Aggregated News & Analyses
Today’s posts in bigger type.
Prior 2-3 days in smaller type.
"This will have ripple effects throughout the entire nation"
Food justice advocates heaped praise on Boston Monday after the city's legislative body unanimously passed an ordinance that boosts the local economy and environment as well as workers, animal welfare, and healthful eating.
"With this passage, Boston has loosened the stranglehold that corporations have over our food system, especially in schools," said Alexa Kaczmarski, senior organizer at Corporate Accountability, following the vote on the Good Food Purchasing Program (GFPP).
"This will have ripple effects throughout the entire nation," she added.
The GFPP, sponsored by Boston City Councilor At-Large Michelle Wu, affects public food purchasers, the largest of which is the Boston Public Schools, which has a $18 million food budget.
As noted in (pdf) the ordinance, the purchasers will follow a set of standards in order to....
Craig Bennett, CEO of Friends of the Earth, says rich countries must act to make disasters such as the cyclone that hit Mozambique less likely. Meteorologist Bernadette Woods Placky describes how Climate Matters is helping to end the ‘TV news desert’ around global warming. Plus letters from Caroline Evans and Daniel Scharf
A panel to promote an alternative explanation for climate change would be disastrous. Yet that’s what White House officials want
Americans should not be fooled by the Stalinist tactics being used by the White House to try to discredit the findings of mainstream climate science.
The Trump administration has already purged information about climate change from government websites, gagged federal experts and attempted to end funding for climate change programmes.
Now a group of hardcore climate change deniers and contrarians linked to the administration is organising a petition in support of a new panel being set up by the National Security Council to promote an alternative official explanation for climate change....
Images show marine biologist removing 88lb worth of plastic bags from stomach of whale that died in Philippines of ‘gastric shock’
- Warning: this article includes graphic images some readers may find disturbing
- Strawberries, spinach and kale among most pesticide-heavy
- Conventionally farmed kale could contain up to 18 pesticides
"The bottom line is clear: to the degree that the fossil fuel industry is weakened by some combination of technological change and furious activism, the chances for serious change increase."
Exclusive: Environment Agency chief calls for use to be cut by a third
Australia’s largest export customer for thermal coal is scrapping plans to build power plants
Rising temperatures can be charted back to the late 1950s, and the last five years were the five hottest on record
Traffic pollution is putting our children at risk. We meet campaigners – many of them concerned mothers – fighting back
Revealed: Interior department official says he is ‘thrilled’ by Trump’s ‘knack for keeping the attention of the media and public focused somewhere else’
The children on climate strike are right: their lives should not be sacrificed to satisfy our greed
Here in farming country we have the opportunity to rethink our approach to renewable energy and food production
For more than two years, scientists have been working to figure out the underlying cause of this so-called “unusual mortality event.”
Millions of possible scenarios were analyzed, and only a few are acceptable, the scientists said.
Journalists and attorneys are partnering together in a new amended lawsuit filed by Pen America arguing Trump is violating the first amendment
Bad journalists are howled at
"Don't think for one second that it'll stop us—or the grassroots army we stand with—from backing bold, inclusive populists who will better represent their districts in Congress over neoliberal corporate Dems."
Progressives made clear they have no intention of backing down to the party establishment after the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee on Friday threatened to cut off funds to firms and strategists that support primary challengers against incumbents.
"The DCCC can do anything it wants to try to prevent the next generation of Democrats from taking power. They will not succeed," Sean McElwee—co-founder of Data for Progress, which is recruiting progressives to oust conservative Democrats—said in a statement.
"Make no mistake—they are sending a signal that they are more afraid of Ayanna Pressley and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez winning primary challenges than Henry Cuellar who votes with Trump nearly 70 percent of the time."
—Alexandra Rojas, Justice Democrats
The new policy was included in the DCCC's list of vendor hiring standards, which state that the organization "will not conduct business with, nor recommend to any of its targeted campaigns, any consultant that works with an opponent of a sitting member of the House Democratic Caucus."
According to National Journal, which first reported the policy change, "Democrats involved in crafting the standards intend for them to bolster members across the ideological spectrum, from the fiscally conservative Rep. Henry Cuellar of Texas to the progressive Rep. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota—both of whom could be subject to contested primaries."
But progressives argued that the ostensibly neutral rule will disproportionately harm grassroots organizations looking to replace right-wing Democrats with bold figures like Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) and Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.), who both ousted incumbent Democrats in primaries last year....
Concerned economic and political commentators decried Moore as "a famous idiot" who "has proved deeply impervious to facts."
President Donald Trump said Friday he will nominate right-wing commentator Stephen Moore to the Federal Reserve board. (Photo: CBN)
Economists and progressive experts responded with exasperation and unease on Friday after President Donald Trump said he will nominate right-wing commentator Stephen Moore to the Federal Reserve, the gatekeeper of the nation's economy.
