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John Oliver's viral video: the best climate debate you'll ever see

The Guardian
Climate consensus blog badge
John Oliver's viral video: the best climate debate you'll ever see

The new HBO comedy show Last Week Tonight with John Oliver recently made a mockery of media false balance in its climate science coverage. Oliver was interviewed on the science podcast Inquiring Minds last week, and host Chris Mooney voiced my feelings exactly:

"I feel like they said in 4 minutes something I've been saying for 10 years with like tens or hundreds of thousands of words; what they said was that there's no debate over global warming, so to have these 'balanced' 1-on-1 TV debates is just preposterous."

Citing the 97% expert consensus result from a paper my colleagues and I published last year, John Oliver illustrated what a statistically representative climate change debate would look like, to great comic effect. A video of the show has gone viral, with over 2.8 million views. You can view it below (warning: the video includes some profane language).

In the show, Oliver made several key points:

Humanity's response to global warming has so far been a massive risk-management failure, or as Oliver put it, "we've all proven that we cannot be trusted with the future tense."

Public skepticism about global warming is irrelevant. As Neil deGrasse Tyson says, "The good thing about science is that it's true whether or not you believe in it."

The body of scientific evidence supports human-caused global warming: 97% of peer-reviewed scientific papers taking a position on the subject over the past 20 years are in agreement about this.

The media nevertheless continues to treat the subject as a 'debate', often with 1 person representing the 97% consensus and 1 person representing the less than 3% fringe minority.

The 'debate' should center on what to do about climate change; it's not about the science.

MORE AT (with links): http://www.theguardian.com/environment/climate-consensus-97-per-cent/2014/may/23/john-oliver-best-climate-debate-ever

Tom Tomorrow: Guns everywhere

Mon May 19, 2014 at 07:00 AM PDT
Cartoon: Guns everywhere
by Tom Tomorrow


Breaking w/Caution: Nigerian Girls Potentially Located by U.S. Marines

Sat May 10, 2014 at 04:08 PM PDT
Breaking w/Caution: Nigerian Girls Potentially Located by U.S. Marines
by pajolyUn

NOTE: I caution against over exuberance until major media confirms this. Still, it seemed noteworthy. The original appearance seems to be on the website of the Vanguard, which is supposedly a credible and influential paper in Nigeria. I did check and found the reporters -- Kingsley Omonobi, Henry Umoru and Victoria Ojeme-Abuja -- appear to actually be reporters in Nigeria. We do know according to SecState Kerry the Marines are already on the ground, along with some from the UK. I am putting the diary back up for the purposes of comments as people find information. I will continue to update as I can what I can. Let's all hope for a positive outcome where these girls are returned home.

News has started to come out from top tier news sites in Nigeria, such as the Vanguard claiming U.S. Marines have found and arrested several Boko Haram leaders, and have located the missing girls in the forest still within the borders of Nigeria.

Military sources have stated that a combined team of security agents in the field and back up communications and satellite imagery specialists have located the missing girls inside the dreaded Sambisa forest.

The United States marines were also said to have used communications equipment to intercept a mobile phone call from a Boko Haram informant to insurgents giving them information on the movement of the marines and Nigerian security forces. The informant is said to have been arrested in Maiduguri and handed over to security officials.

Another Nigerian source reports:

There were indications yesterday that the 230 female students abducted by Boko Haram terrorists from the Government Girls' Secondary School, GGSS, Chibok, Borno State, have been sited at the Sambisa Forest in Borno State, by the Special Forces of the United States Marines.

The news is being picked up by numerous Nigerian news sites, but they each seem to point back to the Vanguard report. Other sources include The Herald in Nigeria. The news has not yet been verified by American or western media that I have yet found.

If true, it would be significant and a huge break if the girls are still within Nigeria, as it will make their rescue simpler. The expected rescue will be a joint efforts with other western troops.

The United States marines are expected to lead rescue efforts in conjunction with other special forces from France, the United Kingdom and ofcourse local troops to retrieve the girls and return them to their families.

Things are fluid and conflicting, another African source posted 3 hours ago the following.

The kidnapped Chibok girls have been moved from the Sambisa forest towards the forest around Ashaka in Gombe State, a top security official has told PREMIUM TIMES.

The security official, who sought anonymity as he was not authorised to speak, also denied the rumor that some of the girls were rescued on Saturday.
He, however, said there were high hopes for the quick rescue of the girls based on the ongoing cooperation between Nigerian officials and their counterparts from the U.S. and U.K. on the rescue efforts.

