First RINOs, Now DINOs
April 6, 2021
The Good News
- Denver donates bison to tribal nations to return animals to historical habitats (Denver Channel)
- Novel HIV vaccine approach shows promise in “landmark” trial (European Pharma Review)
“Those who begin coercive elimination of dissent soon find themselves exterminating dissenters. Compulsory unification of opinion achieves only the unanimity of the graveyard.” — Robert H. Jackson
“Dissents speak to a future age.” — Ruth Bader Ginsberg
If You Want To Speak Out, Speak Out
(Jason Redmond via Getty Images)
Emily Cunningham and Maren Costa were designers at Amazon’s Seattle headquarters when they began publicly criticizing the company over its climate impact. The women, who had worked at Amazon for 15 years, were part of a small group — Amazon Employees for Climate Justice (AECJ) — who wanted the e-commerce giant to do more to lessen its carbon footprint. Over 8,700 colleagues supported the group’s efforts. They also joined many others in criticizing safety conditions in Amazon’s warehouses.
In October 2019, Amazon responded to its many critics by posting a 1,300 word “these are our policies” document on the company website. Cunningham and Costa were warned that by continuing to speak publicly about the company they were violating its external communications policy, and could be fired. Regardless, Costa told the Washington Post that Amazon is contributing to climate change because its cloud computing business aids oil and gas exploration. “It’s scary to be [told] that if I continued to speak up I could be fired,” Costa said. “But I spoke up because I’m terrified by the harm the climate crisis is already causing, and I fear for my children’s future.”
As the pandemic took hold in early 2020, Cunningham and Costa continued publicly denouncing unsafe working conditions in Amazon’s warehouses. In April 2020, AECJ sent an email blast urging thousands of warehouse workers to walk out and instead gather virtually to discuss how to push for more rights during the pandemic. But the virtual invitation mysteriously disappeared from everyone’s calendars and inboxes. Shortly thereafter Cunningham and Costa were fired.
The two women complained to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) that they were being retaliated against. Now, a year later, the NLRB has taken their side. The board said it would accuse Amazon of unfair labor practices if the company didn’t settle the case.
“It’s a moral victory and really shows that we are on the right side of history and the right side of the law,” Cunningham said. An Amazon spokeswoman countered: “We terminated these employees not for talking publicly about working conditions, safety or sustainability but, rather, for repeatedly violating internal policies.” Said differently: Amazon creates internal policies restricting employees’ external communications, then denies firing employees for their external communications, but rather for violating internal policies about external communications.
Claims of unfair labor practices at Amazon — which has nearly a million employees in the US alone — have become common enough that the NLRB is considering opening a national investigation. Meanwhile, the board continues counting thousands of ballots that will determine if almost 6,000 workers will form a union at an Amazon warehouse outside Birmingham, Alabama. (WaPo, NYT, $)
Erdoğan’s Crazy Stupid Love For Infrastructure
(Muhammed Gencebay Gur via Getty Images)
- 10 retired Turkish admirals have been arrested for publicly criticizing President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s “crazy” Istanbul canal project, which will create another waterway from the Black Sea to the Mediterranean.
- The new project will be in addition to the existing Bosphorus strait, also known as the Strait of Istanbul. A second Istanbul canal is the most ambitious of dozens of what Erdoğan himself calls his “crazy” proposals — large-scale infrastructure development projects that have come to define Turkey’s economic boom and bust during his 18 years in office.
- The arrests came one day after a group of 104 former senior navy officials signed an open letter warning that the proposed canal could harm Turkish security by invalidating an 85-year-old international treaty designed to prevent militarization of the Black Sea. The statement criticizing the plan infuriated Turkish officials, who interpreted it as a direct challenge from the military to the civilian government, “echoing coup times.”
- Erdoğan’s top press aide said: “Not only those who signed but also those who encourage them will give an account before justice.” (Guardian)
Keeping Up With The Jordanians: Royal Family Drama
- The Jordanian government arrested a number of the Kingdom’s high-profile figures on Saturday, including King Abdullah II’s longtime confidant, Bassem Awadallah, and a member of the royal family, Sharif Hassan bin Zaid. The reason given for the arrests was the “security and stability of Jordan.”
- Awadallah was a former minister of finance who helped spearhead economic reforms before leaving as head of the royal court in 2008. Recently, he was an adviser to Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salam, and was accused in a corruption case. Abdullah’s half-brother, the former crown prince of Jordan, Hamzah bin Hussein, is under house arrest.
- Abdullah, 59, has been Jordan’s ruler since 1999 when he took the throne after the death of his father, King Hussein. Hamzah was named crown prince in 1999, but in 2004 Abdullah transferred the title to his son, 26-year-old Prince Hussein bin Abdullah.
- Arrests of top officials and royal family members are unusual for Jordan, a normally stable Arab kingdom that has been a stalwart ally of the West. The situation is being closely watched by neighboring Israel, which signed a peace treaty with the kingdom in 1994 and continues to maintain close security ties with it. (NYT, $)
Additional World News
- Israeli PM back in court as parties weigh in on his fate (AP). Will Bibi beat the wrap again?
