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Nov. 30 2015 12:43 PM

Donald Trump Loses Black Pastor “Endorsements” He Never Had

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: Donald Trump has over-promised and under-delivered.

The Trump campaign has scrapped plans for a high-profile press conference on Monday, which it had earlier suggested would feature a group of 100 black pastors and religious leaders endorsing the GOP front-runner following a private meeting in New York City. Now the meeting will just be an “informational meet-and-greet,” per the Trump campaign, and will be closed to the press.


The shift happened after many of the invitees made it clear that they had no plans to endorse Trump despite what his camp was telling reporters last week.

“The meeting was presented not as a meeting to endorse but as a meeting to engage in dialogue,” Clarence E. McClendon, a Los Angeles pastor, explained on Facebook, adding that he wouldn’t be attending the event. Another invitee, Detroit preacher Corletta Vaughn, was less subtle about her feelings, using her Facebook account to call Trump an “insult and embarrassment.” Separately, more than 100 black religious leaders who were not invited published an open letter in Ebony magazine blasting Trump for his rhetoric and warning their fellow religious leaders that the meeting would give Trump the “appearance of legitimacy” among their followers. “Mr. Trump will use that legitimacy to gain Black political support, while using that support to govern in a way that harms Black communities,” they wrote.

Trump has held several meeting with black religious groups this year—though he has repeatedly undercut his own efforts to broaden his appeal by opening his mouth. Most recently, he suggested that a black activist who had been pushed to the ground, kicked, and punched by several of his supporters at an Alabama rally this month “deserved it,” and later tweeted out bogus, racist crime stats that erroneously suggested blacks were responsible for the majority of white homicides.

On Monday, Trump offered his own theory for why he appears to be losing endorsements he never had in the first place. “Probably some of the Black Lives Matter folks called them up and said, ‘Oh, you shouldn’t be meeting with Trump because he believes all lives matter,” he said Monday on MSNBC’s Morning Joe. Shortly after, his campaign offered a different explanation, calling the whole thing an unfortunate mix-up. "It’s a coalition meeting. Some of these pastors were not going to be endorsing to begin with,” spokeswoman Katrina Pierson told CNN. “Now if the campaign had said that some of them won’t be endorsing, it just was—it was way too confusing.”

This isn’t the first time that Trump’s camp has had to cry miscommunication while attempting to do damage control after offending a specific demographic group that he nonetheless claims he never offended. Following the xenophobic and anti-immigrant start to his campaign, Trump made plans in September to sit down with a high-profile Hispanic group in Washington to mend fences. When it became clear that meeting was unlikely to go as smoothly as Trump hoped, though, he bailed on the event and claimed that he had never agreed to attend in the first place—despite previous comments that left little doubt that he had. (More generally, he also has a long history of remembering things one way while the person he was talking to remembers them quite differently. You tell him you quit, he hears himself saying you’re fired; you tell him to tone it down, he hears you say keep it up.)

Still, and despite all evidence to the contrary, Trump remains convinced that he’s incredibly popular with the black community. “I think I’m going to win the African-American vote,” he said Saturday at a campaign rally in Florida. “I think I’m going to do great with the African-American vote.”

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Nov. 30 2015 12:21 PM

Climate Change May Soon Force This Island Nation to Relocate Its Entire Population 

As the countries most immediately vulnerable to the impact of sea level rise, small island nations have often been the most outspoken countries in the world in calling for action to address climate change. But it’s rare to hear these countries’ leaders publicly discussing the worst-case scenario: sea levels rising to the point where low lying islands become uninhabitable and entire nations need to relocate.

