Stephen King has quit Facebook, saying that he is not comfortable with the “flood of false information allowed in its political advertising”.
The bestselling horror novelist, a prolific user of social media, also said he was not “confident in [Facebook’s] ability to protect its users’ privacy”. King made the announcement on Twitter, where he has 5.6m followers. His Facebook page has been deleted.
The social network has faced backlash over its decision not to factcheck political ads, with chief executive Mark Zuckerberg arguing that “political speech is important” and should not be censored. Facebook said last month that while it had considered limiting the targeting of political ads, it felt that “people should be able to hear from those who wish to lead them, warts and all, and that what they say should be scrutinised and debated in public”.
Last October, the company came under fire for airing a 30-second video from the Trump campaign that falsely claimed that Joe Biden “promised Ukraine a billion dollars if they fired the prosecutor investigating his son’s company”. CNN declined to run the ad, saying that it “makes assertions that have been proven demonstrably false by various news outlets”. When the Biden campaign complained about the ad, Facebook invoked its “fundamental belief in free expression, respect for the democratic process, and belief that, in mature democracies with a free press, political speech is already arguably the most scrutinised speech there is”.
Writing for the New York Times last week, the billionaire philanthropist George Soros said: “I believe that Mr Trump and Facebook’s chief executive, Mark Zuckerberg, realise that their interests are aligned – the president’s in winning elections, Mr Zuckerberg’s in making money.” Facebook, Soros wrote, “follow[s] only one guiding principle: maximise profits irrespective of the consequences”.
Twitter, where King made his announcement, has banned all political advertising. King has long used the site as a way to air his political opinions, most recently using it to announce his support for Elizabeth Warren. “I’ll support and work for any Democrat who wins the nomination, but I’m pulling for Elizabeth Warren,” he wrote. “I’d love to see her open a large can of whup-ass on Trump in the debates.”
The Niger delta is burning. The oil companies plumbing the river basin of its black gold have found an ingenious way of dealing with the natural gas they consider a waste by-product of the extraction process. Capturing the gas would be costly, inefficient – so instead, they flare it off. Across the delta, towers of flame burn day and night, some of them stretching ten storeys into the sky.
Gas flaring was officially banned in Nigeria in 1984 – but still, two million people live within four kilometres of a flare site, at risk of the cancers, neurological, reproductive and respiratory problems linked to the pollutants released into the air. The soil is hotter, and crop yields have dwindled; “You plant, and before you know it, everything is dead”. When the rains come, they are black. Oil spills spew from the pipelines of Shell and ENI, the biggest operators in the area. Shell has reported 17.5 million litres lost since 2011; Amnesty International say that’s likely a hefty underestimate. The spills have poisoned drinking water, and destroyed the livelihoods of the fishermen who once combed the delta.
We are over the brink. People have already lost their lives to hurricanes and bush fires and flooding, to toxins and crop failures – all disasters rooted in fossil-fuel dependent extractive capitalism, bankrolled by a deregulated financial sector. People continue to lose their lives. Global temperatures soar, and a monstrous future slouches towards us from the ecocidal imaginations of the handful of humans directly invested in a doctrine of global annihilation. Now, the death drive built into the heart of our economy reveals itself in ever more undeniable terms; the skull is showing through the skin.
Scientists at ExxonMobil confirmed the truth of climate change in the 1980s, at the very latest. Since then, Exxon and its fellow fossil fuel companies have spent decades sponsoring climate change denial and blocking efforts to legislate against apocalypse. Under their auspices, newspapers and broadcasters and politicians revelled in a vicious subterfuge disguised as pious gnosticism; asking how we can know for sure that climate change is caused by human activity. In recent years, this strategy has buckled under the weight of public outrage and scientific proof.
The science is clear: only an ambitious, rapid overhaul of the fundaments of our economy gives us hope of survival. And that hope is tantalisingly within our grasp. We have the technology, and we have the financial capacity; all that’s missing is the political will to give those solutions heft, muscle and cold hard cash.
