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The Once and Future Trump

The Republican Party was torn asunder by a populist media personality running a nationalist campaign based on immigration restriction, protectionism, and an anti-internationalist foreign policy. Initially dismissed as a bigoted crank, this upstart presidential candidate managed to humiliate the GOP establishment, led by the Bush family.

This is not just a description of the 2016 elections. It also happened in 1992.

Unlike Donald Trump, Pat Buchanan didn?t win the nomination, but his protest candidacy garnered more than two million votes and intensified fractures in the party that led to defeat in the general election. Buchanan?s candidacy provides a crucial context for understanding not just the roots of Trumpism, but also it?s likely future?even, or especially, if Trump loses to Hillary Clinton in November.

One of the biggest mistakes pundits make about Trump is to treat him as a historical fluke: an outlier who, thanks to a large primary field and his own celebrity, managed to take over one of America?s two main political parties. This fatal error caused everyone from FiveThirtyEight?s Nate Silver to rival candidates to underestimate Trump when he entered the race last year. They believed his meteoric poll numbers would return to Earth, following the same trajectory as Herman Cain and Newt Gingrich in 2012.

Trump decisively won the nomination, yet many still treat him as an interloper who doesn?t represent, or have much in common with, the Grand Old Party?a sort of political Phoenix, the mythical bird that was self-generated with no parentage. Others, like columnist George Will, even flirted with the fantasy that Trump was some sort of deliberate subversive. ?If Donald Trump were a Democratic mole placed in the Republican Party to disrupt things, how would his behavior be different?? he asked in July, and answered his own question: ?I don?t think it would be.?

But Trump is neither a magical bird nor a false-flag candidate. He has a definite lineage within the Republican Party?and if Trump had ancestors, he?ll also have descendants.


To predict the future of Trumpism, it helps to understand why Buchanan and his peculiar brand of right-wing nationalist conservatism (called paleoconservatism) emerged in the late 1980s. American conservatism started splintering at the moment of its greatest political success, after the landslide election of Ronald Reagan in 1984, when all but one state went Republican.

Dissatisfaction with Reagan?s triumph emerged by a peculiar combination of success abroad and stalemate at home. By the late 1980s, it was becoming increasingly clear that the Cold War was drawing to a close as Mikhail Gorbachev?s reform policies deprived America of the foe of five decades. But while anti-communism succeeded beyond expectations, social conservatives like Buchanan couldn?t help but notice that on other fronts, America continued to be liberal: Democrats still controlled Congress and won the Senate in 1986, feminism and gay rights continued to advance, Martin Luther King?s birthday was made a national holiday, and mass immigration?both legal and undocumented?continued to dilute the demographic dominance of the white majority.

As the Wall Street Journal noted in a 1989 editorial, ?anti-Communism has been the glue that held the conservative movement together.? Without the unifying threat of a supposedly global enemy, the right began to splinter. The division was first evident in the battle between the neoconservatives and paleoconservatives. The neoconservatives, many of them former Cold War liberals and as a group skewing Jewish, were internationalists: Even with the USSR on its deathbed, they wanted America to pursue global hegemony and push an agenda of democratization abroad. This internationalism went along with support for free trade and generous immigration policies. Although small in number, the neocons enjoyed ideological dominance thanks to their outsized role in publications like the Journal and think tanks like the American Enterprise Institute and the Heritage Foundation.

The paleoconservatives emerged in reaction to the neocon ascendency. Found in small magazines like Chronicles, Southern Partisan, and The Rockwell-Rothbard Report, the paleocons were a motley group made up of anti-war libertarians (Murray Rothbard, Lew Rockwell), Catholic reactionaries (Buchanan, Joseph Sobran) and southern nostalgists for white supremacy (Samuel T. Francis, Thomas Fleming). What united this sundry group was the belief that the ?globalism? of the neocons had to be opposed by a new nationalism based on immigration restriction, trade protectionism, and a foreign policy that included withdrawing from many international alliances and agreements. Paleocons also believed that neocons were too deferential to liberal sensitivity on issues related to race, and were restricted by what Buchanan called ?the limits of permissible dissent.? Or as Trump would put it, ?We have to stop being so politically correct in this country.?