So it was bracing to hear Kiribati President Anote Tong, a prominent leader in the climate change debate, publicly thank the nation of Fiji in a speech at the Paris climate summit for agreeing to take in his people should the worst come to pass. “It’s so heartening to hear that Fiji has undertaken to accommodate our people of Kiribati in the event that climate change renders our homes uninhabitable,” Tong said Monday. This is not a far-fetched hypothetical. Even if major polluting nations stick to the commitments being made in Paris, the small island of Kiribati is likely to become uninhabitable in the coming decades. Other island residents, such as the former inhabitants of Papua New Guinea’s Cartaret Islands, have already had to be evacuated due to sea level rise, but the notion of relocating an entire nation is far more dramatic and historically unprecedented.*


Kiribati has a population of about 105,000 people spread over 33 islands with an average elevation of just less than 6.5 feet above sea level. Several small atolls in the country are already underwater much of the time. Tong has been working on this relocation plan for years and last year his government bought 20 square kilometers of land on the Fijian island of Vanua Levu, 2,000 kilometers away. However, it had been unclear whether Fiji’s government would agree to absorb Kiribati’s entire population, so Monday’s statement by Tong appears to be a new announcement.

Kiribati may be the first government to put a scheme like this in motion, but it’s unlikely to be the last. Former Maldives President Mohamed Nasheed, who made international headlines in 2009 for holding a cabinet meeting underwater to draw attention to the issue of sea level rise, had also sought lands for relocation, but those plans seem to be on hold since he was deposed in 2012. Most countries, publicly at least, still maintain that their nations can be preserved if there are dramatic cuts to carbon emissions and steps are taken protect their own reefs and water supplies.

Population relocation due to climate change is going to be a major global challenge in the coming century, and perhaps already is one, but few countries yet face the existential threat looming for Kiribati. That scenario presents major political challenges, both for whatever’s left of the Kiribati government after the population moves and for the nation that takes it in, and it’s long past time to start addressing them. 

*Correction, Nov. 30, 2015: This post originally misspelled the name of Papua New Guinea’s Cartaret Islands.

Nov. 30 2015 9:51 AM

University of Chicago Closes Campus After FBI Reports Threat

The University of Chicago has canceled classes and closed facilities at its main campus in the Hyde Park neighborhood after the FBI passed on information about a threat of a gun attack. From a statement sent out by the university last night:

The University was informed by FBI counterterrorism officials today (Sunday) that an unknown individual posted an online threat of gun violence against the University of Chicago, specifically mentioning “the campus quad” on Monday morning at 10 a.m. Based on the FBI’s assessment of this threat and recent tragic events at other campuses across the country, we have decided in consultation with federal and local law enforcement officials, to exercise caution by canceling all classes and activities on the Hyde Park campus through midnight on Monday. All non-medical faculty, students and non-essential staff are asked not to come to the Hyde Park campus on Monday, or to remain indoors as much as possible if they are on campus. Students in College Housing are asked to stay indoors and await direct communication from College Housing Staff.

A number of students and a professor were shot and killed on Oct. 2 by a student at Umpqua Community College in Oregon; six University of California–Santa Barbara students were killed, three by gunshots, near that school's campus on May 23, 2014, by a nonstudent attacker. Earlier this month, two college students in Missouri were arrested for making violent threats against University of Missouri students.

Nov. 29 2015 5:23 PM

Trump Sticks by Claim Muslims in NJ Cheered on 9/11: “I Was 100% Right”

Donald Trump is not going to let facts get in the way of his narrative. Even though the Republican frontrunner has been unable to come up with evidence to prove there were Muslims in New Jersey cheering on September 11, 2001, he isn’t backing down. "I saw it. So many people saw it,” Trump said on NBC’s Meet the Press. “So, why would I take it back? I'm not going to take it back.”

When NBC’s Chuck Todd challenged him about where exactly he saw this, Trump said he remembers the clips. "I saw it on television. I saw clips. And so did many other people. And many people saw it in person,” the frontrunner in the Republican presidential contest said. “I've had hundreds of phone calls to the Trump Organization saying, 'We saw it. It was dancing in the streets.’” Besides, it’s just logical to think that if there were protests “all around the world” there were also protests in New Jersey, which has a “huge” Muslim population. "Why wouldn't it have taken place? I've had hundreds of people call in and tweet in on Twitter, saying they saw it and I was 100% right."