Now, culprit companies are suddenly flouting their green credentials to shore up their position as custodians of the future. Shell Oil has made a big song and dance about its investments in green technology. Goldman Sachs has funded research into how to make cities “resilient to climate change”. These are little more than attempts to seduce and cajole worried publics and skittish investors. Still these companies hoard over-valued assets, continue ploughing resources into carbon-heavy industries, show no signs of leaving enough fossil fuels in the ground to avoid the breakdown of the climate, the potential collapse of civilisation and the extinction of life on earth. Negotiators were banned from mentioning climate change in recent UK-US trade talks. the UK government has subsidised the fossil fuel industry to the tune of 10bn in a decade, and its legislators continue to take its lobby money in return. They defend their right to starve out and flood and burn chunks of human existence – and make money doing it.
We are being held hostage by a cabal of ruthless ideologues whose only loyalty is to a doctrine of global death. Their success thrives on silence, isolation, manipulation, denial. They are united in their opposition to reality, in their determination to hunt down or hound out real alternatives that threaten their mortal stranglehold on power. All other doctrines are heresy, and their preachers envoys of a sinister delusion. They are unique guardians of a dark and dazzling reality.
If this took place among a handful of hippies beckoning oblivion from the heat haze of a california desert we would call it is: a death cult. Instead, it is orchestrated from sumptuous glass towers, from the velvet inner chambers of parliament – so we call it business as usual.
To these science-backed suggestions that economic alternatives are possible – even urgent, necessary, beautiful – they react with vitriol and incredulity. Saving the world may sound appealing, but it clashes intolerably with the cultish diktat: ‘There Is No Alternative”. Partisans of the Green New Deal like Alexandra Ocasio Cortez are dismissed at best as well-meaning dreamers or childish hysterics, and, at worst, nightmarish envoys of backdoor totalitarianism. Indeed, grassroots activists have been murdered for organising against big polluters. The political allegiances are clear: Defending life is foolish. Annihilation is inevitable. We have only to accept it graciously, to walk into its arms.
Rightwing politicians barter casually about the difference between a decarbonisation target of 2030, 2045, 2050, 2060 as a matter of messaging and electoral success. As though that difference were not cashed out in millions of deaths. Such differences slide off the sunny, addled mind of the cultist, for whom life and death are indistinguishable.
A chosen few will be spared; the golden ones who walk in the light. As the asset-stripping and plundering continues apace, so the market for luxury disaster insurance packages has grown, with companies offering high-tech flood defences, private firefighters, private security to guard against mobs of looters. Theirs is a gilded world where disaster can never truly happen to them – because it never truly has. That no insurance policy in the world will provide them with breathable air or sustainable agriculture is a matter for the others, the ghosts, the un-living, those whose existence never really registered. Us.
Broadcasters tried to haul Boris Johnson before the court of the living on Thursday night for the climate change debate, to account for Conservative policy proposals which present a 50% risk of tipping the world into irreversible, runaway climate breakdown, to account for his fossil fuel backers. He responded by threatening them with censure and legal action. Cult leaders can tolerate no scrutiny of their fragile world picture, no challenge to their power.
We can break the stranglehold, and commit the death cultists to the bleak annals of history where they belong. It is time to choose only those who have chosen life.
Eleanor Penny is a writer and a regular contributor to Novara Media.
(CNN)Planned Parenthood‘s super PAC kicked off a $45 million electoral program targeted toward battleground states for the 2020 election, the reproductive rights giant announced on Wednesday.
The group’s self-identified largest program to date will go toward “large-scale grassroots organizing programs and targeted canvass, digital, television, radio and mail programs,” according to a press release. Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Michigan, Minnesota, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin will all be focuses of the initiative, per the release.
“Who we elect will determine our access to birth control, cancer screenings, sex education, abortion access and more,” said Kelley Robinson, executive director of Planned Parenthood Votes, in a statement.
“That’s why Planned Parenthood Votes will use every tool at our disposal to hit the pavement, flood the airwaves, and elect reproductive rights champions up and down the ballot,” she added. “We know this is a fight we can win.”
The super PAC pledged to back reproductive rights candidates “from the White House to the Senate to statehouses and ballot initiatives across the country,” indicating a state-level focus after a year that saw a slew of pre-viability abortion restrictions coming out of conservative state legislatures. Planned Parenthood is among the plaintiffs in lawsuits challenging such laws in Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Missouri and Ohio.
Anti-abortion leaders decried Planned Parenthood’s election efforts, accusing the group of looking to protect its own finances and lamenting its federal subsidies. Planned Parenthood received $563.8 million in government funding in 2018, according to its annual report.
