Aggregated News & Analyses
Today’s posts in bigger type,
Prior 2 days are in smaller type.
Few companies specialize in carbon removal and the tools they produce are currently still expensive
....People have done too much damage to the climate to avoid catastrophe just by halting the burning of fossil fuels. They now will have to re-engineer the world, according to scientists with the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. The livability of the planet will thus depend largely on tools that are now available only on a small scale and currently still expensive.
....While it’s technically feasible to slow fossil fuel use fast enough and capture enough greenhouse gases to limit warming, the world is not on track to do so.
Scaling up carbon capture technology is possible but will be difficult, said Kurt Waltzer, managing director for the Clean Air Task Force.
“We are absolutely going to have to have a significant amount of carbon removal, there’s no question about it,” Waltzer said. “The level will probably depend on how quickly we can get to a zero-carbon world, but it is going to be enormous.” ...
- The Earth is undergoing a mass extinction, which is caused by human activity that destroys habitats and kills off species.
- In a new study, Danish researchers concluded that so many mammal species will go extinct in the next 50 years that the planet's evolutionary diversity won't recover for at least 3 million years.
- The scientists said their findings could be used to help determine which endangered species are the biggest priorities for conservation efforts.
US analyst criticises successive governments for defending coal in wake of alarming IPCC report on climate change
Big six energy firm drops fossil fuels for generation and say cheap green energy is the future
Dunkirk is a month into a project that makes it the biggest European city to offer entirely free public transport to residents and visitors alike. So what do people think?
The widespread failure of American mass transit is usually blamed on cheap gas and suburban sprawl. But the full story of why other countries succeed is more complicated.
Plugging in cars and trucks will be critical to averting climate catastrophe, according to the IPCC. How far has the U.S. come?
....To avoid the most dire consequences of climate change, the global transportation sector will need a major overhaul. In the U.S., the world’s second-largest producer of greenhouse gases, transportation makes up the largest share of emissions. In cities, passenger vehicles and public transit fleets will have to move from fuel-burning engines to electrification, a “powerful measure to decarbonize short-distance vehicles,” according to the IPCC report. ...
Climate scientists have political agendas, US president says in interview with 60 Minutes
The company has achieved formidable reach by focusing on small markets where its TV stations can have a big influence.
....Sinclair is the largest owner of television stations in the United States, with a hundred and ninety-two stations in eighty-nine markets. It reaches thirty-nine per cent of American viewers. The company’s executive chairman, David D. Smith, is a conservative whose views combine a suspicion of government, an aversion to political correctness, and strong libertarian leanings.... Sinclair employees say that the company orders them to air biased political segments produced by the corporate news division, including editorials by the conservative commentator Mark Hyman, and that it feeds interviewers questions intended to favor Republicans.
In some cases, anchors have been compelled to read from scripts prepared by Sinclair. In April, 2018, dozens of newscasters across the country parroted Trump’s invectives about “fake news,” saying, “Some members of the media use their platforms to push their own personal bias and agenda to control exactly what people think. This is extremely dangerous to our democracy.” In response, Dan Rather, the former anchor of “CBS Evening News,” wrote, on Twitter, “News anchors looking into camera and reading a script handed down by a corporate overlord, words meant to obscure the truth not elucidate it, isn’t journalism. It’s propaganda. It’s Orwellian. A slippery slope to how despots wrest power, silence dissent, and oppress the masses.”
....There are regulations that prevent any single company from controlling too large a share of the press, in order to protect competition and the free exchange of ideas. Sinclair has achieved its formidable reach by exploiting loopholes in these regulations. During the past few decades, it has bought small and midsized television-station operators and then circumvented regulations by setting up shell companies that on paper appear to be separate entities but over which Sinclair exerts almost total control. Sinclair’s stations—there are often several in the same broadcast area, branded as local ABC, CBS, NBC, or Fox affiliates—enjoy the trust of viewers because they appear independent, even though much of the content is dictated at a national level. A former news director at a Sinclair-owned station told me that Smith “purposely went in and bought a whole bunch of stations in mid-America—i.e., Trump kinds of towns. Places where they could have a big influence.” She added, “I don’t care what your politics are—the bottom line is, they hatched a plan to have an effect on the majority of this country. And, when you look at it, I’m positive the right-wing commentaries, in small markets, had an effect on the election.”...
