Aggregated News & Analyses
Today’s posts in bigger type.
Prior 2-3 days in smaller type.
People tend to respond to immediate threats and financial consequences – and Florida’s coastal real estate may be on the cusp of delivering that harsh wake-up call
In a recent campaign Germans of all outlooks stood up against corporate greed and political apathy – and won
Last week, Bavarians forced their state legislature to change farming policies with the most successful petition in the state’s history. And while the law proposed by the petition covers a range of measures, it’s no surprise that campaigners’ rallying cry quickly became “save the bees”. Bees stand for diligence, dedication and orderliness. But they are also a symbol of our relationship with nature – and everything that has been wrong with it for decades. Bees are emblematic of how the fight to save our planet and stop runaway climate change cannot wait. They are our canary in the coalmine....
EPA to spend at least another year considering whether to restrict toxic chemicals found in drinking water
Environment advocates have condemned Trump administration plans to spend at least another year considering whether to restrict toxic chemicals increasingly found in drinking water across the country.
The chemicals – known as PFOS and PFOA – are found in nonstick pots and pans, food packaging, and firefighting foam sprayed in drills on military bases. They seep into soil and groundwater in areas where they are manufactured and used.
In high levels, the chemicals are linked with kidney and testicular cancer, ulcerative colitis, thyroid disease, high cholesterol and problems in pregnancy. The chemicals are so prevalent that they are estimated to be in the bloodstreams of nearly all Americans....
The South Australian battery pockets $4m as the market looks to unlock multiple potential value streams
A study helps answer a question many of us ask when deciding whether to buy organic food: does it really make a difference?
Across the country today, children left their classes to protest against climate change. This is my message to them
Annapolis seeing sea rise at about twice the global rate. Flooding there foreshadows problems other coastal towns can expect
Annual energy forecast predicts record surge in wind, solar and other renewables
Overall, in accordance with evidence from experimental animal and mechanistic studies, our current meta-analysis of human epidemiological studies suggests a compelling link between exposures to GBHs and increased risk for NHL.
Readers respond to an article and editorial on the use of agricultural pesticides and the alarming decline in insect numbers
"This important study shows how quickly we can rid our bodies of toxic pesticides by choosing organic," says researcher
High hopes for Hornsea One as developer says its output could fill the gap left by nuclear
Insects are essential for the proper functioning of all ecosystems. If policymakers don’t act now, we’re all in trouble
....Since I was a teenager, the Earth has lost half of all its wildlife. To avoid today’s teenagers being left with no wildlife at all by the time they are my age, we need to act fast. Changing the ways in which we produce our food is a key plank to preserving biodiversity and rebelling against mass extinction. We need to reduce pesticide use in farming, banning the most toxic ones immediately. We must use integrated pest management and dedicate more of our farmland to organic production. We also need independent scrutiny around the authorisation procedure for chemicals and so end the grip that corporate lobbying currently holds over our politicians, policymakers and farmers.
Insects are essential for the proper functioning of all ecosystems, as food for other creatures, pollinators and recyclers of nutrients. Unless we take drastic action, insects as a whole will go down the path of extinction within a few decades. And we can be quite sure that we would follow on closely behind.
For many scientists, the resonant mystery is no longer which animals are conscious, but which are not.
Over the years, without regular critiques by liberal and progressive groups, both NPR and PBS have bent to the continual right-wing antagonism in Congress that decreased public budgets
Late-night hosts are worn out from another round of Fox News panic and Trump’s reaction to the budget bill
Bad journalists are howled at
- A Times examination revealed the extent of President Trump’s sustained, secretive assault on the machinery of federal law enforcement.
- Mr. Trump’s efforts have exposed him to accusations of obstruction of justice in the inquiry by the special counsel.
By Mark Mazzetti, Maggie Haberman, Nicholas Fandos and Michael S. Schmidt | The New York Times
Bernie Sanders is running for president again, hoping to improve on his surprisingly successful 2016 campaign. Who else is running, who’s not, and who can’t decide? A quick guide to the crowded field.
When it comes to beating Trump, the Vermont senator is the person for the job. Nobody else comes close
‘The reasons that people on the left should support Sanders are obvious.’ Photograph: Sean Simmers/AP
Progressives don’t have to choose between macho socialism and corporate feminism. Elizabeth Warren offers a third way
A coordinated barrage of social media attacks suggests the involvement of foreign state actors.
Recent posts that have received widespread dissemination include racially inflammatory memes and messaging involving former Rep. Beto O’Rourke, Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Sen. Kamala Harris. | POLITICO illustration/Getty Images
A wide-ranging disinformation campaign aimed at Democratic 2020 candidates is already under way on social media, with signs that foreign state actors are driving at least some of the activity.
The main targets appear to be Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), former Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-Texas) and Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), four of the most prominent announced or prospective candidates for president.
A POLITICO review of recent data extracted from Twitter and from other platforms, as well as interviews with data scientists and digital campaign strategists, suggests that the goal of the coordinated barrage appears to be undermining the nascent candidacies through the dissemination of memes, hashtags, misinformation, and distortions of their positions. But the divisive nature of many of the posts also hint at a broader effort to sow discord and chaos within the Democratic presidential primary.
