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Conservatives Slammed for Mocking and Bullying Greta Thunberg

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  • Several well-known conservatives received backlash for making fun of 16-year-old climate activist Greta Thunberg, who has been vocal about having Aspergers.
  • Fox News apologized after conservative commentator Michael Knowles said she was “a mentally ill Swedish child who is being exploited by her parents and by the international left.”
  • Fox News host Laura Ingraham also faced backlash when she compared the teen’s UN speech to the film Children of the Corn, while President Trump was criticized for a tweet about Thunberg that many felt was sarcastic.

Greta Thunberg’s UN Speech

A handful of prominent conservatives are receiving backlash for mocking and criticizing young environmental activist Greta Thunberg.

The 16-year-old Swedish girl first gained national attention last year when she started the Friday’s for Future movement. The movement encourages students and other young people all around the world to skip school on Fridays and hold climate strikes calling for global leaders to address climate change.

After leading a massive global strike this past Friday, Thunberg addressed the world in a powerful speech at the UN Climate Action Summit in New York on Monday.

“This is all wrong. I shouldn’t be up here. I should be back in school on the other side of the ocean,” Thunberg said. “Yet you all come to us young people for hope. How dare you! You have stolen my dreams and my childhood with your empty words.” 

“And yet I’m one of the lucky ones,” she continued. “People are suffering. People are dying. Entire ecosystems are collapsing. We are in the beginning of a mass extinction, and all you can talk about is money and fairy tales of eternal economic growth. How dare you!” 

“You are failing us. But the young people are starting to understand your betrayal. The eyes of all future generations are upon you,” she added towards the end of her speech.

“And if you choose to fail us, I say: We will never forgive you. We will not let you get away with this. Right here, right now is where we draw the line. The world is waking up. And change is coming, whether you like it or not.” 

Following her speech, Thunberg, along with 15 other kids from 12 countries filed a formal complaint with the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child. In it, they alleged that Germany, France, Brazil, Argentina, and Turkey have violated child human rights by failing to adequately address climate change.

Response Applauding Greta

Many people took to social media to share the video of Thunberg and praise her.

Celebrities like Jimmy Kimmel and George Takei chimed in on Twitter.

Politicians on both sides also cheered on Thunberg, like Democratic Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI), who referred to Thunberg’s speech as “A must watch plea to world leaders.”

Former Republican Governor John Kasich also commended the young activist in a tweet.

“She should be praised and viewed as an example of how change really happens — from the bottom up,” he wrote.

Michael Knowles Remarks

Others, however, publicly criticized Thunberg and her movement.

“The climate hysteria movement is not about science,” conservative commentator Michael Knowles said on Fox News on Monday. “If it were about science, it would be led by scientists, rather than by politicians and a mentally ill Swedish child who is being exploited by her parents and by the international left.” 

The other guest on the show, progressive podcast host Chris Hahn, responded by condemning Knowles’ attack on Thunberg.

“You’re a grown man and you’re attacking a child. Shame on you. She’s trying to do what she thinks is right,” Hahn said. 

“I’m not, I’m attacking the left for exploiting a mentally ill child,” Knowles responded. 

“Now, relax, skinny boy. I got this. You’re attacking a child, you’re grown man, have some couth when you’re on television,” Hahn retorted, before asking Knowles to apologize to Thunberg.

Knowles did not apologize, instead, he continued to defend his remarks.

“I think the international left and her parents who are exploiting a girl with many mental illnesses, and her parents wrote about those mental illnesses in a book,” he said. “She has autism, she has obsessive-compulsive disorder, she has selective mutism, she had depression.”

“You are despicable,” Hahn said.

Knowles Receives Backlash

Many condemned Knowles on social media after the interview. Some pointed out that Thunberg has been very vocal about the fact that she has Aspbergers, something that she has embraced and referred to as her “superpower.”

Autism organizations also condemned Knowles’ remarks.

“It’s absolutely unconscionable to attack someone for their disability, especially when that person is a child,” Julia Bascom, executive director of the Autistic Self Advocacy Network told the Hollywood Reporter

“History is full of autistic people and people with other cognitive disabilities who were and are compelling, credible activists and leaders,” she continued. “Greta is a part of that tradition, and our community is lucky to have her. Period.”

