track with moving somebody to the bullpen, but I don’t think it’d be Archer. He’s 31 years old and hasn’t made a relief appearance since the 2013 American League Division Series. His value, when he’s right, is as a durable starter — and it would make sense for the Pirates to try to maximize that value while they can.

That’s true, by the way, whether he’s on the team or a potential trade candidate. If he’s with the Pirates, you’re hoping that a new pitching coach will help him get back to his 2013-17 form. If you’re Pirates management and you’re also viewing him as a trade asset down the line, you could probably get more out of him as the starter he used to be rather than as an experimental reliever.

I definitely agree with your point that Archer, as primarily a two-pitch guy who tends to play with more emotion than your average starter, might be an interesting back-end reliever at some point. That said, his biggest issues last year were walks and homers; being prone to either would immediately spell trouble for him out of the bullpen, and there’s no guarantee that moving to a relief role would fix those problems.

But I do think you’re on the right track with moving somebody to the bullpen. I’d be really curious to see if Kuhl could work his way into a late-inning role. When he spoke near the end of the season, for what it’s worth, he said he was preparing to come back as a starter.

But I’ve heard from more than one player who thinks Kuhl has closer stuff — a high-90s fastball with a bunch of offspeed offerings that he could sharpen, refine and use more selectively when he doesn’t have to turn over a lineup three times. It’d be interesting to see, at least.

The risk there is pretty obvious: Kuhl is coming off of Tommy John surgery, and he’s been a starter his entire life. How would his arm respond to throwing multiple days in a row? How careful would the Pirates have to be with a potentially important arm in their bullpen? Do they really want to risk sending him to the mound 50 times or more when he hasn’t pitched in a Major League game since June 2018?

On the other hand, moving Kuhl to the bullpen would naturally restrict his workload in terms of innings and pitches thrown. There would be no expectation that he’d have to throw more than 70 or so innings out of the bullpen, probably even fewer than that.

Outside of a few pitchers, the Pirates’ bullpen was a disaster last season. But it might be an interesting group with Kela, a healthy Edgar Santana and Nick Burdi, a bounce-back year from Kyle Crick, a more consistent Richard Rodriguez, a still-developing Michael Feliz and Clay Holmes, a long man like Chris Stratton and the potential addition of Kuhl.

Who was the player to be named later that the Pirates got from Philadelphia for Corey Dickerson?
–Bob K.

Turns out, there wasn’t one. The Trade Deadline deal was initially announced as Dickerson for $250,000 in international slot space and a player to be named later, but there was no player sent back to the Pirates.

The way the whole thing played out was strange. Every report out of Philadelphia at the time of the trade indicated there would be no player coming back, and everything I heard also signaled that the deal was just for additional international spending capacity. But for whatever reason, when the move went down, the announcement included a player to be named later … who was never named, even five months later.

After we talked at the Winter Meetings out in San Diego, my MLB.com colleague Todd Zolecki and I made one more push for information and only heard back that, “It was a cash deal.” It wouldn’t necessarily be unusual if that meant the Phillies sent the Pirates cash instead of a minor prospect; some trades allow for the final piece to be a PTBNL or cash. But that wasn’t mentioned in the initial announcement of the Dickerson deal, and there was no clarification as to whether that meant additional cash or just the international slot we already knew about.

It’s not like the Pirates gave away Dickerson for nothing — teams can turn $250,000 of international spending space into a good prospect or prospects — but I hope nobody was getting their hopes up about that PTBNL.

With a first-time manager, shouldn’t the Pirates have hired a more experienced bench coach to help with strategy? I love Donnie Kelly, but just wondering if it’s too much, too soon.
–Terry L., Pittsburgh

That’s usually how teams support a first-time manager, but I don’t know if it was necessary for Derek Shelton. For one, he’s a first-time manager, but he’s managed in the Minors, coached for more than a decade and spent two years as a very involved bench coach. It’s not like he’s jumping into the dugout with no relevant experience.

Second, Kelly spent the last year working closely with Astros manager AJ Hinch and bench coach Joe Espada. He was essentially training to be a bench coach, whether it was here, Houston or elsewhere. And in terms of in-game strategy, he spent most of his playing career thinking along with the manager. He’s prepared.

There is also experience elsewhere on the coaching staff, primarily in the form of third-base coach Joey Cora. He served as a Minor League manager as well as a big league bench coach and interim manager in the Majors before joining Pittsburgh’s staff. You’ll just about always find Cora on the top step of the dugout, closely following the game. He’ll help, too.

Adam Berry has covered the Pirates for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook and read his blog.

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2020 Budget, Trump’s impeachment, Uwajumogu’s death, Adoke’s arrest, others topped this week news

It’s been such a busy week with so many stories. It’s possible that you may have missed some of our most interesting stories from this week.

The 2020 Budget, Trump’s impeachment, Orji Kalu’s dilemma, Uwajumogu’s death, Adoke’s arrest and others topped this week news trend.

To make sure you’re up-to-date, The Nation brings you a brief round-up of the major stories this week in case you missed the mark. ALAO ABIODUN reports.

Here is a roundup of the major political news stories this week below –

Donald Trump impeached by U.S House of Reps

The U.S. President, Donald Trump, has been impeached by the country’s House of Representatives.

The house voted late Wednesday to impeach the president on his 1,062nd day in office for alleged obstruction of Congress and abuse of power related to his dealings with Ukraine.

A trial will now be set up in the Senate to decide whether he remains in office.

Mr Trump is only the third U.S. President to face such trial and if the odds go against him, he will become the first to be removed from office via the impeachment process.

After several hours of heated dispute on the House floor between two leading parties in the U.S – Democrats and Republicans – the lawmakers voted largely along party lines.

The proceedings on Wednesday began with members of Mr Trump’s Republican Party calling for votes on procedural issues in an effort to frustrate the process.

Democrats control the House 233 to 197 seats over Republicans, with one independent and four vacancies.

According to the Washington post, the Democratic-controlled House passed two articles of impeachment against Trump — abuse of power and obstruction of Congress — related to the president’s attempts to withhold military aid to Ukraine and pressure its government to investigate former vice president Joe Biden.

