Your Descendants Will Befriend Your Enemies
January 7, 2020
“Everybody gets so much information all day long that they lose their common sense.” – Gertrude Stein
“So often in life, things that you regard as an impediment turn out to be great, good fortune.” – Ruth Bader Ginsburg
Will the Last Person Leaving Earth — Turn off Climate Change
The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) is a federal law enacted to ensure that the government protects the environment when reviewing or making decisions about major projects, from building roads and bridges, cutting forests and expanding broadband, to approving interstate pipelines like the Keystone XL.
The White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) coordinates environmental efforts by federal agencies and other White House offices; it is the oversight mechanism that determines how nearly 80 government agencies are meeting their obligations under NEPA.
On Wednesday the CEQ will announce an ‘update,’ the first in 40 years, on how government agencies will henceforth implement NEPA. Under the Trump administration’s new rules, federal agencies will no longer be required to consider “cumulative” climate change impacts when considering federal projects. Additionally, the scope of projects that would trigger stringent environmental reviews — called environmental impact studies — will be limited, the number of project categories that can be excluded from NEPA reviews will be expanded, and companies or project developers will be allowed to conduct their own environmental assessments.
Trump, who was a commercial real estate developer prior to becoming president, has been a constant critic of the regulations. Christy Goldfuss, former chair of the CEQ from 2015 to 2017, said environmental groups have successfully blocked or delayed a dozen big polluting projects in courts by arguing that Trump agencies failed to weigh climate impacts in their reviews.
Environmental groups worry that by weakening NEPA implementation, the US will lose a significant tool to combat and guard against climate change impacts and allow companies to harm local communities with less scrutiny. The new rules, Goldfuss warns, will cause lasting damage.
From Student Protest To Protesting Students
- At least 42 people were injured, some seriously, when dozens of masked men stormed New Delhi’s prestigious Jawaharlal Nehru University Sunday evening. Attackers smashed windows, vandalized dormitories and brutalized students and professors with sledgehammers, iron rods and bricks.
- Videos posted on social media appeared to show police officers refusing to intercede as students were being beaten in front of them, leading critics to accuse the police of complicity. Witnesses said the raiders belonged to a Hindu nationalist organization, which has denied involvement.
- Injured students and opposition leaders blame the violence on Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s nationalist BJP party, which has increasingly targeted the institution for its student-led campaign against an anti-Muslim citizenship law introduced last month by Modi.
- On Monday, despite the university proctor’s plea to stay, dozens of traumatized students left the campus. One of those preparing to leave said: “My parents are frantic. What happened is beyond any limit. They want me to get away from this madness.” (NYT, Guardian)
- The history of riot shows the importance of democratic tumult (Aeon)
Your Descendants Will Befriend Your Enemies
- A number of Hong Kong protesters who had fled to Taiwan for safety are fearful that a victory in the January 11 election by the opposition party that favors close ties with China could put them in peril and force them to leave the island. The mostly young men and women who came to Taiwan after taking part in increasingly violent protests in support of democracy in Hong Kong have no legal way to gain permanent asylum, but President Tsai Ing-wen’s broadly sympathetic government has allowed about 60 of them to temporarily extend their stay.
- That reprieve could vanish if Han Kuo-yu, the presidential candidate for Taiwan’s Kuomintang (KMT) opposition party, wins. “If Han Kuo-yu is elected, I will buy a flight ticket and flee to another country right away,” said one protester in his early 30s. (Reuters)
- Daily Pnut’s Tim’s grandfather fought with the KMT in World War Two against the Japanese and Mao’s Communists. He fled to Taiwan after the Communists took over China. He and the other KMT of his generation would be rolling in their graves if they knew that today’s KMT has strong ties with China. If given enough time, enemies turn into allies and become nearly indistinguishable. This happens because eventually we forget our own histories. We don’t study history and we make decisions without historical context. This historical amnesia won’t just affect our descendants but also our enemies.