Pat Buchanan was Trump avant la lettre, a proto-Trump who developed in rudimentary form the political themes that would lead the real estate magnate to victory in 2016. In a 1992 speech to the Los Angeles World Affairs Council, Buchanan described undocumented immigration as an existential threat because ?a nation that controls its own borders can scarcely call itself a nation any longer.? Twenty-four years later, Trump was warning that unless the immigration system was fixed, ?We are not going to have a country anymore.? In his 1993 book Beautiful Losers, Samuel T. Francis, one of Buchanan?s key intellectual advisors, advocated a foreign policy stance that prefigures Trumpism: ?Economic nationalism and the struggle to preserve national sovereignty and cultural identity are likely to be more important issues for Middle American nationalists than fighting communists, anti-American plug-uglies from the Third World, and international terrorists.? Buchanan even revived the old isolationist slogan ?America First,? as Trump has done in 2016.

There were race and class dimensions to paleoconservatism as well. The paleos thought the future of the right wasn?t in the upscale suburbs. Nor did they think, as many establishment Republicans did, that the party needed to recruit more people of color. Rather, the palecons, especially Francis, argued that working class whites were an untapped electoral resource?one whose anger at decades of economic stagnation could be exploited by a political movement that argued that they were the forgotten Middle Americans, squeezed by the rich elite and the poor. In the words of National Review editor John T. Sullivan in 1991, the paleocons were pushing for a ?newer and less conservative stress on recruiting the discontented and alienated in American society against institutions which are now seen as irredeemably corrupt.?

In retrospect, the terms of this battle, which raged through these publications into the early ?90s, foreshadowed the debate between the #NeverTrump faction and the alt-right in 2016: Neocons accused the paleos of being anti-Semites and cranks, while the paleos responded by saying the neos were establishment shills offering a politics indistinguishable from liberalism. (Interestingly, the very term alt-right emerged from the writings of leading paleo-con Paul Gottfried.)

The neocons won, thanks to their institutional advantage: a stranglehold on the large donors, think tanks, and major conservative media outlets. But the paleocon impulse never fully died, and could be seen flickering in the twenty-first century in the candidacy of Ron Paul (who was much shaped by paleocon fellow travelers Rothbard and Rockwell) and the Tea Party movement. As a much bigger celebrity than Buchanan or Paul, Trump was able to do an end run around such gatekeepers.

Trump has proven that paleoconservatism has a much bigger market than anyone would?ve predicted after Buchanan?s three failed presidential runs. Trump?s version of paleoconservatism, of course, is not identical to Buchanan?s. Trump is a far more secular figure, and while he accepts the GOP?s opposition to marriage equality, he shies away from overt homophobia (whereas Buchanan has described gays as ?sodomites? who are ?literally hell-bent on Satanism and suicide?). But Trump has similarly managed to intuit and exploit deep divisions among Republicans between an internationalist establishment and a deeply nationalist base. The fact that this structural divide still exists in the party, more than two decades since Buchanan?s 1992 campaign, makes clear that Trumpism is not a transitory phenomenon. Just as Trump picked up the core of Buchanan?s politics and put his own spin on it, a future Republican likely will do the same with Trump?s.

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North Dakota?s Pipeline Protest is About Climate Justice

Over the past months, hundreds of indigenous persons and their allies have gathered near the crossing of the Missouri and Cannon Ball rivers in the ancestral territories of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe. Using nonviolent means, their goal is to stop the building of the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) that would connect production fields in North Dakota to refineries in Illinois. Their primary fear is that an oil leak would threaten water quality for many members of the tribal community.

On Sept. 9, a federal judge denied the tribe?s request for an injunction to halt completion of the pipeline. But shortly after, federal officials said they would temporarily stop construction pending further review.

As a scholar of indigenous studies and environmental justice, I?ve been following these developments closely. The pipeline?s construction has already destroyed some of the tribe?s sacred burial grounds. During protests, the protectors?as many gatherers prefer to be called?have endured violence, including being pepper-sprayed, attacked by dogs, denied nourishment, and threatened by lawsuits.

But despite the national attention to this case, one point has gone largely ignored in my view: Stopping DAPL is a matter of climate justice and decolonization for indigenous peoples. It may not always be apparent to people outside these communities, but standing up for water quality and heritage are intrinsically tied to these larger issues.

Disproportionate suffering

Climate justice?the idea that it is ethically wrong for some groups of people to suffer the detrimental effects of climate change more than others?is among the most significant moral issues today, referenced specifically in the landmark Paris Agreement of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.

Climate scientists, through organizations such as the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and U.S. Climate Assessment, are finding more evidence of climate change from human activities, such as burning fossil fuels and deforestation. These destabilize the climate system, producing environmental conditions that disrupt human societies, through impacts such as rising sea levels, more severe droughts, and warming freshwater.

The same climate science organizations also show that indigenous peoples are among the populations who will suffer more, on average, than other communities from changing environmental conditions. Some are suffering right now.