"I have a very good memory, I'll tell you," Trump said. "I saw it somewhere on television many years ago. And I never forgot it." The real estate mogul did recognize it was proving to be particularly challenging to find copies of those supposed TV clips. “For some reason, they're not that easy to come by,” Trump said.

Nov. 29 2015 4:13 PM

Paris Protests Turn Violent as Hundreds of Thousands Rally for Climate Worldwide

Hundreds of thousands of people around the world got together for rallies and demonstrations on Sunday to demand action on climate change from global leaders who are gathering in Paris for a major summit on the issue. In Paris itself, things got off to a violent start as police fired tear gas at protesters and 208 people were detained after clashing with riot police, 174 of whom were being held for possible charges. French President Francois Hollande called the violence “scandalous,” noting that it took place at Place de la Republique, which has been used as a memorial square for the 130 people killed in the Nov. 13 terrorist attacks.

Protestors clash with riot police during a rally against global warming on November 29, 2015 in Paris, a day ahead of the start of UN conference on climate change COP21.

Photo by JOEL SAGET/AFP/Getty Images

Demonstrations are essentially banned in Paris as part of the state of emergency imposed after the attacks. Instead, activists laid out more than 20,000 shoes in the Place de la Republique to symbolize the marchers who would have been there. Pope Francis even sent a pair of plain black shoes to be included in the protest.

The Place de la Republique is covered in hundreds of pairs of shoes on November 29, 2015 in downtown Paris, as part of a symbolic and peaceful rally.

Photo by MIGUEL MEDINA/AFP/Getty Images


Around the world, there were more than 2,000 events ahead of the summit that officially begins on Monday. Initial estimates put the number of people who took to the streets at 570,000, although activists say the number will easily surpass 600,000 once events scheduled for later in the day take pace.

A protester with their creation representing money makes the world go round during the London Climate March as part of march events around the globe on the same day on November 29, 2015 in London, England.

Photo by Chris Ratcliffe/Getty Images

"These are the biggest set of global marches in history," said Sam Barratt from Avaaz, one of the organizers of the rallies.

People perform during the Global Climate March at Ipanema beach in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil on November 29, 2015, on the eve of the UN conference on climate change COP 21, to take place in Paris.

Photo by CHRISTOPHE SIMON/AFP/Getty Images

A person dressed up as a panda bear takes part in the Global Climate March on November 29, 2015 in Madrid.

Photo by GERARD JULIEN/AFP/Getty Images

Protestors perform during a Climate March on the eve of the official opening of a 195-nation UN climate summit in Paris, in Vienna, Austria on November 29, 2015.

Photo by JOE KLAMAR/AFP/Getty Images

People participate in a march in central Athens on November 29, 2015.


People hold a banner as they take part in a global climate march near City Hall on November 29, 2015 in New York City.

Photo by Kena Betancur/Getty Images

Nov. 29 2015 2:35 PM

Republican Candidates Deny Link Between Anti-Abortion Rhetoric and Colorado Shooting

After staying silent since a gunman opened fire in a Planned Parenthood facility in Colorado Springs, several Republican presidential contenders condemned the attack on Sunday. But they uniformly refused to accept any kind of connection between the hateful anti-abortion rhetoric many of them have been espousing on the campaign trail and the shooting.

Carly Fiorina called efforts to link the shooting to anti-abortion rhetoric part of “typical left-wing tactics.” Lest we forget, Fiorina has been one of the most adamant in espousing lies against Planned Parenthood, even going as far as to falsely claim in a debate that undercover video shot in the organization had shown “a fully formed fetus on the table, its heart beating, its legs kicking while someone says we have to keep it alive to harvest its brain.”


“This is so typical of the left, to immediately begin demonizing the messenger because they don’t agree with the message,” Fiorina said on Fox News Sunday. “What I would say to anyone who would try to link this terrible tragedy to anyone who opposes abortion or the sale of body parts, is this is typical, left-wing tactics.” She said protesters should be peaceful, regardless of their cause. “Any protesters should always be peaceful, whether it’s Black Lives Matter or pro-life protesters,” she said. “Protesters should always be peaceful and respectful.”