....Whispers that Moore, a visiting fellow at the Heritage Foundation who advised Trump's 2016 campaign, might join the central bank had been circulating online since late Thursday. In a tweet on Friday, the president called him "a very respected Economist."
Concerned economic and political commentators decried Moore as "a famous idiot" who "has proved deeply impervious to facts."
Several critics also pointed out that Moore was among the "principal architects of Kansas Governor Sam Brownback's massive tax cuts, and their predictions that those tax cuts would spur an 'immediate' Kansas economic boom have proved strikingly inaccurate."...
Judges have rebuffed the education secretary’s attempts to pause or change a range of Obama-era policies.
Indigenous history shows there’s nothing inevitable about the environmental carnage being unleashed now
....Indigenous history, in particular, demonstrates that we don’t need to assume an eternal antagonism between humanity and nature. We can change how we relate to the world, the specific form of our engagement with the planet.
As Pascoe argues, Aboriginal people collectively controlled their metabolism with nature, using custom, culture and law to regulate burning, hunting, planting and other forms of labour.
The colonists replaced that ancient system with a capitalist agriculture driven by the imperatives of individual enrichment.
As a result, as Eric Rolls explained in A Million Wild Acres, “thousands of years of grass and soil changed in a few years”, and the parklike meadows vanished.
Crucially, the incredibly rapid destruction wasn’t the consequence of population pressures or industrialisation in a still very small and underdeveloped colony.
What mattered was an economic shift: the destruction of a system that carefully regulated the human metabolism with nature, and the implementation of a system that rewarded those who looted the environment for individual gain.
Indigenous history shows there’s nothing inevitable about the environmental carnage being unleashed now....
Mega-companies like Amazon and Walmart are already using large-scale central planning. We can wield that tool for good. Socialists need to renew our embrace of democratic planning and fight for a real alternative to capitalism.
....After twenty years of climate diplomacy, oil firm BP last year reported that the non-fossil share of the energy mix is no different to what it was in 1998. In the face of climate change’s existential threat, we are standing still. This is because a market economy will continue to produce fossil fuels, even in the face of a hothouse earth, if left to its own devices.
Environmental good news in most cases has come from non-market intervention. We have all but solved the challenge of ozone depletion thanks not to the market or giving up our fridges or hair spray, but thanks to regulation. Likewise we have regulation, as well as public sector infrastructure, and state shepherding of innovation—the allegedly inefficient sin of “picking winners”—for the success stories of elimination of acid rain and the 7 percent global increase in tree cover over the last thirty-five years.
This is why the Green New Deal, with its focus on robust public sector planning and action instead of market tweaks is so important. California’s emissions trading is less responsible for that state’s greenhouse gas reductions than its classic command-and-control regulations, and the largest single emissions reduction in North America came from the decision by fiat of the Ontario government to shutter all nineteen of its coal-fired generating units.
....We need to use our vast productive resources to better ends — and through politics we can do just that. And as technology allows us to move to a discussion of what sort of planning instead of whether planning, true democratic control of planning both at the enterprise and government level must be the non-negotiable foundation of our vision.
LEIGH PHILLIPS MICHAL ROZWORSKI | Jacobin
To fund a project as massive as the Green New Deal, we need a mechanism that involves neither raising taxes nor adding to the federal debt; and such a mechanism is actually proposed in the US Green New Deal – a network of public banks. While little discussed in the US media, that alternative is being debated in Europe, where Green New Deal proposals have been on the table since 2008. European economists have had more time to think these initiatives through, and they are less hampered by labels like “socialist” and “capitalist,” which have long been integrated into their multiparty systems.
Grassroots group calls on party to commit to decarbonising UK economy within a decade
Labour members have launched a grassroots campaign to push the party to adopt a radical Green New Deal to transform the UK economy, tackle inequality and address the escalating climate crisis.
The group, inspired by the success of the Sunrise Movement and the Democratic congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in the US, is calling on Labour to commit to radical action to decarbonise the UK economy within a decade.
A spokesperson for the group, called Labour for a Green New Deal, said: “Climate change is fundamentally about class, because it means chaos for the many while the few profit....
"It's really a new world for us and very, very helpful," said powerful fossil fuel lobby group's CEO during closed-door meeting
A newly-leaked audio recording reveals that oil and gas executives in a private meeting were "giddy" with laughter in the summer of 2017 as they rejoiced over the "unprecedented access" they were being given to the highest levels of the Trump administration, boasting about their ability to have closed-door meetings with top officials and the ascendance of their own industry colleagues to some of the most powerful seats of government....
Oil giant may lose lobby access over failure to answer climate change denial questions
ExxonMobil said litigation in the US prevented its attendance at the hearing. Photograph: Richard Drew/AP
ExxonMobil faces losing its lobby privileges at the European parliament after the company failed to show up for the first hearing into climate change denial.