Indigenous communities are among the first climate refugees, having to decide to relocate due to sea-level rise in the Arctic and Gulf of Mexico, as well as other places across the U.S. sphere. This is happening in other parts of the world too.

This is an injustice because, as indigenous scholar Dan Wildcat writes in ?Red Alert!,? the suffering is occurring ?not as a result of something their Native lifeways produced, but because the most technologically advanced societies on the planet have built their modern lifestyles on a carbon energy foundation.?

DAPL, a 1,172-mile connector of the Bakken and Three Forks fossil fuel basins to major oil refining markets, maintains the carbon energy foundation Wildcat writes of. The protectors, meanwhile, are bringing public attention to the urgency of reducing a fossil fuel dependence. Because indigenous peoples suffer the effects of climate change disproportionately, continuing fossil fuel dependence will inflict more harms in years to come.

But there is more to this story, as climate change and U.S. colonialism against indigenous peoples are closely related.

While ?colonialism? is not a term many nonindigenous persons typically use even in climate activism, it is the academically rigorous term for describing a significant part of the political relationship between the U.S. and indigenous peoples. It also sheds important light on indigenous understanding of what climate justice really means and what solutions are required.

History of exploitation

Put simply, colonialism refers to a form of domination that involves at least one society seeking to exploit some set of benefits they believe to be found in the territories of one or more other indigenous societies already living there. These benefits can range from farm land and precious minerals to labor.

Exploitation can occur through tactics including military invasion, coercion, slavery, policing, and geographic removal of indigenous peoples. Sexual and gender violence are integral to undermining indigenous leadership customs, many of which were tied to non-patriarchal gender systems that empowered women and non-binary genders.

U.S. colonialism is about continued U.S. control over how indigenous peoples govern themselves internally and their territories as Tribal Nations. The U.S. Congress officially has plenary (absolute) power over tribes. The U.S. considers indigenous jurisdictions, including reservations, as U.S. federal land held in trust for tribes.

While the U.S. federal government is required to consult tribes before it undertakes action that will affect tribal well-being, a brief glance at history reveals it is most often a policy that legitimizes federal infringement. Indeed, the U.S. has not fulfilled all of its treaty responsibilities to tribes, especially when treaty obligations interfere with the economic interests of settlers.

The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe?at the center of this current protest?has already suffered from this practice. Until U.S. mining interests were at stake, it retained sovereignty over the sacred Black Hills and parts of the Missouri River and certain off reservation hunting rights in the Treaty of Ft. Laramie of 1868. But then in 1877, U.S. Congress, without tribal consent, passed an act removing the Black Hills from Standing Rock?s jurisdiction, curtailing tribal members? capacity to honor the sacred places of the Black Hills.

U.S. colonialism, then, serves to pave the way for the expansion of extractive industries which scientists have now identified as contributors to human-caused climate change. Damming and deforestation of indigenous territories enable mining and industrial agriculture; pipelines, roads and refineries create dependence on fossil fuels for energy.

Colonial exploitation of indigenous lands through these industries has already inflicted immediate harms on indigenous peoples, from water and air pollution to destruction of sacred sites. Many of these environmental harms can be compared to climate change, as land-use change alters land temperatures, soil composition and hydrology. Herein lies a pattern of harms arising from colonialism.

Vicious pattern

But not all of the impacts of carbon-intensive industries are felt immediately. Climate change impacts occur in greater force some years later, as the effects of changing environmental conditions are felt more and more, all of which is made worse by U.S. colonialism.

Tribes are susceptible to loss of cultural, spiritual, and economic relations to species such as moose or salmon as habitats change occur faster because their reservations are too small or fragmented to allow indigenous communities to follow the species? movements to more suitable ecosystems. U.S. treaties are supposed to guarantee continued tribal access to the species even when they change location or their habitats are threatened by environmental stressors, but it?s not clear the U.S. will honor these treaties in this way.

When it comes to indigenous climate refugees, any decision to relocate is made particularly difficult by U.S. domination over decision-making and discriminatory bureaucratic hurdles.

Moreover, climate change also opens up more indigenous territories, such as in the Arctic, to pressure from colonial exploitation, as thawing snow and ice open access to resources, such as oil and other hydrocarbons, that were previously hard to get to.

This further oil exploration will likely lead to the same detrimental effects we?ve already seen. The workers camps, or ?man camps,? created to support drilling and mining in regions like the Bakken, introduce more sexual and gender violence through increases in the trafficking of indigenous women and girls. Of course, some of the sites of violence are the very same North Dakota fracking fields that seek to send fuel down the DAPL.

Stopping DAPL, then, is about stopping a vicious pattern of U.S. colonialism that inflicts immediate environmental harms and future climate change impacts on indigenous peoples. For indigenous peoples, then, decolonization is not a metaphor.

