BIGGEST PROBLEM: IT’S TIME TO SEE CLEARLY AND ACT, SO OUR CHILDREN WON'T SEE ALL BEAUTIFUL LIFE DIE. SOLUTION: Make greedy sociopaths HELP life on earth. Allow tax-free income (supplemented as morally necessary) and wealth up to reasonable levels, then tax excess @ up to a 90% tax-rate to fund life remediation.
Aggregated News & Analyses
Today’s posts in bigger type.
Prior 2-3 days in smaller type.
Health Care & Environment
PROBLEMS: Corporate influence enables life-threatening pollution & highest-profit health care.
Scientists still haven’t figured out exactly what’s killing the bees, but potential causes fall into four categories: pathogens, pests, stress, and pesticides.
When the majority of a colony’s worker bees disappear and leave behind the queen, baby bees, and lots of food, that’s called Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD). The mysterious phenomenon has caused enormous bee losses since at least 2006.
Climate breakdown could be rapid and unpredictable. We can no longer tinker around the edges and hope minor changes will avert collapse
....The problem is political. A fascinating analysis by the social science professor Kevin MacKay contends that oligarchy has been a more fundamental cause of the collapse of civilisations than social complexity or energy demand. Control by oligarchs, he argues, thwarts rational decision-making, because the short-term interests of the elite are radically different to the long-term interests of society. This explains why past civilisations have collapsed “despite possessing the cultural and technological know-how needed to resolve their crises”. Economic elites, which benefit from social dysfunction, block the necessary solutions.
The oligarchic control of wealth, politics, media and public discourse explains the comprehensive institutional failure now pushing us towards disaster. Think of Donald Trump and his cabinet of multi-millionaires; the influence of the Koch brothers in funding rightwing organisations; the Murdoch empire and its massive contribution to climate science denial; or the oil and motor companies whose lobbying prevents a faster shift to new technologies.
It is not just governments that have failed to respond, though they have failed spectacularly. Public sector broadcasters have systematically shut down environmental coverage, while allowing the opaquely funded lobbyists that masquerade as thinktanks to shape public discourse and deny what we face. Academics, afraid to upset their funders and colleagues, have bitten their lips....
The fact that cable news pundits, anchors, and reporters rushed to vehemently defend corporate media against Sanders' comments is illustrative of the dynamic. It makes you wonder where career self-interest ends and sincere delusion begins.
Guess who said it: Tucker Carlson or a far-right shooter[How have Fox News and similar excretory news sources become such profitable engines of hate? They foment fear of people different than ‘you’ as the problem, and sell evisceration of ‘them’ as the solution. It’s all neatly packaged to make ‘you’ feel safer.]
The Fox New host’s nightly diatribes are making the US an ever more terrifying place for immigrants and people of color
"Trump and the billionaires in his administration—after giving away over $1 trillion in tax cuts to mainly the rich and large corporations—are now trying to strip nutrition assistance from more than three million people."
Recent mass shootings have been linked to ‘eco-xenophobia’ – part of a tradition that dates to America’s first conservationists
Theodore Roosevelt and John Muir above Yosemite Valley. Muir complained about the ‘uncleanliness’ of Native Americans. Photograph: Bettmann/Bettmann Archive
....Anti-immigrant ideology has been part and parcel of the whole of American conservationism since the first national park was founded, in part to protect wild yet white-owned nature from Mexicans and Native Americans. National purity and natural purity were inextricably linked.
“Environmentalists were hardcore eugenicists. They were as committed to racial thinking as they were to protecting the great redwoods in California,” said Heidi Beirich, intelligence project director at the Southern Poverty Law Center....
A makeshift memorial for the victims of the mass shooting at a Walmart in El Paso, Texas. Photograph: Andres Leighton/AP
....When white nationalists commit deadly attacks like the El Paso shooting, these crimes fit the statutory definition of domestic terrorism. Terrorism remains the FBI’s top priority. It ranks hate crimes fifth and organized crime sixth, however. So, when FBI agents or federal prosecutors initially label far-right violence as hate crimes, or gang crimes, they de-prioritize these cases, limiting the available resources and narrowing the scope of the investigations.
It is a manageable problem when law enforcement and our government leaders focus on reducing it. Historically, they have chosen not to
Worse, as a matter of policy, the justice department defers the vast majority of hate crimes to state and local police and prosecutors, who are often ill-equipped or uninterested in pursuing these cases. Justice department crime victim surveys estimate there are approximately 230,000 violent hate crimes annually, yet federal prosecutors charge only about 25 hate crimes defendants each year. State and local law enforcement, however, are not picking up the slack. Only about 12% of state and local law enforcement agencies report hate crimes occurring in their jurisdictions, and in some states, reported hate crimes are rarely prosecuted as such.
