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Grandmothers stalled the police as climate protestors created the largest street mural ever

More than 3,000 demonstrators in San Francisco have created what’s thought to be the largest street mural ever made. On Saturday, the 2,500-foot-long, 50-foot-wide mural turned five blocks of city streets into scenes of community-proposed solutions for a warming world.

What’s more, the protesters didn’t have a permit to paint the streets — so a group of indigenous-led grandmothers faced off with police to block roads for five hours while the muralists completed their work. With the grannies from the Society of Fearless Grandmothers holding down ground, none of the protesters were arrested.

“You have to believe in a little magic and imagination to build the future that we want,” says Cata Elisabeth-Romo, an artist and one of the lead coordinators for the mural project.

San Francisco’s demonstration was part of a recent, international upwelling of art and activism. Last week, activists took to the streets in 91 countries with picket signs and paint for the “Rise for Climate, Jobs, and Justice” marches organized by 350.org and dozens of partners. The demonstrations came ahead of the much-anticipated Global Climate Action Summit that will begin in San Francisco on Wednesday.

Elisabeth-Romo working on the street mural in San Francisco.Cata Elisabeth-Romo

The summit is spearheaded by California Governor Jerry Brown and will bring together states, cities, businesses, and community groups to discuss how to achieve climate goals set by the Paris Agreement.

The San Francisco mural stitched together 50 scenes depicting solutions to climate injustices, each put together by a different community group. Indigenous artist and ecologist Edward Willie designed a border around the mural unifying all 50 scenes.

Anesti Vega / Survival Media Agency

The entire mural is temporary. As of Sunday night, four of the five blocks were still painted. The street art was made using charcoal from areas impacted by the recent devastating wildfires, along with tempera paint and raw clay sourced just outside of San Francisco.

Artist Nityalila Saulo designed the mural for the interfaith contingent, which included 2,000 footsteps surrounding the word “Live.” The footprints “remind us of the prints we leave behind as we live on this earth. It is meant to inspire us to value the choices we make every day,” she wrote on Instagram.

The artists’ and activists’ demands include racial and economic justice, and an end to fossil fuel production in favor of a transition to 100 percent renewable energy. From city to city, locals used creative expression to highlight their own priorities.

In New York on Thursday, the sea of protesters included artists and performers in costumes depicting creatures from the sea. No Longer Empty, an NYC group that curates exhibitions to spark community conversations in unconventional spaces, dressed as coral, jellyfish, and a leatherback turtle. It’s all part of a larger work by artist Laura Anderson Barbata called “Intervention: Ocean Blues.

“This work addresses the urgent need to transform our decisions, to influence policy, and to bring awareness to the importance of the ocean’s health and our dependency on it,” Anderson Barbata told Grist.

Justine Calma / Grist

In New Orleans, demonstrators used banners to call attention to Louisiana’s Cancer Alley, an industrial corridor that stretches from NOLA to Baton Rouge. Organizers say that on top of the plants and refineries in the area, the planned Bayou Bridge pipeline poses another health threat to residents in St. James Parish, where the march began.

Fernando Lopez / Survival Media Agency

350 commissioned protest artwork from artists in six different continents that demonstrators around the world could download and use in their campaigns.

Christi Belcourt

Christi Belcourt, a renowned Michif visual artist who traces her lineage to the Manitou Sakhigan of Alberta, Canada, contributed an image depicting a woman facing water, wielding lightning in one hand and holding a feather in the other. Belcourt has a message to accompany her artwork:

No amount of money can buy back a people’s river.
No amount of money can buy back the sea.
The Trans Mountain Pipeline cannot be built.
Because we love the rivers.
Because we love the sea.
Because we love this sacred earth.
We will defend our home.

With their art, Belcourt and others are mounting a creative defense against climate change.

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Grandmothers stalled the police as climate protestors created the largest street mural ever

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Trump’s national security agenda to have big environmental impacts on both borders

The Trump administration axed climate change from its national security strategy, with huge implications for how America adapts to the threats of a warming world. But that’s not the only way we’re seeing the environmental fallout of Trump’s national security agenda.

Along our borders with Canada and Mexico, conservation and climate justice fights are getting tangled up with national security interests. To the south, Trump’s proposed wall threatens dozens of endangered species, like the Mexican gray wolf. And in the north, Canada’s purchase of the Trans Mountain Pipeline hinges in part on a U.S. assessment of national security threats.

The wall

The Department of Homeland Security essentially has a get-out-of-federal-law pass that allows them to ignore environmental regulations. In the case of the border wall, the department can move forward with construction without an environmental impact analysis and won’t be subject to following the Endangered Species Act or National Environmental Policy Act.

This capacity to be above the law has enormous impacts for the survival of species found along the U.S.-Mexico border. Leading scientists, including Paul Ehrlich and E.O. Wilson, published an article on the dangers in the journal BioScience last week. More than other 2,500 other scientists signed onto a call to action urging Homeland Security to follow federal law, evaluate the environmental impact of its border wall, and take action to mitigate the harm.


The wall would restrict the movement of communities and scientists working on conservation on both sides of the border, says lead author Rob Peters. Beyond the human angle, “any sort of barrier to the free movement of animals is a threat to their existence,” Peters says. “The borderlands are not the empty wastelands that so many people think they are. They’re incredibly rich in biodiversity.” According to the report, the wall would impact up to 62 species listed as critically endangered, endangered, or vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

The pipeline

Meanwhile, up north, it’s now up to federal authorities, with Trump making the ultimate decision, to allow or veto Canada’s purchase of Kinder Morgan’s TransMountain Pipeline.

Kinder Morgan halted non-essential spending on the pipeline expansion this spring and was ready to drop the project completely. That’s when the Trudeau administration announced it was going to foot the bill to keep the flailing project alive.

So, why does that require Trump’s approval? Canada’s purchase of TransMountain includes the acquisition of an offshoot pipeline: the Puget Sound Pipeline, which moves oil from British Columbia to Washington state. As a result, the deal can’t move forward without national security clearance from the U.S. Committee on Foreign Investments. It’s also subject to review by the State Department, which issues presidential permits for cross-border liquid pipelines.