Mr Biden is a potential presidential candidate of the Democratic Party and could be Mr Trump’s major challenger in the upcoming 2020 U.S general elections.

The House voted 230 to 197 to approve the article accusing the president of abuse of power. On the obstruction of Congress vote, which followed soon after, the tally was 229 to 198.

Trump’s Republican Party members in the house all voted against both articles, but it was not enough to stop the process.

The Senate trial on whether to remove the president is expected to begin in early January.

Should Trump eventually be removed, Vice President Mike Spence will step in.

Senate confirms new chairpersons for FIRS, AMCON

The Senate has confirmed the appointment of Muhammad Nami as the Executive Chairman of the Federal Inland Revenue Service.

Also confirmed are members and representatives of geopolitical zones for FIRS.

Those confirmed are James Yakwen Ayuba – Member (North Central); Ado Danjuma – Member (North West) and Adam Baba Mohammad – Member (North East)

Others are A. Ikeme Osakwe – Member (South East); Adewale Ogunyomade – Member (South West) and Ehile Adetola Aigbangbee – Member (South South).

Representatives of MDAs confirmed are Ladidi Mohammad – Member Attorney-General of the Federation; Godwin Emefiele – Member Central Bank of Nigeria; Fatima Hayatu Member – Ministry of Finance and Maagbe Adaa – Member Revenue Mobilisation Allocation and Fiscal Commission

Others are Umar Ajiya – Member Nigerian National Petroleum Commission; T. M. lsah – Member Nigerian Customs Service and Registrar General – Member Corporate Affairs Commission.

The confirmation comes about a week after President Muhammadu Buhari wrote to the Senate seeking their confirmation.

It was sequel to a presentation of the report of the Senate committee on finance.

The chairman of the committee, Solomon Olamilekan, who made the presentation, recommended that the Senate confirm the appointment of the nominees.

The Senate also confirmed the appointment of Edward Adamu as the chairman of the Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON) – following the presentation of the Senate Committee on Banking, Insurance and Other Financial Institutions.

Alleged Fraud: Maina to remain in jail till 2020

The former chairman, Pension Reform Task Team (PRTT), Abdulrasheed Maina, who is facing trial for alleged money laundering will remain in the Correctional Centre in Kuje, till January 2020.

Mr Maina’s son, Faisal, is also being prosecuted for money laundering by the anti-graft agency, EFCC.

At the last adjourned date, the court had granted Faisal’s plea to be transferred to Kuje Correctional Centre from Police Tactical Squad, Asokoro.

Mr Maina is being prosecuted by the EFCC on a 12-count charge bordering on money laundering, operating fictitious accounts and other fraudulent activities.

The former PRTT chairman, who was in hiding for almost two years, was arrested by the State Security Service (SSS).

The SSS then handed over Mr Maina to the EFCC, which had declared him wanted for over a year.

Mr Faisal was arrested alongside his father in September. The father is accused of diverting N100 billion of pension funds.

His son is accused of operating an account he used to divert various sums of money, including N58 million.

The two men were arraigned by the EFCC on October 25 on separate charges. They pleaded not guilty.

At the resumed hearing of the matter on Wednesday, the presiding judge, Okon Abang, adjourned Mr Maina’s trial to January 13 to hear his application for bail variation and that of Faisal to January 20, for the continuation of his trial.

Meanwhile, Justice Abang had said that though it would not be convenient for the court to take trial, but the arguments for Mr Maian’s application for bail variation would be taken.

However, the EFCC’s lawyer, Mohammed Abubakar, said he was ready for the continuation of the trial and that the prosecution’s next witness was in court.

Buhari signs 2020 budget

President Muhammadu Buhari has signed the 2020 appropriation bill into law.

He signed the bill at about 3:30 p.m. on Tuesday.

The National Assembly had on December 5, 2019, passed the budget estimates presented by Mr Buhari on October 8, 2019.

The National Assembly increased the budget estimates from N10.33 trillion to N10.50 trillion.

The passage was a sequel to the presentation of a report by the chairman of the Senate Committee on Appropriation, Barau Jibrin.

The signing was witnessed by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, President of the Senate, Ahmed Lawan and Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila.

Others are the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, SGF, Boss Mustapha, Minister of Finance, Zainab Ahmed, Minister in charge of Budget and Planning, Clement Agba and the Director-General of the Budget Office, Ben Akabueze.

A breakdown of the budget showed that N560,470,827,235 was budgeted for Statutory transfer; N2,725,498,930,000 for debt servicing; N4,842,974,600,640 for recurrent expenditure; N2,465,418,006,955 for capital expenditure; and N2.28 trillion for fiscal deficit.

When the National Assembly passed the bill last Thursday, new projects inserted into the budget moved it up to ₦10.594 trillion.

A breakdown of the inserted projects obtained by PREMIUM TIMES showed that the country may end up spending more on what anti-corruption agents and activists have identified as “vague, frivolous, self-enrichment projects smuggled into the budget by federal lawmakers.”

The new projects are expected to cost Nigeria about ₦264 billion.

Mr Buhari signed the budget document into law on the occasion of his 77th birthday on Tuesday, and commended the National Assembly for speedy passage of the bill.

“It is my pleasant duty, today, on my 77th birthday, to sign the 2020 Appropriation Bill into law,” a message posted on Mr Buhari’s twitter page said.

“I’m pleased that the National Assembly has expeditiously passed this Bill. Our Federal Budget is now restored to a January-December implementation cycle.”

FG declares Dec. 25, 26, Jan.1, 2020 public holidays

The Federal Government has declared Dec. 25 and Dec. 26 as well as Jan. 1, 2020 as public holidays for Christmas, Boxing Day and New Year celebrations.

The Minister of Interior, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, announced this on Thursday in Abuja through a statement issued by the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Interior, Mrs Georgina Ehuriah.

Aregbesola felicitated with Christians and all Nigerians both at home and abroad on the 2019 Christmas and New Year celebrations.

He enjoined all Christians to live by the virtues and teachings of Jesus Christ.

