Cafe News

Explosions in Boston. More than a gas leak?

September 18, 2018

In this image take from video provided by WCVB in Boston, flames consume the roof of a home in Lawrence, Mass, a suburb of Boston, Thursday, Sept. 13, 2018. Emergency crews are responding to what they believe is a series of gas explosions that have damaged homes across three communities north of Boston. (WCVB via AP)

Sept. 18, 2018:

Pressure before Massachusetts gas explosions was 12 times higher than normal.

Democratic U.S. Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Edward Markey sent the letter Monday seeking answers about the explosions from the heads of Columbia Gas.

(The company that serves the communities of Lawrence, Andover and North Andover, and NiSource, the parent company of Columbia Gas.)

“The pressure spike registered in a Columbia Gas control room in Ohio, the senators said in the letter, which requests a reply by Wednesday.

“We write to request that you provide us with information in order to help the American people understand why this terrible disaster occurred, whether the company was sufficiently prepared to respond to an incident of this magnitude, and how we can prevent any similar tragedy in the future,” the senators wrote.

Dozens of explosions and fires last Thursday killed one person and injured more than two dozen others. About 8,600 customers were affected, and many had to evacuate their homes for days and may have to go without gas service for weeks.

https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/pressure-massachusetts-gas-explosions-was-12-times-higher-normal-n910581

Sophisticated computer programs are used to evaluate the delivery capacity of the network and to ensure that all customers receive adequate supplies of gas at or above the minimum pressure level required by their gas appliances.

Distribution mains are interconnected in multiple grid patterns with strategically located shut-off valves. These valves minimize the need for customer disruption to service during maintenance operations and emergencies.

https://www.aga.org/natural-gas/delivery/how-does-the-natural-gas-delivery-system-work-/

Richard Clark on Hacking

Former U.S. National Coordinator for Security, Infrastructure Protection, and Counterterrorism

Sept. 14th: “They’re in our power grid.” 

[Begin at 1:45]

The current state of international cooperation on cyber threats, including opportunities and challenges for coordination between government and industry on cyber issues.

[Washington Post]

BOSTON

NiSource Inc. is one of the largest fully regulated utility companies in the United States, serving approximately 3.5 million natural gas customers and 500,000 electric customers across seven states through its local Columbia Gas and NIPSCO brands. The company, based in Merrillville, Indiana, United States, has more than 8,000 employees.

In December 2011, the non-partisan organization Public Campaign criticized NiSource for spending $1.83 million on lobbying and not paying any taxes during 2008-2010, instead getting $227 million in tax rebates, despite making a profit of $1.4 billion, and increasing executive pay by 33% to $11.2 million in 2010 for its top 5 executives.[3] One rule NiSource, among other companies, benefitted from was a bonus depreciation rule that lowered the federal tax expense. NiSource stated, “This law, enacted by Congress, encouraged companies like NiSource to accelerate capital investments to spur economic recovery by permitting portions of these investments to be deducted at an accelerated rate. Only the timing of the deductions was changed, and not the amount that could be deducted. This means our income tax expense will likely be higher in the future.

[From Wikipedia]

What is happening in Yemen?

“As of March 26, 2018, at least 10,000 Yemenis had been killed by the fighting, with more than 40,000 casualties overall.

Getting accurate information on the death toll is difficult, but Save The Children estimated at least 50,000 children died in 2017, an average of 130 every day.

As reported by Al Jazeera, internally displaced Yemenis often must cope with a lack of food and inadequate shelter. Many Yemenis who have not fled are also suffering, especially those in need of healthcare.

In 2015, Saudi Arabia formed a coalition of Arab states to defeat the Houthis in Yemen. The coalition includes Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Egypt, Morocco, Jordan, Sudan and Senegal. Several of these countries have sent troops to fight on the ground in Yemen, while others have only carried out air attacks.