Broader movement

It?s worth noting the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe is not alone. A major supporter of stopping DAPL is the Lummi Nation, which has taken action to block the establishment of a coal shipment terminal and train railway near its treaty-protected sacred area of Xwe?chi?eXen in Washington state. The Lummi is part of a group of tribes that have documented the U.S. negligence in honoring its treaty responsibility to refrain from economic and consumptive activities that destroy the salmon habitat that the Lummi and other tribes in the region depend on.

The initiative, Treaty Rights at Risk, suggests the vulnerability of salmon habitat to climate change is part of a larger story of environmental damage done by U.S. dams, agriculture, and other land-use practices.

Similarly, for the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, shifting plant and animal habitats from climate change combined with loss of jurisdiction over land, both due to U.S. colonialism, will make it harder for tribal members to maintain relationships with those plants and animals into the future.

So as the protests and legal battles over the construction of the pipeline continue, we need to realize that protection of sacred sites and worries over contaminated water supplies are simultaneously concerns about climate justice and its relation to U.S. colonialism. Non-indigenous environmentalists are only allies if they work broadly toward decolonization, instead of aligning with indigenous peoples only when a particular issue, such as opposition to one pipeline, seems to match their interests.

The Conversation

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

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Trump?s Racist Birther Gaslighting Strategy Has Taken Over the GOP

At some point before this past Friday, it dawned on Donald Trump and his aides that they couldn?t avoid a rendezvous with his birther destiny before voters go to the polls in November, and that his first debate with Hillary Clinton?what promises to be one of the most watched events in television history?was likely to be the place for it.

Their response to this realization has been one of the purest expressions of Trump?s extraordinary and alarming approach to politics since he launched his campaign last summer. 

Despite the best efforts of  his closest campaign surrogates to put the controversy to bed for him, Trump dismissed their birther-disavowals in a Wednesday interview with the Washington Post last week. He promised instead to take the issue head-on at a time of his choosing, to keep ?the suspense going.? That time turned out to be Friday when he convened the media at his new hotel in Washington, D.C., in anticipation of a major announcement. Instead he forced a captive press corps to endure a nearly hourlong celebration of his hotel and campaign, before falsely blaming the entire birther movement on Hillary Clinton and grudgingly admitting that President Barack Obama had been born in the United States.

Trump used birtherism and other forms of racist agitation to build a political base for himself, and now that these defining crusades are impeding his pursuit of political power, he is trying to discard them in the most contemptuous and brazen possible way. Rather than disavow and apologize for his birtherism, he fabricated a new history in which Clinton had given life to the birther movement and he had merely settled the issue by forcing Obama to produce his birth certificate.

This is top-to-bottom fiction. Whatever ugliness Hillary Clinton lapsed into during the 2008 Democratic primary, she was never a birther, nor were here aides. Trump never once claimed until Friday that Clinton was the inspiration behind his birther campaign. To the contrary, he boasted in 2011 about having given fresh, mainstream life to the birther movement, and continued to suggest Obama might have been born outside the United States until this year.

The Trump campaign is making a bet that it can barrel through the debates without offering an honest accounting of birtherism. That he and his surrogates can gaslight media elites and passive news consumers about Trump?s role in coopting the birther movement, and turning it into an intimidating source of right-wing grassroots politics.

As grotesque as their effort is, and as nakedly as it reveals the Trump campaign?s disdain for media and the news-consuming public, it is not an entirely new strategic innovation. Don?t-believe-your-lying-eyes revisionism has a lengthy pedigree, and a mixed record, in conservative propaganda. And though it is unlikely to prevail in this instance, we?ve never seen it put to use at such a high level of Republican Party politics. The emergence of birther-truthers within the GOP leadership is the most fitting testament to the way Trump and the Republican Party are now one and the same.


There may be no better test of loyalty to Trump, or capacity for independent thought, than whether you?ve done a complete about face from pro-birther or birther tolerant to birther-truther in the past 72 hours.

Pro-Trump Pravda sites like Breitbart, which have fomented birther conspiracies for years, weren?t upset that Trump disclaimed birtherism; they celebrated Trump?s successful attempt to troll the media and his incipient effort to muddy the waters about where this racist conspiracy theory took root.

On Sunday, Trump?s most high-profile supporters fanned out across the Sunday TV news shows to claim, as his campaign manager Kellyanne Conway did, that the Clinton campaign incubated birtherism, and, as his adviser Chris Christie did that Trump ?wasn?t ? talking about [birtherism] on a regular basis.?