Normally, those procedures are pretty cut-and-dry. But under the Trump administration, experts say, anything goes. “Once upon a time, there was a set of regulations that could tell you more or less what the considerations were. I don’t think those are operative at all right now,” says Tom Sanzillo, director of finance at the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis. “I think whatever the president wants he’ll do,” Sanzillo says.

In its 2017 National Security Strategy, the Trump administration mentions streamlining federal approval of pipelines as a good thing for Americans. But these are weird times; trade tensions and Trump’s fighting words with Trudeau over the summer could make the U.S. president an unlikely trump card for those hoping the pipeline deal will die.

There are legitimate concerns about Canada owning a slice of American energy infrastructure, according to Clark Williams-Derry, director of energy finance at Seattle-based think tank Sightline Institute (Williams-Derry was also the webmaster for Grist back in 1999). “This is the only case for a foreign government to outright own a U.S. pipeline. It’s a little bit unsettling,” Williams-Derry says.

If Trump decides he doesn’t want to Canada to have the Puget Sound Pipeline, it would deal a significant blow to the Kinder Morgan Deal. But both Williams-Derry and Sanzillo say that although it would further delay the Trans Mountain Pipeline expansion, it wouldn’t altogether kill it. With $3.5 billion on the line, Kinder Morgan and Trudeau’s government could find a way to take the Puget Sound Pipeline out of the deal in order to bypass U.S. intervention on the purchase.

The looming threat

And if the pipeline expansion is successful and leads to significantly more crude oil pumping out of Alberta’s tar sands, there’s another huge threat to consider: “Climate change is certainly a threat to national security,” says Williams-Derry. “If a hostile foreign power said, ‘We’re going to devastate Miami or we’re going to increase the chance of a major incident on the Gulf Coast,’ we would say, ‘No way. Absolutely not.’”

And climate change is a concurrent threat for species at the border. The wall would hamper their efforts to adapt, especially in places like in the Southwest where animals may migrate to cope with drought. “We can’t say exactly how [climate change] is going to affect them,” says Rob Peters. “But we sure as hell can say it ain’t going to be good.”

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Trump’s national security agenda to have big environmental impacts on both borders

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Leaked letter: Kinder Morgan broke rules for months during Trans Mountain Pipeline construction

This story was originally published by Canada’s National Observer and is reproduced here as part of the Climate Desk collaboration.

Kinder Morgan put fish, porpoises, sea lions and other marine life in danger during recent construction work near an oil terminal in Vancouver, says a leaked federal letter that warns the company could face prosecution for its violations.

The letter from the federal Fisheries and Oceans Department (DFO) notes that the company also went months without filing mandatory monitoring reports to the government and First Nations before federal officials noticed the Texas company was breaking the rules.

The department sent the warning to an executive at the company’s Canadian unit, Trans Mountain, in a letter dated June 6, 2018, and obtained by National Observer. That was just days after the Trudeau government announced a deal to take over the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project and buy many of Kinder Morgan’s Canadian assets for 4.5 billion Canadian dollars ($3.4 billion).

It has prompted environmental lawyer Eugene Kung to raise this question: “Down the line, if the feds become the owner, what does it look like for them to prosecute themselves?”

Letter identifies four violations

The letter contrasts with recent assurances by the federal government that its officials have kept a close eye on the company and taken adequate measures through a “world-leading” plan to ensure that the Trans Mountain west coast pipeline and tanker expansion project will proceed without damaging the environment or public safety.

The Trudeau government approved the expansion project in November 2016, prompting fierce opposition from several affected First Nations and communities along its proposed route. But at the time, the government said that it was also imposing 157 conditions on Kinder Morgan, as recommended by the federal energy regulator, the National Energy Board (NEB), to ensure that the project would be safe. These conditions included requiring the company to obtain more than 1,000 federal, provincial, and municipal permits required for different stages of the construction.

The fisheries department gave Trans Mountain permission to begin some expansion work on its Westridge Marine Terminal on Sept. 8, 2017, provided that it meet a number of safety and environmental conditions. Noncompliance would contravene a major Canadian environmental law, the federal Fisheries Act, that is used to protect bodies of water inhabited by marine species.

The warning letter identifies four different violations related to pile driving during expansion work on the Burrard Inlet in the metro Vancouver region near the Kinder Morgan terminal between January and May 2018. The company exceeded safe underwater noise limits for such marine species as the harbor porpoise and the Steller sea lion as it proceeded with the pile driving activity, according to a separate email sent by the federal department to members of an Indigenous Advisory and Monitoring Committee that was set up to keep tabs on the project.

The letter also noted that the company failed to file required construction monitoring reports to the federal department and members of the special committee, including First Nations representatives, for three consecutive months, from January to March. The department said in the letter, sent to Trans Mountain vice president David Safari, that it only noticed that Trans Mountain wasn’t filing its mandatory reports after email correspondence with the company on April 26, 2018.

“By way of this letter, we are therefore providing you with a written warning for having contravened the Fisheries Act, particularly for having carried on works, undertakings and activities without complying with the conditions prescribed by the Minister under … this Act,” said the four-page letter, signed by Tracey Sandgathe, a regional manager from the department’s fisheries protection program.

“Please note that this warning letter does not exclude prosecution under the Fisheries Act in respect of this project in the event of future instances of non-compliance.”

The letter also said that the department had reviewed noise monitoring records in April, noting that construction work exceeded an underwater noise threshold for injury to finfish on six separate occasions during impact pile driving on April 3, 2018. Each time Trans Mountain exceeded the limit, the monitoring records indicated that it attempted to reduce noise levels without any success, the letter said.

“Despite adjusting the mitigation measures after each of the six separate exceedances of the underwater noise threshold, the noise threshold continued to be exceeded after each subsequent attempt,” Sandgathe wrote in the letter. “Despite failing to reduce noise levels to below the threshold, Trans Mountain nonetheless resumed pile driving after each exceedance.”

DFO reviewed the violations while government and company officials were criticizing land defenders and water protecters who wanted construction activity halted and risked arrest for violating a B.C. Supreme Court injunction requested by lawyers for Kinder Morgan.

