Aggregated News & Analyses
Today’s posts in bigger type.
Prior 2-3 days in smaller type.
EPA to start writing rule requiring new trucks produce less nitrogen oxide, one of its first moves to regulate industry
....EPA acting administrator, Andrew Wheeler, told reporters in a call ahead of the formal announcement on Tuesday that the agency will also “cut unnecessary red tape” for truck makers. And the agency is weighing a separate proposal to nix air pollution limits for trucks with rebuilt engines, which critics say is a massive loophole that will lead to dirtier air.
“All the other rules I’m aware of appear to cause increases in air pollution,” said Paul Billings, senior vice-president for public policy at the American Lung Association. “This one does appear to be designed to reduce air pollution ... but it’s really important to understand the specifics of what deregulatory action the acting administrator is talking about and what the air quality and public health impacts of those actions would be.”
Billings said with available technology, trucks could reduce their nitrogen oxide pollution by about 90%, although it’s not clear what standard the EPA would propose. Any rule could take years to finalize and nearly half a decade to go into effect. It would only apply to new trucks, so the pollution improvements would only happen as old trucks are taken off the roads.
The EPA said industry interests that the agency consulted support the move. ...
Fossil fuel companies including Chevron and ExxonMobil ‘knowingly caused harm’ by contributing to warming, group says
Decades after it became part of the fabric of our lives, a worldwide revolt against plastic is under way.
"Nancy Pelosi is bringing a squirt gun to a wildfire."
....As The Intercept reported:
Ocasio-Cortez's decision to join the protesters and march on her own House leader sets a tone of urgency and combativeness that is rare on Capitol Hill. Walking into the Cannon House Office Building, she told The Intercept something new had to be tried. "The way things are done has not been getting results. We have to try new methods," she said.
While a new contingent of incoming House Democrats backs a Green New Deal, the groups that occupied Pelosi's office charge that party leadership "has no intention of fighting for a real climate plan in the new Congress," in spite of a recent report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) warning that the global community has only a dozen years left to avert a climate catastrophe.
Calling on Pelosi and party leaders "to step up to the fight alongside us and create a climate plan or step aside to make way for new leadership who will," the groups are circulating a petition that tells House Democrats:
- Champion a Green New Deal that would create millions of good jobs to transform society over the next decade to stop climate change;
- Mandate that any Democrat in leadership must take the No Fossil Fuel Money pledge, and reject campaign contributions from fossil fuel executives and lobbyists, and prioritize the health of people and planet over industry profits; and
- A rising generation of young people of all backgrounds just helped flip the House with a record turnout. We will no longer tolerate empty promises and words without action.
Although Pelosi tweeted that she was "deeply inspired" by those who gathered at her office on Tuesday—and, in a statement, urged Capitol Police to allow the protests to continue—the organizers said her response was "not good enough."
Instead of just reviving a committee to study the "threats" of the climate crisis, the climate activists want the House Democrats to establish "a select committee to develop legislation for a total economic mobilization to transition our country toward a 100 percent renewable energy economy—as the IPCC has tasked every nation to do."
"We don't need more investigation," declared the Justice Democrats. "We need specific plans matching the urgency and scale mandated by the U.N.'s IPCC report on catastrophic climate change."
"Nancy Pelosi is bringing a squirt gun to a wildfire," concluded the Sunrise Movement. The protest comes as firefighters are battling historic fires in California—the state Pelosi represents.
Those who were not arrested at Pelosi's office visited the offices of other House Democrats to pressure them to sign the Green New Deal pledge.
Ocasio-Cortez, meanwhile, said on Twitter that she supports reinstating the select committee but that it should be required to craft a Green New Deal and no appointees should be recipients of fossil fuel money, aligning her demands with the climate activists' petition.
At first I kept an open mind about Trump’s interior secretary. But it soon became clear he put the oil, gas and mining industry above our mission
Australia singled out for possible hydrogen boom, but also forecast to increase coal production
Forget ‘solutions’ such as smog towers, air-filtering buses and pollution-eating paints. We need to prevent the air pollution in the first place
Dr Leana Wen, who takes over as president of the US’s biggest reproductive healthcare institution this week, says she plans to expand services despite attacks
Trump’s interior secretary has been remaking the agency charged with protecting public lands as an ally of big energy
The president blamed California’s environmental policies for the “deadly and costly” toll of the wildfires.
Trump has a history of blaming California for its fires
District court judge Brian Morris rules Trump administration did not consider environmental consequences before pushing ahead
Center for Biological Diversity says new program bypasses findings and leaves decisions to employees who are not experts
Bad journalists are 'hounded'
A provision in Trump’s tax cut means we’re all helping pay Jeff Bezos’s tab.
He has no idea what he’s doing, but what else is new?
Alex Wong/Getty Images
In some ways, the friendliest Donald Trump interviews are the most revealing. Given the opportunity to ramble and free-associate without any pushback whatsoever, you can see what channels his mind naturally follows.