Fox News later apologized for the incident.

“The comment made by Michael Knowles who was a guest on The Story tonight was disgraceful — we apologize to Greta Thunberg and to our viewers,” the network told The Washington Post in a statement, also adding that they had “no plans” to book Knowles again.

Knowles, however, still doubled down and defended himself in a series of tweets.

“There is nothing shameful about living with mental disorders. Your suggestion to the contrary is not only wrong but deeply offensive,” he wrote.

“Children should never be exploited for political purposes, and mentally ill children are particularly vulnerable,” he added in a later tweet.

Other Conservative Get Backlash for Remarks

Knowles was not the only well-known conservative voice who received backlash for comments they made about Thunberg.

Fox News host Laura Ingraham showed part of Greta’s speech to the UN, then compared her to the movie Children of the Corn.

“I can’t wait for Stephen King’s new sequel, Children of the Climate,” Ingraham said. 

Her remarks garnered a lot of backlash from people on social media, including Ingraham’s brother, Curtis Ingraham, who condemned his sister in a tweet.

“Clearly my sister’s paycheck is more important than the world her three adopted kids will inherit,” he wrote. “I can no longer apologize for a sibling who I no longer recognize. I can and will continue to call out the monstrous behavior and the bully commentary born out of anger.”

Conservative commentator Dinesh D’Souza also received a lot of heat for comparing Thunberg to a Nazi in a tweet posted over the weekend.

Even President Donald Trump chimed in, seeming to make fun of Thunberg by sharing a video of her speech on Twitter and writing “She seems like a very happy young girl looking forward to a bright and wonderful future. So nice to see!”

Thunberg appeared to mock Trump back by changing her Twitter bio to “A very happy young girl looking forward to a bright and wonderful future.”

See what others are saying: (The Washington Post) (The Hollywood Reporter) (The Daily Beast)

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Employers Can Opt-Out of Birth Control Coverage, SCOTUS Rules

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  • In a Wednesday ruling, the Supreme Court decided 7-2 that employers can opt-out of birth control coverage on religious grounds.
  • Under the Affordable Care Act, employers have been required to cover cost-free contraception to their employees. Exceptions had initially been made to houses of worship, but a 2018 Trump Administration rule expanded that to include most employers, ranging from large public businesses to universities.
  • The court sided with Trump, ruling that his administration had the authority to provide religious exemptions.
  • Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sonia Sotomayor cast the two dissenting votes, claiming it could harm healthcare access for women in the workforce.

SCOTUS Ruling

The Supreme Court sided with the Trump administration on Wednesday morning, ruling that employers can opt-out of providing birth control coverage on religious and moral grounds

Under the Affordable Care Act, employers have been required to cover cost-free contraception to their employees, though exemptions were made for houses of worship who could refuse for religious reasons. Exemptions grew in 2014 when Hobby Lobby won a Supreme Court case ruling that certain closely held corporations, like family businesses, could also refuse birth control coverage if it contradicted their religious beliefs. 

Wednesday’s ruling pertained to a 2018 Trump administration policy that would allow most employers – ranging from small private businesses, to universities, to large public companies – to opt-out of contraception coverage for religious reasons. That rule was challenged by the states of New Jersey and Pennsylvania, which claimed they would have to cover contraception costs to those who lost coverage under the Trump administration. 

The court’s decision responded to two cases: Little Sisters of the Poor v. Pennsylvania and Trump v. Pennsylvania. In a 7-2 ruling, they sided with Trump. The two dissenting votes came from Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sonia Sotomayor. 

Justice Clarence Thomas, who wrote the opinion, said that the Trump administration “had the authority to provide exemptions from the regulatory contraceptive requirements for employers with religious and conscientious objections.”

“It is clear from the face of the statute that the contraceptive mandate is capable of violating the [Religious Freedom Restoration Act],” he added.

Justice Samuel Alito, who wrote a concurring opinion, claimed that the administration was “required by RFRA to create the religious exemption (or something very close to it).”