The email shared with members of the advisory committee said that the department based the letter on a review of construction reports and follow-up with Trans Mountain between April 3 and May 29, the latter being the date that the government announced that it was making an offer to buy the project for 4.5 billion Canadian dollars.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and other government officials have said that Canada is a country based on the “rule of law” — warning opponents, including the B.C. government, that they have no authority to stop the oil and tanker expansion project since it was approved by the federal government and falls under its jurisdiction.

More than 200 people have been arrested for violating the injunction near the terminal on Burnaby Mountain, and thousands more have pledged to do whatever it takes to stop the Trans Mountain expansion.

‘Part of a pattern’

The Trudeau government made its offer to buy the project after the company threatened to abandon the expansion due to uncertainty caused by fierce opposition in British Columbia. Trudeau has said that the project is critical to Canada’s economy since it would enable producers in Alberta’s oil sands to bypass their main customer in the United States and find new markets in Asia.

Trudeau also told National Observer in an interview last February that the project was helping to ensure support from Alberta, home to the world’s third largest oil reserves after Saudi Arabia and Venezuela, for a national climate change plan. Opponents say that the Trans Mountain expansion is too risky and would push Canada’s international climate change goals out of reach.

Under the deal, Safari, the vice president who received the warning letter, and Kinder Morgan Canada president Ian Anderson, would each receive bonuses of 1.5 million Canadian dollars ($1.1 million) if they remain in their current positions, after the sale is completed, until July 2020.

Kung, a lawyer from West Coast Environmental Law, a firm providing advice to one of the First Nations affected by the project — the Tsleil-Waututh — noted that this isn’t the first time Kinder Morgan has been caught breaking the rules.

Last fall, the federal pipeline regulator, the National Energy Board, ordered the company to stop using anti-spawning mats in streams inhabited by fish, after it had started to do this work without authorization.

“It’s part of a pattern that we’ve observed and sadly not all that surprising about Kinder Morgan not being able to even meet the minimal requirements that were the result of the NEB process and here’s another example of them violating the conditions and essentially having very little consequences, which is what DFO is saying,” Kung said in a phone interview.

DFO didn’t immediately respond to questions about the warning letter. Trans Mountain told National Observer in a statement that it is “committed to compliance with its environmental and regulatory obligations,” and “aggressively implementing measures to avoid future non-compliance.”

The company also said it was engaging with DFO “directly, transparently and collaboratively through ongoing site inspections, information request exchanges and required reporting.”

“The Trans Mountain process for responding to underwater noise exceedances is designed to protect marine life. In the case described in the April monitoring report, it is key to note that each exceedance resulted in an immediate response by Trans Mountain. In each instance, pile driving was stopped, the situation was assessed and further mitigation was undertaken.”

The company also said it “recognized and reported exceedances of the thresholds and followed a mitigation plan which included providing the occurrence details, mitigative actions taken and results in the reports and responses to Information Requests from DFO.”

Regarding the missing reports, Trans Mountain said it started sending them after they were told the committee wasn’t receiving them, but it didn’t explain why it had failed to send these reports in the first place.

Last summer, the company had said it was taking an “innovative approach” to reducing noise from pile driving, by using special noise shrouds “to cover the hammers that drive piles into the ocean floor” for the new terminal.

“The shrouds, which are about two stories tall and wide enough to hold a medium-sized SUV, dampen the sound of hammer impact by 65 to 95 percent,” Trans Mountain said on its website on July 6, 2017.

The project’s director for the Lower Mainland region, Randy Brake, said on the website that this technique had been used in other ports around the world, but that it would be the first time it was being used for a piling project in the Vancouver Port.

Several months later, some local residents living near the terminal in Burnaby said that the pile driving was shaking their homes and causing small tremors, Burnaby Now reported on March 7, 2018. One resident even told the local publication that the noise and vibrations were enough to wake him up on a Saturday morning in his home on a hill, about 700 meters above the terminal.

“You could literally feel it through the bed and obviously through the walls. You put your ear or your hand up to the wall, and literally you can feel it,” the local resident, Aaron Keogh, told Burnaby Now. “The further concern from that is what effect will weeks of ongoing activity like that … have on the structures — basically the houses and such —  surrounding the area?”

Trans Mountain declined to respond to a question about whether the “noise shrouds” had worked as it had anticipated.

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Leaked letter: Kinder Morgan broke rules for months during Trans Mountain Pipeline construction

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If nuclear war doesn’t get us, runaway climate change will.

New research from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association could help pinpoint snow levels in mountain ranges across the Western United States eight months in advance. That’s more certainty of the future than we’re getting from most government agencies these days, so we’ll take it!

“Snowpack” refers to layers of mountain snow that build up during the winter, harden into large masses of frozen water, and then melt in the spring. That melted snow trickles down to feed rivers and streams, bolster municipal water supplies, and supply farmers with a majority of the water they need to grow crops. Eighty percent of snowmelt runoff is used for agriculture.

A lack of snowpack, furthermore, is a big cause of wildfires and drought. Declining snowpack levels in Western mountain ranges in recent years contributed to 2017’s unprecedented drought and wildfire season.

Now, scientists at NOAA think they can help farmers and water managers in the West by predicting where water resources are most likely to accumulate and how much snowmelt can be expected.

This summer, researchers will already be working on snowpack predictions for March 2019 across the western U.S. — with the exception of the southern Sierra Nevada mountain ranges, where random storms make predictions difficult.

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If nuclear war doesn’t get us, runaway climate change will.

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Fossil fuel developments on U.S. public lands emit more greenhouse gases than most countries.

New research from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association could help pinpoint snow levels in mountain ranges across the Western United States eight months in advance. That’s more certainty of the future than we’re getting from most government agencies these days, so we’ll take it!

“Snowpack” refers to layers of mountain snow that build up during the winter, harden into large masses of frozen water, and then melt in the spring. That melted snow trickles down to feed rivers and streams, bolster municipal water supplies, and supply farmers with a majority of the water they need to grow crops. Eighty percent of snowmelt runoff is used for agriculture.

