(CNN)Sen. Kamala Harris on Monday pledged that, if elected President, she would take executive action enacting sweeping gun control measures if Congress fails to send comprehensive legislation to her desk in her first 100 days.”Enough,” says the fact sheet outlining the proposals that the campaign plans to unveil publicly tomorrow. “We’re not waiting any longer.”The pledge by Harris to act unilaterally by executive action sharpens her repeated calls on the campaign trail, blasting Congress for failing to act on gun violence, especially mass shootings.Last weekend at her town hall in Orangeburg, South Carolina, Harris told the crowd, “It is a false choice to suggest you are either in favor of the Second Amendment or you want to take everyone’s guns away. We need leaders in Washington, D.C., who have the courage to speak the truth.”The plan, as outlined in her proposal, aims to move closer to federal universal background checks, a first-step move the campaign calls “mandated near-universal background checks.” The campaign says this 100-day pledge is just part of the gun safety agenda Harris will pursue as President.”These are practical solutions and will save lives,” said Kris Brown, president of the gun safety group the Brady Campaign. The Brady Bill, passed a quarter decade ago, was a powerful tool requiring federal background checks. But as the Internet came of age, private sellers increasingly turned to the web and were not required to conduct background checks under the law.Harris’ proposal, said Brown, would update the federal law with modern times.”What people want is for dangerous people to not have easy access to guns,” Brown said. “When I look at each of these proposals, that’s what she’s achieving.”The proposal comes from the decades-long former prosecutor who recently pointed out that she herself is a gun owner.Harris’ pledge lays out four points. The first would mandate what the proposal calls “near-universal background checks by requiring anyone who sells five or more guns per year to run a background check on all gun sales.” The target is to classify that seller of more than five guns as a dealer of firearms. A recent CNN investigation highlighted the problem of unlicensed gun dealing in America. An aide said the campaign read the investigation as it was crafting the proposal.Another part of Harris’ proposal would revoke the licenses of gun manufacturers and dealers who break the law and, for the worst cases, the Harris plan would make them criminally liable. It would also fine gun corporations up to $500,000 for each violation, using that money for community-based violence intervention programs and mental health treatment. Currently, a 2005 law called the Protection of Commerce in Arms Act (PLCAA) shields the gun industry from liability when third parties use weapons for criminal purposes, but not from the federal government, argues Harris.Harris’ plan also reverses a Trump administration action that narrowed the definition of “fugitive from justice,” which allows a gun sale unless a person can be shown to have fled a state for the purpose of avoiding charges. Anyone with an outstanding arrest warrant would be denied from purchasing a gun under Harris’ proposal.The Harris plan also expands a federal law that prohibits gun sales to domestic violence abusers. Currently, federal law prohibits those sales to a married partner convicted of domestic violence misdemeanors. Harris would apply that law where an abuser is a dating partner.The Harris campaign makes clear this is an opening salvo in a larger part of her gun safety agenda. Harris has pledged on the campaign trail to enact universal background checks, renew the assault weapons ban and prohibit those convicted of a federal hate crime from purchasing guns.”The politics on gun safety have absolutely changed,” said Peter Ambler, executive director and co-founder of Giffords, the gun safety organization founded by and bearing the name of former Rep. Gabby Giffords, who was shot while in office.Ambler recalled that John Kerry, the 2004 Democratic presidential nominee, once donned a duck hunting outfit to align himself to gun owners. Today, many of the Democratic candidates routinely talk about fighting the NRA and gun safety measures.But the shift in Democratic sentiment on gun legislation is likely to haunt at least one contender. Sen. Bernie Sanders in 2005 voted for the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act, the law that Harris is targeting in her gun policy rollout. During the 2016 presidential race, Hillary Clinton blasted Sanders for the vote that led to the law shielding the gun industry. Sanders pledged at the time he would act to repeal it.”It has gone from the third rail to a main issue that will provide a key contrast to Donald Trump,” Ambler said. “Being first with a proposal like this speaks to Sen. Harris’ courage and the degree to which she’s speaking to the issue. It’s a bold proposal.”