According to him, those virtues hinge on compassion, patience, peace, humility, righteousness and love for one another.

The minister said that living by them would guarantee an atmosphere of peace and security in the country.

Aregbesola said that the determination of government toward peace and security would engender inflow of foreign direct investment, thereby revitalising the nation’s economy.

He said it would also improve employment opportunities for the teeming youths in the country.

The minister expressed confidence that 2020 would be a breakthrough year for all Nigerians.

Lawan, APC, senators, others mourn as Imo Senator Uwajumogu dies

Chairman of the Senate Committee on Labour and Employment Senator Benjamin Uwajumogu has died.

Uwajumogu (Imo North) attended plenary on Tuesday. Less than 24 hours after, he was gone.

The cause and circumstances of the death of the 51-year-old could not be confirmed last night but sources said he slumped suddenly yesterday morning in his house while having his bath. He was confirmed dead at an Apo hospital.

Senate President Ahmad Lawan expressed shock, especially when Uwajumogu “was full of life” at the chamber on Tuesday.”

Lawan, in a statement by his Media Adviser, Ola Awoniyi, commiserated with the deceased’s family, Imo State and friends over the loss.

He added: “But God gives and takes in line with his supreme sovereignty, so we cannot question His will.

“Senator Uwajumogu’s sudden death is shocking and a painful loss to the ninth National Assembly where he always made robust contributions to debates and other activities of the upper legislative chamber.

“He will be greatly missed by all of us and staff of the Senate.”

The Senate President prayed that God will comfort his loved ones and grant them the fortitude to bear the loss.

Senate Minority Leader, Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe, described Uwajumogu’s death as a huge loss to Nigeria, his constituents and Imo State.

Supreme Court affirms elections of eight governors

There was jubilation on Wednesday as the Supreme Court affirmed the election victories of governors in eight states.

They are: Babajide Sanwo-Olu (Lagos), Dapo Abiodun (Ogun), Seyi Makinde (Oyo), Abdullahi Sule (Nasarawa), Nasir El-Rufai (Kaduna), Aminu Masari (Katsina) Dave Umahi (Ebonyi) and Udom Emmanuel (Akwa Ibom).

The Supreme Court held that the appellants against the eight governors failed to prove their cases and dismissed their appeals.

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Jacob Stallings grows with 2019 starting reps | Pittsburgh Pirates

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PITTSBURGH — The Pirates’ next general manager is going to have to figure out the club’s immediate future and long-term plan behind the plate. Francisco Cervelli is gone. Elias Díaz, once a well-regarded prospect, followed up an encouraging 2018 campaign with a stunningly poor season. There isn’t a catcher among the club’s Top 30 prospects, according to MLB Pipeline.

It’s entirely possible that Pittsburgh’s next starting catcher isn’t currently on the roster. But part of the solution might have emerged amid the disappointment of this past season.

Jacob Stallings spent the past four years as the Pirates’ third or fourth option at catcher, which means he’s familiar with the road between Pittsburgh and Triple-A Indianapolis. But this season, Cervelli’s concussion and Díaz’s struggles opened the door for Stallings to receive more regular playing time.

Stallings’ offensive performance was fine, especially compared to the Pirates’ other catchers. But the 29-year-old earned the club’s trust with his diligent preparation and his performance behind the plate. By the end of the year, most of Pittsburgh’s starting pitchers had asked to work with Stallings.

Where that leaves Stallings going forward is anybody’s guess. Maybe a new GM will view him as a short-term starting option for a team focused on the future or perhaps as a spiritual successor to Chris Stewart: a quality, defensive-minded backup on a potential contender.

Before looking forward, though, let’s review Stallings’ season.

What went right?
His defensive work, primarily. It’s tough to quantify everything about catchers’ defense, but Stallings graded out well in the areas we can measure and those in which we depend upon the word of his teammates.

Stallings has long been praised by pitchers for his preparation and game-calling, and that showed this year. By late May, Chris Archer worked exclusively with Stallings. Joe Musgrove soon followed suit. Most of Trevor Williams’ and Mitch Keller’s starts down the stretch came with Stallings behind the plate.

Joe Musgrove, on working with Jacob Stallings tonight: “Stalls was spot-on with everything. It makes my job a lot easier when I trust my catcher to call the game. It’s almost like he’s the brains and I’m the muscle. You just tell me where to throw it, and I’ll throw it there.”

— Adam Berry (@adamdberry)

Catcher ERA is a flawed statistic in some regards, but it can paint part of the picture here. Consider how Pirates pitchers performed when throwing to Stallings (4.47 ERA), how similar that was to their work with the veteran Cervelli (4.42) and how different it was with Díaz behind the plate (5.95).

There are more advanced metrics to consider, too.

Stallings ranked eighth among all Major League catchers in adjusted Fielding Runs Above Average, according to Baseball Prospectus, and 11th in Framing Runs. The latter was a focal point for Stallings this season, as he committed himself to the skill of framing pitches with former bench coach Tom Prince and bullpen catcher Jordan Comadena.

Stallings did all the necessary drill work, catching weighted balls and properly positioning his body behind the plate and his glove around the strike zone. He watched video of elite pitch-framers and noticed how well they were able to keep their gloves in the zone, rather than letting the ball move them, so he strengthened his body in the weight room.

“It’s been a continual growth process. I feel like I’ve gotten a lot better as the year’s gone on,” Stallings said in late September. “It’s been more this year than ever in the past.”

What went wrong?
This is not a knock on Stallings, but the answer is probably his games played total (71) and the fact that he had more plate appearances (210) than Cervelli.

Stallings started 53 games for the Pirates this year, which is not how you draw it up for your third catcher leaving Spring Training. Díaz started 75 games behind the plate despite having a brutal year overall, and Cervelli made 32 starts before he was sidelined and later picked up by the Braves.

Offensively, Stallings was more or less who he’s always been. The 29-year-old batted .262 with a .325 on-base percentage and a .382 slugging percentage. The good news is he tapped into a little more power to hit six home runs, as many as he’s ever hit in a professional season. He credited hitting coach Rick Eckstein for that improvement.