A lack of snowpack, furthermore, is a big cause of wildfires and drought. Declining snowpack levels in Western mountain ranges in recent years contributed to 2017’s unprecedented drought and wildfire season.

Now, scientists at NOAA think they can help farmers and water managers in the West by predicting where water resources are most likely to accumulate and how much snowmelt can be expected.

This summer, researchers will already be working on snowpack predictions for March 2019 across the western U.S. — with the exception of the southern Sierra Nevada mountain ranges, where random storms make predictions difficult.

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Fossil fuel developments on U.S. public lands emit more greenhouse gases than most countries.

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A federal panel helped cities cope with climate change. Trump killed it.

Today, the president signed two proclamations drastically cutting land from two federal monuments, Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante, by 80 percent and 45 percent, respectively.

When President Obama designated Bears Ears a national monument last year, it was a huge victory for five Utah tribes — the Navajo Nation, Ute Mountain Ute Tribe, Ute Indian Tribe, Hopi, and the Pueblo of Zuni — who came together in 2015 to push for the preservation of what they estimate are 100,000 cultural and ancestral sites, some dating back to 1300 AD, in the region.

“More than 150 years ago, the federal government removed our ancestors from Bears Ears at gunpoint and sent them on the Long Walk,” Navajo Nation Council Delegate Davis Filfred said in statement. “But we came back.”

The Antiquities Act of 1906 gives the president authority to establish national monuments, largely to thwart looting of archaeological sites. Trump is the first president to shrink a monument in decades.

The five tribes have said they will bring a legal case against the administration — the outcome could redefine the president’s powers to use the Antiquities Act. “We know how to fight and we will fight to defend Bears Ears,” Filfred said.

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A federal panel helped cities cope with climate change. Trump killed it.

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Owls Aren’t Wise & Bats Aren’t Blind – Warner Shedd


Owls Aren’t Wise & Bats Aren’t Blind

A Naturalist Debunks Our Favorite Fallacies About Wildlife

Warner Shedd

Genre: Nature

Price: $1.99

Publish Date: June 27, 2000

Publisher: Crown/Archetype

Seller: Penguin Random House LLC

In this fascinating book, wildlife expert and enthusiast Warner Shedd refutes popular animal myths like squirrels remembering where they bury nuts, wolves howling at the moon, and oppossums "playing dead." Have you ever seen a flying squirrel flapping through the air, watched a beaver carrying a load of mud on its tail, or ducked when a porcupine started throwing its quills? Probably not, says Shedd, former regional executive for the National Wildlife Federation. Offering scientific evidence that refutes many of the most tenacious and persevering folklore about wild animals,  Owls Aren't Wise & Bats Aren't Blind  will captivate you with fascinating facts and humorous anecdotes about more than thirty North American species– some as familiar as the common toad, and others as elusive as the lynx.  Owls Aren't Wise & Bats Aren't Blind  is an entertaining dose of scientific reality for any nature enthusiast or armchair adventurer.


Owls Aren’t Wise & Bats Aren’t Blind – Warner Shedd

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She Was Desperate. She Tried to End Her Own Pregnancy. She Was Thrown in Jail

Mother Jones

<!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC “-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN” “http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd”>
Gracia Lam

One night in May 2009, Jocelyn packed a backpack and left the ramshackle house in Naples, Utah, where she lived with her mom and two of her five siblings. She was six months pregnant—a condition that had caused the 17-year-old to drop out of high school and become alienated from her Mormon family. That night she’d broken up with her new boyfriend, who, though not the father, was her biggest source of support.

She planned to hitchhike 2,000 miles to Florida, where her dad lived, even though they hadn’t spoken in years. She only made it to a gas station a block away before she stopped, in tears. Aaron Harrison, a “Goth” 21-year-old, approached Jocelyn and asked if he could help. “I was a mess, I was crying, I didn’t know what to do,” she remembers. “I told him everything. I even told him about thinking of ending the pregnancy.” He asked if she wanted to go to his place nearby and talk.

Jocelyn (which is not her real name), a petite woman with wavy brown hair and a soft twang, told Harrison that her boyfriend had suggested an abortion could be caused by a punch in the stomach, and that they had even discussed resolving her pregnancy problem this way. So Harrison struck a deal with her. If he beat her up so she would miscarry, Jocelyn would give him the $150 she’d brought for her trip. If anyone asked, she’d say she had been sexually assaulted.

He was more than cooperative. Once inside his house, he punched her in the stomach, slapped her face, and bit her neck. Jocelyn says they also had sex, thinking it would help their cover story.

But things quickly got out of hand—”he hit me really hard”—and Jocelyn ran out of the house, shocked, bruised, and appalled by what they’d done. “I felt so sad for my baby,” she tells me. “I felt awful that I’d just agreed to any of it. But I also felt like a victim.” She called her mom and told her she’d been sexually assaulted. Jocelyn’s mom took her to the police station, where she was questioned by a detective. Jocelyn stuck with her story at first, but the cop kept questioning her, she says, well into the middle of the night. After she finally confessed, the police took her to the hospital. Her unborn baby was alive.

The next day, Jocelyn was arrested. “The county attorney said, ‘Take her straight to detention,'” she says. “‘This is insane, this is unacceptable, this is attempted murder.'” Jocelyn was moved to Split Mountain, a juvenile center, and charged with solicitation of murder, which would have been a felony if she were an adult. Harrison was also arrested and charged with attempted murder.

“That was the worst moment of my life,” Jocelyn, now 25, tells me from her home in Vernal, Utah, with two young children cooing behind her.

During his presidential campaign, Donald Trump said women who end their pregnancies ought to face “some form of punishment.” He was met with an onslaught of criticism, even from anti-abortion groups, which characterized his position as “completely out of touch with the pro-life movement.” Before efforts to decriminalize abortion began in the late 1960s, women were rarely prosecuted for attempting to access the procedure. Anti-abortion advocates argued then, as most do now, that women, like their fetuses, were victims. After Trump’s comments, March for Life issued a press release with the headline “No Pro-Life American Advocates Punishment for Abortion.” Jeanne Mancini, the organization’s president, went further, saying, “Being pro-life means wanting what is best for the mother and the baby. We invite a woman who has gone down this route to consider paths to healing, not punishment.”

