Political Proclivities Pervade
January 15, 2021
It’s time to play… Are You Smarter Than A 5th Grader (if that 5th grader read a TON of news). Test your knowledge of recent world news with this short quiz. Submissions must be made by 12pm EST Monday, 1/18. The winner, announced Wednesday, will win bragging rights for the week as well as a free Daily Pnut t-shirt.
“The punitive use of force tends to generate hostility and to reinforce resistance to the very behavior we are seeking.” — Marshall B Rosenberg
“For the powerful, crimes are those that others commit.” — Noam Chomsky
Political Proclivities Pervade Police Protest Response
(Jim Vondruska via Getty Images)
New data from a non-profit that monitors political violence around the world shows that police in the US are exponentially more likely to use force against left-wing protesters than right-wing ones. The new information is from the US Crisis Monitor, a database created last Spring by researchers at Princeton and the Armed Conflict Location and Event Data project (ACLED), a nonprofit that previously monitored civil unrest in the Middle East, Europe, and Latin America.
The statistics are based on law enforcement responses to more than 13,000 protests across the US since April 2020; they show a clear disparity in how agencies responded to the historic wave of Black Lives Matter protests against police violence, compared with demonstrations organized by Trump supporters.
The vast majority of the thousands of protests across America in 2020 were peaceful, and most protests by both the left and the right were not met with any violent response by police. However, law enforcement agencies, in general, were more likely to intervene in left-wing protests versus right-wing, and more likely to use force when they intervened.
In the 10 month period since April, law enforcement agencies used teargas, pepper spray, rubber bullets, and beatings with batons against demonstrators at 511 left-wing protests, compared to 33 right-wing protests. “Police are not just engaging more because [left-wing protesters] are more violent. They’re engaging more even with peaceful protesters,” said ACLED’s research director, adding “That’s the clear trend.”
And nothing is more illustrative than January 6th’s storming and ransacking of the Capitol Building by violent, far-right, white Trump-supporters — with little to no pushback from law enforcement, not to mention encouragement and excuses from the President and many GOP congressional members. Particularly disgusting are craven attempts by some Republicans to shift blame for the clearly right-wing insurrection to the “radical left” — that alone deserves all our scorn.
Dutch Debt Debacle: Government Faces Dissolution
(Niels Wenstedt via Getty Images)
- Netherlands Prime Minister Mark Rutte will meet Friday with coalition cabinet members from the four ruling parties to discuss whether the government should be dissolved amid fallout from an escalating scandal. Last month members of parliament published the results of an investigation, titled “Unprecedented Injustice,” detailing how over the last eight years some 20,000 working families had been pursued for fraud, ordered to repay child support benefits, and denied the right to appeal.
- The report established that “fundamental principles of the rule of law were violated” by the Dutch tax authority, with fraud investigations into families triggered by “something as simple as an administrative error, without any malicious intent.”
- Many families were plunged into debt, and several couples separated under the strain. Following accusations of racial profiling, the tax authority admitted that 11,000 dual-nationality families were singled out for special scrutiny. (Guardian)
Faux Pas Causes Miner Damage To Australian Coal
- “[D]eeply offensive anti-China rhetoric” from a conservative Australian senator so exacerbated already-strained relations between the two countries that exporters fear another “grim” economic year, and Labor leaders worry for the welfare of sailors stuck aboard 73 Australian coal ships stranded off China’s coast.
- Senator Eric Abetz had refused to apologize after he caused outrage last October by demanding that three Chinese-Australians — witnesses in a Senate inquiry — publicly and unconditionally condemn “the Chinese Communist party dictatorship.”
- Australia’s coal exports to China are typically worth $14 billion a year, but Beijing has been delaying coal clearances and payments. And, on Thursday, the owners of nearly 8 million tons of coal aboard those 73 waiting ships were told to find new buyers.
- Shadow trade minister, Labor’s Madeleine King, said she was “enormously worried” about the coal standoff, and more broadly, the apparent lack of a plan from Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s government on how to recover Australia’s economic relationship with its largest trading partner. (Guardian)
Additional World News
- Nigeria launches ‘biggest job creation scheme’ in its history after long delay (Guardian)
- ‘Carbon-neutrality is a fairy tale’: how the race for renewables is burning Europe’s forests (Guardian)
- UN, ICRC warn of famine over Houthis’ ‘terrorists’ designation (Al Jazeera)
- In Kashmir’s Stillness, Hopes Wither and Houseboats Sink (NYT, $)
- Iran works on uranium metal for reactor fuel (Al Jazeera)
- France’s Le Maire: Trade detente is my priority for Biden administration (Reuters)
- Fire destroys homes of thousands in Rohingya refugee camps (Reuters)
- 27,000 trees are cut down every day to make toilet paper. That feels like 27,000 too many, so honeycomb created toilet tissue made from 100% sustainable bamboo.