Kirstjen Nielsen has resigned as Department of Homeland Security (DHS) secretary in the midst of soaring illegal immigration levels and an expanded Catch and Release policy under her direction.
On Sunday, President Trump wrote online that Nielsen would be leaving her position as head of DHS.
Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen will be leaving her position, and I would like to thank her for her service….
Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen will be leaving her position, and I would like to thank her for her service….
….I am pleased to announce that Kevin McAleenan, the current U.S. Customs and Border Protection Commissioner, will become Acting Secretary for @DHSgov. I have confidence that Kevin will do a great job!
Nielsen’s resignation as DHS secretary comes amid a surge of illegal immigration at the U.S.-Mexico border and an expanded Catch and Release policy that the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency has been tasked with carrying out.
During Nielsen’s tenure as DHS secretary, illegal immigration has increased nearly every month over the last year and a half. Simultaneously, the Trump administration has yet to construct a border wall on new land at the southern border that did not previously have barriers built by the Bush and Obama administrations.
Most recently, officials with the National ICE Council accused Nielsen of “grossly” mismanaging DHS and failing to acknowledge that the agency had been operating an expanded Catch and Release policy for border crossers and illegal aliens for months.
As Breitbart News chronicled, Nielsen previously served in the Bush administration overseeing a crisis team following the destruction of New Orleans, Louisiana, by Hurricane Katrina in 2005. The Bush administration had waved federal regulations to allow an unlimited level of illegal immigration into the Gulf Coast to take low-skill jobs rebuilding the region. Nielsen previously chaired a World Economic Forum committee that authored a report praising mass migration into Europe. For her confirmation process to DHS, Nielsen worked with an assortment of allies that worked vigorously in the 2016 presidential election to oppose Trump, including Frances Townsend and Tom Ridge.
Kirstjen Nielsen, Trump’s nominee to lead DHS, opposes wall along length of Mexican border
President Trump’s pick to lead the Department of Homeland Security said Wednesday that she does not support building a wall along the entire length of the U.S. southern border.
Kirstjen Nielsen, an attorney with cyber- and homeland security experience, told senators during her confirmation hearing that the border should be fortified instead with a mix of personnel, technology and physicial fencing.
Her stand mirrors that of former DHS secretary — and her current boss — White House Chief of Staff John Kelly. Nielsen was Kelly’s chief of staff at DHS and followed him to the White House, where she is principal deputy chief of staff.
“The president has stated as have predecessors at DHS certainly something that I share: There is no need for a wall from sea to shining sea,” she said.
Nielsen previously worked at the Transportation Security Administration and on the White House Homeland Security Council under President George W. Bush.
If confirmed, she will oversee some 240,000 employees at Customs and Border Protection, the Transportation Security Administration, Coast Guard and the Federal Emergency Management Agency, among other agencies.
Senators grilled her during the hearing about climate change, port security, deferring deportation for children brought to the country illegally, and combating violent extremism, including by white supremacists.
Nielsen vowed to closely monitor and strengthen department programs designed to counter extremism. She said undocumented children brought to the United States illegally will not be a priority for deportation if she is confirmed, and that criminals would be.
Nielsen’s nomination has not been particularly controversial since Trump announced it last month. She is expected to win confirmation easily, though she did provide some answers Wednesday that took some some senators aback. For example on climate change, Nielsen declined to say she believes humans caused it.
“I do absolutely believe that the climate is changing,” she said. “I’m not prepared to determine causation.”
‘HIGHLY PROFITABLE SCAM’: SOUTHERN POVERTY LAW CENTER ‘RIPPING OFF DONORS,’ FORMER STAFFER SAYS
The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) is a “highly profitable scam” that “never lived up to the values it espoused,” according to former SPLC staffer Bob Moser.
New York Magazine on Thursday published a scathing essay from Moser, now a Rolling Stone reporter, accusing the left-wing non-profit of “ripping off donors” while turning a blind eye to sexual harassment and racial discrimination within its own ranks.