“Working with him, learning about my body and my swing,” Stallings said. “Pulling the ball in the air with backspin was something I struggled with. I used to always just topspin the ball because I wasn’t putting myself in a good position to hit. I really dove into that. It’s something that I will always struggle with because I’m so big and lanky with a lot of moving parts, but body position to hit has been the biggest change for me this year.

“I feel like I have a good swing. I just don’t put myself in position to hit all the time. So we worked a lot on that, and it’s something we always have to work on. Putting myself in a more consistent position to hit has helped a lot.”

Best moment
How about June 27, when Stallings had three hits and a homer and caught a shutout against the eventual American League champion Astros in a 10-0 Pirates win at Minute Maid Park?

Or how about the Pirates’ September series in San Francisco? Stallings hit two of his six homers in a historically pitcher-friendly ballpark while catching a pair of victories.

2020 outlook
Stallings is under club control, so he should be back in some role. But will the next management group take another shot on the upside Díaz showed in 2018?

There are plenty of free agents available, and the Pirates picked up recent contributors like Cervelli and Stewart through smart trades. How would that decision or another acquisition affect Stallings? Stay tuned.

Adam Berry has covered the Pirates for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook and read his blog.

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Bernie Sanders and the 2020 age debate

(CNN)With only120daysuntil the Iowa caucuses, the 2020 election will be here before you know it.Every Sunday, I round up the5BIG storylines you need to know to understand the upcoming week on the campaign trail. And they’re ranked — so the No. 1 story is the most important of the coming week.

5. Trump, unleashed: Donald Trump has spent the last week talking and tweeting almost nonstop as he tries to fight his way out of mounting allegations over his pressure campaign to get the Ukrainians to look into debunked allegations of wrongdoing against Joe Biden and his son, Hunter.
And the rhetoric from Trump has gone to previously unseen heights — even for Trump. He’s accused Rep. Adam Schiff (California) of treason, he’s attacked Mitt Romney in deeply personal terms — more on that directly below — and he’s repeating, repeating, repeating long disproven lies.
All of which means that when Trump travels to Minneapolis on Thursday for a “Keep America Great” rally, well, look out. Trump is always at his most, well, Trump-y at these campaign rallies — and, given the walls closing in on him in Washington, he could well use the Minnesota rally as a venting session the likes of which even longtime Trump observers rarely see.
Stay tuned. It’s going to be a doozy.
4. Any other Mitt Romneys out there?: Republicans have, almost uniformly, closed ranks around Trump even as a second whistleblower has emerged regarding the President allegedly using the power of his office for political gain during interactions over the summer with Ukraine.
Only Sen. Mitt Romney (Utah) has publicly criticized Trump in any way, calling the President’s urgings of China and Ukraine to investigate the Bidens “wrong” and “appalling.” Trump immediately struck back, referring to Romney as a “pompous ‘ass'” (I have no idea why he put “ass” in quotes) and suggesting that the 2012 Republican nominee was “begging” to be his secretary of state.
Any Republican who was weighing speaking out about Trump’s behavior with Ukraine (and his plea for China to investigate his main rival for the 2020 nomination) now can have no illusions about what such criticism will be met with: Pure, unadulterated anger from Trump — and likely vilification from the President’s base.
Is any prominent Republican other than Romney willing to risk speaking out when that reaction is assured? Principle vs. politics, anyone?
3. Fundraising losers…: With the third fundraising quarter ending at the close of last month, most of the major candidates have released how much they brought in and how much they spent between July 1 and September 30.
Let’s go through the losers first.
* Joe Biden: When you are a former vice president and the race’s frontrunner, you need to be at or very close to the top of the money chase. Biden’s $15 million raised in the third quarter is well off the pace and a significant drop-off from when Biden raised $21.5 million from April 1 to June 30 — his first three months of active fundraising. His numbers will re-ignite the debate over whether he has real grassroots energy behind his establishment candidacy. Think about this: The mayor of South Bend, Indiana — Pete Buttigieg — raised $4 million more than Biden in the third quarter and has now out-raised the former vice president for six months straight.
* Cory Booker: The New Jersey senator’s plea for $1.7 million in the final days of the quarter — in order, he said, for him to remain in the race — drew a ton of publicity. Even though Booker met his goal, he still only brought in $6 million for the entire three-month period. That likely means he will be facing another dire financial deadline in the not-too-distant future.
2. … and fundraising winners: 
* Bernie Sanders: Even as his poll numbers have stagnated somewhat, the Vermont senator’s small-dollar, online fundraising network continues to deliver. Sanders topped the field in the third quarter with more than $25 million raised and has now raised more than $71 million this year. That ensures he will not only have real organizations in all of the early states but will also be able to continue fighting for the nomination for months.
* Elizabeth Warren: While Sanders edged out Warren for the top spot by about $500,000, Warren’s third quarter fundraising is yet another data point proving how much momentum she has built behind her candidacy. Warren already has the best organization in Iowa, and fundraising like she put on the board over the last three months ensures her campaign will be able to fund a (TV) air assault as well.
* Andrew Yang: The tech entrepreneur raised $10 million in the third quarter, which, at least to me was the single most surprising result of the fundraising race. Yang’s total put him well above what Booker, as well as Sen. Michael Bennet (Colorado) and Gov. Steve Bullock (Montana) raised, and within shouting distance of Sen. Kamala Harris (California). That’s a stunner, and shows how far he’s come since the year started and almost no one knew who he was.
1. The age/health debate is here: It was probably inevitable, given that the four most likely candidates to be president in 2021 are 70+ years old, but Bernie Sanders’ recent heart attack has officially injected the issue of age and health into the 2020 campaign.
After several days of uncertainty, Sanders’ campaign confirmed that he had suffered a heart attack on the campaign trail and, following his release from the hospital late last week, he has returned to Vermont. His campaign has canceled its events until further notice but has said Sanders will be at the next debate — set for October 15 in Ohio.
While the relatively advanced ages of Sanders (78), Joe Biden (76) and Elizabeth Warren (70) has been a sort of low buzz in the background of the Democratic race so far, those days are now over. All three candidates had previously pledged to release their medical records before the Iowa caucuses on February 3, 2020, but the urgency of those releases is significantly higher now than it was even a week ago.
(Remember that Donald Trump was the oldest person ever elected to a first term when he won the presidency in 2016 at age 70. During the campaign, his personal physician released a letter proclaiming that Trump “would be the healthiest individual ever elected to the presidency.” Trump is now 73. In January of this year, he underwent a physical which found him in “very good health overall.”)
In a May Pew Research Center poll, just 3% of Democrats said their ideal candidate would be in their 70s. A near- majority — 47% — said a candidate in their 50s would be best. On the other hand, more than 6 in 10 people told Gallup in May they would vote for a presidential candidate over 70 years old.