Mike Huckabee called the shooting “domestic terrorism” but said it was “disingenuous” to blame anti-abortion activism for the attack. “Regardless of why he did it, what he did is domestic terrorism,” Huckabee told CNN. “And what he did is absolutely abominable, especially to those of us in the pro-life movement because there’s nothing about any of us that would condone or any way look the other way at something like this.” But Huckabee later went on to conveniently link Planned Parenthood to murders. “There's no excuse for killing other people, whether it's happening inside the Planned Parenthood headquarters, inside their clinics where many millions of babies die, or whether it's people attacking Planned Parenthood.”

Donald Trump also condemned the shooting but quickly dismissed possible links between rhetoric and the shooting. "No, I think he is a sick person," Trump said on NBC’s Meet the Press. And when he was asked about reports that the shooter talked about “baby parts” Trump took the opportunity to again criticize Planned Parenthood. "I will tell you there is a tremendous group of people that think it's terrible, all of the videos that they've seen with some of these people from Planned Parenthood talking about it like you're selling parts to a car,” he said. “There are a lot of people that are very unhappy about that.” He also said he sees “a lot of dislike for Planned Parenthood” on the campaign trail. “There’s no question about that.”

Ben Carson, meanwhile, also condemned the shooting but when he was asked about possible connection to political views, he linked it to political divisions as a whole. "Unfortunately, there is a lot of extremism coming from all areas," Carson said on ABC News. “There’s no saint here in this equation.”

Nov. 29 2015 12:51 PM

Newborn Baby Found Buried Alive Under Pieces of Asphalt in Los Angeles

Angelica Blount didn’t quite believe her sister that the noise they were hearing while walking along a bike path in Compton the day after Thanksgiving was a baby. "She told me, 'Can you hear the baby crying?'" Blount told KABC. "And I said, 'I don't know; it might be a cat.' And my sister said, 'No, it's a baby crying.'" They immediately called the police, and said they were heaing muffled cries from a baby but weren't sure where it was coming from.

When two deputies from the LA Sherriff’s Department arrived they found a newborn under pieces of asphalt and rubble inside a crevice on the bike path. "Deputies removed the pieces of asphalt and debris and rescued the baby from the crevice. The baby was wrapped in a blanket and cold to the touch,” notes a statement posted on the Sheriff’s department Facebook page. The way the baby was wrapped up in a hospital blanket leads officials to believe she was born in some type of medical facility. She was transferred to a hospital in stable condition.

#LASD Special Victims Bureau Seeking Public's Help, Newborn Baby Girl Abandoned in RiverbedThe Los Angeles Sheriff’s...

Posted by Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department on Saturday, November 28, 2015

Nov. 29 2015 10:34 AM

Planned Parenthood Gunman Hints at Motive: “No More Baby Parts”

Authorities still don’t know why Robert Lewis Dear decided to take a break from what sounds like a loner life to pick up a weapon and open fire at a Planned Parenthood in Colorado Springs. But the four words he uttered after his arrest seem to pretty clearly suggest to anti-abortion sentiment for his attacks. The 57-year-old told police “no more baby parts” after his arrest, a law enforcement official told the Associated Press. Planned Parenthood also says witnesses claim the gunman was motivated by abortion.

The words "baby parts" seems to be a clear reference to widely discredited undercover videos released by an anti-abortion group that claimed to show how Planned Parenthood profited from selling fetal organs. The group behind the videos, the Center for Medical Progress, condemned the "barbaric killing spree in Colorado Springs by a violent madman."


Three people were killed in the shootout but it now seems the tragedy could have been much worse. Police found propane tanks outside Dear’s car, leading investigators to believe his plan was to shoot at them from the clinic to spark an explosion.