The SPLC fired co-founder Morris Dees on March 13 over unspecified conduct issues.
The SPLC announced Dees’ firing after roughly two dozen SPLC employees previously signed a letter to the organization’s leadership expressing their alarm at “allegations of mistreatment, sexual harassment, gender discrimination, and racism,” The Los Angeles Times reported.
“The firing of Dees has flushed up all the uncomfortable questions again. Were we complicit, by taking our paychecks and staying silent, in ripping off donors on behalf of an organization that never lived up to the values it espoused? Did we enable racial discrimination and sexual harassment by failing to speak out?” Moser asked in his article.
One of Moser’s former colleagues answered in the affirmative.
“Of course we did,” she told Moser. “It’s shameful, but when you’re there you kind of end up accepting things. I never even considered speaking out when things happened to me! It doesn’t feel good to recognize that. I was so into the work, and so motivated by it, I kind of shrugged off what was going on.”
A spokesman for the SPLC did not return an email seeking comment on Moser’s article.
The SPLC, which is known to label pedestrian conservative organizations as “hate groups,” is a key resource for Amazon, Google and other tech companies in policing “hate speech.” (RELATED: SPLC Whitewashes Democrats’ Ties To Anti-Semite Farrakhan)
According to Moser, SPLC employees were aware that donors were being misled about the SPLC’s mission.
He described “the guilt you couldn’t help feeling about the legions of donors who believed that their money was being used, faithfully and well, to do the Lord’s work in the heart of Dixie. We were part of the con, and we knew it.”
The non-profit recently reported more than half a billion dollars in assets, including $121 million in off-shore funds.
A shocking shakeup at the Southern Poverty Law Center
Morris Dees was just ousted from the Southern Poverty Law Center, an outfit he founded and controlled for decades. Count us as hopeful this means the SPLC will return to its roots as a true force for civil rights rather than an outfit that seems to mint money in the name of fighting hate.
The Wednesday release from SPLC President Richard Cohen only hints that Dees was fired for conduct that failed to reflect “the mission of the organization and the values we hope to instill in the world.” No clue on whether that means #MeToo trouble, financial misconduct or something else.
It may even be related to the slow transformation of a group that in its early years was a clear force for good, fighting for voting rights and against the Ku Klux Klan.
In recent years, though, its listing of hate groups in particular has seemed unhinged — putting the socially conservative Family Research Council on the same level as the Klan. Last year, it agreed to pay $3 million to settle a lawsuit from Maajid Nawaz, a Muslim reformer who it had listed as an “Anti-Muslim Extremist.”
Despite this, much of the media — and tech giants like Facebook, Google and PayPal — have treated its judgments as gospel.
That reputation kept donations rolling in: Its assets now top half a billion, with more than $120 million parked outside the country, The Washington Examiner reports.
That pile of dough has to be a huge temptation for corruption. Cross your fingers that the SPLC’s sudden shakeup means a turn for the better, and not the worse.
12 Ways The Southern Poverty Law Center Is A Scam To Profit From Hate-Mongering
What makes the hate list of the Southern Poverty Law Center different from the “burn book” a high school queen bee keeps in the 2004 movie “Mean Girls”? Answer: not much. The burn book was a compilation of insults, gossip, and rumors intended to repel the diva’s “enemies,” label everybody, and keep herself on top of the heap.
The SPLC uses its list of designated hate groups in much the same way: to manipulate the lives of others, smear reputations, control personal relationships, and reap the spoils. The dynamic is the same, whether played on the adolescent scene or in the political arena. Both lists serve mostly as power-mongering tools.
In civilized societies, we supposedly grow out of that sort of tribalism. But look around and you’ll see such behaviorsproliferating in every sphere: politics, journalism, education. A recent headline in the Washington Examiner nailed it: “The Bret Stephens Freak Out is a Reminder that the Media Is Basically a Massive High School Clique.”
