It's Official: Bernie Sanders Says He's Running for President
[Editor's note: It's official, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) announced Wednesday that he's running for president of the U.S. in 2016.
"I am running for president," Sanders told The Associated Press. "People should not underestimate me ... I've run outside of the two-party system, defeating Democrats and Republicans, taking on big-money candidates and, you know, I think the message that has resonated in Vermont is a message that can resonate all over this country."
"What we have seen is that while the average person is working longer hours for lower wages, we have seen a huge increase in income and wealth inequality, which is now reaching obscene levels," Sanders continued.
"This is a rigged economy, which works for the rich and the powerful, and is not working for ordinary Americans. ... You know, this country just does not belong to a handful of billionaires."
Sanders will make a more formal announcement about his presidential campaign today. He is the first official challenger for the Democratic nomination to Hillary Clinton, who announced her candidacy earlier this month.]
It looks like tree-hugging liberals will get their dream presidential candidate after all. Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders has been hinting for months that he might get into the primary race but since he's an independent (and a for-real Socialist!) who caucuses with the Democrats in the Senate, it wasn't clear what banner he'd run under.
Now news sources such as Vermont Public Radio are reporting he'll announce his run Thursday as a Democrat. According to reports, he's planning to release a short statement this week and hold a campaign kickoff event in his home state in upcoming weeks. He'll join Hillary Clinton and Maryland ex-governor Martin O'Malley in the race. Former Virginia Senator Jim Webb is also looking at a possible run.
WATCH: Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders to Run for President, Focused on Climate, Corporate Power http://t.co/lAeKIoaPzt
— Democracy Now! (@democracynow) April 29, 2015
Sanders has been focusing his message on the decimation of the middle class and how the Trans-Pacific Trade deal currently under consideration would exacerbate that. But with a lifetime score of 95 percent from the League of Conservation Voters, he's also an environmentalist's dream. LCV has also praised Clinton's environmental record; she was the keynote speaker at their annual dinner in December.
“Unless we take bold action to reverse climate change, our children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren are going to look back on this period in history and ask a very simple question: Where were they?" says Sanders. "Why didn't the United States of America, the most powerful nation on Earth, lead the international community in cutting greenhouse gas emissions and preventing the devastating damage that the scientific community was sure would come?”
Sanders is a member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, where he's usually taking positions that are polar opposites of those of Chairman James Inhofe (R-OK) who threw a snowball on the Senate floor to "prove" his contention that global warming is a "hoax." Sanders is also a member of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee.
"As a member of both the Environment and Public Works and the Energy and Natural Resources Committees, Senator Sanders is uniquely positioned to fight for progressive energy policies and increased environmental protection—issues of great importance to him and to all Vermonters," says the Energy & Environment website, which features a photo of Sanders with 350.org founder Bill McKibben taken at last year's People's Climate March in New York City. "Senator Sanders is a leading voice on the need to address global warming by reducing greenhouse gas emissions."
Calling climate change "the greatest environmental threat facing the planet," Sanders was a co-sponsor of the Climate Protection Act of 2013 which would tax carbon and methane emissions from coal, oil and natural gas production and use the revenue to invest in energy efficiency and sustainable energy, including investments in wind, solar, geothermal, biomass and plug-in vehicles. Sanders also introduced the End Polluter Welfare Act to end subsidies and tax breaks for fossil fuel companies. He's an opponent of subsidies and tax breaks for the nuclear power industry as well.
And unlike Clinton, whom he worked with when she was in the Senate to pass the Green Jobs Act, which created a green jobs workforce training program, he hasn't been coy about where he stands on the Keystone XL pipeline.
In an interview with CNN in January, when the pipeline was under consideration in the Senate, he said, "The scientific community tells us, virtually unanimous accounts, that climate change is real. It’s already causing devastating problems and if we do not transform our energy system away from fossil fuel, this planet is gonna face some serious problems. The idea that we would give a green light for the transportation of 800,000 barrels of some of the dirtiest oils all over the world makes no sense to me.”
Sanders was also responsible for introducing an amendment to the Keystone Pipeline approval bill to put the Senate on record that climate change is real and human-caused.
In the January CNN interview, Sanders was asked if he was running for President. He replied, "I"m giving some thought to it. Taking on the billionaire class and Wall Street and the Koch brothers is not easy," and he expressed some pessimism that it would be possible in the future to elect a candidate advocating for the middle class and working people. While fossil fuel tycoons Charles and David Koch are looking over candidates to find someone in whom to invest the nearly $1 billion they've promised to spend on next year's presidential race, it's clear Sanders won't be getting their call.
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A stretch of coastline in the Philippine capital, Manila has received backlash from environmentalists. The heavily polluted Manila Bay area, which had been slated for cleanup, has become the site of a controversial 500-meter (1,600-foot) stretch of white sand beach.
