December 17, 2018

Crisis: Warren & Blackness, Green New Deal, Climate Change I, Child Prisons,
Climate Change II


1. Summary
Crisis Files
     A. Selections from December 17, 2018

This is a Nederlog of Monday, December 17, 2018.

1. Summary

This is a crisis log but it is a bit different from how it was until 2013:

I have been writing about the crisis since September 1, 2008 (in Dutch, but since 2010 in English) and about the enormous dangers of surveillance (by secret services and by many rich commercial entities) since June 10, 2013, and I will continue with it.

On the moment and since more than three years (!!!!) I have problems with the company that is supposed to take care that my site is visible [1] and with my health, but I am still writing a Nederlog every day and I shall continue.

2. Crisis Files

These are five crisis files that are mostly well worth reading:

A. Selections from December 17, 2018:
1. Elizabeth Warren, Speaking to Black Graduates, Warns ‘the Rules Are
2. This Radical Plan to Fund the ‘Green New Deal’ Just Might Work

3. The Most Challenging Ethical Obligation of Our Precarious Time
4. 'This Is a Child Prison': Democrats Demand Release of Children to Family

5. Can an Unequal Earth Beat Climate Change?
The items 1 - 5 are today's selections from the 35 sites that I look at every morning. The indented text under each link is quoted from the link that starts the item. Unindented text is by me:

1. Elizabeth Warren, Speaking to Black Graduates, Warns ‘the Rules Are Rigged’

This article is by Astead W. Herndon on The New York Times. It starts as follows:
Senator Elizabeth Warren, in a commencement speech Friday at historically black Morgan State University, mixed her trademark language denouncing economic inequality with more explicit indictments of racial discrimination, giving what could be a preview of a possible appeal to black voters should she run for president.

The system is rigged, Ms. Warren said, but it’s particularly pitted against minority communities — and politicians must recognize those unique challenges and address them.

“Under the rules of commencement speakers I am required to say, ‘Work hard.’ And you should,” Ms. Warren, the Massachusetts Democrat, said. “But I’m here with a bolder message: It’s time to change the rules. Let me say that again for those in the back. Change. The. Rules.”

“I’m not a person of color. And I haven’t lived your life or experienced anything like the subtle prejudice, or more overt harm, that you may have experienced just because of the color of your skin. Rules matter, and our government — not just individuals within the government, but the government itself — has systematically discriminated against black people in this country.”

Yes, I think most of the above quotation is quite true. In fact, all might be true, but I am white and while neither black nor white are colors, I think myself that I am colored (pinkish) like all human beings (who are in fact almost all pinkish or brownish). But then again, I suppose ¨a person of color¨ in fact probably is defined in American English as ¨a non-white person¨ (which seems bullshit to me, but I do belleve it is defined that way, in practice at least).

Anyway... here is some more:

Ms. Warren’s brand of unabashed populism has sometimes come under fire from liberals who say it fails to account for how things like racism and discrimination interact with income equality. Bernie Sanders, the populist who sought the 2016 Democratic nomination for president, was trounced by his more centrist opponent, Hillary Clinton, among minority voters and has frequently been criticized for clumsy mistakes on issues of race and identity.

In this speech and during her time in the Senate, Ms. Warren attempted to make clear that she understands the intersections of race and injustice better than others on the left. Ms. Warren has also made sure to cultivate relationships with prominent black groups in Washington, including frequent check-ins with the leaders at the NAACP and the Congressional Black Caucus.
I do not know about Sanders´ ¨clumsy mistakes on issues of race and identity¨, which does not mean that I exclude the possibility that he made them, but then I also guess Herndon is considerably more of a centrist than either Sanders is or than I am. (But this is the New York Times, indeed.)

Here is the last bit that I quote from this article:

At Morgan State on Friday, Ms. Warren revived her pitch surrounding housing, telling a story about her mother’s struggles to keep her home and contrasting that with the barriers Americans face today.

“The rules are rigged because the rich and powerful have bought and paid for too many politicians,” Ms. Warren said. “And if we dare to ask questions, they will try to divide us. Pit white working people against black and brown working people so they won’t band together and demand real change. The rich and powerful want us pointing fingers at each other so we won’t notice they are getting richer and more powerful.”