Trump quickly walked back his statement; doctors, he said, not women, should be punished. But his remarks exposed a tension at the heart of the pro-life legal movement: How can abortion become illegal without punishing the women who seek them? The question has come into greater relief over the last several decades, as state and federal laws have evolved to regard fetal deaths as potential homicides. With Republicans now in control of federal judicial nominations and most statehouses, growing gaps in the abortion rights landscape seem likely to drive more women to self-abort, just as several high-profile cases have shown prosecutors willing to bring charges against those who take desperate measures to end their pregnancies.

Mother Jones has identified at least two dozen cases since Roe v. Wade in which women faced investigation or prosecution for a self-induced abortion, according to a review of news reports, scholarly articles, and court documents. But Jill E. Adams, who leads the Self-Induced Abortion Legal Team at the University of California-Berkeley, says the real number is unknown. In the eight years following Jocelyn’s arrest, eight women, almost all in the Midwestern or Southern United States, have been investigated, charged, or prosecuted for trying to end pregnancies, or for being suspected of doing so. About half the women charged since Roe, including Jocelyn, were accused of homicide, manslaughter, or a related crime—charges enabled by “fetal homicide laws,” which are on the books in 38 states and make killing a fetus a crime.

Fetal homicide laws are the result of a two-pronged strategy that anti-abortion groups adopted after their 1973 Supreme Court defeat in Roe: They pushed state laws that made abortions harder to get and expanded the legal rights of fetuses so that the public, and eventually the courts, would begin to regard the unborn—no matter what stage of development—as children. Advocates started by working to define life as beginning at conception in nonabortion contexts—property or contract law, for instance.

But criminal prosecutions of anyone who killed a fetus soon followed. In one of the earliest such cases, attorneys for Americans United for Life, the nation’s most influential pro-life legal group, fought to get an Illinois man prosecuted for murder after he shot a pregnant woman, allegedly killing her unborn child. (He was found not guilty; a judge was not convinced his bullet had killed the fetus.)

In 1984, the Massachusetts Supreme Court ruled that the state’s vehicular homicide statute should apply to a driver who crashed into a pedestrian and killed her eight-and-a-half-month-old fetus. In 1986, a year after the Minnesota Supreme Court held that the state’s vehicular homicide law shouldn’t apply to fetuses, the Legislature stepped in to pass a fetal homicide law starting from the moment of conception.

These rulings and laws represented the first cracks in the so-called “born alive” rule, which required a child to be alive and out of the womb before it could be considered the victim of a homicide; the standard had been used by virtually every jurisdiction in the United States for more than a century. In 1987, Clarke Forsythe, a new Americans United for Life lawyer, released a paper (paywall) with model fetal homicide legislation aimed at further unraveling the born-alive standard. He led a team of young pro-life lawyers and advocates who argued that in an era with technology that is capable of determining the precise status of a fetus in utero and even, in rare occasions, the cause of death, the born-alive standard was arcane and immoral. “Modern medicine made that rule obsolete,” Forsythe told me.

By 1994, 17 states had fetal homicide laws on the books. Mary Ziegler, a legal historian and author of the book After Roe, says the particular genius of fetal homicide laws was “you could convince lawmakers to pass them even if they were uneasy with the pro-life movement. They were personhood laws, but they didn’t apply to abortion.”

Mountain ranges and hills surround Uintah County, where Jocelyn grew up. Giant dinosaur statues are scattered throughout the area, an homage to nearby paleontology digs. For decades, many of Uintah’s 38,000 mostly Mormon residents worked extracting oil and shale gas. Jocelyn and her five siblings grew up in Jensen, with a population of fewer than 500, in the northern part of the county. Her mother waitressed and her father worked as a carpenter until a back injury forced him to stop. When Jocelyn was 10, he left without a goodbye. Jocelyn’s mom struggled with addiction, and eventually she moved her family into a small condemned home, with no running water or electricity, on her parents’ property in nearby Naples.

By the time she was in 11th grade, Jocelyn, fed up with her mother’s problems and the family’s living situation, moved into a small apartment in Naples, a town lined with fly-fishing shops, industrial facilities, and motels. She was working toward a welding certificate in high school and had started dating a senior she met in class. Then she found out she was pregnant. She knew her ex was the father and her new boyfriend wouldn’t raise someone else’s kid.

“I kind of spiraled,” Jocelyn remembers. “I started to show, and then I was embarrassed to go to school, so I dropped out.” She moved back in with her mother and brothers. Lights and space heaters were powered by extension cords running from her grandparents’ house. If Jocelyn had to go to the bathroom after the doors were locked for the night, she’d have to pee outside.

She struggled with what she should do, weighing the pressure she felt from her new boyfriend to have an abortion. “I didn’t think abortion was wrong or right or indifferent. I was just a 16-year-old with a boyfriend who was the closest person to me at that time.” Utah’s nearest abortion clinic was about 170 miles away in Salt Lake City, and Jocelyn convinced her mom to drive her the three-plus hours across mountains and snow and pay several hundred dollars to end her pregnancy. According to court records, clinicians told her an abortion would be impossible because she was too far along. At the time, state law banned abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy; Jocelyn does not recall being so far along. (Later that year, the Legislature moved the limit to viability, usually considered 24 weeks.)

On the ride home, Jocelyn remembered the ultrasound and hearing the tiny heartbeat; she worried that abortion wasn’t for her. Adoption was one option, but she couldn’t imagine giving the baby to an anonymous couple. After being turned away from the clinic, Jocelyn swallowed a handful of pills in a failed suicide attempt. “I tried to just get rid of us both. And when I did survive, there was even more disappointment,” she says. “There were no other options. There was nothing else.”

Following success in the states—26 had passed fetal homicide laws by the end of the ’90s—then-Rep. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and other congressional Republicans introduced a bill in September 1999 that would make it illegal to injure or kill a fetus in the commission of a federal crime. Their proposal, called the Unborn Victims of Violence Act, mirrored state laws, with one key difference: Most state laws only protected fetuses starting from some point after the first trimester, but the federal bill sought to cover fetuses from conception. Democrats argued that the measure encroached on abortion rights, and President Bill Clinton threatened to veto it. As a countermeasure, Democrats, led by Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.), introduced a “single victim” bill that increased federal punishment for harm done to a pregnant woman, without mentioning her fetus. Neither House bill made it over to the Senate, and the same battle played out for the next three and a half years.