These deficiencies in the law enforcement response to hate crimes are not new. And a justice department-funded study in 2000 examining the barriers to hate crime reporting identified fear of the police as the primary reason victims refuse to report. This is unsurprising: the communities targeted by white supremacist violence are often disproportionately targeted by police violence and abuse as well....
Her campaign rests on the theory that the past decade has transformed the way class is felt in America.
On Wednesday afternoon, Senator Elizabeth Warren brought her Presidential campaign to a crowd at Toad Hill Farm, in Franconia, New Hampshire. Photograph by C.J. Gunther / Shutterstock
....Warren is the only candidate in the race whose fortunes have materially improved over the past six months, which suggests that the vein she’s found has less to do with what is permanent within the Democratic electorate than with what is changing. When Rakich analyzed polling data from Emerson College last month, he found that Warren, alone among the major contenders, drew support from voters who were split almost evenly between Sanders and Clinton in 2016. The signal story of the past decade—of the financial crisis, of Donald Trump, of the #MeToo movement—is about how wealth, power, and depravity have been concentrated in the hands of a very few. The Warren campaign is a test of how broadly that story has resonated, and how much the country has been transformed. As the selfie line formed in Franconia, I saw a new national poll on my phone, from the Economist and YouGov—Biden had fallen to twenty-one per cent, in their accounting, and Warren was up to twenty per cent. Not the front-runner—at least not yet—but the race’s central figure.
....it would not be wise to completely mirror Republican extremism and bad faith. But Democrats could press the attack very much harder than they have of late without trampling on democracy. Instead of nominating bland Big Law liberals to the federal bench, find some fire-breathing ACLU zealots or public defenders and confirm them as fast as possible. Instead of spending literally years trying to protect new regulations or executive orders from conservative lawsuits (an impossible task in any case as they will just think up goofy arguments no matter what you do), make them aggressive and put them out as fast as possible. Bury the conservative legal societies under a swarm of attacks from every side, and whenever one rule or interpretation goes down, think up a different one to take its place.
Perhaps most importantly, instead of capitulating to conservative readings of legislation like the National Labor Relations Act or various anti-trust laws, appoint federal regulators who will interpret their powers broadly — and federal judges who will back them up. On paper, agencies like the National Labor Relations Board or the Federal Trade Commission have sweeping authority, they have just been gradually neutered through a combination of tendentious conservative judicial activism and liberals' learned helplessness.
This approach will result in a lot of losses, no question. But this is how Republicans came to dominate national politics — always attack, always force the enemy to play defense if possible, and never admit defeat. Perhaps someday American politics might become more respectful, but so long as the GOP refuses to play nice, Democrats shouldn't either.
Reps. Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar at a news conference in Washington on July 15, 2019. Photo: Scott Applewhite/AP
Bowing to pressure from President Donald Trump, Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, announced on Thursday that Reps. Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar would be barred entry to the Israeli-occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem, Palestinian territories that the Muslim-American lawmakers planned to visit this weekend.
The decision to bar the Democrats, who have been outspoken in calling for an end to the occupation, was quickly condemned by the two most progressive contenders for the Democratic presidential nomination, Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders.
“Israel doesn’t advance its case as a tolerant democracy or unwavering US ally by barring elected members of Congress from visiting because of their political views,” Warren wrote on Thursday morning, before the ban was confirmed. “This would be a shameful, unprecedented move.”
“Banning Congresswomen Omar and Tlaib from entering Israel and Palestine is a sign of enormous disrespect to these elected leaders, to the United States Congress, and to the principles of democracy,” Sanders wrote 30 minutes later, when the news became official. “The Israeli government should reverse this decision and allow them in.”...
....The scientists called for research on the effect of airborne microplastics on human health, pointing to an earlier study that found the particles in cancerous human lung tissue. In June, another study showed people eat at least 50,000 microplastic particles per year.
Many millions of tonnes of plastic are discarded into the environment every year and are broken down into small particles and fibres that do not biodegrade. These particles, known as microplastics, have now been found everywhere from high mountains to deep oceans and can carry toxic chemicals and harmful microbes.
The latest study was led by Dr Melanie Bergmann of the Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research in Germany. She said: “We really need research on the human health aspect. There are so many studies being published now on microplastics but nothing on human health, and that is really strange in my opinion.” Bergmann added that microplastics should be included in air pollutant monitoring schemes....
"Corporate greed is eviscerating the working class."
As even some of the wealthiest Americans have begun to call for major reforms to the U.S. economic system to narrow the wealth gap, a new study released Wednesday revealed that over the past four decades, salaries for the top executives in the U.S. have gone up by more than 1,000 percent.