Why do so many folks treat the SPLC with undeserved reverence, the way too many high school kids treat a self-appointed nasty queen bee? Why do they accept the Southern Poverty Law Center as the nation’s Grand Inquisitor dictating who may speak and who must shut up? And why are its smears and caricatures so often blindly accepted at face value? What qualifies the SPLC to act as judge, jury, and social executioner of any human being who is not their blind supporter?
Those questions have been hanging in the air for decades. As with all vilification campaigns, the SPLC plays a dangerous and cruel game under the guise of defending victims. So let’s take a closer look at some of the SPLC’s history and behavior. Let’s count some ways it’s a con game.
1. It’s a Big-Money Smear Machine
The SPLC’s main role is as a massively funded propaganda smear machine. The following information on the SPLC, provided by Karl Zinsmeister of Philanthropy Roundtable, is an eye-opener: “Its two largest expenses are propaganda operations: creating its annual lists of ‘haters’ and ‘extremists,’ and running a big effort that pushes ‘tolerance education’ through more than 400,000 public-school teachers. And the single biggest effort undertaken by the SPLC? Fundraising. On the organization’s 2015 IRS 990 form it declared $10 million of direct fundraising expenses, far more than it has ever spent on legal services.”
2. The Center’s Work Has Incited Violence
The SPLC’s agitation and propaganda have proven to incite violence. Any person or organization of note who doesn’t get with the SPLC’s political agendas—whether they promote family integrity, religious freedom, U.S. immigration law, or anything else—is liable to end up smeared as an SPLC-certified agent of hate.
The SPLC website keeps tabs on designated bad guys with a Hate Map of the United States and an invitation for readers to #reporthate. The SPLC’s hate list includes the Family Research Council in Washington DC, and the 2012 shooting at FRC headquarters was inspired through the influence of SPLC agitprop, according to the gunman himself. He would have committed mass murder if he wasn’t stopped.
The recent mob violence in response to social scientist Charles Murray’s talk at Middlebury College, and the assault of a faculty member there, were products of the SPLC’s smear of Murray as an “extremist.” The list goes on.
3. SLPC Uses Emotion-Laden Images to Spread Innuendo
SPLC uses emotion-laden images with nary any evidence to “spread stigma just by innuendo.” Zinsmeister from Philanthropy Roundtable notes: “Over the years, numerous investigators have pointed out that most of the scary KKK and Nazi and militia groups that the SPLC insists are lurking under our beds are actually ghost entities, with no employees, no address, hardly any followers, and little or no footprint.”
But “hate groups” and “extremist organizations” are great copy, especially for fundraising. So the SPLC list of storm-troopers-in-our-midst is catnip for journalists looking for dramatic stories. SPLC’s lack of reasonable criteria for who goes on its list of crazies combines effortlessly with careless reporting, and spreads stigma just by innuendo. Mere proximity to SPLC’s arbitrary “hate” list is enough to tar even the worthiest group.
4. The FBI Stopped Citing SPLC as a Resource
Two years ago, the FBI deleted the SPLC from its website’s list of legitimate resources on hate crimes. This is a promising sign of growing clarity that the SPLC’s designations for hate groups lack legitimacy. There also seems to be growing boldness in calling out the SPLC for its tactics intended to shut down serious scholarship.
5. People On Its Political Team See the Problems, Too
Even some self-identified progressives are taking issue with SPLC vilification campaigns after the 2012 SPLC-inspired shooting at the Family Research Council. The SPLC’s emotionally charged rhetoric ignites divisions among people rather than healing anything. And there’s no telling where that can end up. So even leftist Washington Post columnist Dana Milbank wrote that the SPLC’s labeling of the Family Research Center as a hate group was a reckless act.
6. Its Nonprofit Status Masks Highly Political Fundraising
The SPLC operates far more as a political action committee than as the nonprofit it claims to be. The hyper-partisan nature of the SPLC’s operations makes its nonprofit status seem like a joke. In a recent letter to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, the Federation for Immigration Reform argued that the SPLC’s tax-exempt 501(c)3 status should be revoked because in the 2016 elections, the SPLC clearly violated the Internal Revenue Service requirement that prohibits “participating in or intervening (including the publishing or distributing of statements), in any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for elective public office.”