Then, on Christmas Eve in 2002, Laci Peterson—supposedly on a fishing trip with her husband, Scott—went missing. She was eight and a half months pregnant with a son she’d named Conner. Scott’s odd behavior quickly made him the focus of the investigation. When a mistress came forward, three months of tabloid coverage ensued before Laci Peterson’s body washed up on the shore of the San Francisco Bay. Scott Peterson was eventually convicted of murder. At his sentencing, Laci’s mother read a statement to the court, written in Conner’s voice. “Daddy,” Sharon Rocha read, “why are you killing Mommy and me?” Scott was sentenced to death.

Congressional Republicans had found their rallying cry. In 2003, while the Peterson case was ongoing, Sen. Mike DeWine (R-Ohio) and Rep. Melissa Hart (R-Pa.) introduced the Unborn Victims of Violence Act yet again, now dubbing it Laci and Conner’s Law. Rocha wrote to the bill’s sponsors to thank them, adding that she hoped for a future where “no surviving mother, grandmother, or other family member is ever again told, ‘We’re sorry, but in the eyes of the law, there is no dead baby.'” On March 25, 2004, the Senate passed the bill in a 61-38 vote.

At the signing ceremony a week later, President George W. Bush praised Laci and Conner’s Law: “Any time an expectant mother is a victim of violence, two lives are in the balance, each deserving protection, and each deserving justice.”

With the federal law in place, fetal homicide legislation gained new momentum. In several states, legislators enlisted a survivor whose pregnancy had ended after an attack, or a deceased woman’s family, to become the public face of their campaign—Alexa’s Law in Kansas, for instance, or Ethan’s Law in North Carolina. Americans United for Life and other pro-life organizations pointed out that domestic violence can spike during pregnancy and argued that fetal homicide laws could deter abusive fathers. With the federal Unborn Victims of Violence Act as a model, the newest state fetal homicide laws protected fetuses from the moment of conception; several states with laws that previously only applied after viability amended them to start earlier in pregnancy.

Unsurprisingly, abortion rights advocates argued the measures were part of a broader push to roll back Roe, this time by pitting women against the fetuses they’re carrying. “There is no way the state can protect embryos and fetuses separate from the woman without subtracting the pregnant woman,” says Lynn Paltrow, the founder of National Advocates for Pregnant Women, warning that if people come to see fetuses as human beings who can be murdered by an angry boyfriend, they will extend that idea to abortions sought or performed by the woman herself.

But pro-life groups dismissed such criticisms, noting that most fetal homicide laws have exceptions for abortion or other actions (intentional or otherwise) a woman might take to end a pregnancy. “Pro-life legislators and pro-life leaders do not support the prosecution of women and will not push for such a policy,” Forsythe, now the acting president of Americans United for Life, wrote in 2010.

In June 2009, a month after her arrest, Jocelyn skipped trial and was advised by her public defender not to challenge the charge of solicitation of murder. She was sentenced to detention until age 21 and transferred to a juvenile secure facility south of Salt Lake City.

After nearly three months behind bars, she went into labor in August and was transported to a hospital in handcuffs and leg shackles. After giving birth, she was allowed to hold and breastfeed her new daughter while locked to the bed. Leaving her baby at the hospital “was the hardest part,” Jocelyn remembers. “Once they start moving and you watch them come out of you, you love them—they are you. And you can’t even fathom life without them. And then they’re gone. And you’re alone again. And people looked at me and told me I deserved it.” Her daughter, born with a clean bill of health, was adopted by Jocelyn’s aunt, who lives two hours from Naples.

Meanwhile, Jocelyn and her mom found a new lawyer, Richard King, who petitioned the juvenile court to reverse her plea deal, arguing that she had broken no law and that her previous lawyer, who had also represented her ex-boyfriend after he was charged with producing pornographic pictures of her, had a conflict of interest. In October 2009, a juvenile court judge, Larry A. Steele, agreed to reverse the deal.

The judge may have rescinded Jocelyn’s plea deal, but she still had to face the state’s charges in a new trial. King’s defense focused on the text of Utah’s 2009 fetal homicide law, which defined homicide as a person causing the death of another person, “including an unborn child”—except when that death is the result of an abortion. He argued that Jocelyn’s actions had been part of an abortion attempt and demanded the charges be dismissed. Steele agreed: “No one should interpret this ruling to mean this court thinks the minor’s conduct was justifiable. What the minor did was terribly wrong. However, only the legislature can determine whether such conduct as set forth here should be criminal.” The state appealed the decision, but Jocelyn was free.

Days after her release, Carl Wimmer, an ex-cop who was then a prominent Mormon state representative, told reporters that he was going to close the “loophole” that Jocelyn’s lawyer successfully used in her defense: “Abortion and right to life is the top issue for me, and it is something I feel very passionate about.” A month later he introduced a new fetal homicide bill that redefined abortion as a medical procedure performed in the care of a physician. “Jocelyn revealed an extreme weakness in the law, that a pregnant woman could do anything she wanted to do—it did not matter how grotesque or brutal—all the way up until the date of birth to kill her unborn child,” Wimmer told The Nation. He boasted that his bill would make Utah the only state to “hold a woman accountable for killing her unborn child” in cases other than a medical abortion. In March 2010, less than a year after Jocelyn’s arrest, Wimmer’s bill became law.

While Aaron Harrison pleaded guilty in 2009 to attempted murder, Jocelyn’s case climbed to the state’s highest court. In December 2011, the Utah Supreme Court sided with the state, reversing the juvenile court’s decision to dismiss the charges. She was once again at square one, this time under the shadow of the new and more punitive law. Though the law wouldn’t apply to her, a draining and very public trial still loomed. She wanted out. Jocelyn pleaded guilty to solicitation of a crime, a second-degree felony. The charge was reduced to a misdemeanor after she completed 60 hours of community service.