These are both lies, and easily disproven lies. But the purpose of the lies isn?t to win an argument, by convincing the masses that the lies are true. It?s to sow enough doubt about the real history of birtherism that voters who might be swayed by the truth?Democrats who aren?t fully aware of Trump?s racism, Republicans who worry that he?s too racist for their comfort, independents who hold Trump and Clinton equally suspect?throw up their hands and decide the issue is a wash.

This isn?t routine politics, but it isn?t new either. Most acutely, we saw a large number of conservative operatives in 2014 and 2015 try to hoodwink journalists into believing that Democrats had designed the Affordable Care Act to fail on purpose. The goal then wasn?t to win the hearts and minds of these journalists per se, but to blur the question enough that conservative Supreme Court justices would feel they were operating within a zone of acceptable debate in striking a fatal blow to the health care law. This effort failed. In his opinion for the court, Chief Justice John Roberts scolded the law?s challengers with a basic factual reminder, ?Congress passed the Affordable Care Act to improve health insurance markets, not to destroy them.? But three other justices were prepared to go along with the ruse.

More pertinently, a faction of conservative revisionists has attempted for years and years now to confuse the public over which party is the historical heir of the civil rights movement, and which is descended from the politics of the Jim Crow South. Now, whenever Trump?s popularity among white supremacists begets a new campaign controversy, his supporters will surface to remind whoever they can that Democrats were the party of Jim Crow and?did you even know??former Democratic Senator Robert Byrd was once in the Ku Klux Klan. This, of course, glosses over the 50 years between when a Democratic president signed the civil rights act, and when the ensuing public realignment, in which southern white supremacists left the Democratic Party for the GOP and northern liberals left the GOP for the Democratic Party, was complete.

Professional historians find this all appropriately silly and most political journalists aren?t tripped up by it. The same holds for birther revisionism, for which Trump and his surrogates have been repeatedly chastised by a press corps that may finally be growing tired of Trump?s efforts to game and lie to them. But that isn?t a great measure of the tactic?s success.

The success or failure of this kind of gaslighting isn?t whether the elites themselves get played for fools, but whether the downstream target audience takes comfort in the existence and durability of the alternate school of thought. It didn?t work on enough Supreme Court justices to destroy the Affordable Care Act, and it hasn?t worked thus far on voters who take racism seriously. But even if the effort fails as it should, it has shown us just how widespread this abusive and contemptuous form of misinformation and racism apologetics has become in Republican politics.

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Bulgaria Now podcast: Bulgaria?s back to school ? more chaos than theory

school exam ralaenin freeimages com

Hundreds of thousands of young Bulgarians returned to school, or began their first day, in the past week.

They?ve entered a world of underpaid teachers, a one-size-fits-all curriculum and a system in need of reform.

For their parents, that world also includes paying for private lessons and, in many cases, playing Sherlock Holmes in trying to find out essential information about school days. Then there is the cynical view that at many schools, parents? meetings are more like business meetings.

Views of the school situation in Bulgaria are mixed, including among the parents taking part in the latest Bulgaria Now podcast ? Imanuel Marcus and Justin Chapman of Foreigners and Friends Magazine, and Clive Leviev-Sawyer of The Sofia Globe. They tell tales out of school to Bulgaria Now?s Lance Nelson.

(Photo: ralaenin/freeimages.com)

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The DN Deets for 19 September 2016

Back in the saddle, my friends. Here is the first installment of DN Deets*, an update on the activity associated with Doubtful News, your skeptic-at-large Editor, Sharon Hill (@idoubtit), and interesting things you may want to check out.

I appeared on this week?s The Skeptic Zone ? the Australian podcast for Science and Reason ? talking about the return of Doubtful News, scary clowns and upcoming events. Direct download of MP3 here. Check it out.

Pick up the latest issue of Skeptical Inquirer with my name on the cover with all those other more famous people. I contributed an essay for the 40th anniversary of the magazine on the current state of the skeptical community. Hint: it needs a REBOOT.

si-special

Those within driving distance to Washington, D.C., join me with the National Capital Area Skeptics on a walking tour of the city highlighting some spooky stories just in time for Halloween. Check out SkepTours and RSVP to join us on the evening of October 20 for the I Ain?t Afraid of No Ghost Tour.

Looking for some cryptozoological comedy? Check out the return of (one of my fave actors) Rhys Darby and David Farrier as the put up a new podcast episode of The Cryptid Factor. And don?t take it seriously. Listen here.

Also recommended is The Folklore Podcast, a series that has an academic but entertaining flavor with coverage of Victorian ghost hoaxes, black dogs, Slenderman and more.

