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 & Opinion
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.
Underground cities have long been sci-fi fodder, but now governments and planners are taking them seriously. One of the biggest challenges to overcome is convincing people to be comfortable underground
On the mainstage of VERGE 19, Joel Makower discusses energy efficiency with Amory Lovins, Cofounder and Chief Scientist of the Rocky Mountain Institute. Energy efficiency, a bigger energy "source" than oil, avoids at least twice as much global greenhouse gas emissions as renewables' remarkable growth. Yet its potential is far larger. Designing buildings, vehicles, and factories as whole systems can save many times more energy than previously thought, and often at lower cost. Systems thinking can also save most of the energy-intensive activities and materials (like steel and cement) often considered hardest to decarbonize.
How do you store renewable energy so it's there when you need it, even when the sun isn't shining or the wind isn't blowing? Giant batteries designed for the electrical grid -- called flow batteries, which store electricity in tanks of liquid electrolyte -- could be the answer, but so far utilities have yet to find a cost-effective battery that can reliably power thousands of homes throughout a lifecycle of 10 to 20 years.
Source: DOE/Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory | Science Daily
Trump impeachment inquiry: highlights from day two – video
An American ambassador recalled by Donald Trump from Ukraine has told impeachment investigators she felt “shocked and devastated” by Trump’s personal attacks on her, and that she was “amazed” corrupt elements in Ukraine had found willing American partners to take her down.
With Trump tweeting attacks on her even as she spoke, Marie Yovanovitch became the third witness in public impeachment hearings investigating whether Trump abused the powers of his office to serve his personal ends.
After a relatively hushed outing by two career foreign service officers on Wednesday, the chilly, ornate and cavernous hearing room vibrated on Friday with dramatic and personal testimony by Yovanovitch, a widely respected anti-corruption advocate who has served six US administrations including four Republican presidents.
A month and a half after the state department asked her to extend her three-year ambassadorship to Kiev for an additional year, Yovanovitch testified that she took a call from her superior at the state department that abruptly terminated her overseas careerin May.
“Ultimately, he said the words that every foreign service officer understands: ‘The president has lost confidence in you’,” Yovanovitch said, “That was a terrible thing to hear. After 33 years of service to our country, it was terrible.”...
Tom McCarthy in New York and David Smith in Washington | The Guardian
The verdict makes Stone only the latest among a growing list of people once in the president’s inner circle who have been convicted on federal charges. News of Stone’s convictions came as dramatic testimony at the public impeachment hearing unfolded on Capitol Hill.
A jury found Stone guilty on all seven counts, including lying to lawmakers about WikiLeaks, tampering with witnesses and obstructing a House intelligence committee investigation into whether the Trump campaign coordinated with Russia to tip the 2016 election....
As Warren and Sanders have gone on the attack, some plutocrats are getting angry at the billionaire-bashing – and others are running for the White House
....[The reality is] the yawning gap between rich and poor is now a “national emergency”, hedge-fund king Ray Dalio ($18.7bn) wrote in an 8,000-plus-word blogpost on Linkedin back in April. Dalio’s fears have been echoed by JP Morgan boss Jamie Morgan ($1.6bn), Warren Buffett ($87bn) and others but none have matched his devastating and detailed critique.
As Dalio points out:
The wealth of the top 1% of the population is more than that of the bottom 90% of the population combined
Forty per cent of all Americans would struggle to raise $400 in the event of an emergency.
There has been little or no real income growth for most people for decades.
The childhood poverty rate in the US is now 17.5% and has also not meaningfully improved for decades.
The opportunities for people like Dalio (born to a jazz musician in Queens) or Cooperman (the son of a Polish plumber) are disappearing. The rate of economic mobility in the US – the opportunity to earn your way out of poverty – is now one of the worst in the developed world.
But Dalio’s “solutions” sound less impressive than his critique: more “leadership from the top,” bipartisan cooperation and “clear metrics”. Kruse is not surprised billionaires don’t have the answer.
“The reality is that government isn’t a business,” he said. “They are fundamentally different enterprises. What you are able to do in business doesn’t pan out in foreign affairs, in domestic policy. Convincing your board of directors is one thing; convincing Congress to pass legislation is entirely different.”
But that won’t stop the billionaires from wanting to add 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue to their property portfolio – even if the peasants have gathered with their pitchforks at the gates.
“There is something about the very wealthy, they don’t have enough people telling them that they are full of shit,” said Kruse.