Bad journalists are 'hounded'
Turns out a tax bill that overwhelmingly benefits rich people and corporations isn’t the most winning issue with voters.
Speaker of the House Paul Ryan holds up an example of a proposed tax form at a press conference in April 2018. Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
Writing in The Washington Post, journalists Erica Werner and David Weigel point to a surprising new trend: Republicans trying to stave off midterm defeat by mimicking traditionally Democratic stances. “ A growing number of Republican candidates are sounding a lot like Democrats as they face midterm elections, co-opting Democratic talking points on issues from health care to education funding to the #MeToo movement,” Werner and Weigel write. ...
"Mitch McConnell wants to cut Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid to pay for Republicans' massive giveaway to the rich and large corporations," said Sen. Bernie Sanders. "Enough!"
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) talks to reporters after the Senate voted to confirm Supreme Court nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh at the U.S. Capitol October 06, 2018 in Washington, D.C. (Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
A joint investigation by ProPublica and WNYC shows that many of the Trump Organization’s international deals bear the hallmarks of financial fraud, including money laundering, deceptive borrowing, lying to investors, and other potential crimes.
Impeachment? #MeToo? Corruption? Collusion? Nope, nope, nope, nope.
....“The top three issues this year are health care, health care, health care,” J.B. Poersch, the head of the Democratic Senate Majority PAC told CNN last week. Candidates across the country, from Cindy Axne in Iowa to Claire McCaskill in Missouri to Josh Harder in California are talking about their own struggles dealing with the high cost of medical care. West Virginia’s Joe Manchin, the lone Democratic senator to vote to confirm Kavanaugh, is leading in the polls in his state, thanks in large part to his embrace of Obamacare, which he even made an issue during the most recent Supreme Court confirmation. ...
They’re doing so despite vocal Democratic opposition.
The impact of foreign arms sales on the US economy is minuscule.
Alexia Fernández Campbell | Vox
....When Democrats do talk about climate change, they usually warn about the consequences in the future. O’Rourke’s attack is different. He’s framing climate change as a problem affecting voters right now. He’s also holding Cruz accountable for making the problem worse, since Texans would have been better prepared for Hurricane Harvey had Cruz and other climate-denying Republicans not ignored the scientific consensus. (Scientists found that Hurricane Harvey’s record-breaking flooding was made 50 percent worse by global warming.)
It’s true that, right now, voters don’t prioritize climate change as a political issue. But who could blame them when global warming is constantly framed as a problem for the next generation? If Democrats change that false framing, they just might convince more Americans to vote based on the most critical issue of our time.
"Gradualism is fundamentally incompatible with protecting civilization and the natural world. It's pathetic that the Democrats are continuing to pursue this approach."
"The first and most important things Democrats should do is stop feeding the beast that's gotten us in this climate mess," David Turnbull, strategic communications director at Oil Change International, told Common Dreams. (Photo: Dursun Aydemir/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
Saudi agents were waiting when Jamal Khashoggi walked into their country’s consulate in Istanbul two weeks ago. Mr. Khashoggi was dead within minutes, beheaded, dismembered, his fingers severed, and within two hours the killers were gone, according to details from audio recordings described by a senior Turkish official on Wednesday.
The government of Turkey let out these and other leaks about the recordings on Wednesday, as Secretary of State Mike Pompeo visited Ankara, in an escalation of pressure on both Saudi Arabia and the United States for answers about Mr. Khashoggi, a prominent Saudi dissident journalist who lived in Virginia and wrote for The Washington Post. ...
Despite its history of thuggery, the United States has been cozy with the kingdom for decades.
Saudi Arabia's apparent murder of Jamal Khashoggi has provided the best chance yet to end US support for the Saudis' vile war in Yemen. Now is the time to ramp up the pressure.
Donald Trump meets with Saudi Arabia's Mohammed bin Salman in the Oval Office, March 14, 2017. Mark Wilson / Getty
It’s long past time to end the vile war in Yemen.
