China’s Emissions Addiction | Lawless Law Enforcement | Science’s Sex Agenda
July 29, 2020
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The Good News
- Alzheimer’s: ‘Promising’ blood test for early stage of disease (BBC). Alzheimers is one of the scariest diseases that we face today. Hopefully this test will prove effective in early detection efforts.
- India’s tiger population has nearly doubled in 12 years (Business Insider). Conservation efforts have brought the big cats back from the brink, almost doubling their population in India.
- People Are Getting Their Racist and Confederate Tattoos Removed: ‘Today, I’m Not That Guy’ (Vice). It looks like nationwide protests on racial equality have woken people up. It’s always good to see people realize past mistakes and change for the better, no matter who they are.
“We travel together, passengers on a little space ship, dependent on its vulnerable reserves of air and soil; all committed for our safety to its security and peace; preserved from annihilation only by the care, the work, and, I will say, the love we give our fragile craft. We cannot maintain it half fortunate, half miserable, half confident, half despairing, half slave—to the ancient enemies of man—half free in a liberation of resources undreamed of until this day. No craft, no crew can travel safely with such vast contradictions. On their resolution depends the survival of us all.” ― Adlai Stevenson
Trump’s Lawless Enforcement
(NurPhoto via Getty Images)
Earlier this month, President Trump sent federal paramilitary troops, led by agents from US Customs and Border Patrol (CBP), to Oregon. These aggressive, unidentified forces have showered protesters with tear gas and stun grenades, shot into peaceful crowds, and kidnapped individuals off Portland streets. Many people who’ve seen images or read about such unconstitutional behaviors are probably disturbed. However, people with more knowledge about the track record of these combat squad leaders are terrified.
In 2011, top CBP internal affairs investigator James Tomsheck attended a meeting where the CBP deputy commissioner shared his vision for the agency’s future: CBP was to become a nationwide militarized force much like the Marine Corps. Another CBP official stated that border agents were not cops, and were not required to adhere to the same restraints on use of force as other law enforcers. Tomsheck investigated numerous cases of agents using inappropriate lethal force during his stint at the agency. “Time and time again I saw incidents unfold where people – always Latinos, almost always Mexican citizens – lost their lives at the hands of border patrol agents,” he said.
Bortac, short for border patrol tactical unit, is an elite, quasi-militarized CBP unit equivalent to the Navy Seals. Bortac agents are trained for SWAT-style raids on organized gangs smuggling immigrants or drugs across the US border; they’ve been deployed in Iraq, Afghanistan, and many Latin American countries. A former senior border patrol officer described Bortac agents as among “the most violent and racist in all law enforcement,” who “don’t exist within the realm of civilian law enforcement. They view people they encounter in the military sense as enemy combatants, meaning they have virtually no rights.”
Border patrol is allowed to operate within 100 miles of any US border — north, south, east and west — meaning their writ covers almost two-thirds of the population of the country, some 200 million people. This zone includes nine of the nation’s 10 largest cities, many of which Trump is now targeting.
The union representing border patrol agents endorsed Trump in 2016, and supports his reelection. Trump has worked hard to nurture that partnership, and his selection of CBP as the lead agency in his bid to control civilian protests is especially alarming. “Trump has ratcheted up political ties to border patrol to another level,” said an expert on the border patrol’s expansion. “He based his whole 2016 campaign around this, and it is now at the core of his 2020 re-election bid. These are his people.”
China’s Emissions Addiction
(China News Service via Getty Images)
- It’s often reported that China’s CO2 levels are the highest in the world, but many may not truly appreciate how disproportionate China’s emission levels are compared to other countries, the speed with which they’re growing, and the impossibility of reining them in as long as the Chinese Communist Party remains in power.
- The party has often sacrificed environmental regulations as soon as GDP targets and economic growth are threatened. China’s struggle to recover economically from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic means there’s going to be another painful blow to global efforts to fight climate change. China’s per capita CO2 emissions surged past those of the EU six years ago, and are now just under half those of the US.
- Unlike elsewhere in the developed world, China’s numbers are trending upward, not down. One estimate says that, based on current trends, China will be responsible for emitting the most atmospheric CO2 in less than 20 years. President Xi Jinping has stated his aspiration to lead the fight against global warming, and the country has invested more money in renewable energy and electric vehicles than the rest of the world combined.
