Aggregated News & Analyses
Today’s posts in bigger type.
Prior 2-3 days in smaller type.
"This beautiful film helps us imagine a different version of ourselves, and a future in which we decided to come together in the face of crisis, rather than surrender and fall apart."
Nation known for its natural beauty is under pressure with extinctions, polluted rivers and blighted lakes
....Environment Aotearoa is the first major environmental report in four years, and was compiled using data from Statistics New Zealand and the environment ministry.
It presents a sobering summary of a country that is starkly different from the pristine landscape promoted in the “Pure New Zealand” marketing campaign that lures millions of tourists every year.
Nitrous oxide is nearly 300 times more potent than carbon dioxide
The Fox town hall audience cheered when moderator Bret Baier polled support for transitioning to a single-payer system
....The human genetic code is written in molecules known as nucleotides, represented by the letters A, C, G and T. The new technique works by studying ‘spelling mistakes’ or mutations in DNA which occur because factors such as ultraviolet light, alcohol of tobacco smoke, such an A becomes a G. ...
The 3D-printing technology is already being used to construct entire houses in just 24 hours, but using the tech to create a human heart was proving difficult. Well, not anymore, say the scientists who have fabricated the world's first human heart with blood vessels.
I'm an American but had my baby in Sweden. Let me tell you, universal healthcare — and a parent forward culture — is all it's cracked up to be.
With dozens of events next week, many hope arrival of climate punks who’ve swept the UK will be a watershed moment
"We can change it all if we want it all, and we do."
Extinction Rebellion claims that when just 3.5 % of the population demands change, governments will cave to the pressure
"America's farmers, ranchers, fishers, and workers who feed the nation must be at the center of this policy agenda, not on the sidelines."
No one should be annoyed when schoolkids start leaving class en masse or surprised that Green New Deal advocates call for dramatic overhaul of American society. We should be grateful
Desalination is often dismissed as being expensive and polluting. But advances in tech are putting it back on the agenda
With demand set to rise across the world, Australia is set to become a global primary producer of hydrogen
Decision coincides with visit to enclosure by French marine expert Jean-Michel Cousteau
New report warns that two-thirds of glaciers in the Hindu Kush Himalayan region, which feed 10 major river systems across Asia, could melt by 2100
....The Hindu Kush Himalayan region extends for 3,500km across eight nations. It is the earth’s de facto Third Pole, considering the immense amount of ice it holds. The area is an absolutely critical water source for about 250 million mountain dwellers across Asia, as well as the staggering 1.65 billion people living in the river valleys below....
Assange’s charges have been called “the criminalization of journalism.”
Bad journalists are howled at
We can save our broken economic system from itself.
Illustration by Nicolas Ortega
....The prescription follows from the diagnosis: It begins by recognizing the vital role that the state plays in making markets serve society. We need regulations that ensure strong competition without abusive exploitation, realigning the relationship between corporations and the workers they employ and the customers they are supposed to serve. We must be as resolute in combating market power as the corporate sector is in increasing it.
If we had curbed exploitation in all of its forms and encouraged wealth creation, we would have had a more dynamic economy with less inequality. We might have curbed the opioid crisis and avoided the 2008 financial crisis. If we had done more to blunt the power of oligopolies and strengthen the power of workers, and if we had held our banks accountable, the sense of powerlessness might not be so pervasive and Americans might have greater trust in our institutions.
There are many other areas in which government action is required. Markets on their own won’t provide insurance against some of the most important risks we face, such as unemployment and disability. They won’t efficiently provide pensions with low administrative costs and insurance against inflation. And they won’t provide an adequate infrastructure or a decent education for everyone or engage in sufficient basic research.
Progressive capitalism is based on a new social contract between voters and elected officials, between workers and corporations, between rich and poor, and between those with jobs and those who are un- or underemployed.
Part of this new social contract is an expanded public option for many programs now provided by private entities or not at all. It was a mistake not to include the public option in Obamacare: It would have enriched choice and enhanced competition, lowering prices. But one can design public options in other arenas as well, for instance for retirement and mortgages. This new social contract will enable most Americans to once again have a middle-class life....
The president has been shown to be the biggest threat to US governance since Watergate. Britain must not honour this dishonourable man with a state visit
Donald Trump stands in front of a portrait of George Washington in the White House. Photograph: Carlos Barría/Reuters
Congress cannot not rid us of this appalling man. Democrats must focus on voters who hold the keys to the White House
Donald Trump, seen at Trump Tower in 2016. Photograph: Gerald Herbert/AP
Democrats in Congress and talking heads on television will be consumed in the coming weeks by whether the evidence in the Mueller report, especially of obstruction of justice, merits impeachment.
