Tag Archives: Stephen Colbert

The Everest of excrement is actually Mount Everest

  • Everest
  • Rubbish left at one of Mount Everest’s base camps.
    Image: Mary Plage
    Nepal has a stinky situation on its hands.Human waste left by climbers on Mount Everest has become a major problem, and is even threatening the spread of disease, Ang Tshering, the chief of Nepal’s mountaineering association, said, The Associated Press reports.Everest’s climbing season only lasts a measly two months, but nearly 700 climbers brave the world’s tallest peak and not all of them dispose of their trash, urine and feces properly.

    None of Mount Everest’s four base camps, which are located at 17,380 feet, have proper facilities. The camps have tents, equipment, supplies and even cooks, but no toilets. The waste is collected in a drum in a toilet tent, where it is then carried to a lower altitude and disposed.

    But not all climbers use the camps’ facilities to do their business.

    “Climbers usually dig holes in the snow for their toilet use and leave the human waste there,” Tshering told The Associated Press, adding that waste around the base camps has been accumulating for years.

    Away from the base camp, as climbers head toward the 29,035 foot summit, human waste is also an issue.

    “It is a health hazard and the issue needs to be addressed,” said Dawa Steven Sherpa, who has been at the forefront of Everest cleanup expeditions since 2008. Some climbers carry disposable toilet bags with them to the higher camps that don’t have any facilities, Sherpa said.


    The advance base camp for people climbing Mount Everest sits on the mountain’s north slope at about 21,000 feet.

    Image: Dave Watson/Associated Press

    Last year the Nepalese government imposed new rules, which requires climbers to return to the base camp with 17.6 pounds of waste. The weight is an estimate of the average amount of trash climbers accumulate en route.

    The government does not currently have plans to deal with the human waste issue

    The government does not currently have plans to deal with the human waste issue, however Puspa Raj Katuwal, the head of the government’s Mountaineering Department, said officials will strictly monitor it, adding that climbing teams must submit a $4,000 deposit that they will lose if regulations are broken.

    Human fecal waste and trash isn’t the only thing left on the mountainside. According to an article released in 2012 by Smithsonian Magazine, more than 200 human bodies remain frozen on the mountain. Some of them are even used as landmarks.

    More than 4,000 climbers have braved the mountain since its first expedition in 1953.

Progressive Breakfast: Greece’s Agonies, Europe’s Shame


Robert Borosage

Greece’s Agonies, Europe’s Shame

The Greeks have been badly served by their oligarchs who avoid responsibility and taxes and by their governments that have been corrupt and incompetent. But this catastrophe is Europe’s failure. It is a failure, as economists from Paul Krugman to Milton Friedman argue, of design: a monetary union without a political union to provide unified fiscal policies. And it is a failure of ideology: a rigid insistence on austerity policies even after their failure has been acknowledged.

Greece Goes Over The Edge

Greece misses IMF payment. W. Post:“The $1.67 billion missed payment to the IMF was unlikely by itself to spur immediate problems for the global economy, since it affected only a government-backed institution, not private investors. But if Greece is ultimately forced off the euro, other troubled euro-zone economies such as Portugal could be seen as more vulnerable. The exit could also weaken the goal of ever-closer European integration.”

Tsipras extends olive branch. NYT:“…Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said Greece was ‘prepared to accept’ a deal set out publicly over the weekend by the creditors, with small modifications to some of the central points of contention on issues like pension cuts and tax increases. Mr. Tsipras linked Greece’s acceptance of the terms to a new package of bailout aid that would need to be negotiated.”

Germany PM Merkel says that offer now off the table. NYT:“‘With the expiration of the program, the basis for the offer has been removed,’ Ms. Merkel said.”

Poll shows Greeks will vote “No.” Bloomberg:“. The survey, in Efimerida ton Syntakton newspaper, showed 54 percent would vote ‘no’ — rejecting austerity in exchange for aid — and 33 percent would vote ‘yes’ — accepting austerity as the price of staying in the euro.”