Dear has been cooperating with authorities. But sources tell CBS News that Dear “has been behaving erratically” during questioning. That hardly comes as a surprise considering that those who knew him say he was someone who barely spoke to others, and when he did often uttered words that didn’t make much sense. He had been in trouble with the law before and was arrested for domestic violence, animal cruelty, and being a peeping tom. His ex-wife in South Carolina once called the police, claiming Dear had assaulted her and locked her out of her house. “I know everyone has a lot of questions,” Pamela Ross, who divorced Dear in 2000, told the Charleston Post and Courier. “We all do. ... We’re living it just as everyone else is.”

People who knew him say even though Dear was barely talked to others, he sometimes got into arguments with neighbors. He lived with a woman in a remote trailer park without running water or electricity. "It looks like white-trash living at its finest—like a bomb went off and everything was thrown in the air," his neighbor, Zigmond Post, tells the Denver Post.

He also spent time in a shack in the woods, and whenever he went to stay there his neighbors decided to keep their kids indoors. “He was the kind of person you had to watch out for,” one neighbor tells the Washington Post. “He was a very weird individual. It’s hard to explain, but he had a weird look in his eye most of the time.” Another neighbor said that Dear once asked him to do work on his property but he was so scared after the brief interaction that he refused the job. "I wouldn't ride with that fellow from here to the mailbox now," he told the Asheville Citizen-Times. "I was just thankful to get home."

Nov. 28 2015 1:22 PM

France Uses Emergency Laws to Place Climate Activists Under House Arrest

At least 24 activists who advocate for climate change have been placed under house arrest ahead of the highly anticipated United Nations talks in Paris. France used emergency laws that were implemented after the Paris shootings to arrest the green campaigners, the French government confirmed on Saturday. Earlier, the Guardian had reported the news, noting that the warrants delivered to the activists cited state of emergency laws that were imposed after 130 people were killed in terrorist attacks earlier this month.

Author and activist Naomi Klein, said French leaders are carrying out “a gross abuse of power that risks turning the summit into a farce.” Hearing the voice of activists is important at an event where lots of world leaders will be present, she added. “Climate summits are not photo opportunities to boost the popularity of politicians,” she told the Guardian. “Given the stakes of the climate crisis, they are by their nature highly contested. That is democracy, messy as it may be. The French government, under cover of anti-terrorism laws, seems to be trying to avoid this, shamefully banning peaceful demonstrations and using emergency powers to pre-emptively detain key activists.”


French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve insisted the activits were planning to carry out violent protests at the talks. "These 24 people have been placed under house arrest because they have been violent during demonstrations in the past and because they have said they would not respect the state of emergency," Cazeneuve said in a speech, according to Reuters.

It’s not that the French government thinks green campaigners are tantamount to terrorists, but rather that their actions could distract law enforcement from the most important task. "These people have no connection at all with the terrorist movement, but our forces need to be totally focused on the protection of the French people," Cazeneuve added.

Nov. 28 2015 12:36 PM

Republican Congressman Blasts Planned Parenthood on TV During Shooting

While police officers were still engaging with the shooter at the Planned Parenthood in Colorado Springs on Friday, one Republican lawmaker apparently thought the best thing to do was criticize the organization during an interview on CNN. “We saw these barbaric videos, and that was something that many of us have a legitimate concern about,” Rep. Adam Kinzinger said. He was, of course, referring to the widely discredited videos that claim to show Planned Parenthood executives profiting from harvesting fetal tissue.

Kinzinger also criticized Planned Parenthood for issuing a statement on the incident that broadly criticized “extremists” and “a poisonous environment that feeds domestic terrorism.” The Illinois lawmaker said the statement was irresponsible.


“When I heard that statement, I thought that was very premature. We may find out this person was targeting Planned Parenthood. If we find out he was not targeting Planned Parenthood, I would fully expect an apology from the Planned Parenthood director for saying that,” he said. And almost in the same breath, Kinzinger seems to know a lot about the gunman: “Obviously this is a person that has a mental health issue that is to some level psychotic and crazy.” If it turns out that he is targeting the organization, the gunman “has taken a legitimate disagreement with the practice and turned it into an evil response.”

Many were quick to blast not only Kinzinger but also CNN for inviting a known Planned Parenthood critic while police were still trying to apprehend the gunman.