Meanwhile, the question of “wink-wink” cooperation with Russia still looms. Mueller’s quote of Trump, when first learning a special counsel had been appointed – “Oh my God. This is terrible. This is the end of my presidency. I’m fucked” – has already become a national tagline. Why, Americans wonder, would Trump be “fucked” if he hadn’t done something so awful as to cause its revelation to “fuck” him?
Added to this will be Mueller’s own testimony before Congress, and Congress’s own investigations of Trump.
But let’s be real. Trump will not be removed by impeachment. No president has been. With a Republican Senate controlled by the most irresponsible political hack ever to be majority leader, the chances are nil.
Which means Trump will have to be removed the old-fashioned way – by voters in an election 19 months away.
Elizabeth Warren and Rashida Tlaib have called for action, but many lawmakers say more information is needed first
Elizabeth Warren was the first 2020 presidential candidate to call for impeachment. Photograph: Kristopher Radder/AP
About 40 federal rulings have now blocked the president from rolling back environmental and public health regulations
"Very few in Congress are questioning how the U.S. can afford to spend $7.5 trillion on the military."
"Victor Hugo thanks all the generous donors ready to save Notre Dame and proposes that they do the same thing with Les Miserables."
"Instead of regulating the activities of these polluting multinationals, Emmanuel Macron is rolling out the red carpet!"
If warming continues, subtropical stratocumulus clouds could disappear altogether. Aleksandar Georgiev/Getty Images
- Geoengineering is a term that refers to technology that can alter Earth's natural cycles to cool down the planet. It's being increasingly discussed as a potential way to address climate change.
- Putting mirrors in space, capturing carbon dioxide, and seeding clouds with particles are all ways of manipulating weather or the atmosphere.
- But some scientists and politicians think geoengineering could damage the planet or lead to war.
- Here are 11 strategies researchers have put forth to hack the planet and combat climate change.
It's set to miss it's 2030 climate targets.
Collage: Marta Parszeniew
....The UK has to date reduced emissions by 40 per cent since 1990. In 2018, as overall UK emissions dropped 3 per cent, it was revealed that carbon dioxide levels were at the lowest levels since the Victorian era. This drop-off has been driven in large part by the decline of the coal sector and the dramatic growth of renewables, particularly offshore wind.
Nevertheless the government remains reliant on eye-wateringly expensive and unworkable new nuclear facilities and is reluctant to pursue cheaper onshore wind projects due to the extremely “yer da”-take that they are an eyesore in the countryside....
Joe Sandler Clarke; illustrated by Marta Parszeniew | VICE
Frustration, hunger grows among migrants in Mexico as support fades
(The Associated Press) Central American migrants, part of a caravan hoping to reach the U.S. border, move on the road in Escuintla, Chiapas State, Mexico, Saturday, April 20, 2019. (AP Photo/Moises Castillo)
....The latest caravan is heading north during Holy Week in Latin America, when many activists organize processions to dramatize the hardships and needs of migrants....
SONIA PEREZ D. / Associated Press | ABC News
The 15 floating solar islands will possess sunflower-like ability to turn to face the sun
ZoW5 Photograph: Floating Solar
....In a development that is to become the largest of its type in the world, construction will begin this year on 15 solar islands on the Andijk reservoir in north Holland. The islands, containing 73,500 panels, will have the sunflower-like ability to move to face the light.
Special counsel says evidence obtained about the president threw up ‘difficult issues’
US judiciary committee chair Jerry Nadler has said the special counsel Robert Mueller's Russia investigation report outlines 'disturbing evidence' that Donald Trump engaged in obstruction of justice. Nadler also accused US attorney general William Barr of undermining his own department in order to protect the president. He said it was 'disingenuous and misleading' of Barr to say Trump is 'clear of wrongdoing'.
Barr is scheduled to testify before the committee on 2 May and Nadler has requested Mueller testify before the committee as well because 'we can’t believe what Barr tells us'
A breakdown of the massive, 448-page document
Sanders said her claim that countless members of the FBI opposed former director James Comey was ‘not founded on anything’
Exclusive: Gérard Araud compares regime to court of Louis XIV and warns UK over post-Brexit trade
The outgoing French ambassador to the US has compared the Trump administration to the court of King Louis XIV, filled with courtiers trying to interpret the caprices of a “whimsical, unpredictable, uninformed” leader.
Gérard Araud, who retires on Friday after a 37-year career that included some of the top jobs in French diplomacy, said Donald Trump’s unpredictability and his single-minded transactional interpretation of US interests was leaving the administration isolated on the world stage.
“When they say ‘America first’, it’s America alone,” Araud said in an interview with the Guardian. “Basically, this president and this administration don’t have allies, don’t have friends. It’s really [about] bilateral relationships on the basis of the balance of power and the defence of narrow American interest.”...