Push To Secure Overtime Rule

EPI encourages public comments in support of Obama’s overtime rule:“The Department of Labor just proposed a plan to protect an estimated 5 million additional workers from overtime abuse. And now they need to hear from you.”

Overtime rule “only scratches the surface of the bigger problem” says NYT:“… the affluent have captured a rising share in recent decades, leaving the wages of everyone else to stagnate … there are two main approaches that promise to increase middle-class wages considerably. The first would be to improve the bargaining power of workers … The second type of policy change would be to limit the incomes of those nearest the top of the ladder…”

Unskilled labor seeing wage gains. Bloomberg:“Average hourly earnings in industries paying less than $12.50 an hour a year ago rose 3.2 percent in the 12 months through April, about 1 percentage point more than wage growth for the job market as a whole … It is being driven in part by state governments raising their minimum wages, and also through voluntary decisions by companies to raise employees’ pay.”

Scott Walker’s union busting hasn’t helped workers. The Atlantic’s Donald Kettl:“The $3 billion he saved in his first term was certainly something. But that amounted to less than 1 percent of overall state and local government spending over that time period. Those savings came from the pockets of teachers and other public servants who are also taxpayers and whose compensation, by most measures, was not out of line. The law Walker signed didn’t contribute to the fiscal health of the state’s public pension fund.”

The GOP Response To Same-Sex Marriage … CAP


GOP Candidates React to SCOTUS’s Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Last Friday the Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage in all 50 states, sparking a (nearly) nationwide celebration. Unsurprisingly, most GOP presidential candidates were not among those celebrating the Court’s decision. Instead, each candidate offered a disapproving comment, some more carefully crafted than others. From extremely nonplussed to apocalyptically apoplectic here’s a sample of their responses:

COMMENT: “I believe in traditional marriage…I also believe that we should love our neighbor and respect others”
HOW MAD: Holding it in.

COMMENT: “While I disagree with this decision, we live in a republic and must abide by the law”
HOW MAD: You mad, bro?

COMMENT: “This Supreme Court decision is a grave mistake.”
HOW MAD: Extremely nonplussed.

COMMENT: “Today is some of the darkest 24 hours in our nation’s history.”
HOW MAD: Typical Ted.

COMMENT: “Marriage between a man and a woman was established by God, and no earthly court can alter that.”
HOW MAD: Tanned. Rested. Ready to rage.

COMMENT: “I fundamentally disagree with the court rewriting the law and assaulting the 10th Amendment.”
HOW MAD: Fundamentally flustered.

COMMENT: “Just as they have in cases from Dred Scott to Plessy, the Court has an imperfect track record.”
HOW MAD: Pointing fingers.

COMMENT: “I will not acquiesce to an imperial court any more than our Founders acquiesced to an imperial British monarch.”
HOW MAD: Apocalyptically apoplectic.

COMMENT: “While I strongly disagree with the Supreme Court’s decision, their ruling is now the law of the land.”
HOW MAD: The Doctor took a chill pill.

COMMENT: “The latest example of an activist Court ignoring its constitutional duty to say what the law is.”
HOW MAD: Choleric

COMMENT: “I will respect the Court’s decision.”
HOW MAD: ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

COMMENT: “The Bush appointed Supreme Court Justice John Roberts has let us down…Remember!”
HOW MAD: A confused tycoon tantrum.

Republican presidential candidates aside, the response to the Court’s decision was overwhelmingly positive. But while last week’s decision is a huge victory, and does much to end uncertainty for LGBT couples and families, there is still much work to be done. In a majority states, same-sex couples will be able to be legally married and legally fired from their jobs, evicted from their houses, denied credit, or refused service just because of their sexual orientation. Now it’s time to build on last week’s decision to pass nationwide, explicit LGBT discrimination protections.

BOTTOM LINE: No matter the source of their disapproval, almost every single candidate in the crowded GOP primary field came out against what a supermajority of Americans agree with last week. On issue after issue, GOP candidates’ extreme views are out-of-touch with the American people.