His latest interview with the Daily Caller shows a president who’s fundamentally out to sea. The sycophantic interviewers can’t get Trump to answer a policy question of any kind, no matter how much of a softball they lob at him. The only subjects he is actually interested in talking about are his deranged belief in his incredible popularity and how that popularity is not reflected in actual vote totals because he’s the victim of a vast voter fraud conspiracy.
It’s the kind of thing that would be a bit sad if it were just your elderly uncle ranting about his past glories, but Trump mixes it in with authoritarian asides and the fundamental reality that whether he cares to do the actual job or not, he is ultimately the president of the United States.
Trump slips on Whitaker and Mueller
An extremely telling moment comes early in the interview when the Caller asks him a basic question: “Could you tell us where your thinking is currently on the attorney general position? I know you’re happy with Matthew Whitaker, do you have any names?”
They are hoping here that Trump will say something about potential candidates for a permanent appointment to the AG job. And there is nothing in this question about special counsel Robert Mueller or the presumption that Whitaker was brought in to stymie his investigation. But Trump starts answering a question he hasn’t been asked, explaining that the Mueller inquiry is for some reason an “illegal investigation”: ...
Voters have until Saturday to correct their signatures, while the recount results will be delayed until next week.
Florida Democratic gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum reacts to applause as he attends a Baptist church service to advocate for a vote recount. Joe Skipper/Getty Images
Thousands of Florida voters whose ballots were initially thrown out because their signatures didn’t match the state’s records [based on vague standards that varied by county] will get a second chance at having them counted after a federal judge’s ruling — a win for Democrats in the ongoing battle over the state’s recounts.
The order from US District Court Judge Mark Walker came hours before the 3 pm deadline for counties to report the final tally of a machine recount for the US Senate and governor races (as well as the agriculture commissioner match, which is also tight).
Now Florida voters have until 5 pm Saturday to fix their ballots by providing proof of identity and correcting any signature problems. ...
Brian Kemp has declared victory, but a string of recent court rulings supports Stacey Abrams’s call for all votes to be counted.
With the Georgia election too close to call, Stacey Abrams and Brian Kemp are fighting over the significance of uncounted votes. Jessica McGowan/Getty Images; Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images
The fight for the Georgia governor’s race isn’t over yet.
Though Republican Brian Kemp declared victory over Democrat Stacey Abrams last week, a string of recent court rulings has called for Georgia to count votes that the state previously rejected, further extending the contest and narrowing the margin Abrams needs to trigger an official recount or runoff. ...
"No more excuses or timid half-measures—the climate crisis demands action from Democrats."
Progressive congresswomen-elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) and Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) joined protesters this week in demanding that the Democratic Party take bold action to help curb the climate crisis. (Photo: Sunrise Movement)
With Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) fighting to win back her position as House Speaker in the coming congressional term, climate action groups and the new contingent of progressives on Capitol Hill are arguing that with their new power in Congress, Pelosi and other Democrats must make clear whether they will decide to boldly push for visionary climate solutions like the Green New Deal or fail humanity and the planet by continuing their servitude to the fossil fuel industry.
Weeks after the UN released its report on the urgent need to reduce carbon emissions in order to avoid "potentially irreversible" effects of the climate crisis, critics say Democrats have the opportunity to stand firmly on the side of progressives who are advocating for a Green New Deal in order to help save the planet—instead of continuing to rely on incremental measures aimed simply at "exploring" the climate crisis.
The Green New Deal is comprised of an ambitious set of proposals aimed at transitioning the U.S. to 100% renewable energy and employing millions of Americans to aid that transition.
In The Guardian, journalist David Sirota noted that in order to take meaningful action to help stop the climate crisis, Democrats must fundamentally change their outlook on the oil and gas industries which poured $100 million into midterm campaigns.
The fossil fuel sector, Sirota wrote, helped fund the fight against Proposition 112, aimed at keeping new oil and gas drilling operations away from schools, hospitals, and water sources in Colorado; an anti-carbon emissions measure in Washington; and a pro-solar energy proposal in Arizona.
The same industries were able to donate to Democratic candidates after a brief ban on such contributions was lifted by the Democratic National Committee was lifted after just two months—donating more than $4 million to party members in 2018.
The campaign to defeat new climate policies, wrote Sirota, "was a shock-and-awe spectacle designed to intimidate any prospective campaigns, organizations and movements that want to challenge the political supremacy of oil and gas—and some prominent Democrats in Washington seem to be cowering in fear."...
“This was both the least they could have done and the most we should have expected,” an expert said.
A protester dressed as Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman and another dressed as President Donald Trump outside the White House on October 19, 2018. Win McNamee/Getty Images
After Sri Lanka passed bans on lethal varieties of pesticide, suicides fell by half.