Stay tuned as DN staff gets their shiz together for a new project coming soon. Delays, delays?Marvin

If you are new to Doubtful News check out a presentation by me from 2014.

?Deets?, meaning ?details?. Definition here.

Thanks for joining us. Don?t miss a post! Subscribe by adding your email in the SUBSCRIBE box in the right sidebar or in the footer of the mobile site. Support can be provided via Pay Pal and is greatly appreciated.

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European Commission rules Poland has to suspend new retailer tax

supermarket-trolleys-photo-carlos-sillero-freeimages-com

The European Commission has opened an investigation into Poland?s new retailer tax and issued an injunction stating that Poland has to suspend it as sees the progressive rate of the tax and varying tax-free amounts for different-size retailers as inadmissible state aid.

?The Commission has opened an in-depth investigation into a Polish tax on the retail sector,? the statement said. ?The Commission has concerns that the progressive rates based on turnover give companies with a low turnover a selective advantage over their competitors in breach of EU state aid rules.?

For the full story, please visit The Warsaw Voice.

(Photo: Carlos Sillero/freeimages.com)

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Bulgarian President Plevneliev: Battle for UN Secretary-General post ?unpredictable?

plevneliev un photo un photo Cia Pak

Bulgaria?s battle for the post of United Nations Secretary-General is extremely difficult and currently unpredictable, President Rossen Plevneliev said in New York at a meeting with the Bulgarian community.

Plevneliev is in New York for the opening session of the UN General Assembly, which he is due to address on September 22, four days before the UN Security Council holds its fifth ?straw poll? on the candidates to head the world body.

He was speaking close to a week after Bulgarian Prime Minister Boiko Borissov said that, in spite of media reports, Irina Bokova remained Bulgaria?s candidate. However, Borissov said, if Bokova did not win one of the top two places in the straw poll on September 26, his government would reconsider the question.

Within Bulgaria and elsewhere in Europe, there is significant backing for replacing Bokova with Kristalina Georgieva, the Bulgarian vice-president of the European Commission, or possibly nominating Georgieva, in the name of countries other than Bulgaria, as an alternative candidate.

Bokova has done poorly in the first four straw polls, gaining at best a joint third position. In the most recent vote, she placed fifth.

Plevneliev told the Bulgarian community in New York that Bulgaria had a ?worthy candidate? and was supporting that candidate in this race.

On September 16, in an interview with public broadcaster Bulgarian National Television, Plevneliev ? asked about the Bulgarian candidacy for the UN job ? said that it was up to the Bulgarian government to decide on the candidate.

?The Bulgarian government has said very clearly who the candidate is, and the entire Bulgarian candidate is standing behind (that candidate) and working for (the candidate),? Plevneliev said.

He said that Bokova was the Bulgarian candidate. ?The government has its candidate, and I am working with that candidate. As head of state, I will work to the very last second with the Bulgarian candidate for the UN,? Plevneliev said.

(Photo: UN Photo/Cia Pak)

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News Briefs: This week?s Clown Show

wasco clownMy stars, it was a busy news week! We can?t cover all the doubtful news rolling out every day. Here are a few extra links from the Doubtful News Twitter and Facebook feeds related to themes and past stories we?ve featured. Feel free to throw in additional information in the comments. Send suggested stories to editor@doubtfulnews.com or on via Twitter @doubtfulnews. Thanks for your support. It?s good to be back.

The threatening clowns reported by witnesses in three southern US states have yet to be verified as real but copy cats have been caught playing up the fears on social media, even to the point of disrupting schools.  Hale County schools on soft lock down due to clown threats on social media and Teens found with clown mask in McDuffie helps put community at ease.

The clown show of US Presidential politics continues as Trump admits Obama was born in U.S., but falsely blames Clinton for starting rumors. Trump FINALLY admitted there was no basis to the ridiculous Bircher allegations but then backpedals on his newly acquired admissions of truth by asserting Hillary Clinton started the rumors. Many media outlets have checked on this assertion in the last few years and found no substantiation of that statement. Trump?s pants frequently seem to be on fire.

World Famous Exorcist Father Gabriele Amorth Dies at 91. Amorth performed over 70,000 exorcisms in his career and was often asked by the media to comment on cases about exorcisms. He was the Catholic Church?s leading cheerleader for the use of exorcisms. Amorth was a controversial figure, obviously, declaring that Harry Potter and yoga were evil and that the devil was at work in the Vatican itself. He was sometimes referred to an ?official ? exorcist of the Vatican but was only serving in capacity of the diocese of Rome.

