A Dog Eat World World
August 21, 2019
“History had no lessons or rules to offer the student, it could only broaden his understanding and strengthen his critical judgment.”
“Anyone who falls into the habit of thinking and expecting the best of his subordinates at all times is, for that reason alone, unsuited to command an army”
– Carl von Clausewitz
Their Bark Is Just As Bad As Their Bite
Brazilians love dogs. The country has more dogs than children. And dogs now far outnumber native predators, like foxes and big cats, in nature preserves. “The global impacts of domestic dogs on wildlife are grossly underestimated,” researchers concluded in a 2017 study published in the journal Biological Conservation. The researchers, based in Australia, found that dogs were responsible for the extinction of 11 species.
The problem isn’t the dogs leading pampered urban lives, but those in poorer and more rural areas. These animals typically prowl day and night looking for food wherever it can be found — in trash heaps, alongside roads, and in forests and fields, where they form packs to hunt and kill. The International Union for Conservation of Nature has counted 191 species whose numbers dogs are culling. More than half of those are endangered or vulnerable.
The Bolsonaro administration in Brazil chooses profit motive over preservation of forests and wildlife and the habitats they need to survive. But even in areas that are protected, non-human predators are invading nature preserves and national parks, forming packs and hunting wild prey. They’re dogs, and they are quickly becoming the most destructive predator.
- Cats Are No Match for New York City’s Rats: Despite popular wisdom, rats are too big and too fierce for cats. (Atlantic)
- Smoke plunges Sao Paulo into sudden darkness, baffling the Western Hemisphere’s largest city (WaPo, $)
Could I Bee Anymore Dead?
- Three-quarters of the world’s food crops depend on pollination by bees. Brazilian populist president Jair Bolsonaro ignored warnings from environmentalists and lifted restrictions on pesticides that poison bees. So now more than half a billion bees in Brazil have dropped dead in the last three months. (CBSNews)
Misinformation Big Compensation
- According to a new study coming out in September from the nonprofit Global Disinformation Index (GDI), ads on extremist and disinformation websites generate at least $235 million annually.
- GDI defines “disinformation” as inaccurate information spread “purposefully and/or maliciously.” For the study the organization examined ads on 20,000 domains it suspected of disinformation. Because of the complex nature of the online advertising ecosystem, companies often don’t know exactly where their ads will end up.
- It can be a shock to a company when it learns its brand name is being displayed alongside content it doesn’t endorse, as happened when a 2016 Allstate insurance ad ran next to an article espousing a conspiracy theory about the Sandy Hook school shooting. (CNN)
- Google loophole allows anti-abortion clinics to post deceptive ads: ‘Crisis pregnancy centers’ seek to discourage women from getting abortions by ‘deceiving them about services they do or do not offer’ (Guardian)
Confidently Avoiding A No Confidence
- Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte submitted his resignation Tuesday in an effort to avoid an impending ‘no confidence’ vote called by his far-right interior minister Matteo Salvini. If Conte’s resignation is accepted by Italy’s president, it will mark the end of Western Europe’s first fully populist government after just 14 months in power.
- It would also add Conte’s name to the list of 13 other separate prime ministers Italy has had in the last three decades. The only PM to serve a full five-year term since 1989 is Silvio Berlusconi, the billionaire whose name has been synonymous with scandal.
- This level of political turnover is unusual for an advanced economy. Most likely the blame falls on Italy’s complicated proportional voting system, adopted after WWII, which fills Parliament’s seats with representatives from a large number of small parties, leading to frequent coalition governments. Bottom line: political gridlock, instability, and governmental collapse. (WaPo)
Societally Star-Crossed Lovers
- In 21st century India, the consequence of marrying outside one’s caste can still mean death.
- When a young woman from an upper caste married her true love, who was a Dalit — a term describing those formerly known as “untouchables” — the woman’s rich and powerful family viewed the couple’s union as an unacceptable humiliation.
- Her father was so enraged he hired killers to assassinate his son-in-law just weeks after the couple wed. (WaPo)
- India Plans Big Detention Camps for Migrants. Muslims Are Afraid. (NYT, $)
K-Pops NK’s Bubble
- Western music from the Beatles to David Bowie helped rip open the Iron Curtain and topple the Berlin Wall. Now there is evidence that South Korean K-pop is playing a similar role in subtly undermining the North Korean regime’s propaganda.