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‘We’re not fooling around’: Pelosi and Schiff stand firm as Trump fumes

Were not fooling around: Democratic pair say inquiry will not be slowed and condemn president over blatant effort to intimidate witnesses

Democrats

Donald Trump has been accused of incitement to violence and threatened with obstruction charges in the fast-escalating battle over impeachment, as the president maintained his aggressive counter-attack against Democratic leaders and the whistleblower who precipitated the inquiry.

Were not fooling around here, Adam Schiff, the chair of the powerful House intelligence committee, said in Washington on Wednesday.

Elijah Cummings, the chair of the House oversight committee, revealed that it would issue a subpoena to the White House if it failed to hand over documents on contacts with Ukraine by Friday.

I do not take this step lightly, Cummings said, saying the White House had stonewalled on demands for cooperation for several weeks.

The Democrats investigative steps have infuriated Trump, who was live-tweeting their press conference on Capitol Hill. He denounced the impeachment process, in block capitals, as BULLSHIT and later repeated an extreme claim that Schiff should be investigated for treason.

The speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, announced the start of the impeachment inquiry eight days ago, focusing on a whistleblower complaint that emerged the week before about a July phone call between Donald Trump and the Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy.

The complaint and a memo of the call issued by the White House have since been released, indicating that Trump asked Zelenskiy to investigate Joe Biden, a leading rival for the White House in the 2020 election, while the US was withholding vital aid from Ukraine.

Schiff insisted on Wednesday that the inquiry would not be slowed down by presidential stonewalling or threatening language against potential witnesses.

Were very busy, Schiff said. We are proceeding deliberately but at the same time we feel a real sense of urgency here.

Democratic-run House committees heard from the state departments inspector general, an independent watchdog, on Wednesday, followed by the former special envoy on Ukraine on Thursday and the former ambassador to Kyiv next week. But they are battling with the secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, about other depositions by state department officials and the handover of relevant documents.

Schiff and Pelosi condemned Trump for rhetoric directed at an intelligence agency whistleblower who revealed details of the phone call at the core of the impeachment proceedings.

Trump has referred to the whistleblower and the officials who provided information included in the complaint as spies and implied they should face the death penalty. Senior officials and some leading Republicans have confirmed the whistleblower used recommended legal channels but Trump repeated the spy allegation on Wednesday.

Donald
Donald Trump at the White House with the Finnish PM on Wednesday. Pelosi and Schiffs press conference infuriated the president. Photograph: Evan Vucci/AP

Schiff said the president was engaging in a blatant effort to intimidate witnesses.

Its an incitement of violence, he said.

The president probably doesnt realize how dangerous his statement is, Pelosi added.

Trump, who was clearly watching the press conference live, unleashed an expletive-laced Twitter tirade.

The Do Nothing Democrats should be focused on building up our Country, not wasting everyones time and energy on BULLSHIT, which is what they have been doing ever since I got overwhelmingly elected in 2016, he said.

The president continued to tweet every few minutes, lashing out at Schiff, who he called a lowlife, until it was time to greet the visiting Finnish president Sauli Niinist. The fury of Trumps commentary reflected how impeachment has come to consume his focus and attention.

At a press conference at the end of his meeting with Niinist, Trump, who repeated one of his favourite self-descriptions as a very stable genius, repeatedly refused to answer a question about what he had been asking Zelenskiy to do in relation to the Bidens, and lost his temper at the Reuters journalist asking it.

Are you talking to me? Trump shouted. Did you hear me? he demanded, telling the journalist to ask the Finnish president a question instead.

Play Video
1:25

‘Are you talking to me?’: furious Trump takes aim at journalist over Ukraine question video

In his own struggle with Congress, Pompeo was forced to admit on Wednesday he took part in the July phone call between Trump and Zelenskiy.

Pompeo made the admission while on a trip to Rome, after his participation in the call had been reported in the US press. When asked in a television interview 10 days ago about the Trump conversation with Zelenskiy, Pompeo had looked quizzical and implied he was hearing about it for the first time.

On Wednesday, Pompeo said: As for was I on the phone call? I was on the phone call. But he presented the conversation as part of normal state department business, trying to bolster a new Ukrainian government against the threat of Russia.

He referred dismissively to the growing scandal engulfing the Trump administration as all this noise.

It has become clear Pompeo has only limited power to stop committees from gathering evidence for an impeachment inquiry.

One of the five witnesses deposed, Kurt Volker, former special envoy for Ukraine who resigned last week, confirmed he would speak to the committees in closed session on Thursday. The Daily Beast reported on Wednesday that Volker resigned as Pompeo was attempting to push him out of his post, in the hope of reducing the pressure on the state department.

Schiff said Marie Yovanovitch, the former ambassador to Kyiv, would appear next week. Press reports said she was due to give a deposition on 11 October.

The state departments inspector general, Steve Linick, went to Capitol Hill on Wednesday to brief Congress on documents related to relations with Ukraine. After the briefing, the Maryland Democratic congressman Jamie Raskin described the material as a collection of unfounded allegations involving the Bidens and Yovanovitch.

Its essentially a packet of propaganda and disinformation spreading conspiracy theories, Raskin said.

The presidents personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, who has played a central role in the Ukraine scandal, later told CNN that he had sent at least some of the material to Pompeos office earlier this year and that it included information he had been given by previous Ukrainian prosecutors.