Ginsberg’s Dissent

This could leave as many as 126,000 women without access to contraception within a year. According to Planned Parenthood, nine out of ten women will seek access to contraception at some point in their lives. While birth control is often used as a contraceptive, it is also used for a variety of other health reasons, including regulating menstrual cycles, lowering risks for various forms of cancer, and managing migraines, endometriosis and other ailments. 

“This Court leaves women workers to fend for themselves, to seek contraceptive coverage from sources other than their employer’s insurer, and, absent another available source of funding, to pay for contraceptive services out of their own pockets,” Ginsberg wrote in the dissent. 

Ginsberg claimed that the court’s usually balanced approach of not allowing “the religious beliefs of some to overwhelm the rights and interests of others who do not share those beliefs” was thrown away. 

“Today, for the first time, the Court casts totally aside countervailing rights and interests,” she added.

Responses to Ruling

She was not alone in critiquing the rulings. The National Women’s Law Center called it “invasive, archaic, and dangerous.” The Center fears the ruling could have a larger impact on low wage workers, people of color, and LGBTQ people. 

Dr. Daniel Grossman, the head of a research group at the University of California, San Francisco called Advancing New Standards in Reproductive Health also condemned the decision.

“No employer is welcome into the exam room when I talk to patients about their contraception options, why should they be able to dictate the method from their corner office?” he asked. 

On the other side, Tony Perkins, the President of the Family Research Council applauded the Supreme Court. 

“It should be common sense to allow a religious group to conduct themselves according to their religious convictions, and yet government agents have tried to punish them with obtuse fines for doing just that,” Perkins said in a statement. “We are pleased to see the Supreme Court still recognizes religious freedom.”

See what others are saying: (NPR) (Associate Press) (New York Times)

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Tech CEO Apologizes After Racist Rant Against Asian-American Family Goes Viral

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  • Viral video shows a man in a California restaurant spewing racist remarks at an Asian American family, including “Trump’s gonna f–k you…You f–kers need to leave,” and “Asian piece of sh-t.”
  • Many have expressed support for the family and praised a restaurant employee who immediately demanded that the man leave the premises. 
  • The man was later identified as a San Francisco tech CEO named Michael Lofthouse, and big names even shared his identity including Chrissy Teigen and Patton Oswalt. 
  • Lofthouse has apologized, saying he “lost control” and will work to better understand inequality.

Viral Video 

A California tech CEO apologized Tuesday after he was caught on camera making racist and offensive remarks towards an Asian American family.

“Woah, okay, say that again,” the person recording the now-viral video says. “Oh, now you’re shy? Say it again.

In response, the man at a table a short distance away raises his middle finger to the camera, adding, “That’s what I’m saying.”

As people off camera tell him that he needs to leave the restaurant, he says, “Trump’s gonna f–k you…You f–kers need to leave.”

“Asian piece of sh-t,” he adds as he gets up from the table to put on his jacket.

“You do not talk to our guests like that. Get out now!” a restaurant staff member shouts at him. 

“Who are these f–kers?” the man asks, to which the staff member responds, “They are valued guests.”

The employee then repeatedly screams at him to leave, saying he’s never allowed to enter the restaurant again. The man continues to make remarks, laughing while gathering his belongings before the clip ends. 

What Prompted the Incident? 

That video was recorded by one of the family members, Jordan Chan, on the Fourth of July at the Lucia Restaurant & Bar in Carmel Valley.

Chan later posted the video to her Instagram, writing in the caption that her family was there celebrating a birthday. She called the incident “unprovoked, unwarranted, and unconscionable,” explaining that her family was just singing “Happy Birthday” and taking pictures when the man started spewing his remarks. 

She also said more vulgar and racist language was not captured on film, including comments like, “Go back to whatever f–king Asian country you’re from.”

In the remainder of her post, she went on to talk about racism in America, criticizing President Donald Trump for amplifying “voices of hate.” However, she ultimately ended her post by calling for change and encouraging people to vote in the upcoming election. 