The cyber propaganda — which frequently picks at the rawest, most sensitive issues in public discourse — is being pushed across a variety of platforms and with a more insidious approach than in the 2016 presidential election, when online attacks designed to polarize and mislead voters first surfaced on a massive scale....
Since the second world war, there have been three generations of Germans living in peace. That peace is taken for granted
‘My grandad joined the Nazi party early, and volunteered to fight in 1940.’ An enthusiastic Berlin crowd react to a speech by Adolf Hitler in September 1939. Photograph: Keystone-France/Gamma-Keystone via Getty Images
A consulting firm once linked to former national security adviser Michael Flynn is continuing to push President Donald Trump to endorse a plan to build nuclear reactors in Saudi Arabia, despite warnings from whistleblowers that their earlier efforts appeared to violate U.S. law, House Democrats said in a report Tuesday.
The consultants from the firm IP3 International, which organized a White House meeting between the president and nuclear industry executives last week, were involved in pushing a "Middle East Marshall Plan" in the early days of the Trump administration that sparked concerns about Flynn's conflicts of interest. That plan would have involved building dozens of nuclear reactors across the region, in a way that would have circumvented U.S. laws designed to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons.
Flynn, who is awaiting sentencing after pleading guilty to unrelated charges of lying to the FBI, has acknowledged he advised a subsidiary of IP3 about its nuclear plan.
"The whistleblowers who came forward have expressed significant concerns about the potential procedural and legal violations connected with rushing through a plan to transfer nuclear technology to Saudi Arabia," the report prepared for Democrats on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee said....
Defence contractors are in Abu Dhabi this week for the Middle East’s biggest arms fair – supported to the hilt by UK ministers
‘More than 100,000 people will attend Idex 2019 week, including representatives from all of the world’s biggest arms companies and military delegates from 57 nations.’ Photograph: Christopher Pike/Reuters
Plastic is everywhere, and it’s not going anywhere – potentially posing serious risks to our health. A crew of scientists and activists is conducting a hands-on investigation
....The Sea Dragon, with an all-woman crew of 14, launched from Hawaii in mid-June, traversing a part of the north Pacific gyre known as the “Great Pacific Garbage Patch”, a swirling mass of trash the size of two Texases. The name conjures the image of great islands of refuse gently bumping up against each other, like a Waterworld made of old tires and sandwich bags. But, as the eXXpedition founder, Emily Penn, tells me, it’s really more of a plastic soup, trillions of little bits and particles seasoning a million square miles of ocean....
Courage and conviction may not be enough – that’s something I learned from other movements’ failures
One of the youth climate strikers in Parliament Square. Photograph: Facundo Arrizabalaga/EPA
The Green New Deal’s mastermind is a precocious New Yorker with big ambitions. Sound familiar?
JOHN TRUMBULL / CAITLIN OCHS / ERIC VIDALL / REUTERS / THANH DO / THE ATLANTIC
The economic thinker who most influenced the Green New Deal isn’t Marx or Lenin. No, if you want to understand Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s bid to remake the economy to fight climate change, you need to read Hamilton.
Yes, Alexander Hamilton. Long before he was associated with theatrical hip-hop, former Treasury Secretary Hamilton called for policies that sound familiar to us today. Like Representative Ocasio-Cortez, he wanted massive federal spending on new infrastructure. Like Donald Trump, he believed that very high tariffs can nurture American manufacturing. And like Elizabeth Warren, he was willing to bend the Constitution to reform the financial system.
Hamilton, in short, successfully used the power of the federal government to boost manufacturing, to pick winners and losers, and to shape the fate of the U.S. economy. He is the father of American industrial policy: the set of laws and regulations that say the federal government can guide economic growth without micromanaging it. And the Green New Deal, for all its socialist regalia, only makes sense in light of his capitalistic work....
The congresswoman’s foreign policy views are far more in line with voters than the disconnected party establishment
This week Democrats plunged into two controversies that portend danger for the party as the 2020 election season begins. Both centered on freshman representative Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, who, not coincidentally, came to America as a Somali refugee and is now one of the two first Muslim women in Congress. Absent an open debate about the party’s values on foreign policy, Democrats are hurtling toward an election more divisive than the one in 2016.
First, on Monday, Omar criticized the influence of pro-Israel lobbyists on Capitol Hill, tweeting that Congress’s stance was “all about the Benjamins”. She was swiftly rebuked by the party leadership in tandem with Republicans, prompting her to apologize. Then, less than 48 hours later, Omar grilled America’s new envoy to Venezuela, Elliott Abrams, over his well-documented material support for multiple Central American governments that committed mass killings and genocide in the 1980s. She also questioned his credibility, noting that Abrams had pleaded guilty to withholding information from Congress as part of his participation in the Iran-Contra scandal.