A war crime almost from its inception — when a Saudi-led coalition entered a Yemeni civil war to topple the fundamentalist Houthis from power, and quickly turned to indiscriminately bombing the country’s civilian population — the three-year war has only reached new lows of moral depravity as the years have ticked on.
A Saudi blockade, coupled with the country’s deliberate targeting of food supplies, has pushed Yemen to the edge of the worst famine in one hundred years, producing sickening image after sickening image of malnourished children, a fraction of the 13 million people now at risk of starvation. The Saudis, who by now have dropped all pretense of going after military targets in the country, have bombed homes, schools, markets, mosques, factories, hospitals, weddings, a school bus full of children, and much else, killing at least ten thousand people so far, with children making up a fifth of the civilian deaths. The Saudi forces’ destruction of civilian infrastructure has also produced two cholera outbreaks in three years, affecting more than 1 million people, close to half of whom were children.
It’s difficult to overstate the rank human evil involved in the prosecution of this war, which has been supported every step of the way by Western governments, including Canada and, especially, the US and UK. Sadly, disgust at the news and images coming out of Yemen has not yet translated into widespread disgust at Western backing of the Saudis’ war — which, when it hasn’t been outright ignored by mainstream media and politicians, has been explicitly justified on the grounds of strategically isolating Iran (who are said to be aiding the Houthis). ...
More than 300 have been killed and 2,000 injured since protests over social security reform began in April
Our politicians, under the influence of big business, have failed us. As they take the planet to the brink, it’s time for disruptive, nonviolent disobedience
Journalists grilled GOP politicians on climate change. It didn’t go well
Major climate science reports usually pass by largely unnoticed, but in the wake of the latest IPCC report a number of journalists laudably grilled Republican lawmakers about its findings. While their responses were predictably terrible, it’s nevertheless crucial for journalists to hold GOP politicians accountable for their climate denial and policy inaction. Donald Trump’s answers were particularly ignorant and nonsensical in his 60 Minutes interview with Lesley Stahl. ...
Americans don’t just disagree on the issues. They disagree on what the issues are.
Republican work rules will do more harm than good.
Republican efforts to make it harder for low-income Americans to qualify for government social programs could jeopardize the food supply of more than 4 million children and seniors, and potentially leave 22 million people without health insurance, according to a report released Monday by the Brookings Institution. ...
Alexia Fernández Campbell | Vox
A staggering New York Times report on Trump family tax payments proved it: Congress must let the Internal Revenue Service do its job
....Since 1992, the American population has grown 27% but the IRS staff has shrunk by 34%, to less than 78,000 people. At the same time, Congress has added enormous complexity to the tax code. On top of this, the big accounting and law firms have devised all manner of complex new tax shelters. A few years ago, the IRS told Congress it lacks the expertise to thoroughly investigate such shelters and determine which are within the law and which are frauds that should be demolished.
....So if we assume the paper’s report is accurate, can the Trumps now be indicted?
Black is white, up is down, and Republicans are defenders of Medicare.
They came to the US seeking a better life. They ended up behind bars. Thousands of documents analyzed by the Guardian provide the most comprehensive picture yet of what happened to immigrants prosecuted under the Trump administration's zero tolerance policy
Olivia Solon, Julia Carrie Wong, Pamela Duncan, Margaret Katcher, Patrick Timmons, and
Sam Morris | The Guardian
"No PACs, no special interests, no corporations," declares Democrat vying to unseat Sen. Ted Cruz in Texas. "All people, all the time, everywhere, every single day."
Press reports leaked audio suggesting journalist was drugged, killed and dismembered
Mike Pompeo, the US secretary of state, has landed in Ankara for crisis talks with the Turkish president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, over the journalist Jamal Khashoggi as officials leaked gory details of what they claim was his murder in the Saudi consulate.
The dissident journalist was killed minutes after he arrived at the building to pick up marriage paperwork on 2 October, according to US and Turkish press reports of what the officials say are audio recordings that prove he was beaten and drugged, then brutally killed and dismembered.
The US president, Donald Trump, on Tuesday defended Saudi Arabia in the face of mounting allegations that Riyadh was involved in the Saudi journalist’s alleged killing.