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Tom Green Has One Big Regret About Drew Barrymore and SNL

Subscribe to The Last Laugh on Apple Podcasts

Tom Green was never more famous than when he hosted Saturday Night Live on Nov. 18, 2000.

Not only was his insanely popular talk show still airing on MTV, he was coming off a scene-stealing performance in the hit comedy Road Trip. Just weeks earlier, Charlies Angels, in which Green appeared opposite his new fiance Drew Barrymore, debuted at No. 1 at the box office.

It was an amazing thing to have gotten to do it, Green says of his SNL experience, 19 years later, on this weeks episode of The Last Laugh podcast. However, he adds, I think if I could go back and do it again someday, I would do it a lot differently.

When producer Lorne Michaels offered Green the chance to host that fall, the comedian insisted that his childhood friends from Canada, whom he had hired as writers on The Tom Green Show, come in for the week and help write sketches. I didnt understand the politics of Saturday Night Live, he says, acknowledging that SNLs writers at the time, including Mike Schur, who would go on to create The Good Place, future Oscar nominee Adam McKay and head writer Tina Fey, may not have appreciated the input.

I was aggressively trying to deconstruct everything that I encountered, Green explains. Just because I was a kid in my twenties and I was like, thats the way you do it. Lets try to take it apart and put it back together upside down and inside out.

I think in hindsight I would have rather just shown up and worked with everybody else and just kind of went with the flow a bit more, he adds. But I was young and passionate. Green says his friends ended up writing about half of the sketches that aired in his episode, including one in which he appeared in a bathtub with Lorne Michaels as well as his monologue and the final sketch of the night.

Greens big idea for the episode was a gag that would be teased at the beginning of the show and pay off in the final moments. His relationship with Barrymore was all over the tabloids and he thought it would be funny if they appeared together during his monologue and announced they would be getting married on live television at the end of his SNL debut.

I try not to have regrets, but that is something that I actually regret, Green says. So Drew and I actually were engaged at the time. So we thought, this will be a funny prank. Well prank the audience. Well tell everyone were going to get married on SNL and then she wont show up at the altar at the end and that will be the punchline. Even though we were still getting married, like a month after. That was the bit.

But the thing I regret about that bit to this day, which Im actually sad about, to be honest with you, is that the way we wrote the bit, we kept teasing that we were going to get married at the end of the showshes out in the hallway in her wedding dress, my parents are there in the audience, he continues. And then at the end of the show, she doesnt show up. And the end of my SNL I have a meltdown on stage. And its a complete meltdown and the band stops playing and the entire cast disappears and Im just standing alone on stage at the very end of the show.

Artistically, Green still thinks it was a pretty awesome way to end the show. But it does sort of ruin my beautiful Saturday Night Live kumbaya moment, he says. At the end of every Saturday Night Live, [the host] is hanging out with the cast and celebrating together. But on his episode, its just Green screaming I thought you loved me! on stage by himself.

In some ways, its kind of a metaphor for the rebellious, naive kid that I was: Were going to go there and were going to try to turn SNL upside down! he says. But in other ways, I think it just sort of ruined my Saturday Night Live experience. He does add that he and Barrymore went to the after party with the cast and had a blast.

Green maintains that it was one of the highest-rated episodes that season because of the prank. It was a massive success in that sense, because we did create a reason to stay up til the end, he says.

According to a Variety item from that week, the cancelation of the wedding was sprung on Lorne Michaels only five minutes before the ceremony was to take place on camera and the show reportedly had a priest and City Hall license on hand. Caroline Kennedy, Tom Hanks, Rita Wilson, Gwyneth Paltrow, Cameron Diaz, and Harvey Weinstein were among the celebrities waiting backstage to celebrate with the newlyweds after the show.

To put it in perspective how crazy his life was at that time, Green tells me that the morning after Saturday Night Live aired, he and Barrymore got on a plane to London to have dinner with Prince Charles at St. Jamess Palace for the royal premiere of Charlies Angels.

Green sat next to Camilla Parker Bowles at the dinner and had a two-hour conversation about stuff like France and organic farming among other topics. Was it a real mouse? Prince Charles asked Green of the infamous scene from Road Trip in which he attempts to feed a snake and ends up putting a live mouse in his mouth. The answer was yes.

Green and Barymore ultimately did get married in July of 2001 and were divorced less than nine months later. Green has called their marriage a crazy whirlwind of a time.

So it was a bizarre time in my life, Green tells me. If he ever gets the chance to host SNL again, which would be nice, he says, I would love to be able to not bring my friends from high school in and not try to make it some crazy, warped episode.

Nearly two decades later, the 48-year-old comedian chalks the whole thing up to the naivety of youth.

I had been so hellbent on causing chaos everywhere I went that suddenly when I was where I was, I still was behaving as if I was living in my parents basement, Green says. I should have probably taken certain opportunities to just be grateful that I was there. And I didnt realize that at the time.

Next week on The Last Laugh podcast: Stand-up comedian and star of ABCs Black-ish and Grown-ish, Deon Cole.

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Rudy Giuliani Laughs At Subpoena On Fox News: They Seem To Forget That Im A Lawyer

Just hours after being issued a subpoena from top congressional Democrats, Rudy Giuliani appeared on Fox News to defend his involvement with Ukraine, actions that have become central to an impeachment inquiry of President Donald Trump

Trump’s personal attorney appeared on Sean Hannity’s program as part of his latest effort to distance himself from the political whirlwind surrounding Trump’s July 25 call with the Ukrainian president.

During the “Hannity” segment, Giuliani appeared to question the motives behind the subpoenas while defending his communications with officials in Ukraine about investigating former Vice President Joe Biden, a top Trump rival in the 2020 presidential campaign. He also reminded viewers that he was a professional lawyer as he pushed unfounded conspiracy theories targeting a spate of his boss’s political rivals.

“These people are such intellectual heavyweights, I don’t know if I could handle Schiff,” Giuliani said Monday, appearing to joke about Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), the chair of the House Intelligence Committee who recently sent him a subpoena.