View this post on Instagram

❗️❗️❗️SHARE THIS POST❗️❗️❗️ Trigger warning: Racism, Vulgar Language (FYI he had a LOT more to say after I stopped recording) This is the face of the man who relentlessly harassed my family and I completely UNPROVOKED, UNWARRANTED, and UNCONSCIONABLE. We were celebrating my tita’s birthday, literally just singing happy birthday to her and taking pictures, when this white supremacist starts yelling disgusting racist remarks at us. (“Fuck you Asians” “Go back to whatever fucking Asian country you’re from” “You don’t belong here”) It is no coincidence that this man has the audacity to showcase such blatant racism on the 4th of July. White supremacy has a notorious habit of masquerading as patriotism! The fact that Donald Trump is our president (i.e. THE MOST POWERFUL MAN IN THE WORLD) gives racists a platform and amplifies voices of hate. The surfacing of racists is so prevalent right now, even in such an ethnically/culturally diverse and liberal state like California, because Trump HIMSELF uses his position to incite racial tension and to promote aggression towards POC, foreigners, and immigrants. We need change! PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE VOTE THIS UPCOMING RE-ELECTION. PROTECT ALL PEOPLE REGARDLESS OF SKIN COLOR AND ETHNIC ORIGIN. ✊🏻✊🏼✊🏽✊🏾✊🏿

A post shared by @ jordanlizchan on

Chan’s recording spread like wildfire, especially after she asked one of her friends share it on Twitter. 

Responses to Family and Restaurant Employee 

In response, a ton of people online began praising the family and the employee for how they handled the situation.

Singer Kelly Clarkson, for instance, tweeted, “THANK YOU SO MUCH to this woman for speaking up and throwing this trash out! …Keep calling hate out! It’s unacceptable, ignorant, and disgusting! Change won’t happen if we’re sittin’ down so keep standing!”

According to the San Francisco Chronicle, some even sent flowers and letters to the restaurant employee. A spokesperson for the Bernardus Lodge and Spa, where the restaurant is located, also said that others have even offered to pay for meals or lodgings for the family.

In an emailed statement to an ABC affiliate station, the vice president and general manager of the Lodge also said he was proud of his staff for keeping in line with the company’s core values. He noted that the man was “escorted off the property without further escalation,” and extended an apology to the family.  

Man Identified as Tech CEO Michael Lofthouse 

The reactions to the man in the video haven’t been as kind. Many, of course, began trying to figure out who the man was, and eventually, several journalists identified him Tuesday as Michael Lofthouse, CEO of Solid8, a cloud computing firm based in San Francisco.

Once people got that information, they continued to share it. Comedian Patton Oswalt, for example, did so by sarcastically writing, “Could everyone PLEASE stop sharing this video of Michael Lofthouse? He’s the founder & CEO of Solid8, a tech company based in San Francisco. If it goes viral it could hurt Michael Lofthouse and Solid8, his company. Let’s all be nice to Michael Lofthouse and Solid8.”

Model Chrissy Teigen retweeted a photo of his LinkedIn profile, simply writing, “Oops.”

Then people began bombarding Lofthouse with comments on his personal and company social media profiles.

On Monday night, Chan uploaded a screenshot of a response Lofthouse allegedly wrote to one user who called him “a trash human being” who deserves every bad thing that happens to him. 

That comment reads: “Great food [sic] for u – leave out planet. Asian f–k 

Come near me or my people a u r f–king dead

Do not start

U fucking piece of shot [sic]” 

However, no media outlets have confirmed whether or not that post is real and as of now, it appears that Lofthouse’s accounts were set to private or deleted.

Lofthouse Apologizes 

After all the backlash, Lofthouse and issued an apology to a local ABC station on Tuesday, saying: “My behavior in the video is appalling. This was clearly a moment where I lost control and made incredibly hurtful and divisive comments.”

“I would like to deeply apologize to the Chan family. I can only imagine the stress and pain they feel. I was taught to respect people of all races, and I will take the time to reflect on my actions and work to better understand the inequality that so many of those around me face every day.”

But the family doesn’t seem to be totally buying it. Chan’s uncle, Raymond Orosa, who was also there for the incident said, “He’s just saving face. I think he really meant what he said and what he did.”

“I don’t believe his words because his actions speak louder than the words he’s saying,” he added, pointing to the social media comment allegedly written by Lofthouse. 