- US economy is leading the global recovery from the pandemic (WaPo, $)
- Petrol bombs thrown at police in Northern Ireland amid unrest (The Hill)
- Kill Bill Volume 3: More than 100 arrested in London at Kill the Bill protests (BBC)
- Kosovo parliament elects Vjosa Osmani as new president (Al Jazeera)
- ‘Every year we dig mass graves’: the slaughter of Pakistan’s Hazara (Guardian)
- The UK Is Trying to Stop Facebook’s End-to-End Encryption (Wired). WhatsApp with that?
- India’s daily virus cases breach 100,000; mutants, behaviour blamed (Yahoo News)
- How the wealthy cut the line during Florida’s frenzied vaccine rollout (CBS)
- The Story of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 Vaccine (Intelligencer)
If There Can Be RINOs, There Can Be DINOs
- With the Senate is split 50-50, the very conservative Joe Manchin has emerged as a power broker simply because Democrats cannot afford to lose his support. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has already said there will be no GOP votes in support of Biden’s $2.25 trillion infrastructure proposal.
- Manchin said President Biden’s proposal needs changes, and that raising the corporate tax rate to 28% goes too far. Fortunately, Manchin said Monday he would support raising the corporate rate to 25%. President Trump’s tax cut in 2017 lowered the corporate rate from 35% to 21%.
- Whatever the final rate winds up, the problem is really that many large profitable corporations pay little, or no, federal taxes at all. According to a report published Friday by the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy, at least 55 prominent US corporations paid $0 in federal corporate income taxes in 2020 — on billions of dollars in profits. (The Hill, Forbes)
With A Leak This Bad, Florida May Need Seal Team Six
- Engineers and crew are working around the clock pumping toxic wastewater from a failing reservoir in Central Florida into Tampa Bay. The leak at Piney Point — a long-abandoned phosphate plant about 40 miles from Tampa — was first discovered last month and continues to grow in size. Reports of a possible second leak later proved to be inaccurate.
- Workers are removing about 33 million gallons of water daily from the 77-acre pond to reduce pressure on its liner, but it still contains some 3,450 million gallons of saltwater, freshwater, wastewater, fertilizer runoff, nitrogen, phosphorus, and other chemicals.
- Over Easter weekend Governor Ron DeSantis declared a state of emergency and hundreds of residents in Manatee County were ordered to evacuate their homes. The state fears that the reservoir could be close to collapse. If it does, one model shows the area could see a “20-foot wall of water” within minutes. (NBC News, CBS News)
Additional USA News
- America Favors Cars Over Public Transit. Can Biden Change That? (NYT, $). Not at first, but we can be train-ed.
- Black Americans flock to gun stores and clubs: ‘I needed to protect myself’ (Guardian)
- Biden Steps Up Federal Efforts to Combat Domestic Extremism (NYT, $)
- Republicans mobilize for showdown that will help define the Biden presidency (CNN)
- Deportation Nation: US Immigration Policy Has Always Been About Exclusion (Atlantic)
- Meet Arizona’s water one-percenters (Guardian)
- ‘No one explained’: fracking brings pollution, not wealth, to Navajo land (Guardian)
- What Georgia’s Voting Law Really Does (NYT, $)
Simpsons Did It
- The Swedish Space Corporation (SSC) came up with a plan that involved finding ways to block the sun in order to cool Earth and fight climate change. SSC was planning a test flight this June but was bombarded with objections from environmentalists, scientists, and Indigenous groups.
- Last week SSC said it had canceled plans for the flight, which would have launched a high-altitude balloon from its facility in the Arctic. It would have been the first flight of a long-planned experiment called Scopex, a project led by scientists at Harvard. Scopex is intended to better understand one form of solar geoengineering: injecting substances into the air to reflect some of the sun’s rays back to space, thus reducing global warming relatively quickly.
- The concept of solar geoengineering — also called climate engineering, or climate intervention — has long been a subject of intense debate among scientists and policymakers, It’s often seen as a desperate, potentially dangerous measure that could have unintended consequences for regional climates. Even conducting research on the subject has been viewed as harmful in that it could distract society from the goal of reducing emissions and conserving finite resources to avoid the worst effects of climate change.
- But there is a growing view among some scientists that, with the world not making nearly enough progress in reducing emissions, research in geoengineering is needed to learn more about how and whether it would work if pressure grew to use the technology.
- Solar geoengineering research currently involves computer simulations or experiments in a laboratory setting. Scopex, which stands for Stratospheric Controlled Perturbation Experiment, has been in development for years; one of its primary goals is to provide real-world data to improve simulations. (NYT, $)
- Soviet TV version of Lord of the Rings rediscovered after 30 years (Guardian)
- Inside the Teen Vogue mess — which is really a Condé Nast mess (WaPo, $). They barely survived the Wintour months.
- With Mini Helicopter On Mars, NASA Hopes To Reinvent Flight ‘On Another World’ (NPR)
- 9 of Dear Therapist’s Most Popular Columns (Atlantic)
- NASA’s Mars helicopter Ingenuity touches down on the Red Planet (Space)
- Beware sugar highs: seven healthy ways to get more energy – from stretching to sourdough (Guardian)
- NFTs Were Supposed to Protect Artists. They Don’t. (Atlantic). I knew the $70,000 digital cartoon was too good to be true.
- Anxious About Going Back To ‘Normal’ After COVID? You’re Not Alone (NPR)
- Blood, Poop, and Violence: YouTube Has a Creepy Minecraft Problem (Wired)
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