- Why is bamboo better? It grows 80 times faster than an average tree – meaning that it can create thousands of toilet tissue rolls in the same time it would take for a single tree to grow back. Its short fibers are perfect for making toilet tissue, and honeycomb’s 3-ply texture strikes the perfect balance between soft & strong. It feels just like regular high-end toilet tissue, but it doesn’t harm the environment.
- Biodegradable, plastic-free, and they also deliver right to your door. Daily Pnut readers can take 15% off their first shipment with code PNUT15.
Airlines In A Nosedive, Hoping For Biden Stimulus
- The pandemic has crippled air travel and caused staggering economic losses for US airlines. Second largest carrier, Delta, lost nearly $12.4 billion last year, making 2020 “the toughest year in Delta’s history,” according to CEO Ed Bastian. Vaccine distribution has given Delta and other airlines some hope, but a meaningful recovery isn’t expected until the vaccines are widely administered in the second half of 2021.
- On Thursday, President-elect Joe Biden outlined a $1.9 trillion spending package to combat the pandemic and its effects on the economy. He will focus first on large-scale expansion of the nation’s vaccination program and virus testing capacity. There will be money to complete $2,000 direct payments to individuals ($1,400 to follow the initial $600 payments) and aid to small businesses, as well as local and state governments, including money to allow most schools to open.
- Biden also hopes to extend the supplemental federal unemployment benefits, set to expire in March for many workers, and provide more help for renters. The news comes as nearly a million new unemployment claims were filed last week. (NYT, $)
Additional USA News
- Long-withheld Pentagon survey shows widespread racial discrimination, harassment (Reuters)
- The truth is out there … perhaps: CIA releases thousands of UFO files (Guardian)
- Georgia Republicans Work To Rebuild Election Confidence (NPR)
- Millions Flock to Telegram and Signal as Fears Grow Over Big Tech (NYT, $)
- Biden expected to include new child benefit in major new stimulus proposal (WaPo, $)
- Going sour on big sugar: Coke cuts ties with powerful food group (Al Jazeera)
- Trump administration set for its last auction of U.S. oil drilling rights (Reuters)
- Andrew Yang is running for New York mayor. He wants universal basic income — and TikTok Hype Houses. (WaPo, $)
- FAA Cracks Down On Unruly Airline Passengers Ahead Of Biden Inauguration (NPR)
This Country’s For The Birds
- “America’s Got Talent.” America’s got “The Voice.” America’s even got “The Masked Dancer.” In Paramaribo, Suriname, they have the Battle of Birdsongs, a national obsession.
- Every Sunday as dawn is breaking, a group of men gather in a public park, in a quiet neighborhood of this capital city of South America’s smallest country. The men are carrying birdcages, each with a tropical songbird that they have spent years and thousands of dollars training to compete against each other.
- Over the next few hours, the men lean in, silent and focused, listening to the birds as referees note the duration of each burst of singing, and rate each bird’s performance on a chalkboard. The audience is engrossed.
- Birds are the most popular pets in this nation of a half million, perched on South America’s Atlantic corner, with a pristine tropical forest that boasts one of the world’s most diverse ecosystems. Cages with parrots and other tropical birds fill the country’s markets and cafes, even the boats and buses that comprise the public transportation system. Unlike other adrenaline-fueled competitions that galvanize nations elsewhere, birdsong competitions are this close-knit community’s pastime — one that more resembles meditation than agitation.
- The annual songbird championship culminates in final rounds broadcast on national television in December. Around one hundred handlers compete for trophies, and for that moment of national glory. (NYT, $)
Additional Weekend Reads
- The ‘megascale’ structures that humans could one day build (BBC)
- The Real Dire Wolf Ran Into an Evolutionary Dead End (NYT, $). No, it wasn’t because the Lannisters put them all to death.
- The German ‘Quereinsteiger’ ending career-changing stigma (BBC)
- Pig Painting May Be World’s Oldest Cave Art Yet, Archaeologists Say (NYT, $). The following week, archaeologists found oldest recorded pork chop recipe on adjacent wall.
- Australia: Spectacular ‘tree of life’ found in lake (BBC)
- The secret letters of history’s first-known businesswomen (BBC)
- How does philosophy explain what’s wrong with gentrification? (Aeon)
- Twitter boss: Trump ban is ‘right’ but ‘dangerous’ (BBC)
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