SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Climate change scientists don't like to use the term "prediction." Rather, they're making "projections" about the future of the planet as sea levels rise, wildfires sweep the West and hurricanes become more ferocious. There's a good reason for that. In a world awash in misinformation — about medicine, politics and climate, and pretty much everything else — part of a scientist's job now involves teaching the public about how science works. Convincing the public to have faith in science means making precise, measured projects about the future. They've got to overcome the big...
Germany's parliament will officially elect Olaf Scholz on Wednesday as the country's next chancellor, bringing the curtain down on Angela Merkel's 16-year reign and ushering in a new political era with the centre-left in charge.
Scholz led his Social Democrats to victory against Merkel's conservative CDU-CSU bloc in an epochal election in September, as the veteran chancellor prepared to leave politics after four consecutive terms in office.
Together with the Greens and the liberal Free Democrats, Scholz's SPD managed in a far shorter time than expected to forge a coalition that aspires to make Germany greener and fairer.
"I want the 20s to be a time of new beginnings," Scholz told Die Zeit weekly, declaring an ambition to push forward "the biggest industrial modernization which will be capable of stopping climate change caused by mankind".
The centre-left's return to power in Europe's biggest economy could shift the balance on a continent still reeling from Brexit and with the other major player, France, heading into presidential elections in 2022.
But even before it took office, Scholz's "traffic-light" coalition -- named after the three parties' colors -- was already given a baptism of fire in the form of a fierce fourth wave of the coronavirus pandemic.
'No red lines'
With intensive care beds running out in some regions and a rampant rise in infection numbers showing no signs of abating, Scholz and his new team have been pressed -- including by Merkel -- to agree new curbs even before they are sworn in by parliament.
After Austria set the example and with Germany struggling to boost stagnating vaccination numbers, the parties also came under pressure to make an about-turn on a pledge made earlier in the pandemic not to make vaccinations compulsory.
Scholz has since spoken out in favor of mandatory vaccination, saying he wanted MPs to vote on the issue before year's end with a view of implementing it in February.
"For my government, there are no red lines on what must be done. We're ruling nothing out," he told Die Zeit.
"That's not something we can do during a huge natural disaster or a health catastrophe like a pandemic."
Dubbed "the discreet" by left-leaning daily TAZ, Scholz, 63, is often described as austere or robotic.
But he also has a reputation for being a meticulous workhorse.
An experienced hand in government, Scholz was labour minister in Merkel's first coalition from 2007 to 2009 before taking over as vice-chancellor and finance minister in 2015.
Yet his three-party-alliance is the first such mix at the federal level, as the FDP is not a natural partner for the SPD or the Greens.
Keeping the trio together will require a delicate balancing act taking into account the FDP's business-friendly leanings, the SPD's social instincts and the Greens' demands for sustainability.
Under their coalition deal, the parties have agreed to secure Germany's path to carbon neutrality, including through huge investments in sustainable energy.
They also aim to return to a constitutional no-new-debt rule -- suspended during the pandemic -- by 2023.
Incoming foreign minister Annalena Baerbock of the Greens has also vowed to put human rights at the centre of German diplomacy.
In a recent interview, she signaled a more assertive stance towards authoritarian regimes like China and Russia after the commerce-driven pragmatism of Merkel's 16 years in power.
Critics have accused Merkel of putting the country's export-dependent economy first in international dealings.
Nevertheless she is still so popular in Germany that she would probably have won a fifth term had she sought one.
The veteran politician is also widely admired abroad for her steady hand guiding Germany through a myriad of crises.
She made one more push for Germans to get vaccinated, and thanked those who adhered to curbs, saying: "You demonstrate the civic responsibility that's so marvellous about our country, without which no chancellor or government can achieve anything."
© 2021 AFP
Ilhan Omar calls Kevin McCarthy 'a liar and a coward' for refusing to condemn Boebert's Islamophobia
Congresswoman Ilhan Omar castigated House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy on Sunday morning, calling the Republican leader both "a liar and a coward" for refusing to condemn recent Islamophobic comments and behavior by Rep. Lauren Boebert, a freshman Republican from Colorado.
"Words matter. And words can cause violence. And [Boebert] knows that the language she's using—the audience that she's using it for—is going to incite violence against myself and my community."
Speaking with CNN's Jake Tapper on "State of the Union," Omar—who Boebert joked about being a suicide bomber and repeatedly says is a member of the "Jihad Squad" due to her Muslim faith—said that the GOP leader has shown his true colors as fellow members of Congress have demanded Boebert be censured and stripped of her committee assignments due to her hateful rhetoric.