Close The Gap


Expanding Medicaid In Every State Is The Next Healthcare Challenge

Last week was a great week for healthcare in America. In its decision to uphold premium tax credits available in states with federally facilitated marketplaces, the Supreme Court sent a strong message: the ACA is here to stay. Now that major court challenges to the Affordable Care Act are in the past, it’s time to focus on improving existing aspects of the law like Medicaid expansion.

Medicaid expansion is a main pillar of the Affordable Care Act that increases Medicaid eligibility to cover individuals making up to 138 percent of the poverty level—or $27,724 a year for a family of three. Expanding Medicaid helps ensure that people who make too much to be eligible for traditional Medicaid but too little to afford insurance of their own aren’t left without coverage. But thanks to the ACA’s first Supreme Court saga, states are allowed to choose whether or not to accept federal funding to expand Medicaid. The result has been almost half of all governors refusing to expand Medicaid eligibility for political reasons leaving more than 4 million people uninsured.Not expanding Medicaid has costs both human and economic. If all 21 remaining states accepted Medicaid expansion 4.2 million residents would become newly insured. Moreover, conservative governors refusing Medicaid expansion are hurting their state’s economically. For every $1 a state spends to expand Medicaid $13.4 federal dollars will flow into the state helping hospitals deliver care and boosting state economic growth and employment.This afternoon the president visited Tennessee—where the legislature has rejected the Republican governor’s Medicaid expansion proposal—to speak about the future of the Affordable Care Act. During the town hall, the president said, “This is about people. This is not about politics. This is not about Washington.” It is time for conservative lawmakers to put people over politics and expand Medicaid.

BOTTOM LINE: The ACA is here to stay. It is time for conservatives to stop fighting against the law at the expense of millions of their constituents.

Black 18yr old has higher bail than killer cop? Why?

by Rashad Robinson, ColorOfChange.org

In the past few days, Baltimore law enforcement stepped up their militarized violence against protesters. Courageous Black folks and their allies calling for an end to centuries of structural racism and discriminatory policing were met with pepper spray, beatings and unjust arrest. 1 And while all 6 officers who killed Freddie Gray are out of jail, many protesters are languishing in overcrowded, inhumane jail cells facing unjust criminal charges and outrageous bail.

Will you join nearly 30,000 ColorOfChange members urging State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby to drop the charges against all protesters?

Since the tragic police killing of 25-year-old Freddie Gray, more than 300 people have been arrested for protesting. Among them is Allen Bullock, an 18-year-old facing a $500,000 bail and 8 criminal counts — that carry a life sentence — for smashing the windows of a police car.2 Allen’s family urged him to turn himself in, but in the context of a justice system that values property over Black lives and disproportionately treats Black youth more harshly than their white counterparts, Allen faces no mercy.

The same racist and violent Baltimore policing culture that killed Freddie has fueled the recent abuse of protesters. In a harrowing video released this weekend, police are seen pepper-spraying a Black protester point blank and then brutally dragging him across the street by his dreadlocks.3 White people protesting the same unconstitutional curfew instead received a 5-minute-warning.4 Police also arrested 10 legal observers who were documenting human rights abuses by law enforcement.5

Protesters are not criminals. Urge State’s Attorney Mosby to drop the charges against protesters and focus the city’s resources on preventing violent and discriminatory policing.