Giuliani went on to push unfounded claims about the Biden family, Trump’s 2016 political rival Hillary Clinton and former President Barack Obama.

“Wake up, Democrats. You are covering up corruption, and by the time this is over, you’re going to be the party of corruption,” Giuliani said. Earlier in the show, he noted that lawmakers “seem to forget that I’m a lawyer. If I were defending a terrorist, they’d be going crazy that I was called before a committee.”

The chairs of multiple House committees subpoenaed Giuliani and three of his associates Monday as part of the inquiry, demanding he produce communications and other documents related to his work for the president. The subpoena pertains to material from Jan. 20, 2017, the day before Trump’s inauguration, to the present.

“Our inquiry includes an investigation of credible allegations that you acted as an agent of the president in a scheme to advance his personal political interests by abusing the power of the office of the president,” said the letter, signed by Schiff and two other Democratic congressmen: Eliot Engel (N.Y.), chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, and Elijah Cummings (Md.), chair of the House Oversight and Reform Committee.

Giuliani must comply with the subpoena by Oct. 15, although the former New York City mayor has already pushed back on its merits, claiming on Twitter that it raised “significant issues concerning legitimacy.”

House Democrats are investigating Giuliani’s role in the unfolding scandal over Trump’s call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky as part of their impeachment inquiry.

During the July conversation, Trump repeatedly pressured Zelensky to investigate Biden and his son Hunter Biden, who served on the board of a Ukrainian energy company for five years. A reconstruction of the call released last week showed Trump asking Zelensky for a “favor” shorty after Zelensky brought up millions in military aid the U.S. had appropriated for Ukraine.

Neither Biden has been accused of any wrongdoing, despite Giuliani’s claims.

Giuliani appears to be one of the central figures related to that favor, which Democrats have called an unprecedented quid pro quo for political dirt. The attorney is mentioned multiple times in a formal whistleblower complaint about the call, and he has admitted in television interviews that he met with Ukrainian operatives. But Giuliani has recently said he did so at the behest of the State Department. Trump has also denied any impropriety and moved to discredit the unnamed whistleblower.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has also been issued a subpoena by House Democrats.

Giuliani’s whirlwind media appearances have prompted frustration from Democrats in recent days, including from the Biden campaign. The former vice president’s staff recently asked news executives to stop booking Giuliani on their shows, saying he was using the appearance to spread “false, debunked conspiracy theories.”

“Giuliani is not enlightening your viewers in any way. He’s not offering a unique or informed perspective,” the Biden camp wrote in the letter last week. “He’s certainly not introducing new facts, since his relationship with the truth is casual at best.”

House Democrats have, however, pointed to the lawyer’s own statements on CNN to back up their request for the subpoena.

“You stated more recently that you are in possession of evidence ― in the form of text messages, phone records, and other communications ― indicating that you were not acting alone and that other Trump Administration officials may have been involved in this scheme,” they wrote.

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Revealed: how the FBI targeted environmental activists in domestic terror investigations

Protesters were characterized as a threat to national security in what one calls an attempt to criminalize their actions

Dakota Access pipeline

Helen Yost, a 62-year-old environmental educator, has been a committed activist for nearly a decade. She says she spends 60 to 80 hours a week as a community organizer for Wild Idaho Rising Tide; to save money, she lives in an RV. Shes been arrested twice for engaging in non-violent civil disobedience.

Yost may not fit the profile of a domestic terrorist, but in 2014 the FBI classified her as a potential threat to national security. According to hundreds of pages of FBI files obtained by the Guardian through a Freedom of Information Act (Foia) lawsuit, and interviews with activists, Yost and more than a dozen other people campaigning against fossil fuel extraction in North America have been identified indomestic terrorism-related investigations.

The investigations, which targeted individual activists and some environmental organizations, were opened in 2013-2014, at the height of opposition to the Keystone XL Pipeline and the expansion of fossil fuel production in North America.

From
From an FBI communication on Helen Yost, dated 24 July 2014.

The new Foia documents reveal the bureaus motivation for investigating a broad cross-section of the environmental movement and its characterization of non-violent protesters as a potential threat to national security.

In 2010, the DoJs inspector general criticized the FBI for using non-violent civil disobedience as grounds to open domestic terrorism investigations. US citizens swept up in such investigations can be placed on terrorism watchlists and subjected to surveillance and restrictions on international travel. The designation can also lead local law enforcement to take a more confrontational approach when engaging with non-violent activists.

The FBIs 2013-2014 investigation of Keystone XL activists in Houston violated internal agency guidelines designed to prevent the bureau from infringing on constitutionally protected activities. The investigations opened in 2013-2014 were closed after the FBI concluded that the individuals and organizations had not engaged in criminal activity and did not a pose a threat to national security.

In 2015, the Obama administration rejected the Keystone XL pipeline project, which required state department approval because it would cross international borders, handing the environmental movement a major victory. More large-scale protests followed, including the standoff over the Dakota Access pipeline, which temporarily delayed the project.

But those decisions have been reversed in recent years. Donald Trump has approved construction of the Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines, and his administration has also advocated for stiffer penalties against activists who engage in non-violent direct action targeting fossil fuel infrastructure. Meanwhile, in the wake of the Standing Rock protests, seven states have passed legislation making it a crime to trespass on property containing critical infrastructure.

In its July 2014 file on Yost, the FBI cited federal anti-terrorism legislation prohibiting attacks and other violence against railroad carriers as the primary justification for opening the investigation. Violation of the law can lead to up to 20 years in prison. Activists who engage in non-violent civil disobedience and are charged with minor offenses such as trespassing are typically released within 48 hours.

The FBI characterized Yost as being driven by a desire to stop fossil fuels which, in her political view, are destroying parts of the US, specifically Montana, Idaho and Washington. In addition, the FBI discussed the case with the US attorneys office in Idaho, local law enforcement, and BNSF Railway, which operates the main rail line delivering coal and oil to export terminals in the Pacific north-west.

FBI
From an FBI communication on Helen Yost, dated 24 July 2014.