7. Its Public Activities Are a Ruse for Fundraising
The SPLC is little more than a “cash collecting machine” rooted more deeply in fund-raising opportunism than in any do-gooder impulse. The SPLC was founded in 1971, after much of the heroic heavy lifting of the civil rights era was already over and the Ku Klux Klan was pretty much beyond its death throes. But invoking the imagery of pointy white hoods still seems to be an irresistible fund-raising ploy for the SPLC.
Again, Zinsmeister at Philanthropy Roundtable calls it out: “The SPLC is a cash-collecting machine. In 2015 it vacuumed up $50 million in contributions and foundation grants, a tidy addition to its $334 million holdings of cash and securities and its headquarters worth $34 million. ‘They’ve never spent more than 31 percent of the money they were bringing in on programs, and sometimes they spent as little as 18 percent. Most nonprofits spend about 75 percent on programs,’ noted Jim Tharpe, managing editor of the SPLC’s hometown newspaper, the Montgomery Advertiser, in a talk at Harvard’s Nieman Foundation for Journalism.”
Zinsmeister adds: “Though it styles itself as a public-interest law firm, the Southern Poverty Law Center does shockingly little litigation, and only small amounts of that on behalf of any aggrieved individuals.”
8. Its Founder Is a Direct Marketing Guru
SPLC founder Morris Dees was inducted into the Direct Marketing Hall of Fame in 1998. That should tell you a lot. Dees’ experience as an ultra-successful direct mail marketer well precedes his SPLC days. Perhaps he employed those skills while working on George Wallace’s 1958 gubernatorial campaign in Alabama and as finance director for George McGovern’s 1972 presidential bid, as well as campaignsof Jimmy Carter and Ted Kennedy.
But critics say he got especially wealthy while at the SPLC, building what they’ve called his “poverty palaces,” by guilt-tripping and virtue-signaling a load of affluent white donors who identify as progressives.
9. Civil Rights Activists Say Its Founder Is ‘A Con Man’
Bona fide civil rights activists have described the SPLC founder as “a con man and a fraud.” A 2000 Harper’s Magazine article by Ken Silverstein quotes anti-death penalty activist Millard Farmer on Dees’ apparent fund-raising monomania: “He’s the Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker [notorious televangelists] of the civil rights movement, though I don’t mean to malign Jim and Tammy Faye.”
Take note also of the sentiment expressed (also cited in Harper’s) by civil rights lawyer Stephen Bright in a letter to the dean of the University of Alabama law school in 2007: “Thank you very much for the invitation to speak at the law school’s commencement in May. I am honored by the invitation, but regret that I am not able to accept it due to other commitments at that time.
“I also received the law school’s invitation to the presentation of the ‘Morris Dees Justice Award,’ which you also mentioned in your letter as one of the ‘great things’ happening at the law school. I decline that invitation for another reason. Morris Dees is a con man and fraud, as I and others, such as U.S. Circuit Judge Cecil Poole, have observed and as has been documented by John Egerton, Harper’s, the Montgomery Advertiser in its ‘Charity of Riches’ series, and others. . . . Both the law school and Skadden are diminished by being a part of another Dees scam.”
10.The Center Is Advertising For New Revenue-Raisers
SPLC is now advertising for help in “developing theories” to support its litigation projects. The following is from a current appeal to recent law school graduates at the Ivy League University of Pennsylvania: “Penn Law and the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) have created a new, two-year, post-graduate fellowship for a new or recent graduate to work with the SPLC’s Special Litigation Practice Group. . .The Penn Law Civil Rights Fellow will serve as an integral member of the SPLC’s legal group, conducting legal research and analysis and developing theories to support new litigation projects and advocacy campaigns …” (emphasis mine). If you need to develop a “theory” to support an argument intended to condemn those you’ve labelled as haters, there probably isn’t any there there.