50 Years Ago, Sugar Industry Quietly Paid Scientists To Point Blame At Fat. In a scenario that sounds reminiscent of the tobacco and fossil fuel industries, the sugar industry plotted to influence scientists and research studies to suggest sugar wasn?t as bad for you as it actually is.

Sorry David Attenborough, we didn?t evolve from ?aquatic apes? ? here?s why. Nature documentarian Sir David Attenborough buys into pseudoscientific theory that man evolved from aquatic apes. It?s a 55 year old idea that has overwhelming evidence against it and has been long-discarded as viable by evolution researchers.

Chinese actress Xu Ting dies of cancer after opting for alternative medicine instead of chemotherapy. Cupping, acupuncture and skin scraping shouldn?t be viable options for cancer treatment but they are and people die. Xu Ting was only 26 and died from lymphoma, which is treatable with chemotherapy. She wasn?t stupid, she was deeply misinformed about the efficacy of these nonsense treatments.

A movie is in the works about the famous Winchester family, in which the heiress of the rifle family business is haunted by people killed by the firearm. Jason Clarke to Star Opposite Helen Mirren in Thriller ?Winchester?.

Sweden?s self-described witch hunter caught. A man who escaped a psychiatric ward and plotted to kill his brother in law and dozens of other people, has been caught.

Finally, Uri Geller wants attention so bad, he put out a silly idea about why Donald Trump will be the next president, using incredibly irrational and goofy numerology. But, hey, at least it?s not Donald J. Trump. So we can rest easier.

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Shop Till You Drop

For a small but fervid subset of Americans, weekends are devoted to preparing for the end of weekends. Whether it?s canning vegetables, stocking the bunker, or drilling the kids in target practice, survivalists maintain a constant state of readiness for whatever doomsday scenario?zombie attack, electromagnetic pulse, coordinated FEMA takeover?they believe will bring about the end of the world as we know it. It?s a pastime that rewards obsessives: Every detail, no matter how small, could wind up being a matter of life and death. ?You can readjust the cans on your shelf, count the cans on your shelf,? says Richard Mitchell, a sociologist who has been studying survivalist subcultures since the 1980s. ?Counting is very popular. Everybody loves to count.?

From the start, survivalism has been infused, either implicitly or explicitly, with a criticism of modern society. The movement?s first wave was sparked in the early 1970s by the Arab oil embargo and the growing fear of nuclear war. Since then, survivalism has been fueled by everything from avian flu and the Y2K computer bug to September 11 and climate change. The shared belief is that civilization faces imminent collapse; the shared goal is to survive the chaos and be in the best position to recover. It?s a story of doom, but also of hope: Survivalists, in the end, are the heroes who emerge to rebuild our shattered world. ?Survivalism confronts modernity and finds trouble,? Mitchell writes in his study Dancing at Armageddon, ?but trouble with possibilities.?

Now, however, survivalism itself is being exploited by the very forces it seeks to escape. In recent years, a growing number of companies have rushed to capitalize on the deep-seated fears that drive survivalists, hoping to cash in on the end of the world. Anxiety, after all, is one of the most fundamental drivers of commerce?and who?s more anxious than someone who is convinced that doomsday is near?

Survivalism?s push into the mainstream picked up steam in 2012, when the National Geographic Channel premiered Doomsday Preppers, a reality show centered on Americans preparing for what?s known as a shtf (shit-hits-the-fan) scenario. Preppers quickly became the most-watched show in the channel?s history, and spawned popular spin-offs like Doomsday Bunkers (think home-renovation show, but with armored blast doors instead of open-plan kitchens). The shows were part of a wave of entertainment that took a decidedly apocalyptic turn, from movies like The Road and World War Z to television shows like The Walking Dead and The Last Man on Earth, which depicts the lighter side of what survivalists call TEOTWAWKI (The End of the World As We Know It).

?Preppers,? as National Geographic dubbed them, are more of a market than a movement. If being a survivalist is about acquiring skills, whether it?s starting a fire without matches or defending yourself against marauding enemies, then being a prepper is about accumulating stuff. Ambient, insatiable anxiety makes preppers ideal consumers; they?re always scrambling to achieve a better state of preparedness.

A growing number of companies have rushed to capitalize on the deep-seated fears that drive survivalists.

Mass marketers have taken notice. Prepper-centric shows don?t just feature survival gear?they directly profit from it. Doomsday Preppers, for example, is sponsored by Wise Food Storage, a purveyor of freeze-dried meats and other ?emergency foods.? On the show?s web site, there?s a quiz that purports to tell you how long you can expect to survive in a SHTF world based on how many MREs you?ve stockpiled and whether or not you have body armor. Even the advanced-level preppers featured on the show are never ready enough: At the end of each segment, they?re graded on their preparedness level, and few score more than 80 out of 100.