Could climate change get so bad that it leads to our extinction? A few researchers are trying to answer that question.
COLLAGE BY LIA KANTROWITZ
Simon Beard has a career that most people would consider depressing and terrifying. He is part of a team of researchers trying to figure out if, how, and when climate change could cause the human species to go extinct. The stakes of his research—a potential annihilation of 7.7 billion humans and all the unborn people who come after them—couldn’t be any higher.
The idea that a heating planet will doom humanity is the subject of a lot of public speculation and anxiety, yet there are very few experts studying the existential impacts of climate change with any sort of academic rigor. Beard, who does this work at the Cambridge Center for the Study of Existential Risk, described it as “a field with next to no data” and a lot of unsupported hypotheses. “Under what circumstances could climate change cause a collapse of global civilization?” he said. “When you start asking that question, then your already quite-limited literature gets even more scarce.”
By bringing scientific precision to the doomsday scenario that wipes us off the planet, Beard hopes to convince world leaders to actually do something about it. “That’s really what we’re aiming for at the moment,” he said. “I think this could be genuinely transformative—firstly for the science but also by implication for the policy and the way that these things are discussed in society.”...
Republican voters made Trump the white-supremacist-in-chief. That’s why a resignation from Miller wouldn’t change much
‘It is time for Democrats to face and name the ugly truth: the Grand Old Party is a party steeped in white supremacy.’ Photograph: Tom Brenner/Reuters
This week, the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) published a bombshell article revealing troubling emails that White House senior policy advisor Stephen Miller sent to editors at Breitbart News, the far-right media outlet previously led by Steve Bannon.
The emails, which were leaked by former Breitbart editor Katie McHugh and predate Miller’s period in the White House, show Miller’s obsession with immigration and his seemingly successful attempts to get Breitbart editors to write anti-immigration stories, some of which were based on openly white nationalist sources like American Renaissance and V-Dare.
The widespread public outrage in response to the revelations is understandable. Miller is the longest serving senior advisor to President Trump who is not related to the president, and is believed to be the architect of the White House’s draconian anti-immigration policies, which doesn’t just target “illegal immigration” but also aims to return to the country to the infamously racist immigration policy of the early 20th century.
In its response to the leak, the White House tried to discredit the source, SPLC, which has had some internal and external problems recently, but is overall a very reliable authority on the US far right (full disclaimer: I regularly collaborate with the SPLC). One White House spokesperson went full “alternative facts” by accusing SPLC of antisemitism, because Miller is Jewish. By doing so, the White House displayed a complete lack of understanding about what antisemitism is, which is no surprise, given that Trump considers himself “the least antisemitic person you’ve ever seen”.
The Democratic responses were predictable and swift as well. Of all the 2020 candidates, Julian Castro went the furthest in condemning Miller – he called him a “neo-Nazi” – but all agreed that he should resign from the White House.
But would Miller’s resignation change anything? While Miller might be behind the concrete policies that harm immigrants, he is not the main white supremacist in the White House. And Trump can easily find someone else to do Miller’s work, particularly now that almost the whole Republican party has fallen in line with their president.
It also externalizes white supremacy, as if it lives in the margins. But it has been hiding in plain sight within the Republican Party for decades. Miller wrote the emails to Breitbart when he was still an aide to Senator Jeff Sessions, who has been a consistent voice of white supremacy in Congress since 1997. And the Alabama Senator was not alone in Congress either. Representative Steve King has been the most open and unapologetic voice for the cause since 2003. Others, like representatives Louie Gohmert, Paul Gosar, Tom Tancredo and Dana Rohrabacher, might not be as open in their support, but they all encourage white nationalism to varying degrees.
But white supremacy in the Republican party is not limited to just these individual congressmen and women. It runs much deeper than them. White supremacy was at the core of the “Southern Strategy”, dating back to the unsuccessful 1964 presidential campaign of Barry Goldwater, which was formative for the future conservative movement. Perfected by President Richard Nixon, with the help of speechwriter Pat Buchanan, dog whistles to white supremacy have been at the heart of virtually every Republican campaign since the 1970s....
President Jair Bolsonaro, who has been called the "Brazilian Trump," supports the cuts to sex education.
Brazil is cutting funding for sex education as the country experiences a sharp increase in incidences of sexually transmitted infections (STIs).
The balance of the country's political power has moved dramatically right in recent years, culminating in the October 2018 election of President Jair Bolsonaro, who took office in January. Bolsonaro was elected on a platform of conservative populism and has been widely compared to President Donald Trump.