11. SPLC Propaganda Seems to Encourage Hoax Hate Crimes
SPLC propaganda seems to encourage hoax hate crimes. There has been a recent surge of hoax hate crimes. In part, I believe this is due to the far reach of the SPLC’s propaganda and agitation machine, which has maligned legitimate think tanks and advocacy centers like the Family Research Center, Alliance Defending Freedom, and the Center for Security Policy. It also has smeared eminent scholars like Murray and Ayaan Hirsi Ali as well as pediatric neurosurgeon (now secretary of Housing and Urban Development) Ben Carson.
12. Its Blacklist Foments the Campus Anti-Speech Movement
The SPLC is no doubt heavily invested in the campus anti-speech movement. It stands to reason that to control “hate speech,” one must control all speech. That’s a major reason any speaker on a college campus who is unapproved by the SPLC can end up shut down in riotous fashion as Murray at Middlebury or Milo Yiannopoulos at Cal Berkeley or Gavin McInnes at New York University. If you plan to attend such an event, you’ll notice that even lesser-known speakers often need police escorts after the SPLC has blacklisted them.A society of people who can reason isn’t good for direct mail marketers.
Anti-speech activists on campus will often cite even an association the speaker might have with someone on the SPLC list. They will also direct students to attend another event deliberately scheduled to conflict with it. This happened to me at Georgetown University when I went to hear Nonie Darwish speak about her conversion from Islam to Christianity. She had at least three police escorts, and endured a lot of slurs and hostility from audience members. The flyer I was handed before going into the talk warned that Darwish was an “Islamophobe” unapproved by the SPLC, as though that actually meant something.
Now, why would the SPLC want to demean good people who take views contrary to its own?
A society of people who can reason isn’t good for direct mail marketers. A society of people who have serious concerns about the erosion of religious liberties or free speech is not good for propagandists of any stripe. The term “hate” has been remarkably effective at suppressing independent thought and speech. Nobody wants to be labeled a bigot, and if faced with that prospect will tend to flee from “offending” views. This is the behavior modification propaganda aims for. It contributes to the noxious effects of groupthink.
The flip side is that the SPLC’s abuse of the term “hate” will attract support from a certain segment of the population that wants to suppress the views of those who disagree with them. That is good for direct mail marketers who are interested in generous contributions from the fatuously self-righteous.
Sadly, history has revealed time and again that organized vilification campaigns endanger human dignity and freedom. The SPLC treads perilous ground, trading in explosively hostile language in return for what else but money and power?
Former Attorney General Eric Holder on Thursday said Democrats should consider packing the Supreme Court when they regain political power.
Holder said he would “seriously consider” adding two seats to the court if he were president, as revenge for the two seats on the court that President Donald Trump has filled since taking office. Holder wants other Democrats to follow suit.
“In response to a question, Attorney General Holder said that given the unfairness, unprecedented obstruction, and disregard of historical precedent by Mitch McConnell and Senate Republicans, when Democrats retake the majority they should consider expanding the Supreme Court to restore adherence to previously accepted norms for judicial nominations,” a Holder spokesman said in a statement.
The idea of packing the court has gained steam among liberal activists since Trump took office.
New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, a Democratic candidate for president in 2020, previously signaled her openness to expanding the court, which she described as “an interesting idea.”
Brian Fallon, executive director of left-wing group Demand Justice, is among the left-wing activists pushing Democrats to embrace the radical change.
“More and more Democrats are becoming convinced that we cannot resign ourselves to the third branch of government being captive to partisan Republican forces for the next 30 years,” Fallon, a former Hillary Clinton campaign spokesman, told The Daily Beast Thursday.
“Any progressive reforms that a Democratic president would pursue in 2021 would come under threat from the Supreme Court. Accepting the status quo on this issue is not going to fly and there is becoming a consensus that some type of reform needs to happen,” Fallon said.
Mayor Bill de Blasio is expected to announce on Monday that New York City schools are no longer serving meat on Mondays to their 1.1 million public school students.