While many prepper products offer buyers the feeling of being prepared, their actual utility in a post-disaster world is questionable. The prepper?s essential accessory is the ?bug-out bag??a backpack you keep stocked with everything you?d need to survive for 72 hours. A cheap one that retails for $25 might come with an emergency blanket, ear plugs, and a fishing line. High-end ones, which can set you back as much as $700, include a Bear Grylls?brand fire starter, a crank radio, and a pocket chainsaw. If you want to stock your own bug-out bag, you can opt for gas masks from China that cost less than $20, or pay at least 20 times that much for one that ostensibly protects against nuclear agents. There are heated debates within the prepper community about what actually counts as a necessity. A lengthy article on GunsAmerica.com recommends stocking a bug-out bag with a computer tablet and micro-SD cards loaded with books and movies, because ?survival is boring.?

The intrusion of corporate interests into the survivalist scene hasn?t pleased those who take their doomsday scenarios seriously. Rob Richardson, a self-styled survival expert based outside of Las Vegas, founded the web site Offgrid Survival in 2007. Over the next six years, he built Offgrid into one of the most popular survivalist sites, offering practical, real-world tips like ?How to Protect Yourself from Violent Mobs of Criminals.?

Then, in 2013, a Los Angeles?based media conglomerate called The Enthusiast Network?the publisher of Motor Trend and Surfer?launched a glossy quarterly called Offgrid Magazine. On Richardson?s Offgrid site, TEOTWAWKI involves FEMA and Obama and Muslim terrorists. In Offgrid Magazine, all political content has been neatly excised. Its imagined Armageddons involve bipartisan disasters like alien attacks and plane crashes?the better to sell expensive water filters to consumers of all political persuasions.

Richardson took his corporate rival to court, claiming copyright infringement. As he sees it, the brand he built over the years with calls to prepare for martial law is being capitalized on?and watered down?by a bunch of urban wannabes who don?t even give good survival advice. ?If you look at the magazine,? he fumes, ?you can tell it?s written by people who have no clue about preparedness for survival.?

Richardson isn?t the only survivalist using the legal system to wage war against corporate intruders. Cody Lundin, a survival instructor, is suing the Discovery Channel for defamation after he was kicked off the show Dual Survival as a co-host. As Lundin explained to TV Guide, ?You?re dealing with people who have no experience in my profession who are making a show on survival skills.?

But stoking people?s fears is what capitalists do best?even if they wind up scaring themselves in the process. The CEO of Overstock.com told BuzzFeed last year that he has a 30-day food supply and $10 million in precious metals hidden away near the company?s Utah headquarters, just in case the U.S. economic system suffers a total meltdown.

Whatever the prepper industry is selling?mini-crossbows, sailboats to withstand an electromagnetic pulse, a simplified fantasy of control in an increasingly complex world?people are buying. At a recent prepper trade show in Irving, Texas, hosted by the National Self-Reliance Organization, staff coordinators had to turn away would-be vendors due to overwhelming demand for space. ?People are loving this stuff,? says Taylor McClendon, the group?s event management coordinator. ?We emptied all the ATMs in the building.?

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Indonesian Medco Energi Acquires 40% Stake in Natuna Sea Block

September 19th, 2016 2:45pm Posted In: Natural Gas News, News By Country, Corporate, Exploration & Production, Natural Gas News Asia, Indonesia

Indonesia?s Medco Energi Internasional has signed a share sale and purchase agreement to acquire ConocoPhillips Indonesia and ConocoPhillips Singapore Operations, both subsidiaries of ConocoPhillips.

ConocoPhillips Indonesia is the operator of the South Natuna Sea Block B PSC (SNSB) with a 40% working interest and is the operator of the West Natuna Transportation System (WNTS). ConocoPhillips Singapore Operations operates the onshore receiving facility (ORF) in Singapore. ?The WNTS infrastructure together with the Malaysian pipeline is, and will continue to be the focal point for the commercialisation of existing discoveries and ongoing exploration activities within the Natuna area. The transaction is expected to complete in Q4 2016,? Medco said September 19.

The acquisition will add substantial gas and liquids reserves and increase company?s daily production by over 35%. It did not disclose any financial details of the deal. Other partners in the SNSB are Japan?s Inpex and Chevron.

Five fields in SNSB, which is located off the northwest coast of Borneo, produce natural gas, and two fields produce crude oil. Net daily production during 2015 averaged 5,000 barrels of liquids and 66mn ft ³of natural gas, according to Chevron?s website.

Shardul Sharma


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