How did Democratic elites respond? Several pounced again – to defend the Trump administration’s backer of death squads against Omar’s pointed questioning. Kelly Magsamen, a senior official at the Center for American Progress, defended Abrams on Twitter as a “fierce advocate for human rights and democracy”. Likewise, Nicholas Burns, a 27-year diplomat who most recently advised former secretary of state John Kerry, praised Abrams as a “devoted public servant”. “It’s time to build bridges in America,” Burns wrote, “and not tear people down.”
If Democratic leaders were incredulous at Omar’s statements, rank-and-file Democrats were just as incredulous at their party leaders. Why, many asked, is it routine to criticize the influence of NRA money but almost forbidden to question the influence of Aipac money? On top of that, how could Trump’s neocon criminal be lauded as some sort of ally while Omar was treated as a pariah? A Twitter torrent caused Magsamen to delete her tweet and apologize....
What's going to be different this time? "We're going to win," said the Senator from Vermont
Championed by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and other leading Democrats, the Green New Deal has become the Party’s flagship proposal for climate action.
- The Financial Secret Behind Germany’s Green Energy Revolution – Funding through the Federal Reserve may be controversial, but establishing a national public infrastructure and development bank should be a no-brainer. The real question is why we don’t already have one, as do China, Germany and other countries that are running circles around us in infrastructure development....
....Beyond the direct benefits of immediate climate change mitigation, the cost of doing nothing is exponentially higher than the costs of direct action. Even now the United States is facing enormous costs related to drought, wildfire, hurricane and snowstorm damage increasingly impacted by climate change. Species collapse in the oceans and among insects would be nearly impossible to fix and cost untold trillions to mitigate. And, of course, the cost of coastal cities being swallowed by rising seas is incalculable, likely exceeding global gross domestic product. None of which even touches the unpredictable effects of war, disease, and other human global instability as a secondary result....
"Perhaps Trump's current attack on American democracy through his assertion of a fake national emergency is intended as to distract from this larger attack on America. No matter. Both threaten the essence of the nation."
"With his #FAKENationalEmergency, Trump is testing what he can get away with. We need to push back HARD."
Without a strong support base, centrist politicians lack the authority to tackle difficult issues such as climate change
....Even if parliamentarians wanted to address the environmental emergency (and clearly many of them don’t), they no longer possess the kind of support base to deliver radical change.
That’s why, as the school students leading climate strikes have realised, we need to build our own constituency for action, creating the kind of mass movement that makes change impossible – even for politicians – to resist.
Energy storage and transmission must be rapidly updated to meet emissions targets through uptake of renewables, group says
"Barbed and concertina razor wire have been used to imprison Japanese-American families in World War II-era internment camps...Now, it’s being used to further cut a city in two."
While Trump’s people were fulminating in Warsaw against Iranian 'terrorism', it was Iran that was the victim of terrorist attacks.
Virtual Nations could replace nation-states, enabling everyone to be agents for a better world
- President declared national emergency to unlock wall funds
- 16 states argue Trump’s declaration breaches Constitution
....On Friday, Trump declared a national emergency in a bid to unlock more money to build the barricade along the southern U.S. border after Congress opted to fund construction of only about 55 miles (89 kilometers) of physical barriers. The declaration allows him to reallocate about $8 billion.
The group of 16 states, led by California, allege the president’s declaration violates the Constitution’s separation of powers doctrine by ignoring Congress’s decision not to authorize more than $1.35 billion for border security. The Constitution gives Congress the right to allocate or not allocate money for certain discretionary programs.
“Contrary to the will of Congress, the president has used the pretext of a manufactured ‘crisis’ of unlawful immigration to declare a national emergency and redirect federal dollars appropriated for drug interdiction, military construction, and law enforcement initiatives toward building a wall on the United States-Mexico border,” the states said in the complaint filed Monday in San Francisco federal court....
The controversial legal bill will allow citizens to sue a polluter on behalf of the lake and for penalties to be imposed
The proposal is incredibly ambitious, both on climate change and with its reimagining of society
....The Green New Deal demands major structural (governmental and inter-governmental) changes (not just behavioural change) in our approach to the ecosystem. In addition, and as in the 1930s, such change to be driven by radical structural transformation of the finance sector, and the economy. It was developed on the understanding that finance, the economy and the ecosystem are all tightly bound together. Protecting and restoring the ecosystem to balance cannot be tackled effectively without transformation of the other sectors. Financing the transformation of the economy away from its dependence on fossil fuels cannot be achieved without a transformation of the finance sector....
Environmental and social problems could interact in global breakdown, report says
....“Of all risks, it is in relation to the environment that the world is most clearly sleepwalking into catastrophe,” its annual risk report warns. “The results of climate inaction are becoming increasingly clear. The accelerating pace of biodiversity loss is a particular concern.”
Trump is promoting socialism for the rich and harsh capitalism for everyone else in other ways
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s resolution spotlights stealth connections between free trade deals, offshoring and carbon emissions.
Congressional Democrats on Thursday unveiled landmark Green New Deal legislation outlining proposals to combat climate change — and the measure does not stop at the American border. The resolution calls for new trade laws to halt America’s continued export of carbon pollution to countries across the globe.....