- Additional quotes: “All men are enemies. All animals are comrades” – George Orwell, Animal Farm & “To know your Enemy, you must become your Enemy.” – Sun Tzu
- China Replaces Its Top Representative in Hong Kong With an Enforcer (NYT, $)
- Taiwan Turns to Facebook and Viral Memes to Counter China’s Disinformation (WSJ, $)
Additional World News
- How the Next Decade’s Technological Tsunami Will Change Life as We Know It (Vanity Fair, $)
- U.K.’s ‘most prolific rapist,’ who targeted men, jailed for life (NBC)
- How Citizens Are Fighting Smog In One Of The World’s Most Polluted Cities (NPR)
- Esper contradicts Trump on targeting Iranian cultural sites: We ‘follow the laws of armed conflict’ (CNN) & U.S. Informs Iraqi Government About Repositioning Of Coalition Forces
- Pentagon downplays reports of a troop withdrawal from Iraq (NPR)
- We predict this will be the least clicked link in today’s edition: Instagram model raises $700,000 for Australia fires with nude photos before account deleted (Guardian)
- New car registrations at lowest level since 2013 (BBC)
- Verb is back, back again, Verb is back, tell a friend…but this time with their new, limited edition Gingersnap. It tastes just like your favorite winter cookie, but it’s only 90 calories and packed with as much caffeine as an espresso.
- Soft, sweet with a lil bit of a spicy kick, this guy will keep you energized (and warm) through the long, cold month of January.
- Lucky for you, Verb is letting all you Daily Pnutters try Gingersnap, along with 3 of Verb’s best flavors, for free today – just cover $0.95 for shipping.
The Department of Social Media Defense
- TikTok is a short-form video-sharing platform which is among the top downloaded smartphone apps worldwide. After a Chinese company acquired the American company (musical.ly) that became TikTok, the US government became more concerned about cybersecurity and spying by the Chinese government; Congress opened a national security review of the acquisition in the fall.
- In December the Defense Department advised military personnel to remove the Chinese-owned social media app from their government-issued and personal smartphones. Now a number of US military branches have actually banned the TikTok app on government-issued smartphones. (NYT)
Chip Somodevilla via Getty Images
The Impeachment Could Be The Best Legal Story Never Written By John Grisham
- Former Trump administration national security adviser John Bolton said on Monday he is willing to testify at the president’s impeachment trial if subpoenaed. So far Bolton has been complying with a White House directive not to cooperate with the inquiry.
- The impeachment proceeding has been stalled over Democrats’ insistence that they hear from critical witnesses Trump has blocked from testifying in the House inquiry into his pressure campaign on Ukraine. Bolton has crucial knowledge of the president’s actions and conversations regarding Ukraine.
- Democrats quickly seized on Bolton’s public declaration, arguing it strengthened their case that the Senate must hear from Bolton and other senior officials as part of Trump’s impeachment trial.
- Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky) has steadfastly refused to commit to calling witnesses for the Senate trial. But now that Bolton has essentially told senators he has information relevant to their proceeding that he is willing to share, McConnell may face new pressure from some of the more moderate Republicans to allow Bolton to testify. (NYT)
- Additional quote: “Don’t compromise yourself – you’re all you have.” – John Grisham
Additional USA News
- Damning Emails Show Trump Knew He Was Breaking the Law on Ukraine (Vanity Fair, $)
- Trump Says Alleged Rape Victim Can’t Sue Him in New York (Bloomberg, $)
- Stephanie Hofeller Shares Redistricting Files From Thomas Hofeller’s Hard Drives (NPR) & A Father, a Daughter, and the Attempt to Change the Census (New Yorker, $)
- Inside the secretive Silicon Valley group that has funneled over $20 million to Democrats (Vox) & Silicon Valley has pledged billions to fight the housing crisis. It won’t be enough. (Guardian)
- What is private equity, and why is it killing everything you love? (Vox)
America’s Real Great Depression
- New York Times opinion writer Lee Siegel uses personal experience to discuss why Americans are so depressed. He says it’s no coincidence our politics and our mental health are simultaneously declining so rapidly.
- He is not alone in feeling anxious. The American Psychiatric Association reported that from 2016 to 2017 the number of adults describing themselves as more anxious than the previous year rose 36 percent. In 2017 more than 17 million American adults and three million adolescents ages 12 to 17 had at least one major depressive episode.
- Today 40 million adults — nearly 20 percent of the adult population — suffer from an anxiety disorder. And those are just the cases we know about. According to Siegel, if President Trump is indeed mentally ill, as so many of his critics claim, he may well be the most representative leader Americans have ever had. (NYT)
- The most valuable things in modern day life are time and attention: Playing chess is an essential life lesson in concentration. (Aeon) Time x attention = power.
- Urgent new ‘roadmap to recovery’ could reverse insect apocalypse (Guardian)
- Your 2020 Burnout Recovery Plan (Outside)
- Five ways to improve your mental health in 2020 (CNN)
- 5 lifestyle changes to make if you want to get rich in 2020 (CNBC)
RECOMMENDED FOR YOU