ExxonMobil would become only the second multinational – after Monsanto – to lose access to MEPs, parliamentary meetings and digital resources if it loses a high-level vote expected by the end of April.
The oil giant publicly supports the Paris agreement but has drawn the ire of scientists, academics and environmentalists, who accuse it of peddling climate misinformation.
The ban request is being submitted by the Green MEP Molly Scott Cato. She said: “This is the company that denied the science, despite knowing the damage their oil exploitation was causing; which funded campaigns to block action on climate and now refuses to face up to its environmental crimes by attending today’s hearing. We cannot allow the lobbyists from such corporations free access to the corridors of the European parliament. We must remove their badges immediately.”...
Ad campaigns hide investment in a huge expansion of oil and gas extraction, says InfluenceMap
The largest five stock market listed oil and gas companies spend nearly $200m (£153m) a year lobbying to delay, control or block policies to tackle climate change, according to a new report.
Chevron, BP and ExxonMobil were the main companies leading the field in direct lobbying to push against a climate policy to tackle global warming, the report said....
Vain promises and empty slogans have got us nowhere. Fossil-fuel extraction must end before more lives are lost
....While many countries appear to be already reducing carbon emissions and moving towards an energy transition, Africa’s coalfields are open for business. Along with a few Asian countries (Indonesia, Vietnam and Bangladesh in particular), our continent continues to be an El Dorado for the coal cheerleaders and big business determined to carry on its coal-onisation. New plants are being planned from South Africa to Senegal, from Kenya to Mozambique, as well as in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Côte d’Ivoire. Most of them are co-financed by the African Development Bank, on whose board sit members of African, European, North and South American and Asian governments.
This is the case for the coal-fired power plant projects in Bargny (in the suburbs of Dakar, Senegal), San-Pédro (Côte d’Ivoire), Lamu (Kenya), or the Thabametsi power station in Limpopo province, South Africa, near the border with Botswana.
The situation is pretty similar for the oil industry, a source of energy that continues to attract investors in Africa, a continent that accounts for 8% of global production, with 7.5m barrels a day. Despite the drop in the price of oil over the last five years, new players are added yearly to the list of majors companies, such as Total, Shell, Exxon, BP and Eni.
In Uganda, for example, a new field will be exploited, the fruit of the cooperation between Total, the Chinese company CNOOC, and the British company Tullow Oil. Perenco, a French-British company, has just set up in Gabon and DRC and plans to produce half a million barrels a day. In February 2019, Total announced the huge offshore discovery of gas-condensate and light oil in South Africa, which could contain 1bn barrels of total resources.
Even though Africa is estimated to produce just 4% of global carbon emissions – compared to 80% by the most industrialised countries (G20), it is the continent that pays the highest price. For us, climate change is not a future risk, it’s already a reality evident in wrecked families, lands and livelihoods, and hopeless children and young people who have no choice but to seek a future by migrating.
Everywhere on the continent, communities fear losing their land as each season hits one country after another with exceptional floods, unexpected storms and increasingly long droughts. Fauna and flora reserves have been running out, access to water has become a privilege, and extreme weather events have become more numerous and left families without homes or livelihoods....
Democratic candidate says other issues matter, but America cannot afford to have another leader who does not have climate change as their top priority
As investigators close in, the president invokes the support of the military, police and vigilantes. This is a perilous moment
O’Rourke wants to be everything to everyone. To take a look back at his career, that’s an invitation he’s extended to the fossil fuel industry
In a rebuke of the Trump administration’s ‘energy-first’ agenda, a judge rules greenhouse gas emissions must be considered
"The Constitution can't operate as the supreme law of our nation if it's consistently subverted."
"The attacks appear to have violated international humanitarian law."
Amnesty International issued its findings on the African war Tuesday evening in a report titled The Hidden US War in Somalia (pdf).
The U.S. has been covertly engaging in conflicts in Somalia for decades, but in April 2017, the Donald Trump administration upped airstrikes and attacks targeted at the rebel group Al-Shabaab.
The human rights advocacy group studied five of more than 100 strikes on Somalia over the past two years and found that 14 civilians were killed in the attacks. Eight others were injured, the report says.
"These five incidents were carried out with Reaper drones and manned aircraft in Lower Shabelle," Amnesty said in a press release, "a region largely under Al-Shabaab control outside the Somali capital Mogadishu."
The U.S. military denied to Amnesty that any civilians have been killed as a result of American operations in Somalia.
However, Amnesty's report claims its methodology is sound and that the evidence is overwhelming.
Bans on assault rifles and military-style semi-automatics introduced as well as a buyback scheme
Within 25 years the country faces a devastating water shortage. Nationalisation can turn the tide
*Unless Israel is to blame.