- When President Trump announced in 2017 that the US would withdraw from the Paris Climate Agreement, Xi termed the accord a “hard-won achievement” that “all signatories must stick to.” “Walking away from the pact would endanger future generations,” he said. But as China’s economy has rebounded from COVID-19, industrial pollution has surged. Instead of prioritizing clean energy, Xi’s government is slashing funding for wind and solar power while ramping up spending on new coal-fired power plants.(Foreign Policy)
Pivoting From Petrol
- Renewable energy is on track to become the cheapest kind of power to produce in the UK, and if those savings are passed along to consumers, household electricity bills will likely fall. In the past, government subsidies for energy projects have meant higher energy bills. But as the cost of installing and running wind and solar energy projects has fallen, renewables are set to undercut fossil fuels to the extent that they could operate with “negative subsidies” — paying money back to the government.
- A UK auction made headlines in September 2019 as winning companies said they could build offshore wind farms for less than $52.00 per megawatt-hour of power; this was a record set by these wind farms, with bids 30 percent lower than just two years earlier. One environmentalist said: “The price of offshore wind power has plummeted in only a matter of a decade, surprising many in the field. This amazing progress has been made possible by new technology, economies of scale, and efficient supply chains around the North Sea, but also by a decade of concerted policymaking designed to reduce the risk for investing in offshore wind….”
- Now a team of researchers at Imperial College London says UK households could begin benefiting in the mid-2020s, when this latest round of offshore wind farms start producing power. (Independent)
Additional World News
- Palestinians, Slammed for Suppressing Dissent, Free Protest Organizers (NYT, $)
- South Korea to have solid fuel rockets in major deal with US (ABC)
- Chinese students in Australia are being scammed into faking their own kidnapping (CNN)
- ‘Man cannot win against nature’: Amid catastrophic floods, China’s dams come into question (LA Times)
- Najib Razak: Malaysian ex-PM gets 12-year jail term in 1MDB corruption trial (BBC)
- In Russia’s Far East, a New Face of Resistance to Putin’s Reign (NYT, $)
- An oil spill in Russia’s Arctic exposes problems in Moscow’s big plans for the Far North (WaPo, $)
- Trump, coronavirus and the world: The United States’ standing in the world is at a low point (WaPo, $)
- Colonialism Made the Modern World. Let’s Remake It. (NYT, $)
- What the heroin industry can teach us about solar power (BBC)
- How Remote Work Will Create Economic Winners and Losers (NYT)
- Some Countries Reopened Schools. What Did They Learn About Kids and Covid? (Wired)
- Does Wearing a Mask Protect Me? Some Evidence Says Yes (NYT)
- Covid-19 in the Navajo Nation: How masks helped slow the outbreak (Vox)
- California’s COVID-19 Dream Has Devolved Into A Nightmare. Now What? (BuzzFeed)
- One question still dogs Trump: Why not try harder to solve the coronavirus crisis? (WaPo)
- The Doctor Behind the Disputed Covid Data (NYT)
- What the Miami Marlins’ Covid-19 outbreak means for the MLB season, explained by an epidemiologist (Vox)
- All businesses, small and large, are rethinking how they return to work in today’s world. Fully, a modern work furniture company that creates healthy, inspiring workplaces, has been working with businesses to help them create post-COVID plans, and helping people get properly set up to work from home.
- Fully offers everything from standing desks to ergonomic chairs, all designed to keep you feeling healthy and engaged while you work, while also helping you work more efficiently.
- Check out Fully’s post-COVID guidelines built on their experiences in creating healthy workplaces, along with recommendations from experts and researchers: “Finding Your New Workflow: 4 Steps to a Healthy, Adaptive Workplace.”
Finessing the Finances
- The Campaign Legal Center, which advocates for greater regulation of money in politics, filed a lawsuit Tuesday with the Federal Election Commission, alleging that the Trump campaign and an affiliated fundraising committee underreported nearly $170 million in campaign spending that was done through firms that paid subcontractors on behalf of the campaign.
- Campaign finance law requires campaign committees to publicly disclose the names of firms and people they are paying. Firms are not required to disclose payments they make to others as long as they are not simply acting as a conduit for payments to avoid public disclosure. Defendants named in the lawsuit are the Trump campaign and the Trump Make America Great Again Committee, both of which raise and spend money for the president’s reelection effort.
- The suit also names American Made Media Consultants (AMMC) and Parscale Strategy, the two firms set up by Brad Parscale, Trump’s former campaign manager, both of which are among the highest-paid vendors of Trump’s reelection bid. The lawsuit reads: “The firms serve as conduits that receive millions in payments from the campaign and disburse the funds to the campaign’s ultimate vendors, thereby concealing the campaign’s transactions with those vendors.”
- AMMC was accused of acting as a conduit because its sub-vendors are “effectively working under the direction and control of the Trump campaign.” The lawsuit cites media reports and interviews with Parscale to make the case that these companies are taking direction from Parscale and campaign officials, not from AMMC.
