President Trump the divider exploits another opportunity in NFL attacks: Brent Larkin |

Remember this about Trump: He’ll always be a divider, never a unifier. He owes his entire political existence to a strategy designed to tear the country apart by exploiting issues related to race, culture, religion and economic standing. Absent continuous chaos, his support crumbles. That need to constantly divide explains his newfound, and laughable, loyalty to our flag. When Vietnam came calling nearly 50 years ago, Trump pigeonholed his patriotism, seeking and receiving five draft deferments, allegedly for bone spurs in his feet.

Source: President Trump the divider exploits another opportunity in NFL attacks: Brent Larkin |

I Interrupted Our EPA Administrator’s Speech. Here is why.

Last week, I stood up during a talk by Scott Pruitt, our Environmental Protection Agency Administrator, and called out his climate change denial until I was escorted out by security. I did this because my generation cannot afford to stay silent while he undermines our futures.

Pruitt, who built his career suing the agency Trump tasked him with running, was speaking at an event running in parallel with the United Nations General Assembly. While being interviewed by Dana Perino, a Fox news host who has a history of helping censor climate scientists for the Bush administration, he tried distancing himself from his attempts to block critical protections for our air, water, and health and started ‘talking the talk’ about reducing our carbon emissions. The truth is that he aims to dismantle the EPA’s ability to regulate greenhouse gases – the carbon dioxide, methane, and other pollutants emitted by burning fossil fuels that trap heat in our atmosphere and cause increasingly extreme weather patterns.

Recently, it has come out that Pruitt had a string of meetings with corporate executives – and then made decisions in their favor. The EPA is providing up to 18 round-the-clock bodyguards for Pruitt by pulling staff from other duties (such as investigating environmental crimes). And most disgusting of all – he wants to set up a “red-team, blue-team” debate about climate science. That’s right, he is finding climate change deniers to argue with climate scientists about a settled issue – to stoke more doubt and tamper action on the most urgent crisis of our time.

Reminder: this is not normal.

This administration is several layers of awful: not only doing awful things, but also having the audacity to flat out lie about them. I couldn’t sit there while he lied (again) so I stood up and yelled and reminded him and his audience that they were betraying young people’s futures: “If you really cared about the people of Florida, Houston and the Caribbean, why are you not talking about how climate change is making storms worse? You’re talking the talk today but you’re fighting to dismantle EPA’s ability to regulate greenhouse gas. Pruitt is a puppet for corporate polluters! You’re betraying our futures!” (You can watch the video here). 

It didn’t all come out so eloquently – I was practically screaming, getting words out in bits and pieces. After I got my first sentence in, a Secret Service agent came to pull me away. As he was leading me out, he said:“You know, you put yourself in a really dangerous situation there. There were a bunch of Secret Service agents in there, and we’re all armed. If someone had perceived you as a threat, you could have put your whole life in danger.” 

This, among many other things, is ridiculous. Chances are this agent was trying to discourage me from doing a similar disruption in the future, but even the insinuation that a person standing in the audience and shouting would constitute a threat to anyone else’s safety is absurd. This is obviously one tiny example of a much larger problem going on in this country.

I am a young, white woman. I was wearing my best business formal. I am lucky no one perceived me as a threat, and I know that many black and brown people have been seen as “threatening” and “dangerous” for doing much less.

That’s part of why I take action like this.

I interrupted Scott Pruitt because I am part of a movement of young people, who have challenged me to join them in standing up to fossil fuel executives and their cronies and fighting for a just future powered by clean energy. Second, I personally took that stand because it is on us as white folks, as people who are not grossly labeled (and attacked) as “threats,” to leverage our privilege to disrupt spaces.

To win this fight, we need to send a clear message to the public that climate change is a moral crisis, that there is in fact someone at fault, and that we have the solutions within our reach. Disrupting an event by a fossil fuel industry crony like Pruitt is a tactic to do exactly that. That’s why movement groups encourage dramatic, visually powerful protests – whether they look like one-person disruptions or thousands in the streets. Such actions grab public attention and force people to choose a side, eventually inspiring many who were on the sidelines to finally get involved.

To win the kind of future we want, we’re going to need everyone to use every tactic in the book, in addition to protest. We need people who care to talk to their communities about climate change, because research from Yale has shown that fewer than half of Americans hear about it even once a month. We need politicians who share our values in the halls of power, especially ones who refuse to take fossil fuel industry contributions. We need amazing legal minds to protect the environmental and climate protections we already have and innovate new ones. We need organizations led by and for communities of color that are most vulnerable to storms and the toxic pollution of industrial sites, fighting back and creating resiliency plans. We need engineers to build fields of solar panels and efficient wind turbines.

I’m 23 years old. I’m a New York transplant from California. I’m Russian-American. My parents are supportive of my values but not exactly huge fans of all of the things I do to stand up for them. When I told my roommates that I interrupted Scott Pruitt’s speech, they said they could barely imagine me yelling. I watch The Bachelorette. I’m obsessed with cats. I don’t see myself as particularly radical. 

And I am part of this movement because no one should have to live in fear of the next big storm. We all deserve a climate-stable future, and we can all do something to fight for it.

Header image credit: The Daily Beast. Sue Ogrocki/AP. 

Russians bought ads on facebook targeting black people in Baltimore and Ferguson

Ferguson and Baltimore had gained widespread attention for the large and violent protests over police shootings of black men. The decision to target the ad in those two cities offers the first look at how accounts linked to the Russian government-affiliated troll farm known as the Internet Research Agency used geographically targeted advertising to sow political chaos in the United States, the sources said.

Facebook has previously said that roughly one-quarter of the 3,000 ads bought by the agency were geographically targeted, but it has not revealed any specific locations. Facebook has also not revealed which demographic groups and interest groups were targeted by the ads.

The Black Lives Matter ad appeared on Facebook at some point in late 2015 or early 2016, the sources said. The sources said it appears the ad was meant to appear both as supporting Black Lives Matter but also could be seen as portraying the group as threatening to some residents of Baltimore and Ferguson.

Exclusive: Russians bought Black Lives Matter ad on Facebook targeting people in Baltimore and Ferguson

— The Situation Room (@CNNSitRoom) September 27, 2017

New descriptions of the Russian-bought ads shared with CNN suggest that the apparent goal of the Russian buyers was to amplify political discord and fuel an atmosphere of incivility and chaos, though not necessarily to promote one candidate or cause over another. Facebook’s review of Russian efforts on its platform focused on a timeframe from June 2015 to May 2017.

Sen. Richard Blumenthal says he has seen some of the Russian-bought Facebook ads, describing them as “shocking”

— The Situation Room (@CNNSitRoom) September 27, 2017

These ranged from posts promoting Black Lives Matter to posts promoting gun rights and the Second Amendment to posts warning about what they said was the threat undocumented immigrants posed to American democracy. Beyond the election, Russians have sought to raise questions about western democracies.

“This is consistent with the overall goal of creating discord inside the body politic here in the United States, and really across the West,” Steve Hall, the former CIA officer and CNN National Security Analyst, said. “It shows they the level of sophistication of their targeting. They are able to sow discord in a very granular nature, target certain communities and link them up with certain issues.”