“Two sets of rules: one for the wealthy and the well-connected. And one for everybody else,” she said. “Two sets of rules: one for white families. And one for everybody else. That’s how a rigged system works. And that’s what we need to change.”

Yes, I agree with Warren and notably with (i) “The rules are rigged because the rich and powerful have bought and paid for too many politicians” and with (ll) “Two sets of rules: one for white families. And one for everybody else. That’s how a rigged system works.”. And this is a recommended article.

2. This Radical Plan to Fund the ‘Green New Deal’ Just Might Work

This article is by Ellen Brown on Truthdig. It starts as follows:

With what author and activist Naomi Klein calls “galloping momentum,” the “Green New Deal” promoted by Representative-elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., appears to be forging a political pathway for solving all of the ills of society and the planet in one fell swoop. Her plan would give a House select committee “a mandate that connects the dots” between energy, transportation, housing, health care, living wages, a jobs guarantee and more. But even to critics on the left, it is merely political theater, because “everyone knows” a program of that scope cannot be funded without a massive redistribution of wealth and slashing of other programs (notably the military), which is not politically feasible.

That may be the case, but Ocasio-Cortez and the 22 representatives joining her in calling for a select committee also are proposing a novel way to fund the program, one that could actually work. The resolution says funding will come primarily from the federal government, “using a combination of the Federal Reserve, a new public bank or system of regional and specialized public banks, public venture funds and such other vehicles or structures that the select committee deems appropriate, in order to ensure that interest and other investment returns generated from public investments made in connection with the Plan will be returned to the treasury, reduce taxpayer burden and allow for more investment.”
I like Ellen Brown, and that is the reason I selected this article. Also, the above quotation seems correct to me, but I skipped selecting more from her article, mostly because it is part one of two parts, and because the rest is fairly technical. But the quoted bit seems correct, and the article is recommended.

3. The Most Challenging Ethical Obligation of Our Precarious Time

This article is by Subhankar Banerjee on Truthdig and originally on TomDispatch. It starts as follows:

If you’ve been paying attention to what’s happening to the nonhuman life forms with which we share this planet, you’ve likely heard the term “the Sixth Extinction.” If not, look it up.  After all, a superb environmental reporter, Elizabeth Kolbert, has already gotten a Pulitzer Prize for writing a book with that title.

Whether the sixth mass species extinction of Earth’s history is already (or not quite yet) underway may still be debatable, but it’s clear enough that something’s going on, something that may prove even more devastating than a mass of species extinctions: the full-scale winnowing of vast populations of the planet’s invertebrates, vertebrates, and plants.  Think of it, to introduce an even broader term, as a wave of “biological annihilation” that includes possible species extinctions on a mass scale, but also massive species die-offs and various kinds of massacres.

Yes, I agree - and the reference to the Sixth Extinction” is a good one, and the last link is to an article on Wikipedia.

Here is more:

As it happens, though, of the nearly two million known species on this planet about 70% of them are insects. And many of them are as foundational to the food chain for land animals as plankton are for marine life. Harvard entomologist (and ant specialist) E.O. Wilson once observed that “if insects were to vanish, the environment would collapse into chaos.”

In fact, insects are vanishing.

Almost exactly a year ago, the first long-term study of the decline of insect populations was reported, sparking concern (though only in professional circles) about a possible “ecological Armageddon.” Based on data collected by dozens of amateur entomologists in 63 nature reserves across Germany, a team of scientists concluded that the flying insect population had dropped by a staggering 76% over a 27-year period. At the same time, other studies began to highlight dramatic plunges across Europe in the populations of individual species of bugs, bees, and moths.