The four daughters of the Indian cotton farmer Neelkhant Haste posing with his picture in Yavatmal, India, after he committed suicide by consuming pesticide. Sebastian D’Souza/AFP/Getty Images
About 800,000 people die by suicide every year, according to the World Health Organization, and at least 110,000 of them die by suicide using a means that American readers might find surprising: pesticide ingestion.
This is a fairly uncommon suicide method in the US. There were only 12 pesticide suicides in the US in 2016, out of nearly 45,000 suicides total. But in poorer and more agricultural societies, pesticides make up a huge share of all suicide deaths. In China, for instance, 49 percent of suicides are suicides by pesticide; in India, the share is about 38.8 percent.
The difference boils down to how incredibly lethal certain pesticides can be. Poisoning suicide attempts are quite common the world over. A meta-analysis of 177 international studies of suicide methods found that 90 percent of attempts, on average, involved poisoning. ...
....Scotland’s last coal-fired power station was destroyed in a controlled explosion last week.
....On Tuesday night, the Republican-led House Rules Committee voted to advance the “Manage Our Wolves Act,” which will remove gray wolves from the endangered species list. The Rules Committee waived all points of order against the bill and voted to advance it to the floor.
The catch: Republicans inserted language that would block a floor vote on whether to direct President Donald Trump to end U.S. involvement in the Saudi- and UAE-led intervention in Yemen. The intervention has been highly destructive, flattening homes, roads, markets, hospitals, and schools, and leading to the world’s largest humanitarian crisis.
On Wednesday evening, the House approved the rule 201-187, largely on party lines, successfully blocking a vote on the Yemen resolution. ...
Democrats Won Big. Can They Go Bold, Too? [it's about suppressing the influence and leadership by Republican-like Democrats who counsel 'incremental' (no) change, such as Nancy Pelosi, Steny Hoyer, Hillary Clinton, Chuck Shumer and Joe Biden]
The party's leaders have been far too cautious in the past. Newer ideas could spark real change in who owns and runs America
Newly unearthed documents show senior U.S. Army officers have been ordered to make fewer public appearances, in an effort to avoid triggering showdowns with President Donald Trump. The Pentagon rules, which have been in existence for about nine months, specify that only one senior military leader and one civilian leader are allowed to appear at each “outside” non-government event each day. Online publication Defense One established the existence of the rule after asking the Office of the Secretary of Defense to explain why two of four senior DOD officials scheduled to speak at their event had suddenly canceled. “You and I both know what this is: an attempt to minimize the department’s profile to the president. Fewer speakers means fewer headlines means fewer angry tweets from the Lincoln Bedroom,” one former senior military official told Defense One.
The industry has political supremacy even in left-leaning states, but immediate action can hold off an environmental state of emergency
"We're the folks out there trying to advocate for big change... and that's what we're going to expect out of leadership, as well."
"Since the first drop of blood, the first chest tube placed, and since the first mother on the floor crying, for us, it has ALWAYS been our lane."
Republicans’ baseless claims poison the races for governor and senator.
Turkish president keeps up pressure on Saudi crown prince, as pro-government paper publishes x-rays of hit team’s luggage
Palestinian militants fire 400 rockets—that cannot be effectively aimed
—and mortars while Israel planes bomb 100 sites—with pinpoint effectiveness
- Exclusive: Jerome Corsi to Guardian – ‘They asked about Nigel’
- Key Brexit figure Farage has denied involvement with Russia
In 1922, after fleeing Berlin out of fear for his safety, Einstein wrote to his sister about his new ‘reclusive’ life
Community First! Village’s model for ending homelessness emphasizes the stabilizing power of social connections.
The migrants appear intent on taking the Pacific coast route northward, with most vowing to continue to the US
At a time of mounting uncertainty in Europe, the country has defied critics who insisted on austerity as the answer to the Continent’s economic and financial crisis.
Virtual Nations could replace nation-states, enabling everyone to be agents for a better world
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.
....Two tasks need to be performed simultaneously: throwing ourselves at the possibility of averting collapse, as Extinction Rebellion is doing, slight though this possibility may appear; and preparing ourselves for the likely failure of these efforts, terrifying as this prospect is. Both tasks require a complete revision of our relationship with the living planet.
Because we cannot save ourselves without contesting oligarchic control, the fight for democracy and justice and the fight against environmental breakdown are one and the same. Do not allow those who have caused this crisis to define the limits of political action. Do not allow those whose magical thinking got us into this mess to tell us what can and cannot be done.
The suffering grows and no end is in sight. This is turning out to be our crime too
The suffering of civilians in Yemen is not only the world’s worst humanitarian crisis. It is a crime. Nobel peace laureate Tawakkol Karman says her country is being “systematically destroyed”. Half of the country’s 22 million inhabitants are on the brink of starvation; 1.8 million children are severely malnourished. For many it is already too late. The United Nations predicts this could become the worst famine for a century. There were warnings of famine before the war broke out almost four years ago; even then, Yemen imported almost all of its food. Conditions have since deteriorated unimaginably. ...