According to the FBI file, the bureau opened the investigation based on information that Yost was organizing and planning on conducting illegal activities against railroad companies from Montana into Idaho and Washington.

Yost said Wild Idaho Rising Tide (WIRT) never organized direct action protests to disrupt oil train traffic passing in the region. The heavily redacted Yost investigation concludes that no potential criminal violations or priority threats to national security warranting further investigation were identified.

WIRT did participate in a series of community-led events and workshops in July and August 2014 opposing the transport of oil and coal by rail. Investigators may have conflated several community events to assume such fictitious allegations, Yost said in an email.

For several years, WIRT, founded in 2011, had been publicizing its actions on the organizations Facebook page. Much of its activity had focused on stopping the passage of huge trucks known as megaloads, which transport processing equipment to tar sands oil fields in Canada and weigh hundreds of thousands of pounds, along one of Idahos scenic byways.

The campaign involved posting public records on the megaload routes, tracking their progress, and at times blockading their movement.

Yost was also active in protesting against the shipment of coal and oil by rail to export terminals in Seattle. In the summer of 2014, WIRT, along with several other environmental organizations and native groups across the Pacific north-west, sponsored a series of rallies and workshops in the region.

Those protests were peaceful a handful of activists in Montana including the environmental writer Rick Bass were arrested for trespassing and in the end the FBI concluded that Yost did not pose a threat to national security. Several months later the investigation was closed.

However, in the file closing the case, it appears that Yost has been watchlisted, which is standard for named subjects of FBI domestic terrorism investigations, according to Mike German, a former FBI agent who is now a fellow with the Brennan Center for Justice. Being watchlisted can lead to heightened scrutiny from law enforcement and delays or additional screenings when traveling. Yost said she had not traveled overseas since the FBI investigation.

Yost, who was contacted by an FBI agent when the case was still active, said she was not surprised by the agencys actions. Surveillance was a form of suppression, she said, and this was another attempt to criminalize the actions of normal people working to protect natural resources. But she remains undeterred.

Assume they know the color of your underwear every morning and get up and resist anyway, Yost said.

Herb Goodwin, a 70-year-old activist, has a similar philosophy. Were all under surveillance, Goodwin said. If they want to look at your stuff, theyre going to.

In 2013-2014 Goodwin frequently participated in actions organized by Yost and WIRT. He was also part of the Occupy Wall Street protests in Bellingham, Washington, in 2011 and was one of 12 individuals arrested that year for blockading a BNSF coal train passing through the city. They became known as the Bellingham 12.

Goodwin was one of at least a dozen environmental activists, many of them affiliated with the group Deep Green Resistance, contacted by FBI agents in autumn 2014. In early October that year, not long after Goodwin returned from a megaload resistance campaign in Idaho, an FBI agent and a police intelligence officer showed up at his residence.According to Goodwin, they wanted to ask him questions about the environmental group Deep Green Resistance. Goodwin refused to cooperate and referred the agents to his lawyer, who himself became a subject of interest to the FBI.

Founded in 2011 Deep Green Resistance (DGR), based on the principles laid out in the book of the same name, describes itself as a radical organization that uses direct action in the fight to save the planet. Though the group supports underground movements, its members abide by a code of conduct that includes a commitment to nonviolence and operating entirely above-ground. According to the groups website, We do not want to be involved in or aware of any underground organizing. In another FBI interview with a DGR member documented in the files, the activist even invited the agents to attend one of DGRs presentations.

FBI files show that the bureau initiated the two-year investigation into DGR to determine if the group or any of its members were planning to engage in the destruction of energy facilities or attacks against railroad companies, referring to the same federal statute cited in the Yost investigation.

But the FBI also took an interest in constitutionally protected activities, including DGR members participation in public meetings and lectures and the groups early organizing efforts.

Even though the FBI investigation found no evidence that DGR was planning to engage in violent activity, it often portrayed the group as an extremist organization. One individual contacted numerous times by the FBI was said to have been a suspected member of the Deep Green Resistances extremist wing and a participant in DGRs Midwest extremist planning process. DGR did have a strategic planning conference in Wisconsin in spring 2012 which they said was attended by about 30 people, but it was publicly advertised and focused on building the organization, fundraising and leadership training.

From
From an FBI communication on Deep Green Resistance, dated 28 November 2014.

The FBI also focused its attention on DGR organizing at Western Washington University, which hosted a lecture in 2011 by two of the groups members, Max Wilbert and Dillon Thomson. Information about the lecture, titled Environmentalism for the New Century, and about the professor who hosted it was included in the FBI files. Wilbert, who attended WWU, is also a member of DGRs board of directors.

As part of the investigation, the FBI met with the universitys police department to discuss possible Deep Green Resistance presence on the WWU campus. The FBI also said it would attempt to determine whether any of the professors in the environmental sciences department were involved in the DGR movement.

FBI
From an FBI communication on Deep Green Resistance, dated 21 November 2013.

The sweeping investigation into DGRs activities was formally closed in 2014 but Wilbert assumes that the group is still being closely watched. Wilbert, who is also a writer and photographer, frequently posts short polemical essays on his Facebook page or the Deep Green Resistance website.

Wilbert said that on 7 September 2018, nearly four years after the investigation was closed, he got a call from an FBI agent in Seattle informing him that the bureau had received an anonymous tip regarding something he had written online. The agent also left a card at Wilberts parents home.

Im pretty outspoken about being a revolutionary, somebody who believes in the necessity for revolutionary change, Wilbert said. Its not something I hide.

An FBI file documenting the online tip describes Wilbert as an environmental extremist involved in inciting violence in Seattle.

German, the former FBI agent, whose recent book, Disrupt, Discredit, and Divide, chronicles the troubling post-9/11 expansion of the FBIs domestic surveillance powers, said the agency had failed to heed the warnings laid out in a 2010 justice department IG investigation that criticized the FBIs targeting of certain domestic advocacy groups. According to German, the Yost files and the two-year DGR investigation show how ineffective these internal oversight mechanisms are to preventing abusive and wasteful investigations of non-violent protesters.

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