I say! And no, I did not know this. Here is more:

When American entomologist Bradford Lister first visited El Yunque National Forest in Puerto Rico in 1976, little did he know that a long-term study he was about to embark on would, 40 years later, reveal a “hyperalarming” new reality. In those decades, populations of arthropods, including insects and creepy crawlies like spiders and centipedes, had plunged by an almost unimaginable 98% in El Yunque, the only tropical rainforest within the U.S. National Forest System. Unsurprisingly, insectivores (populations of animals that feed on insects), including birds, lizards, and toads, had experienced similarly dramatic plunges, with some species vanishing entirely from that rainforest. And all of that happened before Hurricane Maria battered El Yunque in the fall of 2017.

What had caused such devastation? After eliminating habitat degradation or loss — after all, it was a protected national forest — and pesticide use (which, in Puerto Rico, had fallen by more than 80% since 1969), Lister and his Mexican colleague Andres Garcia came to believe that climate change was the culprit, in part because the average maximum temperature in that rainforest has increased by four degrees Fahrenheit over those same four decades.

I say, again: 98%!! Here is more:

If anything, the 148-page Living Planet Report published this October by the World Wildlife Fund International and the Zoological Society of London only intensified the sense of urgency in their paper. As a comprehensive survey of the health of our planet and the impact of human activity on other species, its key message was grim indeed: between 1970 and 2014, it found, monitored populations of vertebrates had declined in abundance by an average of 60% globally, with particularly pronounced losses in the tropics and in freshwater systems. South and Central America suffered a dramatic loss of 89% of such vertebrates, while freshwater populations of vertebrates declined by a lesser but still staggering 83% worldwide. The results were based on 16,704 populations of 4,005 vertebrate species, which meant that the study was not claiming a comprehensive census of all vertebrate populations.  It should instead be treated as a barometer of trends in monitored populations of them.

And I say, once more. Then there is this on trees:

In fact, trees are dying all over the world. In 2010, scientists from a number of countries published a study in Forest Ecology and Management that highlights global climate-change-induced forest mortality with data recorded since 1970. In countries ranging from Argentina and Australia to Switzerland and Zimbabwe, Canada and China to South Korea and Sri Lanka, the damage to trees has been significant.

In 2010, trying to absorb the larger ecological loss, I wrote: “Hundreds of millions of trees have recently died and many more hundreds of millions will soon be dying. Now think of all the other lives, including birds and animals, that depended on those trees. What happened to them and how do we talk about that which we can’t see and will never know?”

Well... the clear implication is that if ¨[h]undreds of millions of trees have recently died and many more hundreds of millions will soon be dying¨ then most of the forms of life that depend on these trees or these forests will be dying as well, and I think that is correct.

Here is the last bit that I quote from this article:
To mitigate the crisis, to save life itself, would require not merely the replacement of carbon-dirty fossil fuels with renewable forms of energy, but a genuine reevaluation of modern life and its institutions. In other words, to save the starfish, the piņon, the birds, and the insects, and us in the process, has become the most challenging and significant ethical obligation of our increasingly precarious time.

Yes, I think that is a fair inference. And this is a strongly recommended article, in which there is considerably more than I quoted.

4. 'This Is a Child Prison': Democrats Demand Release of Children to Family Sponsors

This article is by Julia Conley on Common Dreams. It starts as follows:

Democratic lawmakers joined protesters in a demonstration Saturday in the border town of Tornillo, Texas, where about 2,700 young immigrants are currently being held in a detention center—with some having languished there for months.

The facility is better described as a "child prison," said the legislators, including Reps. Beto O'Rourke (D-Texas) and Judy Chu (D-Calif.), Rep.-elect Veronica Escobar (D-Texas), and Sens. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Tina Smith (D-Minn.), and Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii).
The delegation wasn't able to talk extensively to any of the children, O'Rourke said.

Yes, indeed: If you lock up children, what you have is a child prison. Then again, I have been following the kidnapping of children from their parents in Nederlog since I first knew of it, but
so far I am the only one who wrote about it who said this is kidnapping.

I still think so, and in case you disagree, here is a definition of kidnapping from the Wikipedia:

In criminal law, kidnapping is the unlawful carrying away (asportation) and confinement of a person against his or her will.

And here is the definition of kidnapping from the legal dictionary:

The crime of unlawfully seizing and carrying away a person by force or Fraud, or seizing and detaining a person against his or her will with an intent to carry that person away at a later time.