Thus far, Utah is the only state that has strengthened a fetal homicide law in direct response to a self-induced abortion. But several recent cases have shown there are prosecutors ready to use the laws to punish women who perform their own abortions. The methods can be desperately brutal. Women have been targeted for shooting themselves, stabbing their bellies, and drinking toxic levels of herbal tea. In 2015, a Tennessee woman named Anna Yocca was charged with attempted first-degree murder after allegedly using a coat hanger to try to end her pregnancy. She took a plea deal this January after spending a year and a half in jail. In 2009, Indiana amended its 1998 fetal homicide law after a robber shot a pregnant bank teller in the abdomen. In 2013, prosecutors used the law against Purvi Patel, who went to the emergency room after taking pills she bought online to end her pregnancy and experiencing heavy bleeding. A pro-life doctor turned her in to the police. After three years behind bars, Patel was convicted of feticide and neglect of a dependent. She was sentenced to 20 years before the state’s appeals court overturned the feticide conviction last September, accusing prosecutors of “unsettling” overreach.

“I don’t think any of us have any sense of how common home abortion is right now,” says Adams. But surveys sampling the approximately 900,000 women who get clinical abortions each year help give a rough sketch. A national study found that about 2.6 percent of patients reported taking drugs, herbs, or vitamins before seeking an abortion. A 2014 study in abortion-hostile Texas found that 7 percent of patients surveyed in 2012 said they’d done something in the hopes of having a miscarriage before coming in. In 2011, after nearly 100 new state-level abortion restrictions had been enacted, a New York Times analysis found that Google searches for “how to have a miscarriage” or “how to do a coat hanger abortion” had jumped 40 percent compared with the year before. The state with the highest rate of searches, Mississippi, has just two abortion providers. The Times noted that a few hundred searches occurred nationwide for information on inducing abortion by being punched in the stomach.

Having an abortion at home, without the supervision of a physician, is not necessarily unsafe. Misoprostol, a prescription drug in America that is given over the counter in other countries, effectively ends upward of 88 percent of pregnancies within the first 12 weeks. When taken with mifepristone, a prescription-only drug usually dispensed under supervision of a doctor, the effectiveness jumps to over 95 percent. But if the Trump years bring further restrictions to choice, the number of women looking to end a pregnancy outside of clinical care seems certain to increase. Even safe drugs—whether purchased from online dark markets or provided by abortion activists—can be misused or abused or fail, sending women to the emergency room to face not only life-threatening complications, but prosecutors backed by fetal homicide laws. “In the new political reality of 2017,” Adams says, “we could foresee an emboldened anti-choice movement that places women who end their own pregnancies in the bull’s-eye.”

Jocelyn never left the Uintah Basin. When I visit, she takes me on a drive up to Split Mountain, the namesake of the detention center she once called home. A massive cliff face that hulks over the Green River, it’s been a place of solace and reflection for Jocelyn over the last eight years. After being released, she searched for structure and found the Jehovah’s Witness faith and a husband who shares it. Her religious convictions have changed her views on abortion: No longer ambivalent, Jocelyn now believes it is wrong. She’s not in touch with the daughter she birthed while incarcerated. In her community, she can’t talk about her own abortion attempt for fear of judgment. For her husband, an auto mechanic in Naples, the decisions Jocelyn made as a teenager are referred to just as “her past.”

With the youngest of their two daughters, not yet a year old, in tow, we walk to the base of Split Mountain, where our figures are dwarfed. Though her views on abortion have changed, Jocelyn remarks that women who end their own pregnancies aren’t “heartless.” She wishes she’d made a different choice that night. But she understands why she didn’t. “It was the fact that I was left up to my own options, which were…nothing,” she says. But she doesn’t judge other young women. “I know being put in that situation, how desperate women can be.”

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She Was Desperate. She Tried to End Her Own Pregnancy. She Was Thrown in Jail

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Michael Eric Dyson Wants White People to Step Up and Actually Do Something About Racism

Mother Jones

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St. Martin’s Press

The election of Donald Trump sent things spinning in America and got people talking about “whiteness.” Did Democrats ignore the white working class? Was Trump making a legitimate appeal to rural America, or was his rhetoric a thinly masked courtship of white racists? If progressives want to win the next presidential election, do they need to abandon identity politics?

As befuddling as it all seems, the author Michael Eric Dyson, a Georgetown University sociology professor and Baptist minister, has a pretty simple message: If America is to improve racial harmony, then white people—all of them—will need to get on board.

In Tears We Cannot Stop: A Sermon to White America, out this week, Dyson doesn’t sugarcoat what he expects from “white brothers and sisters.” He demands action, not just empathy. The book calls on all whites, urban and rural, to get involved, and Dyson even offers a list of ways to do so. You might start reading notable black authors (James Baldwin is a favorite), create an “individual reparations account,” or find another way to pay a “secular tithe” that helps young black people in your neighborhood. He even calls on whites with social-media savvy to use their resources for good: If young whites were to tweet, for example, every time a cop let them off the hook for a minor infraction that a minority kid might have been punished for, it might help highlight policing disparities.

Not everyone, as Dyson is well aware, will be receptive to his ideas—in fact, he might just piss some people off. But minority voices in America can’t be buried, Dyson writes, least of all during a Trump administration

Mother Jones: Tell me a little bit about your childhood in Detroit.

Michael Eric Dyson: I grew up on the West Side—the “near West Side,” as they say—in what would be considered now the inner city. I had an exciting, interesting childhood, to be sure, with all of the challenges that ghetto life provides—but had loving parents. I was born in ’58, so the riot in Detroit in 1967 was a memorable introduction to the issue of race and how race made a difference in American society. And then the next year, of course, Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination. And the Detroit Tigers winning the World Series. All of that made a huge impression on my growing mind.

MJ: Why the World Series?

MED: It introduced me for the first time to a team with a lot of black players. Detroit had about three of them: I think it was Willie Horton, Gates Brown, and Earl Wilson—might have been one or two more in ’68. But the St. Louis Cardinals, the team we were facing and eventually beat in a seven-games series, had Lou Brock and Bob Gibson, who just mowed down 17 batters in that first game and made me want to become a pitcher. To see all those beautiful black ballplayers in one place and thriving and doing so well made a huge impression on me.

