The Daily Visionary: Tuesday, January 8, 2019

New U.S. Congresswoman Ocasio-Cortez proposes 60-70% tax rate for the “tippie tops” to achieve total renewable energy in twelve years


Newly sworn-in 29-year-old United States (U.S.) Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) is a self-described democratic socialist, who was encouraged to run for office by Bernie Sanders supporters who call themselves "justice Democrats”.


In an interview with Anderson Cooper on 60 Minutes Sunday night, Rep. Ocasio-Cortez said her goal is for the U.S. to achieve 100% green energy within twelve years, where everyone would be driving electric vehicles, because people will be required to pay “their fair share” in taxes. Mr. Cooper replied that she was proposing a “radical agenda” and Rep. Ocasio-Cortez said she believes change in America has only ever come from radicals. She said her policies most closely reflect those in the UK, Norway, Finland, and Sweden, not Venezuela. When Mr. Cooper asked Rep. Ocasio-Cortez “how are you going to pay for this?” she did not provide a straight answer and asked, "What makes it unrealistic?" Mr. Cooper responded, "How to pay for it."


When Mr. Cooper said Rep. Ocasio-Cortez’s "math is fuzzy" and brought forward examples of her factual errors in proposed policy costs, she responded by saying, "Oh my goodness. If people really want to blow up one figure here or one word there, I would argue that they're missing the forest for the trees. I think that there's a lot of people more concerned about being precisely, factually, and semantically correct than about being morally right."


Rep. Ocasio-Cortez continued by citing a progressive tax rate system in the 1960s where the top income tier paid 70% tax, explaining that if one earned $0 to $75,000 a year, you would only pay 10% or 15% in income tax, “But once you get to the tippie tops, on your $10 millionth, sometimes you see tax rates as high as 60% or 70%. That doesn’t mean all $10 million are taxed at an extremely high rate. But it means that as you climb up this ladder, you should be contributing more.” However, when tax rates were that high back in the 1950s, 60s, and 70s there were many more tax deductions that could be claimed.


The progressive bloc of forty Democrats are fully backing a radical environmental agenda known as the ‘Green New Deal’ and warned their more moderate colleagues not to interfere in the creation of a “strong” climate committee. After being sworn in, Rep. Ocasio-Cortez called on newly-elected Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to create the green committee, which would have subpoena power and the authority to introduce bills. Speaker Pelosi followed through, though limiting the committee’s powers.


Christian Bale thanks Satan for inspiring his portrayal of Dick Cheney at the Golden Globes


Kicking off Hollywood’s annual award season at the Golden Globes Sunday night, actor Christian Bale, who portrayed former American Republican Vice President Dick Cheney in the new movie ‘Vice’ and won his nomination for Best Actor, Musical or Comedy, said "Thank you to Satan for giving me inspiration to play this role."


Several weeks prior to his acceptance speech, Mr. Bale had praised the former VP and spoke to Fox News about playing Mr. Cheney, expressing his admiration for the former George W. Bush administration member, saying, “He was a wonderful family man — he’s a great dad, he’s an avid reader, he has a brain like a vice and he constantly reads history.


Mr. Cheney’s daughter, Congresswoman Liz Cheney (R-Wyo) slammed the actor, responding on Twitter that “Satan probably inspired him to do this, too. Christian Bale arrested for ‘assault on mother and sister’'” linking to a news article from The Independent about Mr. Bale's 2008 arrest.


Award shows have experienced a significant drop in audience over the past several years following increasing politicization of the entertainment events by celebrities and industry. It’s become a rare stance in Hollywood to remain publicly anti-political and many entertainers have stirred controversy and backlash with their explicit denunciations of President Donald Trump.