“It is not true that they have been rescued yet, but we noticed and observed movement of some of the girls from the Sambisa region towards Ashaka forest in Gombe state”, said the security personnel.

I'll post additional information as soon as I find it.

2:48 PM PT: A third Nigerian source is picking up on the news. "The Nigerian Voice." I must repeat, I do not yet see this in American general media.




Woman Sexually Assaulted by NYPD Convicted of Felony Assault

Mon May 05, 2014 at 02:42 PM PDT
Woman Sexually Assaulted by NYPD Convicted of Felony Assault
by David Harris Gershon

If you have not been following the story of Cecily McMillan, you might suspect the above headline to be either exaggerated or tasteless satire. Tragically, it is neither.

The story of McMillan is a story of police brutality and the justice system's propensity to insulate police from culpability, a story which takes place invisibly in urban centers in this country on a weekly basis. The only difference here is that McMillan, an Occupy activist who was assaulted during a police raid, gained national attention due to the cameras rolling and the high-profile nature of the event.

The assault happened on March 17, 2012, which was the six-month anniversary of the Occupy movement. Nonviolent activists had gathered in Zuccotti Park to mark the milestone, and that night police moved in to clear the park and make arrests. During the chaos, Officer Grantley Bovell grabbed McMillan's breast from behind, swung her around and threw her to the ground, at which point she began to have a seizure and required medical help. According to her defense, she instinctively swung her arms when her breast was grabbed. According to Bovell and the prosecution, McMillan's swinging elbow was all that mattered.

Bruising on McMillan induced by Officer Bovell grabbing her from behind. Image via McMillan and policymic.

During the trial, evidence concerning the violent way in which police cleared the park that night was suppressed. In many instances, physical evidence was tossed out, and the presiding judge, Ronald Zweibel, ruled that the context of the assault had no bearing or relevance. Of course, officer testimony was accepted and relied upon to paint a picture of McMillan's brutal assault of a police officer.

Here's Molly Knefel in The Guardian:

To the jury, the hundreds of police batons, helmets, fists, and flex cuffs out on March 17 were invisible – rendering McMillan's elbow the most powerful weapon on display in Zuccotti that night, at least insofar as the jury was concerned.

That hyper-selective retelling of events to the jury mirrored the broader popular narrative of OWS. The breathtaking violence displayed by the NYPD throughout Occupy Wall Street has not only been normalized, but entirely justified – so much so that it doesn't even bear mentioning...

...(Which is why) it is the protesters who are remembered as destructive and chaotic. It is Cecily McMillan who went on trial for assault but not Bovell or any of his colleagues – despite the thousands of photographs and videos providing irrefutable evidence that protesters, journalists and legal observers alike were shoved, punched, kicked, tackled, and beaten over the head.

McMillan was fortunate to have an incredible support structure, both personal and legal – and yet even she ran into the buzzsaw of police brutality and a legal system's propensity to brush such brutality under the rug. For today she was convicted of felony assault for that swinging elbow, an elbow that likely was not intended as anything more than a response to being grabbed by a stranger:

McMillan claimed that she swung her arm back instinctively only after having one of her breasts grabbed from behind while she was walking out of the park. Her lawyers showed photographs of bruising to her chest to support this. They said McMillan did not know that Bovell was a police officer, and did not intend to hurt him.

Not only has a violent police officer with a history of abuse gotten away with his crime, but a woman faces seven years in prison for reacting upon having her breast sharply grabbed from behind.

One of the two people in the park on the night of the incident was there in the interest of serving the public good, and it wasn't the one in uniform.

And that person will be serving an extended jail sentence. Because we as a nation allow this to happen. Across this country. Every single week.


234 Girls

234 Girls
Ages 16-18 years old.

234 Girls
Being educated.

234 Girls
Willing to go to school despite the enormous risk.

234 Girls
Preparing for their exams.

234 Girls
Kidnapped by thugs posing as guards to protect them.

234 Girls
Torn from their families.

234 Girls
Missing for 16 days.

234 Girls
Being raped and abused.

234 Girls
Being sold into slavery or marriages for $12.00 each.

234 Girls
Being ignored by their their own leader.

234 Girls
Being ignored by the world leaders.

234 Girls
Not on a missing plane so not worthy of non-stop CNN coverage.

234 Girls'
Families desperate for their return.

234 Girls.

Well played, Marine...

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