Sand Makeup Crucial for Ecosystems<p>While UNEP/GRID-Geneva generally supports finding <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/not-enough-sand-for-construction-industry-despite-abundance/a-49342942" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">alternative sources of sand</a> so as not to disrupt ecosystems in rivers and oceans when extracting them, Vander Velpen stressed it was vital to use sand which closely matches the makeup of the native sand to protect beach fauna.</p><p>"If you change the core characteristics of the native sand, the original sand, you need to do an environmental impact assessment (EIA) to find out how it's going to impact the ecosystem and nearby ecosystems," he told DW.</p><p>But according to Torres, such an assessment was not done in Manila.</p>
Beautification Stunt Instead of Proper Cleanup?<p>Manila Bay's waters are heavily polluted by oil and trash from nearby residential areas and ports. A huge "No swimming" sign warns visitors to stay away from the ocean.</p><p>Philippines' <a href="https://denr.gov.ph/index.php/priority-programs/manila-bay-clean-up/25-priority-programs/1825-frequently-ask-questions-faqs-on-the-dolomite-and-the-beach-nourishment-project" target="_blank">Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR)</a> has denied dolomite sand poses any risk to human health and the ecosystem.</p><p>However, scientists of the University of the Philippines have come forward disputing the DENR's claims. A <a href="https://biology.science.upd.edu.ph/index.php/ib-statement-regarding-dolomite-in-manila-bay/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">statement by the Institute of Biology</a> said that using crushed dolomite did not address any of the rehabilitation phases and instead was "even more detrimental to the existing biodiversity as well as the communities in the area," pointing to the case of water birds. "The dumping of dolomite in Manila Bay has effectively covered part of the intertidal area used by the birds thereby reducing their habitat."</p><p>At peak migration season, Manila Bay is home to 90 aquatic bird species, including species of international conservation concern that are facing a very high extinction risk in the wild. </p><p>Authorities should focus on protecting and conserving biodiversity, the Institute of Biology added. "Rehabilitating mangroves is an example of a nature-based solution that is cheaper and more cost-effective than the dolomite dumping project," the scientists said.</p><p>Moreover, <a href="http://www.msi.upd.edu.ph/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">the Marine Science Institute</a> has warned that prolonged inhalation of finer dust particles of dolomite could "cause chronic health effects," leading to discomfort in the chest, shortness of breath and coughing.</p><p>They also warned dolomite sand grains would erode during storms and be carried out to sea, essentially being washed away.</p>
Rehabilitation vs. Reclamation<p>Environmentalists say covering up the beach doesn't address the real issues of the bay. Torres and others believe the best way to clean up Manila Bay is not to add anything, but rather remove trash and pollution.</p><p>"There have been studies saying much of the waste comes from already collected waste — so these are open dump sites along the coast that get washed up because of the rain," Torres said.</p><p>She criticized the authorities for continuing to push reclamation projects she says are at odds with each other. These projects will affect large areas of mangrove forests, she said, and experts warn that this, in turn, exacerbates coastal erosion.</p><p>"If you've removed the areas that helped trap the sand, like mangrove forests, then the likelihood increases that you will have to nourish a beach. Same as building right up to the waterfront," said Vander Velpen of UNEP/GRID-Geneva.</p>
Plenty of Sand in the Sea?<p>The question of Manila's contentious white beach echoes larger questions about sand mining worldwide. <a href="https://unepgrid.ch/storage/app/media/documents/Sand_and_sustainability_UNEP_2019.pdf" target="_blank">Global sand consumption has tripled</a> over the past two decades, UNEP/GRID-Geneva has found. A huge chunk of it is now taken up by construction.</p><p>"Many operate on the assumption that natural sand is endless in its supply," said Vander Velpen.</p><p>Sand scarcity is a concern shared by Stefan Schimmels of <a href="https://www.fzk.uni-hannover.de/fzk_start.html?&L=1" target="_blank">Forschungszentrum Küste</a> who's done extensive research on shore nourishment to stop coastal erosion. And as climate change and rising sea levels are threatening coasts, demand for sand will grow even more.</p><p>A large study, the <a href="http://www.stencil-project.de/wp-content/uploads/2019/10/STENCIL_SWOT_Analyse_191026.pdf" target="_blank">Strategies and Tools for Environment-Friendly Shore Nourishments as Climate Change Impact Low-Regret Measures (STENCIL project)</a>, focused on the German island of Sylt, a popular vacation spot.</p><p>About 1 million cubic meter of sand per year is used to maintain the coastal area of Sylt, STENCIL project head Schimmels said. That's about 100 million 10-liter buckets of sand.</p><p>When sand was extracted off the coast of Sylt, underwater craters were formed. "You can still detect these craters even decades later," Schimmels told DW.</p><p>"Also when you add a couple of meters sand onto the beach — you essentially bury all things that do creep and fly," he said. "How quickly will they recover?" Schimmels said more research was needed as there was still too little known about long-term effects on the environment. </p>
Criticism Piling Up<p>As for Manila's artificial white sand, it looks like some might have already been blown away by a recent storm. DENR claims it wasn't washed away, but said that grayish sand, stones and other material had simply piled up over the dolomite sand. People in Manila have tweeted photos showing how the storm has ravaged the beach. </p>
<div id="adc0b" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="98f9390db6bb81cb421aaf0bb9d9a6fb"><blockquote class="twitter-tweet twitter-custom-tweet" data-twitter-tweet-id="1318816633280851969" data-partner="rebelmouse"><div style="margin:1em 0">Exactly one month after giving excited netizen a glimpse of Manila Bay white sands, look what happened now after ju… https://t.co/X0Z9i0bPB0</div> — M*A*S*H (@M*A*S*H)<a href="https://twitter.com/Magtira_Matibay/statuses/1318816633280851969">1603265362.0</a></blockquote></div><p>Authorities have been called tone-deaf for spending around 389 million pesos ($8 million) on a beach nourishment project in the middle of a raging pandemic.</p><p>An image of cake iced with the words "It really hurts - that's [worth] 389 million pesos?" has since gone viral.</p>
<div class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="4387aad52ea316e4db7330052318ca2f"><div class="fb-post" data-href="https://www.facebook.com/theweekendpatisserie/posts/144564207350008"></div></div><p>"It's just a waste of precious resources," Torres said. </p><p>The environmental activist now also worries that she might be labeled a terrorist for speaking out under the <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/philippine-anti-terrorism-law-triggers-fear-of-massive-rights-abuses/a-53732140" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Philippines' controversial new anti-terrorism law</a>. She says she could be arrested for inciting fear when talking about environmental dangers.</p>
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