Last year, rapper Snoop Dogg shot an album cover that showed him standing over Trump’s dead body, and in a November Instagram post he shared a video of himself smoking marijuana outside the White House, saying, “F--- the president.” Alternatively, Kanye West wore a “Make America Great Again” hat for the cameras during his Oval Office meeting with President Trump in October and his wife Kim Kardashian appealed to the President on behalf of an incarcerated woman who later received a pardon and was released from prison.


When asked about her practice of keeping her lips sealed on political issues, country singer Reba McEntire recently said, “That’s not my job.” In an interview last year, Ms. McEntire said, “You can vote in and you can say what you want to, and you can choose not to say what you want to.” Of her fans, she said, “They have paid their hard-earned money to come in there and fill a seat. I am there to entertain them. To take their worries away from them, so when they walk out, they can kind of have a lift in their step and just go, ‘Oh that was such a great break from all the problems I have to deal with during daily life.’” Earlier this year, country singer Brad Paisley announced politics would be completely shut out of the Country Music Association Awards in an effort to be more inclusive, saying, "I'm not gonna touch that. I just don't find politics funny anymore."


Whale sharks at risk from plastic pollution in the remote British island of St. Helena


The whale shark is the largest fish on the planet and inhabit the island of St. Helena’s waters from November to June as they migrate across the South Atlantic. Wildlife groups and environmentalists are concerned that the amount of plastic collecting there could prove deadly for whale sharks, which are already enlisted as endangered by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature because they often become tangled in fishing nets or collide with boats.


The tiny volcanic island of St. Helena, which lies 4,000 miles from England in the South Atlantic, is Britain’s second-oldest overseas territory, and was where Napoleon was imprisoned before he died in 1821. Despite its isolated location, the island is now awash with plastic garbage that washes in from South America and beyond, even though its nearest neighbour is thousands of miles away.


Whale sharks are particularly at risk from garbage pollution in the ocean because their main diet is plankton, which they need to suck up in huge gulps. As well as problems with microplastics, large pieces of garbage can pierce stomach linings, and plastic bags are mistaken for jellyfish that block intestinal tracts digestive systems.


David Barnes, of the British Antarctic Survey, said, “There has been an absolutely dramatic change in St Helena. In 2003, there was one plastic item per every three metres. By 2007, that had changed by three times the amount and now we’re finding hundreds of plastic items per metre in some places so that’s a 1000-fold increase – there are unbelievable levels of change and it’s happened in our lifetime. The animals that eat plankton and smaller algae are not discriminating between microplastics and their food. They can process the natural food but the microplastics stay in their stomach and build up until they have a stomach full of plastic which, in some circumstances, can weigh more than the actual organism and then they will die.”


Research into plastic levels on St Helena were recently published in Current Biology. It is estimated that eight million tonnes of plastic are dumped in the world’s oceans each year and the Ellen Macarthur Foundation has estimated there will be more plastic than fish in the ocean by 2050, an 83 percent of the world’s tap water is now contaminated. There is growing evidence that plastic is entering the marine food chain, with fish, turtles, sea birds, and cetaceans from around the world all testing positive for plastic contamination.


The World Wildlife Fund is calling for people to avoid using single-use plastics and straws. Lyndsey Dodds, Head of UK Marine Policy, WWF UK said, “We need to go further and faster - plastic is choking our oceans and leading to the demise of some of our much-loved marine animals. Many of us are doing our bit, but it’s time producers were made to face up to their responsibilities too. We need a ban on all unnecessary single-use plastic items by 2025, and other laws that respect the amazing natural systems upon which we all depend, weaning ourselves away from our throwaway culture.”


UPDATE The Chinese scientist who genetically edited babies is under armed guard amid fears he could face death penalty


The Chinese scientist who created the world’s first genetically edited babies is living under armed guard and could face the death penalty, colleagues believe. He Jiankui shocked the world in November 2018 when he announced he had altered embryos for seven couples during fertility treatment to protect them against contracting HIV, leading to the birth of two twin girls with engineered DNA. Since then, he has received death threats and the Chinese government has launched an investigation into his work. He has been confined to a state-owned apartment in the city of Shenzhen since December.