After watching footage of McCarthy on Friday defending Boebert and explaining why no public condemnation of her was warranted from his perspective because she had already apologized, Omar said, "McCarthy is a liar and a coward."
"He doesn't have the ability to condemn the kind of bigoted Islamophobia and anti-Muslim rhetoric that are being trafficked by a member of his conference," she added.
Asked why that is, Omar responded, "Because this is who they are. And we have to be able to stand up to them. And we have to push them to reckon with the fact their party right now is normalizing anti-Muslim bigotry."
Watch the exchange:
Asked to describe how many death threats she has received recently based on her faith, Omar told Tapper it was "too many to count."
When Tapper asked Omar if she fears for her life, Omar responded by saying that while she and her staff do have a "general fear" for their own safety it is also the safety of the wider community that is vital to understand.
"We constantly hear from so many people across the country where there are children whose hijabs have been pulled off—my own daughters have experienced this. I have experienced this as a young person in this country. And we know that kind of language this member is using leads to," she continued, referring to Boebert.
Speaking off specific death threats directed at her, including a recording of one she recently played during a news conference, Omar said, "We know that the kind of man who leaves that voicemail for a member of Congress is not going to spare a young Muslim girl when he sees her taking the bus or walking home from school or when he runs into her in the grocery store. So we have a responsibility as leaders. Words matter. And words can cause violence. And [Boebert] knows that the language she's using—the audience that she's using it for—is going to incite violence against myself and my community."
Since Boebert's comments about Omar surfaced last month—and as subsequent exchanges and an aborted phone call between the two last week in which Omar said she was forced to hang up because it was so "unproductive" and hateful—numerous fellow lawmakers and outside groups have come to Omar's defense and demanded that Boebert be held to account.
On Tuesday, Rep. Jamaal Bowman (D-N.Y.) urged the House Democratic leadership to remove Boebert from her committee assignments and take "all other appropriate measures" in response to her continued bigoted attacks on Omar.
That GOP leaders like McCarthy have refused to condemn the behavior has stirred deeper outrage.
In a series of tweets on Friday, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) slammed McCarthy and other GOP leaders for their refusal to condemn Boebert or support the call for her committee assignments to be stripped.
"It's embarrassing that there is any hesitation on this," said Ocasio-Cortez. "How can we have different consequences for different kinds of bigotry or incitement? This should be treated equally and consistently. Incite against a member and you’re stripped. End of story. She refuses to even apologize."
"It’s a pretty simple question: does the House accept violent Islamophobia or not?" she continued. "We should feel ashamed every time Congresswoman Omar or anyone is forced to defend themselves against threats in their workplace alone bc the institutions they serve in won’t protect them. It’s messed up.
None of the alt-right Charlottesville guys admit their guilt — it's always someone else's fault: CNN reporter
Ahead of her special on the Charlottesville Nazis and white supremacists, CNN reporter Elle Reeve told Jim Acosta about the interviews she conducted with those who lost lawsuits after the march.
According to Reeve, the man have all explained that they weren't at fault for anything that happened in Charlottesville.
"I mean, you spoke with a number of them," Acosta said. "They were ultimately found liable for millions of dollars in damages. Are you picking up on any remorse? I mean, it sounds like Spencer there, for example, is still very defensive about what he did and what he has said."
"Yeah. I'd say the main message from most of them is 'it wasn't my fault, maybe it was someone else's but not mine,'" Reeve summed up. The crying Nazi, "Chris Cantwell, for example, played an excruciatingly slow-motion video of him punching someone over and over again from behind and tried to tell the jury he was acting in self-defense. But others in more private moments will say, 'Maybe I shouldn't have trusted these people on the internet, maybe I should've said something when they were talking about violence.'"
Reeve has been following the white supremacist movement since 2015, first for VICE News and now for CNN. She said that from the early days of the organizing, she explained that organizer Jason Kessler actually wanted violence.
"He always framed it as self-defense, but he was talking about provoking anti-fascists and attacking them going as far as telling people don't open carry guns because then counterprotesters will be scared and they won't attack us," said Reeve. "Further, he reached out to Matthew Heinbach, who is associated with the white power movement, and asked groups to come who were associated with street fights. He wanted, like, skinhead gangs from the '90s because they had the reputation for being capable of violence."
Spencer, by contrast, created a kind of upper-class version of that with pressed white shirts and khakis walking through the streets of Charlottesville with tiki torches. He too denied responsibility, saying that he just wanted to be famous and that anyone who followed him essentially did so because they wanted to be famous and were jealous of him.
See the full discussion below:
It's everyone else's fault www.youtube.com