Thanks and peace,

— Rashad


1. “A Bloody History of Police Brutality in Baltimore,” The Root 05-04-2015

2. “Cops Who Murdered Freddie Gray Released On Bail, Protester Still Stuck In Jail (VIDEO),” ReverbPress 05-04-2015

3. “Balt Police caught treating peaceful protesters diff based on race/or content of speech,” SCT LAW Tweet 05-03-2015

4. “White protestors politely asked to leave, black protestor pepper sprayed and dragged away,” BoingBoing 05-04-2015

5. “Baltimore’s Refusal to Permit Legal Observers to Witness Police Enforcing Curfew Resulted in Mass Arrest,” FireDogLake 05-04-2015


Baltimore State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby has just charged all six officers involved in the brutal killing of Freddie Gray. In her announcement, Mosby acknowledged that Gray had been stopped illegally and stated, “I heard your calls for no justice, no peace.” The officers face charges ranging from second-degree murder to misconduct in office.1

This is a big deal. Local prosecutors almost never hold local law enforcement accountable and Mosby’s leadership in this moment should be greatly applauded.2 For more than two weeks, Gray’s family and the community of Baltimore have called for answers and accountability for Gray’s killing and today’s definitive action brings us a major step closer to justice. But there is a long road ahead before these officers are fully convicted and the underlying issues that lead to Gray’s killing overturned. State’s Attorney Mosby will need the support and resources necessary to fully prosecute and convict effectively without interference.

State’s Attorney Mosby is already facing opposition from the police union for charging the six officers who killed Freddie Gray. Show your support by thanking her today. Once you do, ask your friends and family to do the same.

Marilyn Mosby announces charges against the 6 officers

Our hearts and minds are with the Gray family. Although we hope today’s charges will help them breathe a little bit easier and ultimately lead to the answers and accountability they deserve, Freddie Gray should have never died. There is no legal process or reform that can bring him back. The loss and injustice inflicted on Black families by Baltimore’s long history of violence, racism and corruption in law enforcement has been devastating. In 2014, all of the people killed by Baltimore police were Black. And over the past 5 years, the city has paid millions to people injured and paralyzed by the police “rough rides.”3

State’s Attorney Mosby has done what so many local prosecutors across the country have failed to do. While thousands of Black people are unjustly arrested and funneled into the criminal justice system every day — the vast majority for minor charges — 4 local prosecutors almost never charge violent and abusive police. Most police brutality cases never even make it past the report. And even when cops are indicted, only one police officer for every 1,000 people killed by police are ultimately convicted.5 Today’s charges are a direct result of the brave, courageous efforts of Black folks and their allies to demand justice for Freddie Gray. Baltimore law enforcement who tried to cover up Gray’s killing and blame him for his death must be held accountable.6

Following news of Gray’s murder, the Gray family and the people of Baltimore came together to envision and demand justice and change in the face of grave tragedy. More than 50,000 ColorOfChange members raised their voices urging Governor Hogan to stop militarizing police and order Attorney General Frosh to support the prosecution. In the past week, hundreds of people have been targeted and unjustly arrested for protesting, many who continue to languish in jail, including an 19-year-old facing 8 criminal charges and an outrageous $500,000 bail.7 As we continue the work to overhaul Baltimore law enforcement and the conditions, power imbalances and discrimination that led to Freddie Gray’s killing, we urge State’s Attorney Mosby to drop the charges against all protesters.

Thank State’s Attorney Mosby for charging the police officers who killed Freddie Gray and urge her to drop all charges against protesters.

Thanks and peace,

— Rashad, Matt, Arisha, Lyla, Shani, and the rest of the ColorOfChange team

May 1st, 2015

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1. “Six officers charged in death of Freddie Gray” The Baltimore Sun 05-01-2015

2. “Darren Wilson Is Not an Outlier: Why cops are almost never indicted for shooting someone in the line of duty.” Slate 12-02-2014

3. “Baltimore’s “rough rides”: the city has paid out millions to people injured in police vans,” Vox, 04-28-2015

4. “The War on Marijuana in Black and White: Billions of Dollars Wasted on Racially Biased Arrests” ACLU June 2013

5. “New study: For every 1,000 people killed by police, one officer is convicted of a crime” Daily Kos,04-18-2015

6. “Freddie Gray’s co-prisoner disputes police report published in Washington Post,” Politico 04-30-2015

7. “Baltimore imposes bail bonds of half a million dollars in legal crackdown,” The Guardian 04-29-2015