Scientists in Britain who have been in touch believe he could face charges for corruption and bribery which in China can incur the death penalty. He also broke guidelines, which ban genetically altered embryos being implanted into a human, which experts say are as legally binding as laws.


Professor Robin Lovell-Badge of the Francis Crick Institute in London, who organised the genetics summit in Hong Kong where the finding was announced, said, “All the reports suggest he is in a university owned apartment and there are a quite a number of guards. It’s not clear whether he’s under guard, meaning house arrest or the guards are there to protect him. I suspect both. There is an official investigation led by the ministries of science and health. Lots of people are probably going to lose their jobs, he wasn’t the only one involved in this obviously. So how has he got them to do all this work? He could be had up on all sorts of charges of corruption and being guilty of corruption in China these days is not something you want to be. Quite a few people have lost their heads for corruption.”


Mr. He made around £40 million selling genetic sequencing technologies and it is thought he was able to carry out his experiments unobserved by funding the work himself, recruiting lab technicians and IVF doctors to handle the delicate procedures. Mr. He is a physicist, not a biologist by training and it is unlikely he undertook any of the gene editing or implantation himself. His hero was Bob Edwards, the British IVF pioneer behind the birth of Louise Brown, the world’s first test-tube baby, in 1978. “He really thought that he was doing good, that what he was doing was the next big thing, and really important for the good of mankind,” added Professor Lovell-Badge, who was speaking at a briefing in central London about the experiments.


Mr. He said his goal was to give the babies a natural ability to resist HIV, but Professor Lovell-Badge said it was unnecessary as IVF techniques can already remove the infection before implantation. Researchers are also worried that he may have left the babies more susceptible to influenza. According to some animal studies, the Delta32 mutation to the CCR5 gene can make flu deadlier.


Ukrainian Orthodox Church breaks away from Russian influence


An independent Ukrainian Orthodox church was created at a signing ceremony in Turkey on Saturday, formalizing a split with the Russian church it had been tied to since 1686. The Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople, Bartholomew I, signed the "Tomos" in Istanbul in front of clerics and Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, forming the Orthodox Church of Ukraine. Last month, Ukrainian Orthodox leaders approved the creation of a new, unified church split from the Moscow Patriarchate and elected 39-year-old Metropolitan Epiphanius I to lead it.


The split forces Ukrainian clerics to choose a side between the Moscow-backed Ukrainian churches and the new church, as fighting persists in eastern Ukraine between government forces and Russia-backed rebels.

"The pious Ukrainian people have awaited this blessed day for seven entire centuries," Bartholomew I said in his address. The patriarch, considered "first among equals" in Orthodox Christianity, said Ukrainians could now enjoy "the sacred gift of emancipation, independence and self-governance, becoming free from every external reliance and intervention."


President Poroshenko thanked Bartholomew I "for the courage to make this historic decision" and said that "among the 15 stars of the Orthodox churches of the world a Ukrainian star has appeared," referring to the updated number of churches that don't answer to an external authority.


Bartholomew I's decision in October to grant the Ukrainian church "autocephaly," or independence, infuriated Moscow and the Russian church severed ties with Istanbul, the centre of the Orthodox world. According to Russian state news agency RIA-Novosti, Vasily Anisimov, spokesman for the Russia-affiliated church in Ukraine, said, "We consider these actions to be anti-canonical ... This action will not bring anything to Ukraine except trouble, separation and sin,"


Kyiv has been pushing for a church free from Moscow's influence, which intensified after Russia's 2014 annexation of Crimea and amid the ongoing conflict in eastern Ukraine. Since President Poroshenko’s election in 2014, he has pushed for the creation of the church, as he campaigns ahead of the March 31 election. Though the church is not formally part of the state, it is closely tied. Recent opinion polls suggest President Poroshenko is in second or third place in the race.

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