Lila Rose, president of anti-abortion group Live Action, slammed the funding effort as a display of “ruthless prioritization of politics and their bottom line over women’s health care.”
March for Life President Jeanne Mancini said in a statement that the funding effort was unsurprising “because this Administration has implemented a pro-life agenda in many areas, including the Protecting Life in Global Health Policy and new Title X regulations, both of which impacted Planned Parenthood’s bottom line.”
“It is unfair to force Americans to subsidize through their tax dollars this partisan political organization bent on electing pro-abortion politicians,” she added.
Dish subscribers will miss critical sporting events as the satellite and streaming service blacked out FOX amid a carriage dispute.
FOX-owned cable channels FS1, FS2, Big Ten Network, Fox Soccer Plus and Fox Deportes are also dark for Dish customers. FOX launched a website dedicated to informing viewers on the blackout that impacts 17 markets across 23 states plus Washington D.C.
“DISH is at it again, choosing to drop leading programming as a negotiating tactic regardless of the impact on its own customers. DISH elected to drop FOX networks in an effort to coerce us to agree to outrageous demands. While we regret this is DISH’s preferred approach to negotiating, we remind our loyal viewers that the FOX services are widely available through every other major television provider,” FOX wrote on the site.
Dish issued a press release outlining its side of the story and urging FOX to focus on “reaching a fair deal.”
The blackout comes at an unfortunate time for viewers, as FOX heads into a weekend filled with marquee college football games, pivotal Major League Baseball games and Week 4 of the NFL season.
FOX’s Week 4 NFL games include the Washington Redskins at New York Giants, Carolina Panthers and Houston Texans, Kansas City Chiefs at Detroit Lions and Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Los Angeles Rams.
Customers will continue to miss major live sporting events if the blackout continues past the weekend, as a doubleheader of Major League Baseball playoff games is scheduled for Oct. 4 on a FS1.
Dropping my children off each morning has stirred a panic I havent felt since they were babies, says Guardian columnist Emma Brockes
There is so much to worry about, said Gertrude Stein, you might as well not worry about any of it. But then again she never dropped two children off at school for the first time. Mine started last week and while one was fine, the other stood in the doorway of her new classroom looking tiny and lost and very alarmed and did the thing that, in extremis, parents fear more than tears: no tears. Looking on from the corridor, I felt something lift up and leave my body like the spirits in Ghost.
Controlling anxiety is the great labour of our age and one with no discernible end. I try to divide my fears into categories: those with controllable outcomes (there is a mouse in our skirting board), those with no solution but that I consider manageable (why do I persist in buying jeans that are too small when I know Im too lazy to return them?), and those that form part of a great, amorphous cloud of dread that hovers just over the horizon (where will it end? Why do we live like this? If there is a God, why did He allow Instagram to happen?).
When my children were babies, the existential terror of being responsible for other people was so vast the only way to control it was to attach it to real-world anxieties. It didnt matter how fantastical; I just needed a shape to hang on to. For a long time, every time I passed the waste-disposal chute in our hallway, I had to staunch a mental image of tripping, wrenching the door open and accidentally dropping one of my children down the 13-storey shaft to the cruncher below. It wasnt great, but it was better than shapeless fear.
That phase eventually wore off to be replaced with a worse one: the fear not of freak accident or ill-health but unhappiness. Were they unhappy? Why were they unhappy? Was it contextual or constitutional? Were signs of distress actually a good thing, given that the unhappiest people in the world are the ones who cant show their unhappiness?
Once my children learned to speak, it was curious to observe that their own anxieties trammelled along similar lines, the necessity of attaching a cause any cause to their fears. Over the past few months, I have talked them down about getting struck by lightning, getting killed in a flood, having a creature come out of the wall at them and something I still cant get a handle on about the Spice Girls not being real. What if a bug crawls into my mouth? asked my daughter the other day, and my answer It just wouldnt, dont worry about it was clearly inadequate because it keeps coming up.
Meanwhile, with school, my own anxiety seems to have gone back to square one: amorphous dread. The place is good, and safe, and well organised. Apart from the agony of drop-off, my girls seem happy. But handing them over has thrown up the dust from those earliest days of unsoothable panic and here I am once again: wandering the aisles of the supermarket on a Tuesday morning, crushing an indent into the side of a pack of tofu sausages while shouting at myself in my head. Get a grip, woman! What would Gertrude Stein say?!