The Wall Street Journal, citing Turkish official who had heard the recording, said Khashoggi was allegedly killed and dismembered in the office of the Saudi consul general, Mohammad al-Otaibi, who was in the room at the time. A voice on the recording can be heard inviting him to leave, the report said.
Forensics expert Salah Muhammad al-Tubaigy is reportedly heard putting on headphones to listen to music as he begins to dismember the body, and encouraging other people in the room to do the same.
According to Middle East Eye, Khashoggi was dragged from the office to Otaibi’s study next door, where Tubaigy began cutting up his body on a table while he was still alive.
....The US’s defence of its most important Arab ally may become harder to maintain as further damning details into Khashoggi’s alleged murder emerge and its links to the powerful crown prince.
On Tuesday, the New York Times reported that four of the men identified by Turkish media as part of a 15-man hit squad sent from Riyadh to silence Khashoggi were members of Bin Salman’s personal security detail. Another, the forensics doctor al-Tubaigy, holds a senior position in the Saudi interior ministry.
The suspects’ direct links to the Saudi establishment weakens the [unfounded exculpatory] suggestion made by Trump that the hit could have been carried out by “rogue killers” in an unauthorised operation.
Investigators believe Khashoggi’s body was then taken to the consul general’s house nearby, where it was disposed of.
Rivalry escalates amid concerns over trade, as warships nearly collide and an FBI trap angers Beijing
OECD says schemes selling either residency or citizenship threaten efforts to combat tax evasion
In the face of sustained government stupidity, many feel powerless.
....A politician can destroy our future, a politician can ignore the best evidence and be responsible for decisions that lead to deaths of many and the suffering of all, and still be free until the end of their days to milk the legal corruption that is Australian public life, picking up highly paid sinecures as ambassadors, board directors and lobbyists for the corporations they were once meant to regulate in our interest. ...
Virtual Nations could replace nation-states, if everyone acts as agents for an ideal world
The fund reports that Britain’s finances are weaker than all other nations except Portugal, and says privatisation is to blame
....Instead, what this IMF research shows is that the Westminster classes have been asset-stripping Britain for decades – and storing up financial trouble for future generations.
Privatisation and austerity have not only weakened the country’s financial position – they have also handed unearned wealth to a select few. Just look at a new report from the University of Greenwich finding that water companies could have funded all their day-to-day running and their long-term investments out of the bills paid by customers. Instead of which, managers have lumbered the firms with £51bn of debt to pay for shareholders’ dividends. Those borrowed billions, and the millions in interest, will be paid by you and me in our water bills. We might as well stuff the cash directly into the pockets of shareholders.
Instead of competitively run utilities, record investment by the private sector and sounder public finances, we have natural monopolies handed over to the wealthy, banks that can dump their liabilities on the public when things get tough, and an outsourcing industry that feasts upon the carcass of the public sector. As if all this weren’t enough, neoliberal voices complain that we need to cut taxes and red tape, and further starve our public services.
This is a genuine scandal, but it requires us to recognise what neoliberalism promised and what it has failed to deliver. Some of the loudest critics of the ideology have completely misidentified it. Academics will daub the term “neoliberal” on any passing phenomenon. Fitbits are apparently neoliberal, as is Ben & Jerry’s ice-cream and Kanye West. Pundits will say that neoliberalism is about markets and choice – tell that to any commuter wedged on a Southern rail train. And centrist politicians claim that the great failing of neoliberalism is its carelessness about identity and place, which is akin to complaining that the boy on a moped who snatched your smartphone is going too fast.
Let us get it straight. Neoliberalism has ripped you off and robbed you blind. The evidence of that is mounting up – in your bills, in your services and in the finances of your country.
The storm clouds are gathering, but the world’s economies now have far fewer shelters from disaster than they did in 1929
Late last month Indonesia was hit by a devastating earthquake and tsunami that left thousands of people dead and missing. This week the International Monetary Fund arrived in the country to hold its annual meeting on the island of Bali. On the day when the IMF issued a warning about trouble ahead for the global economy, the latest report from the UN’s intergovernmental panel on climate change said the world had only a dozen years left to take the steps necessary to prevent a global warming catastrophe. The message is clear for those willing to hear it: get ready for a time when economic failure combines with ecological breakdown to create the perfect storm. ...
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