National legislation promoted by the country's religious right that would limit the teaching of sex education in classrooms is supported by Bolsonaro. Although the law has not been formally adopted, several areas of the country have adopted similar laws at the local level.
Opponents of the laws warn that curtailing education could lead to a worsening of already high rates of STIs and are rooted in scientific ignorance and homophobia.
Bolsonaro himself has a long history of what appear to be extremely anti-gay views. He has stated that he would be "incapable" of loving a hypothetical gay son, and once claimed that if he witnessed two men kissing, he "would beat them." When he campaigned for president, he made unsubstantiated claims that a political opponent had created a "gay kit" for schools to "convert" children to homosexuality.
The push to limit sex education seems motivated at least partly by the idea that children who learn about sex will start having sexual encounters earlier. Advocates of limiting education also apparently believe that learning about homosexuality will somehow result in children being persuaded to become gay, a concept that has been widely discredited by experts....
Smoke and steam billows from Belchatow Power Station, Europe's largest coal-fired power plant near Belchatow, Poland on November 28, 2018. Inventors claim a new carbon capture “battery” could be retrofitted for industrial plants but also for mobile sources of CO2 emissions like cars and airplanes. Photo by REUTERS/Kacper Pempel
Renewable energy alone is not enough to turn the tide of the climate crisis. Despite the rapid expansion of wind, solar and other clean energy technologies, human behavior and consumption are flooding our skies with too much carbon, and simply supplanting fossil fuels won’t stop global warming. To make some realistic attempt at preventing a grim future, humans need to be able to physically remove carbon from the air.
That’s why carbon capture technology is slowly being integrated into energy and industrial facilities across the globe. Typically set up to collect carbon from an exhaust stream, this technology sops up greenhouse gases before they spread into Earth’s airways. But those industrial practices work because these factories produce gas pollutants like carbon dioxide and methane at high concentrations. Carbon capture can’t draw CO2 from regular open air, where the concentration of this prominent pollutant is too diffuse.
Moreover, the energy sector’s transition toward decarbonization is moving too slowly. It will take years — likely decades — before the world’s hundreds of CO2-emitting industrial plants adopt capture technology. Humans have pumped about 2,000 gigatonnes — billions of metric tons — of carbon dioxide into the air since industrialization, and there will be more.
But what if you could have a personal-sized carbon capture machine on your car, commercial airplane or solar-powered home?
Chemical engineers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have created a new device that can remove carbon dioxide from the air at any concentration. Published in October in the journal Energy & Environmental Science, the project is the latest bid to directly capture CO2 emissions and keep them from accelerating and worsening future climate disasters.
Think of the invention as a quasi-battery, in terms of its shape, its construction and how it works to collect carbon dioxide. You pump electricity into the battery, and while the device stores this charge, a chemical reaction occurs that absorbs CO2 from the surrounding atmosphere — a process known as direct air capture. The CO2 can be extracted by discharging the battery, releasing the gas, so the CO2 then can be pumped into the ground. The researchers describe this back-and-forth as electroswing adsorption....
Former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch "is expected to describe the personal trauma she endured as the administration's traditional diplomatic establishment in Ukraine collided with a rogue foreign policy operation" run by the president's personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani.
"We need a president who will unite all workers to fight for social, economic, racial and gender justice, and who will champion bold ideas on workplace democracy, Medicare for All, and climate change."
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
Bolivian coup leader Luis Fernando Camacho is a far-right multi-millionaire who arose from fascist movements in the Santa Cruz region, where the US has encouraged separatism. He has courted support from Colombia, Brazil, and the Venezuelan opposition.
Deutsche Welle: Bolivia scraps joint lithium project with German company - The Bolivian government has issued a decree overturning a massive joint lithium project with southern German firm ACISA. The project is considered vital for the German auto industry's plans to develop electric batteries.
Higher nominal wages for low-paid workers can boost real earnings, increase consumer spending, and help make housing more affordable. And insofar as raising the minimum would increase companies’ wage bill, it would create a stronger incentive to replace labor with capital, which could lay the foundation for renewed productivity growth.
It looks to be just another case of Wall Street fattening itself at the public trough, using the funds of mom and pop depositors to maximize bank profits and line the pockets of bank executives while depriving small businesses of affordable loans.
High Crimes vs. Human Rights Offenses worthy of impeachment or International Criminal Court prosecution
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.