Trump keeps issuing orders, and staffers keep ignoring them because they’re illegal or unwise. It’s an unsustainable situation—but it shows no sign of abating.
The American Civil Liberties Union is calling the actions a ‘kidnapping’ and a flagrant violation of the law
"Bill Barr continues to act like the president's lawyer, not the people's lawyer."
"That is exactly the kind of leadership we need if we hope to stop the worst impacts of climate change."
If we really want to make a difference this Earth Day, we have to confront the problem of climate change at its source.
....If we really want to make a difference, we have to confront the problem at its source and euthanize the fossil fuel industry.
"Simply put, the business model of the fossil fuel industry is incompatible with a habitable planet."
....Turning off the fossil fuel taps overnight would trigger economic chaos. But a managed decline of the industry can ensure that fossil fuel workers aren’t left out in the cold. The Green New Deal resolution proposed by Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a Democrat of New York, and Senator Ed Markey, a Democrat of Massachusetts, calls for investing in those communities that will be hardest hit, helping workers transition into well-paid work in new sectors, and diversifying regional economies to thrive in a sustainable 21st century.
Researchers at the Next System Project have proposed bringing the fossil fuel industry under public ownership by buying up 51 percent of its shares, then ending the hunt for new reserves and scaling down production. Political will for that could take time to build....
The first daughter is visiting Ethiopia and Ivory Coast to promote women’s rights – yet she stays silent while her father’s administration stifles female empowerment
....You can’t separate women’s economic empowerment from women’s reproductive rights. But the Trump administration is doing just that. It has expanded a federal directive known as the “global gag rule”, meaning that NGOs that perform or promote abortions anywhere are refused all US government health funding, including for family planning, HIV, primary care, nutrition, and malaria. Numerous gender-equality advocates have pointed out that this policy is a significant impediment to the W-GDP’s goal of assisting women economically. Ivanka, of course, doesn’t seem bothered. Why focus on depressing details when you can retweet cute videos of yourself at a traditional Ethiopian coffee ceremony instead?...
This is a crucial chance to show politicians how we feel now about leaving Europe. The turnout must be huge
In just five weeks’ time, Britain will have a referendum on Brexit. This will take the form of elections to the European parliament, but in reality this will be a pre-referendum, or, if you like your neologisms ugly, a preferendum. So there is now one simple task: to maximise the vote for parties that support a confirmatory referendum on Brexit, giving the British people a democratic choice between accepting the negotiated Brexit deal and remaining in the EU....
Research by author reveals corporations and aristocrats are the biggest landowners
....Jon Trickett, Labour MP and shadow minister for the Cabinet Office, hailed the significance of the findings and called for a full debate on the issue, adding: “The dramatic concentration of land ownership is an inescapable reminder that ours is a country for the few and not the many.
“It’s simply not right that aristocrats, whose families have owned the same areas of land for centuries, and large corporations exercise more influence over local neighbourhoods – in both urban and rural areas – than the people who live there.
Virtual Nations could replace nation-states, enabling everyone to be agents for a better world
When the Defense Department flunked its first-ever fiscal review, one of our government’s greatest mysteries was exposed: Where does the DoD’s $700 billion annual budget go?
....Both Sanders and Grassley have been tilting at the Pentagon windmill for decades now, from opposite ends of the political spectrum. For Grassley, there is a sense of exhaustion.
Asked how much progress has been made toward creating a workable accounting system at the Pentagon, he says, “At my level, I would have to say zero.” He pauses. “Based on the track record, it seems like they don’t want to fix it.”
All this history sums up the conundrum. A Republican waste-hawk like Grassley laments the inability/unwillingness of the Pentagon to implement a modern, corporate-style, unified accounting system, and is convinced there will never be a clean audit until one is developed.
Meanwhile, a progressive like Sanders, who is anxious to dial back Pentagon spending as part of a general rethink of our national priorities, laments the inability/unwillingness of Congress to take the real steps needed to enforce compliance. The system of campaign contributions that keeps key committees captive probably locks this problem in place, until there’s reform on that end.
Banks now create most of our money supply and need to be made public utilities, following the stellar precedent of the Bank of North Dakota, which makes below-market loans for local communities and businesses while turning a profit for the state.
Financial sector warned it risks losses from extreme weather and its stakes in polluting firms
Through ecosocialism, we can fight climate change and extreme inequality at the same time
The report contains considerable evidence that President Trump attempted to obstruct justice, and it dismisses some of the possible defenses for his efforts to influence the Russia investigation.
Congress urged to "pull out the stops to confront this president who thinks starving millions of Yemenis is a price worth paying for high arms industry profits."