I am quoting these because they strongly support my usage - and I am the only one I know of who uses the term for the actions of Trump´s government, even though I seem to be quite right.

Here is more:

The center opened last summer and was intended to be a facility where children who had arrived in the U.S. without parents or guardians—or who had been separated from their parents by the Trump administration—would stay for just 30 days before being released to U.S.-based family members who could sponsor them.

But as O'Rourke told the crowd outside the center, many of the children have been there for months thanks to the Trump administration's new rules requiring all sponsors to pass background checks before they can retrieve children.

Yes indeed. Here is the ending of this article:

The Tornillo facility is "in a remote location on purpose so that the American people do not know what it happening here," said O'Rourke.

Escobar also called out the corporate media for failing to cover the conditions in which thousands of children are being held in U.S. custody for months on end.

"It's all about the 24-hour news cycle, it's all about the next piece of information, it's all about the next scandal coming from the White House," Escobar said. "While we have to pay attention to all of that, we cannot forget the children that are being held in U.S. government prisons for having the audacity to seek refuge in the arms of America."

Yes - but it is kidnapping, at least if these children were "separated from their parents by the Trump administration". Besides, I think no one should lock up children in prisons. And this is a recommended article.

5. Can an Unequal Earth Beat Climate Change?

This article is by Sam Pizzigati on Common Dreams. It starts as follows:

We either keep fossil fuels in the ground, or all of us are going to fry. So essentially posits still another new blockbuster study on climate change, this one just published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Our fossil-fuel industrial economy, the study details, has made for the fastest climate changes our Earth has ever seen.

“If we think about the future in terms of the past, where we are going is uncharted territory for human society,” notes the study lead author Kevin Burke from the University of Wisconsin.

“In the roughly 20 to 25 years I have been working in the field,” adds another researcher on the effort, Wisconsin’s John Williams, “we have gone from expecting climate change to happen, to detecting the effects, and now, we are seeing that it’s causing harm,” as measured in property damage and deaths, in intensified flooding and fires.

The last time climate on Earth saw nearly as drastic and rapid a climate shift, scientists relate in another new study published in the journal Science, came some 252 million years ago, and that shift unfolded over the span of a few thousand years. Those span of time saw the extinction of 96 percent of the Earth’s ocean species and almost as devastating a loss to terrestrial creatures.

Yes, I think most of this is correct - and see item 3 for considerably more. And here is more from the present article:

Other scientific studies over this past year — most notably an October report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change that warned we have a dozen years to avert a climate catastrophe — have made similarly alarming observations and together provided an apt backdrop for this month’s United Nations climate change talks in Poland.

Researchers had hoped these talks would stiffen the global resolve to seriously address the climate change crisis. But several nations had other ideas. The United States, Russia, Saudi Arabia, and Kuwait have all refused to officially “welcome” the findings of the blue-ribbon Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, essentially throwing a huge monkey-wrench into efforts to mobilize a fitting global response.

Quite so. Here is the last bit that I quote from this article:

[M]any more such steps will be necessary, as Basav Sen, the climate justice director at the Institute for Policy Studies, reminds us.

“Addressing climate change effectively and justly,” sums up Sen, “requires us to transform the unjust social and economic systems that gave us climate change in the first place.”

I agree, but I do not believe that the "social and economic systems that gave us climate change in the first place" will be changed (in any major way, which is necessary - and see item 3 again) without a major economic crisis. (I am sorry, but this is what I think.)

[1] I have now been saying since the end of 2015 that is systematically ruining my site by NOT updating it within a few seconds, as it did between 1996 and 2015, but by updating it between two to seven days later, that is, if I am lucky.

They have claimed that my site was wrongly named in html: A lie. They have claimed that my operating system was out of date: A lie.

And they just don't care for my site, my interests, my values or my ideas. They have behaved now for 2 years as if they are the eagerly willing instruments of the US's secret services, which I will from now on suppose they are (for truth is dead in Holland).

The only two reasons I remain with xs4all is that my site has been there since 1996, and I have no reasons whatsoever to suppose that any other Dutch provider is any better (!!).
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