MJ: So you were a good student? A big reader?

MED: Yep.

MJ: You have a great list of black authors at the end of your book. When did you start reading their books?

MED: Mrs. James, my fifth-grade teacher, introduced us to some of the great literature of African American culture. I won my first blue ribbon reciting the vernacular poems of Paul Lawrence Dunbar, in particular “Little Brown Baby.” She introduced us to these authors early on and taught us that their literature is important. Langston Hughes—we read his poetry. We studied who W.E.B DuBois was. And so she whetted our appetites.

And then I went to the library and began to read some of this stuff on my own. My discovery of James Baldwin was life-changing. I read Go Tell It on the Mountain first, and that was hugely impactful. The beauty of the literary art, the grappling with the black church, the wrestling with one’s identity in the bosom of a complicated black community that was both bulwark to the larger white society as well as a threshing ground, so to speak, to hash out the differences that black people have among ourselves.

MJ: You were ordained as a minister pretty young, right?

MED: Yeah, I grew up in the church and began to recite set pieces at the age of four and five, like many of the other kids. We began to connect literacy and learning and the lively effects of biblical knowledge and preaching pretty early. That was a tremendous impact. When I was 12 years old, my pastor came to the church: Dr. Fredrick Samson. And that was revolutionary because he mentored me and I got a chance to see up close the impact of a rhetorical genius. I received my calling and accepted it at around 18. I went to school four years later than most people because I was a teen father, hustled on the streets, worked, lived on welfare and the like, and didn’t get to college until almost 21. That’s when I officially got licensed and ordained, right after that.

MJ: You note in this book that you felt a sermon coming—as opposed to a sociological work.

MED: I was trying to write a straightforward book of sociological analysis, or at least cultural criticism, and I failed. I’ve written a lot of other books and this book was different. I couldn’t just say what I wanted to say in the same style that I said it in those other books. I felt compelled to preach.

MJ: You also write that Trump’s victory was America’s response to eight years of Barack Obama. In terms of racial attitudes, do you think his victory uncovered something new—or merely revived things that never went away, but that many of us had forgotten?

MED: I think it’s both. When people are not sure about their future, when their economies are suffering, when their personal fortunes are flagging, we have often in this country turned to nativism and xenophobia and racism and anti-immigrant sensibilities and passions to express our sense of outrage at what we can’t control—and to forge a kind of fitful solidarity that turns out to be rather insular—we look inward and not outward.

As a result, the demand for racial (and sexual) justice gets reduced to politics of identity—and excoriating the so-called perpetrators of the identity politics. What the left ends up missing is that politics have always been at the heart of American culture; it’s been a white identity that’s been rendered invisible and neutral because it’s seen as objective and universal. As a result, we don’t pay attention to how whiteness is one among many racial identities, and that identity politics have been here since the get-go. But they only become noticeable when the dominant form gets challenged—when the invisible is made visible, when the universal is seen as particular. That’s what people of color do when they challenge white privilege and unconscious bias. In that sense, it’s an ongoing process.

MJ: One line that really stuck with me came when you were talking about urban white people looking down on rural whites as “poor white trash.” You write, “In the end, it only makes the slaughter of our people worse to know that your disapproval of those white folks has spared your reputations but not our lives.” Are you basically saying to the “good” white people who didn’t vote for Trump that not being racist isn’t enough?

MED: Right. It’s not enough to be against something. What are you for? It may be, to a degree, consoling that white brothers and sisters did not vote for Trump, and do not participate in that brand of animus, that gas-bagging of enormous bigotry. But the problem is we are left only with empathy—which is critical, if it can be developed—without substantive manifestations of that empathy. It’s one thing to attain it intellectually, but it’s another thing to do something about it. To challenge norms, presuppositions, practices in communities across this country—where the unconscious valorization and celebration of whiteness and conscious resistance to trying to grapple with black and brown and other peoples of color’s ideas and identities—makes a huge difference.

MJ: So you would say that’s one of the more important roles for an enlightened white person?

MED: Yeah, that kind of peer learning, that peer teaching, that peer evaluation, and then administration of insight. That is an extremely important role: how white brothers and sisters laterally spread knowledge, insight, and challenge in a way that white brothers and sisters will not hear it from a person like me, necessarily. I hope they read this book and engage with it, but other white people have a better chance of speaking more directly to the white folk they know, because they’re less likely to be subject to ridicule. They’re insiders, so to speak.

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Michael Eric Dyson Wants White People to Step Up and Actually Do Something About Racism

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Here Is Your Morning Donald

Mother Jones

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One of Donald Trump’s favorite words is “strong.” He came out “strongly” against the Iraq War. Vets who are “strong” don’t get PTSD. We have to be strong against ISIS, strong on law-and-order, strong against illegal immigrants, and strong on guns. On Wednesday, he even preemptively insisted he’d eventually be strong on an issue he knew nothing about:

I’m gonna take a very strong look at it and I will come very strongly one way or the other. I will have an opinion.

Trump was in Nevada and was asked about the nuclear waste facility being built at Yucca Mountain. He actually admitted he knew nothing about it, but then said that once he did know something—BOOM! He’d be strong. Very strong.

In other Trump news, we learn that back during his bankruptcy days, Trump’s own lawyers always met with him in pairs. Why?

In other words, Trump lied to his own lawyers so routinely that they had to have backup whenever they met with him. His. Own. Lawyers.

Elsewhere, we learn that Asian-Americans really, really don’t like Trump. This is from the Fall 2016 National Asian American Survey, released yesterday:

Trump is losing to the rest of the field by ratios of 2:1 all the way up to a staggering 10:1, with an average of 4:1 against him. That’s bad, but I’m not sure it’s strongly bad. He needs to up his game. I don’t think he’s insulted Asian-Americans lately,1 but if he did he could probably drive his support down to 15 percent or even lower. Come on, Donald.

1But then again, maybe he has. It’s hard to keep up.

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Here Is Your Morning Donald

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