CEOs at the 350 largest companies now take home salaries that are 278 times higher than those of the average worker, according to the new Economic Policy Institute (EPI) analysis.
With an average compensation of $17.2 million per year, report co-author Lawrence Mishel said Wednesday, today's CEOs would barely notice a change in their quality of life if their salaries were slashed.
"You could cut CEO pay in half and the economy would not be any different," Mishel, a distinguished fellow at EPI, toldThe Guardian.
EPI's findings about CEO compensation were denounced as "obscene" by critics of the current economic system, under which 40 percent of American workers struggle to find $400 in their budget to cover an emergency expense while the heads of powerful companies are given huge tax breaks on top of their salaries....
"You either stand with family farmers, ranchers, Tribal Nations, and environmentalists—or you stand with fossil fuel corporations."
....The three-point NoKXL pledge, featured on Bold Nebraska's website, states:
If elected, I pledge to take executive action on Day One to stop any construction on the Keystone XL pipeline—no matter what—and revoke the existing presidential permits issued unilaterally by President Trump for the Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines, sending both projects back to relevant federal agencies to undergo legitimate environmental review and Tribal consultations.
I pledge to direct all federal agencies (State Dept., FERC, Army Corps) to submit these two projects, as well as all new pipeline and energy infrastructure projects to a true climate test, and reject permits for any project that would exacerbate our climate crisis.
I pledge to protect the property rights of farmers and ranchers from eminent domain abuse, and to honor the treaties the U.S. government has signed with sovereign Tribal Nations....
International & Futurism PROBLEMS: Capitalists, Islamists, Fascists and Mafias cause immorality, barbarity & war. SOLUTIONS: UN, InterPol and International Criminal Court must be fully enabled. FYI: All people are mixed-race
(CNN)—In 1981, Donald Trump revealed his view on life when he told People magazine, "Man is the most vicious of all animals, and life is a series of battles ending in victory or defeat. You can't just let people make a sucker of you." Trump, who shared similar sentiments as recently as last November, holds a dim view of humanity -- and this is reflected in both his compulsive effort to create conflicts and his brutish politics. It also seems to be spreading, at home and abroad, like a virus that generates fevers of fear and hatred.
At home, Trumpism and white nationalism cast immigrants and people of color as enemies. Trump's 2020 re-election campaign is already echoing the themes of his 2016 run, which included false andinflammatory claims about immigrants and crime. No reasonable person can doubt that his rhetoric, including his recognition of "very fine people" among neo-Nazis in Charlottesville, has contributed to a sharp rise in hate crimes.
Internationally, Trump's penchant for hostility and aggression seems to be setting a template for other leaders, many of whom operate without the constraints of American-style checks and balances. And while Trump is not solely responsible for the actions of strongmen and other leaders around the world, many appear to be following his lead. Among them are:...
Congress just passed a budget that blows the doors off the deficit and Pentagon budget levels. So where are the presidential candidates?
The Democrats running for president are busy stumping their way through the country. But despite all the issues they’re purporting to address, we’ve heard very little about how to manage our national debt, and whether the continued use of our current military force is sustainable. These are two “elephants in the room” that are being ignored. Shouldn’t they be discussed and debated?
President Donald Trump and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi banged out a two-year budget deal last month that includes $738 billion in Pentagon spending for Fiscal Year 2020, more than half of the entire budget. It was cleared by the House, and the Senate approved it on August 1.
Even before the deal was announced, the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, a fiscal watchdog, said it had the potential to be “the worst budget agreement in our nation’s history,” and could add as much as $2 trillion to the deficit over the next decade.
The U.S. national debt was more than $7 trillion in 2004. In the years since, it has roughly tripled, and much of that growth is due to our continued military involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan....
The Chinese have proven the effectiveness of their public banking system in supporting their industries and their workers. Rather than seeing it as an existential threat, we could thank them for test-driving the model and take a spin in it ourselves.
High Crimes vs. Human Rights Offenses worthy of impeachment or International Criminal Court prosecution
Turkey to annex northern Syria with US blessing[This unfairly favors Turkey—a dubious Russia-friendly ally—by allowing it to steal the Kurdish homeland it will expand and quicken the slow-motion genocide against the Kurdish people. What logic supports doing this to America's best ally for the last 16 years? How much was Trump bribed to support this?]
Ankara outmaneuvers Washington, weeks after crisis in relations over purchase of Russian S-400 missile system
Justice Matters PROBLEMS: Political Judges and States Attorneys, too little enforcement of anti-trust laws and white-collar crimes, over-prosecution of the poor. OPED: Commute death sentences and allow assisted suicide.