- Many defectors are saying K-pop and Western popular music opened their eyes, convincing them that North Korea was not the paradise it was made out to be and that their best prospects lay abroad. (WaPo)
Additional World News
- How China Uses Twitter And Facebook To Share Disinformation About Hong Kong (NPR)
- Trolled Online, Women In Politics Fight To Hold Big Tech Accountable In The U.K. (NPR)
- U.S. And The Taliban May Be Near A Deal. What Does That Mean For Afghanistan? (NPR)
- The Pint-Size Nation off the English Coast :The absurd and remarkable story of Sealand, a “micronation” on an eerie metal platform, tells us plenty about libertarianism, national sovereignty, and the lawlessness of the ocean. (Atlantic)
A Drastic Change From Climate Change
- Residents of Washington DC are regularly baked in heat waves and must endure stiflingly thick humidity. Like many cities around the world, the US capital is being slowly cooked by the human-driven climate crisis.
- Researchers recently found that by 2080, Washington DC’s climate will resemble that of northern Mississippi or Dallas currently — often unbearably hot. Unless drastic action is taken to slash greenhouse gases, global heating will transform the climates of almost every community in America by the time today’s children are entering retirement; along with the heat will come flooding.
- Washington DC released a climate resilience plan in April that calls for all DC buildings to be retrofitted to cope with rising heat and flooding threats by 2050, and all new buildings must adhere to stricter codes within 13 years. More trees must be planted to provide shade, and more vegetation added to help soak up storm water from anticipated heavy downpours.
- For Dallas, its vast sprawl of concrete produces one of the highest “urban heat island” effects in the US, and experts recommend planting 250,000 more trees. The only US city heating up faster than Dallas is Phoenix. (Guardian)
- Out of sight, out of mind: Small communities struggle in the shadow of larger disasters (State of Emergency)
- How Much Hotter Are The Oceans? The Answer Begins With A Bucket (NPR)
Additional USA News
- Cigarettes Can’t Be Advertised On TV. Should Juul Ads Be Permitted? (NPR)
- U.S. Tests Missile With A Range Prohibited By Now-Abandoned Treaty (NPR)
- Did Bill Clinton See This Coming?: On his 73rd birthday, the former MVP of the Democratic Party has been sidelined—perhaps for good. (The Atlantic)
- Why Are These Democrats Too Good for the Senate? (NYT, $)
You Can’t Go Home And You Can’t Park Here
- Inside Los Angeles city limits, some 10,000 people are living inside vehicles — cars, trucks, vans and RVs. It’s a pretty safe bet to say they’d be living in a house, if they had one.
- Recently, despite listening to heartbreaking stories from displaced people opposed to the reinstatement of an ordinance banning sleeping overnight in vehicles in residential areas, the Los Angeles City Council voted unanimously to reinstate it anyway.
- The law also forbids living in a vehicle within a block of a park, school or daycare. The director of a homelessness nonprofit said the law would “directly contribute to these people being on the street.” LA only has about 100 legal overnight parking spaces for the more than 5,000 vehicles in which people live. (NPR)
- 24 hours inside San Francisco’s homelessness crisis. The crisis is very real in San Francisco and it’s a reflection on our society and priorities. Especially when one also considers this: One out of every 11,600 people in San Francisco is a billionaire (San Francisco Chronicle & recode) San Francisco or perhaps the entire United States is Gotham City.
- “There’s a storm coming, Mr. Wayne. You and your friends better batten down the hatches, because when it hits, you’re all gonna wonder how you ever thought you could live so large and leave so little for the rest of us.” – The Dark Knight Rises
- How to Eat Less Plastic: Your food and water are contaminated with plastic. Here’s why it’s in the food system and how it could affect your health. (Consumer Reports)
- Why Is Joe Rogan So Popular? He understands men in America better than most people do. The rest of the country should start paying attention. (Atlantic)
- Don’t retire early, buy a home, or be a lawyer if you want to be happy, researchers say — here’s why (CNBC)
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