- A Trump campaign spokesman rejected claims in the lawsuit, saying: “AMMC is a campaign vendor responsible for arranging and executing media buys and related services at fair market value. AMMC does not earn any commissions or fees.” (WaPo)
Biden Builds Back Better
- In a tumultuous summer — to put it lightly — two issues have proven salient in American political discourse: race and the economy. On Thursday, Joe Biden unveiled his plan to address both with an ambitious spending program aimed at helping the financial standing of minorities.
- During a speech in his hometown of Wilmington, Delaware, the presumptive Democratic nominees outlined his “Build Back Better” economic recovery strategy. It outlined a number of policies targeted at assisting the monetary standing of marginalized groups, including the allocation of a $30 billion opportunity fund for black, brown, and Native American small business owners.
- By increasing federal support for localized economic recovery, Biden stands in stark contrast with President Trump, who has touted deregulation and stock market performance as key catalysts for growth. Obviously, this generous spending package is being well received by its proposed recipients, but some racial justice advocates say it is insufficient in addressing the hot-button topic of reparations.
- Regardless of its reach, the obvious follow-up question Biden must now field is how he will account for this much spending. The nominee has hinted at tax cut reversals on large corporations, but the devilish details have yet to be announced publicly. (WaPo)
- How the coronavirus got Joe Biden to shape his 2020 election strategy (Vox)
- ‘This is health care moonshot time’: Pandemic pulls Biden, Dems further left (Politico)
Additional USA News
- “Defendant Shall Not Attend Protests”: In Portland, Getting Out of Jail Requires Relinquishing Constitutional Rights (ProPublica)
- As Coronavirus Cases Rise, Teachers Union OKs Potential ‘Safety Strikes’ (NPR)
- The Trump administration is refusing to fully reinstate DACA (Vox)
- How Trump and his son helped make a Covid-19 conspiracy theorist go viral in a matter of hours (Vox)
- ‘Shame on you’: Democrats attack Barr for carrying out Trump’s agenda (Guardian)
- Don’t Count Trump Out: Polling could be wrong. The economy could recover just enough. He could announce his own October surprise. (Atlantic, $)
- John Roberts: Inside his surprising streak of liberal wins (CNN)
- Anti-fascists linked to zero murders in the US in 25 years (Guardian)
- America’s ‘untouchables’: the silent power of the caste system (Guardian)
- America is Having the Mother of All Social Collapses (Medium)
- Yes, Fake News Is a Problem. But There’s a Real News Problem, Too. (NYT, $). Besides the spread of fake news over social media, we’re facing another crisis: the death of smaller media outlets as they struggle to survive in the digital age.
- Daniel Smith, living son of a slave at 88, shares his family’s story (WaPo, $)
- The Great Au Pair Rush: When the Trump administration shut the borders to many new au pairs, those already in the country found they had something new: options. (NYT, $)
Science’s Sex Agenda
- As the world continues to push for more equal opportunities for people of different sexes, it has become more and more difficult for researchers to publish their findings on sex differences. Armin Raznahan, chief of the section on developmental neurogenomics at the National Institutes of Health, has stated on multiple occasions that his research and studies have been met with criticism solely due to their subject matter – biological and hormonal differences between males and females.
- Scholars have questioned whether his research will actually help advance scientific fields such as learning more about mental disorders, which Raznahan has found affect people differently depending on their gender. In addition, other critics have pointed out numerous inconsistencies in the data found in previous studies, a problem with Raznahan has been working to explain through his research.
- Another major issue is that ways that people may interpret or use such findings. If it is scientifically proven that there are biological differences between male and female brains, there may be groups which use the knowledge as a supplement to prejudiced or biased views. For Raznahan, however, the possibility of making progress toward understanding mental disorders makes studying brain sex differences an ethical imperative, even if others may use their research to defend essentialist or sexist beliefs.
- ‘Messengers of Goodwill’: America’s Tokens of Friendship and Power (MIT Press Reader). Sometimes a doll isn’t just a doll; sometimes a doll is a declaration of national superiority and economic dominance.
- Gold vs. Salmon: Battle Over an Alaskan Mine (NYT, $)
- How MSCHF built a business out of squeaky chicken bongs (Verge)
- Why Doctors Are Posing in Swimwear on Social Media (Scientific American)
- The Cold War Bunker That Became Home to a Dark-Web Empire (New Yorker, $)
- 10 underrated shows you may have missed in the too-much-TV era (WaPo, $)
- Hygiene Theater Is a Huge Waste of Time: People are power scrubbing their way to a false sense of security. (Atlantic, $)
- Maybe we shouldn’t be scrubbing so much anyway: Soap dodger: meet the doctor who says we have been showering wrong (Guardian)
- Follow the Money: How Digital Ads Subsidize the Worst of the Web (Wired, $)
- Why We Grow Numb To Staggering Statistics — And What We Can Do About It (NPR)
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