While other cities, including Los Angeles, have taken up meatless Mondays, New York City’s is the largest school system in the nation to embrace the cause.
“Cutting back on meat a little will improve New Yorkers’ health and reduce greenhouse gas emissions,” de Blasio said in a statement provided to POLITICO.
The announcement comes following a yearlong experiment to determine if New York City students (and their parents) would prove receptive to breakfasts and lunches devoid of all animal products except eggs and cheese.
The program began in 15 schools last spring. This school year, the city quietly began to experiment with meatless Mondays in schools across the city, under the rubric of “Jumpstart Mondays.” Breakfast offerings began to include oatmeal and cheese sticks, but no turkey bacon. Lunch menus listed baked penne, “broccoli trees,” and grilled cheese, but no hamburgers.
According to the city, the experiment has proven successful and cost-neutral. The Department of Education says its Office of Food and Nutrition Services will go back and forth with students before finalizing the meatless Monday menu, which will launch officially in the fall. Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, whose decision to go vegan a few years ago reversed his diabetes, has championed the meatless Mondays cause.
“When we are serving food that causes cancer … [and] childhood diabetes, we’re feeding the crisis,” he told POLITICO in a recent interview.
Over the course of the last century, experts say meat has come to occupy a more central role in the American diet, and in diets of industrialized nations worldwide.
“America kind of reflects the pattern you see replicated around the world,” said Bob Martin, 66, a program director at the Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future and a supporter of the meatless Mondays campaign. “As we moved up economically, meat became more and more of a centerpiece of the plate. And I think that when I was growing up, meat was really a bit of a luxury.”
That changed as agriculture developed “a really cheap, industrial way to produce meat in large quantities,” Martin said.
The repercussions for human health, the environment, and animal welfare have proven dire — undercutting the very notion that factory-farmed meat is, in fact, cheap.
“There are lots of externalized costs of meat production through either health problems or environmental damage that’s not reflected in the meat production price,” Martin said.
Agriculture produces about a quarter of all greenhouse gas emissions, and “intensive meat production is on an unstoppable trajectory comprising the single greatest contributor to climate change,” according to a recent report in The Lancet.
The World Health Organization considers processed meats a carcinogen and red meats a likely carcinogen. The saturated fats in meat are implicated in heart disease and other health problems. People concerned with animal welfare, meanwhile, consider the grim conditions in factory farms a moral offense.
De Blasio has long championed the abolition of New York’s horse carriage industry as an animal rights issue, but in 2016, bioethicist Peter Singer, the father of the modern-day animal rights movement, said that meatless Mondays would be a more effective way to improving animal lives.
“The Mayor could encourage healthy eating, reduce animal suffering, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by reducing the amount of meat served in school lunches,” he said at the time.
And now that is happening. The Department of Education serves about 880,000 meals daily. Every year it serves 150 million breakfasts and lunches.
“I applaud the school system for doing it,” Martin said. “I think it’s a really important, significant signal because of the size of the school district, but also, for the health of the kids, too.”
New York Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said people should be “excited” rather than fearful about the prospect of robots in the workplace at a conference in Austin, Texas, Saturday.
Ocasio-Cortez’s comments came during a Q-and-A session at the South By Southwest Conference & Festivals, according to The Verge.
The self-described Democratic-Socialist really worked the crowd at the festival, calling the current state of America “garbage,” blasting capitalism, Ronald Reagan, the New Deal and even political moderates.
She also offered solutions to those who “fear” socialism, which prompted excitement in liberal TV scientist Bill Nye, who tweeted that Ocasio-Cortez “gets it.”
As the congresswoman sees it, automation presents opportunities for people not to work, and because people are scared of not having jobs, fear of workplace robots comes from deep-rooted societal issues.
“We should be excited by [automation]. But the reason we’re not excited by it is because we live in a society where if you don’t have a job, you are left to die. And that is, at its core, our problem,” insisted Ocasio-Cortez.
Ocasio-Cortez challenged the audience to think of what they could do with their time if they didn’t have to work the kinds of jobs that automated labor could do for us.