Still, he told reporters, “I can’t say what he did was acceptable or right, it isn’t, because a lot of people will probably disagree with me for saying I forgive him… but I do.”

See what others are saying: (The Washington Post) (ABC 7) (Heavy)  

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Judge Orders Dakota Access Pipeline to Shut Down Pending Environmental Review

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  • The Dakota Access Pipeline must suspend operations pending an environmental review, according to orders from a U.S. District Court.
  • A judge claimed that while this may cause disruption to oil industries, the Army Corps of Engineers did not provide a needed environmental impact statement. They must now draft one and undergo a review process that could last 13 months.
  • This order is a big win for environmental groups and the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, who have been fighting for four years to shut down the pipeline. The tribe has long claimed that the pipeline is a threat to their main water supply in the Missouri River,
  • However, Energy Transfer Partners, which runs the pipeline, is vowing to appeal the ruling. 

Pipeline Ordered to Shut Down

A U.S. District Court in Washington D.C. ordered on Monday that the Dakota Access Pipeline must halt operations within 30 days, pending an environmental review. 

The pipeline runs for over 1,100 miles between North Dakota and Illinois, transporting 570,000 barrels of oil per day. It has faced opposition from environmental activists and members of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe for several years over pollution concerns. Monday’s order is a victory for the pipeline’s critics. 

In his order, United States District Judge James E. Boasberg wrote that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which permitted the Dakota Access Pipeline, had violated the National Environmental Policy Act when it allowed a portion of the pipeline to be built under part of the Missouri River. 

“This was because the Corps had failed to produce an Environmental Impact Statement despite conditions that triggered such a requirement,” Boasberg wrote. 

The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe is located just under a mile from the pipeline, and gets much of its water supply from the Missouri River. They feared that having a pipeline under their water source could lead to contamination should there ever be a leak or spill. 

The court acknowledged the potential consequences of shutting the pipeline down, including a disruption of North Dakota’s oil industry, as well as the oil industries of other states. However, Boasberg believed that the best path forward in this case was to shut the pipeline down.

“Yet, given the seriousness of the Corps’ [National Environmental Policy Act] error, the impossibility of a simple fix, the fact that Dakota Access did assume much of its economic risk knowingly, and the potential harm each day the pipeline operates, the Court is forced to conclude that the flow of oil must cease,” Judge Boasberg wrote. 

The court is asking the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to reassess the environmental impacts of the pipeline and to prepare an impact statement. Judge Boaberg first ordered a review back in March. Per Monday’s ruling, the pipeline must shut down pending the review, a process that is expected to last 13 months. 

Responses to Order

The ruling could be appealed and only closes the pipeline temporarily. Still, it was cause for celebration for members of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and other activists who had been protesting against the Dakota Access Pipeline since 2016.

“Today is a historic day for the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and the many people who have supported us in the fight against the pipeline,” Mike Faith, Chairman of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe said in a statement. “This pipeline should have never been built here. We told them that from the beginning.”

“It took four long years, but today justice has been served at Standing Rock,” said Jan Hasselman, an Earthjustice attorney representing the tribe. “If the events of 2020 have taught us anything, it’s that health and justice must be prioritized early on in any decision-making process if we want to avoid a crisis later on.”

Youth activist and founder of Fridays for Future Greta Thunberg also applauded the court’s decision on Twitter.

On the other hand, however, the decision was met with swift criticism from Energy Transfer Partners, which controls the pipeline. The company has promised legal action, and according to Hasselman, has already filed for an appeal. 

In a statement, Energy Transfer said the order is “not supported by the law or the facts of the case.”

“Furthermore, we believe that Judge Boasberg has exceeded his authority in ordering the shutdown of the Dakota Access Pipeline, which has been safely operating for more than three years,” it said. 

Energy Transfer claims that billions of dollars of tax and royalty revenue will be lost by local and tribal governments in several states. 

“The economic implications of the Judge’s order are too big to ignore and we will do all we can to ensure its continued operation,” the company stated, before maintaining that the Dakota Access Pipeline is environmentally safe and responsible. 

See what others are saying: (Axios) (Associated Press) (Wall Street Journal)

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