The people of the Gaza Strip are protesting again, and soldiers are shooting again, and civilians are being victimized again. Only this time you may have missed the story, because these protests barely rated a buried paragraph in most Western news accounts.
That’s odd: Some media outlets are prepared to devote months of journalistic effort in order to trace the trajectory of a single bullet that accidentally kills a Palestinian — provided the bullet is Israeli.
The difference this time is that the shots are being fired by Hamas, the militant Islamist group that has ruled Gaza since 2007, when it usurped power from its rivals in the Fatah movement in a quick and dirty civil war. Since then, no genuine elections have been held, and no dissent brooked.
The current round of demonstrations, which began last week, comes in reaction to years of Hamas’s economic mismanagement, price hikes and recent tax increases. This is not for lack of funds on Hamas’s part: Since 2012, the group has taken in over a billion dollars from Qatar alone to pay the costs of fuel, humanitarian aid and civil-servant salaries.
Where that money goes is another question....
....And so Gazans are making their despair known. Hundreds took to the streets last week, only to be shot at, clubbed and arrested by Hamas security forces.
“The crackdown on freedom of expression and the use of torture in gaza has reached alarming new levels,” noted saleh higazi of amnesty....
More than 50 percent of Americans said they support hiking taxes on the wealthy to support those in poverty, the OECD study found
Behind the urgency of climate action is the understanding that everything is connected; behind white supremacy is an ideology of separation
To be the happiest country, having the top economic growth isn’t necessarily the answer. Are you listening, U.S.?
Valuing human rights also means applying the same standards to our friends and our enemies
Virtual Nations could replace nation-states, enabling everyone to be agents for a better world
"The massive scale at which global banks continue to pump billions of dollars into fossil fuels is flatly incompatible with a livable future."
A coalition of environmental groups called out 33 global banks for collectively giving at least $1.9 trillion to fossil fuel companies since world leaders adopted the Paris climate agreement in December of 2015.
...."This report is a red alert," declared RAN climate and energy researcher Alison Kirsch. "The massive scale at which global banks continue to pump billions of dollars into fossil fuels is flatly incompatible with a livable future."
"If banks don't rapidly phase out their support for dirty energy, planetary collapse from man-made climate change is not just probable," Kirsch warned. "It is imminent."
According to the report, the top four funders of coal, oil, and gas companies from 2016 to 2018 were all U.S. banks: JPMorgan Chase ($195.66 billion), Wells Fargo ($151.6 billion), Citi ($129.49 billion), and Bank of America ($106.69 billion).
Other major offenders included RBC ($100.54 billion), TD ($74.15 billion), and Scotiabank ($69.57 billion) of Canada; Barclays ($85.18 billion) of the United Kingdom; and Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group ($80.04 billion) and Mizuho ($67.71 billion) of Japan.
- G-7 presidency aims for an overhaul to increase fairness
- Public anger about inequality has grown since financial crisis
France is sounding an alarm for the world’s advanced economies: capitalism is tearing them apart.
President Emmanuel Macron and his Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire are using France’s presidency of the Group of Seven to argue that the system fuels inequality, destroys the planet and is ineffective at delivering goals in the public interest. The country has already experienced some of the fallout firsthand in the Yellow Vest movement that erupted late last year.
They’re pushing a reinvention that includes minimum global taxes and higher levies on tech giants like Amazon and Facebook. There are echoes of that in the self-proclaimed democratic socialists in the U.S. and firebrand Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who last week said “capitalism is irredeemable.”
“If we don’t invent a new capitalism, absurd economic solutions will win over and sweep us straight into recession,’’ Le Maire said in an interview late last month.
Author Malcolm Harris on why millennials need a revolution.
“If Millennials are different, it’s not because we’re more or less evolved than our parents or grandparents, it’s because they’ve changed the world in ways that have produced people like us.”
That’s how Malcolm Harris, an editor at the online magazine the New Inquiry, begins his book Kids These Days: Human Capital and the Making of Millennials. It’s a smart, contrarian look at the social and economic problems plaguing millennials — defined as people born between 1980 and 2000.
But it’s not a typical defense of millennials. Harris, who is a millennial (as am I), makes no attempt to undercut the complaints of baby boomers — namely, that millennials are anxious, spoiled, and narcissistic.
Instead, he asks: What made millennials the way they are? Why are they so burned out? Why are they having fewer kids? Why are they getting married later? Why are they obsessed with efficiency and technology?
And his answer, in so many words, is the economy. Millennials, he argues, are bearing the brunt of the economic damage wrought by late-20th-century capitalism. All these insecurities — and the material conditions that produced them — have thrown millennials into a state of perpetual panic. If “generations are characterized by crises,” as Harris argues, then ours is the crisis of extreme capitalism....