The world’s largest frogs may also have the best pollywog daycare on the market. To protect its wee tadpoles, these enormous amphibians build their own “nursery ponds,” sometimes moving rocks more than half their weight to do so, and then guarding the pond to ensure the next generation’s survival, a new study details.
The finding marks the first time scientists have described the Goliath frog’s(Conraua goliath) unique nest-building and parenting tactics. However, local frog hunters in Cameroon have known about it for years, and they were the first to tell the researchers about the frogs’ parental dedication.
In fact, the researchers were studying something completely different (they were studying the diet of Goliath tadpoles) when “we heard about the breeding behavior of the Goliaths and decided to investigate if it [were] true or not,” said study senior researcher Mark-Oliver Rödel, curator of herpetology at the Natural History Museum in Berlin. [15 of the Largest Animals of Their Kind on Earth]
The 7.3-lb. (3.3 kilograms) Goliath frog is native to Cameroon and Equatorial Guinea. To learn more about its nesting quirks, the scientists spent part of spring 2018 searching a 1,300-foot (400 meters) section of the Mpoula River in western Cameroon. They also interviewed four frog hunters and two villagers who lived near the river to learn more about C. goliath’s habits.
In all, the scientists found 22 breeding sites, 14 of which had almost 3,000 eggs apiece. The team even set up a time-lapse video at one nest, which showed a Goliath guarding the nest at night.
These frogs are creative builders, constructing three different types of nests, the researchers found. One type, the rock-pool nest, was built on larger rocks within the river, meaning that “frogs were using pre-existing structures for breeding,” the researchers wrote in the study.
For the second type, frogs used naturally existing shallow pools near the river as nests. It appeared that the frogs had enlarged these pools, the researchers noticed, in essence turning a cottage into a McMansion. For the third type, the frogs dug small ponds, surrounding them with large stones, some weighing up to 4.4 lbs. (2 kg).
Impressively, none of these nests had debris in them, suggesting that the frogs also acted as housekeepers, keeping the ponds clean for their tadpoles. “We have never observed them directly, but from indirect evidence, it is apparent that they push out material (e.g. leaves, pebbles) from natural ponds or push away larger and smaller stones to create their ‘own’ ponds,” Rödel told Live Science in an email.
It’s likely that the male frogs, which are more than 1.1 feet (34 centimeters) long, use “their huge and very muscular hind legs” to move the stones, he added.
While the researchers never directly witnessed a Goliath frog digging a nest, “the most detailed description we got (from one frog hunter) was that the male would construct the nest while the female waits in proximity,” the scientists wrote in the study. “Once the nest is finished, the male whistles to attract the female, which then is grasped by the male and eggs are deposited. Afterwards, the female would guard the nest and subsequently open the nest towards the river.”
Is daycare worth the cost?
The frogs invest a substantial amount of energy into nest-building, cleaning and guarding. But is it worth it? If their tadpoles survive, it absolutely is, but it appears each nest has benefits and challenges, the researchers found. Nests within a riverbed can flood from heavy rains, allowing predators such as shrimp and fish to get inside and devour the tadpoles, said Rödel, who is also the president of Frogs & Friends, the nongovernmental organization that co-funded the research. [So Tiny! Miniature Frog Species Are Among World’s Smallest (Photos)]
Digging a pond alongside the river would sidestep these predators, but if it doesn’t rain for a spell, the pond could dry up, killing the tadpoles. “Thus, each of the three nest types has advantages and disadvantages, and the frogs need to choose what is best at a certain time,” Rödel said.
Goliath frogs aren’t the only amphibian superparents out there. The gladiator frog (Hypsiboas rosenbergi) in South America builds nests for its young, while the male African bullfrog (Pyxicephalus adspersus) guards tadpoles and digs channels up to 40 feet (12 m) long to allow tadpoles to escape from drying pools, the researchers noted. However, Goliath is the only known African frog to build nesting ponds, the researchers said.
It would be a shame to lose these creatures without fully understanding them, he said. “The reason why we wanted (and actually did) study the tadpoles, was that we needed to know more about the biology of the species, just to make sure we know what to do in case a captive breeding program might be the last chance for the Goliaths’ survival in the future.”