The US government regularly launches air attacks on al-Qaeda and Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as ISIS) targets in Yemen, and recently admitted to having deployed a small number of troops on the ground. The US, along with other western powers such as the UK and France, has also supplied the Saudi-led coalition with weapons and intelligence.”

https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2016/06/key-facts-war-yemen-160607112342462.html

Arms deal

May 2017

“On Saturday, Trump is expected to announce an arms deal with Saudi Arabia worth more than $100bn, in what could be the biggest such agreement in history.

Saudi Arabia and US to announce ‘historic’ arms deal

“Speaking on condition of anonymity, US officials familiar with the package told the Associated Press news agency that the deal would include Abrams tanks, combat ships, missile defence systems, radar and communications and cybersecurity technology.

Much of the package builds on commitments made before DT took office, although some elements are new, including weapons designed to help Saudi Arabia in an air campaign it has led in war-torn Yemen, officials said.

The DT administration separately informed Congress on Friday that it will sell some $500m in precision-guided munitions to Saudi Arabia. These include laser-guided Paveway II bombs and JDAM kits for converting unguided bombs into “smart bombs”.”

https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2017/05/trump-arrives-saudi-arabia-foreign-trip-170520063253596.html

“DT with, left to right, the Egyptian president, Abdel Fatah al-Sisi, Saudi Arabia’s King Salman and Melania Trump during a visit to a new Global Center for Combating Extremist Ideology, in Riyadh Photograph: Uncredited/AP”

https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/gallery/2018/jan/20/weirdest-pictures-donald-trump-year-one-in-pictures

March 26, 2018

Haaretz

“DT listed the amounts of weapons the U.S. has sold to the Saudis, ‘$880 million … $645 million … $6 billion … that’s for frigates’

DT gave a warm welcome to Saudi Arabia‘s powerful Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, known as MBS, on Tuesday and credited U.S. defense sales to the Saudis with boosting American jobs, even as Riyadh’s involvement in Yemen’s civil war faced criticism.

In the Oval Office, DT and the crown prince praised the strength of U.S.-Saudi ties, which had grown strained under the Obama administration in part over differing views toward Riyadh’s regional rival, Iran.”

https://www.haaretz.com/us-news/trump-humiliated-saudi-crown-prince-while-boasting-about-arms-sales-1.5938561

CNN Exclusive Report

By Nima Elbagir, Salma Abdelaziz, and Laura Smith-Spark, CNN

Made in America

Shrapnel found in Yemen ties US bombs to string of civilian deaths over course of bloody civil war

“The incidents give a snapshot of US involvement in Yemen’s conflict through its support for the Saudi-led coalition that is battling a Houthi-led rebel insurgency. The United States says it does not make targeting decisions for the coalition. But it does support its operations through billions of dollars in arms sales, the refueling of Saudi combat aircraft and some sharing of intelligence.”

[…]

“Yemeni civilians are dying every day because of this war and you (America) are fueling this war, so stop fueling this war. It is a shame that financial interests are worth more than the blood of innocent people.”

https://www.cnn.com/interactive/2018/09/world/yemen-airstrikes-intl/

 

6 words at a time.

September 14, 2018

If you were asked to sum up your thoughts about race in six words, could you do it?

Eight years ago, Michele Norris, former host of NPR’s All Things Considered, asked people attending the book tour for her 2010 memoir, The Grace of Silence, to do just that.

The exercise was meant as a conversation starter, a way to engage people on the uncomfortable subject by having them write their thoughts on postcards and then share them with others—directly and online. But Norris’ Race Card Project has become much more.

Businesses, churches, and other institutions have used it to facilitate uneasy discussions around race.

The idea is even more relevant today. Nearly two-thirds of Americans say racism remains a problem in the United States, according to a recent NBC poll. In fact, almost half of those polled say they believe race relations are getting worse.

In addition to helping start difficult conversations, the postcards and their backstories also serve as a sort of time capsule, marking specific events: The first Black president, Black Lives Matter, the Muslim ban, understanding of White fragility, and the most openly racist president in recent history.

“I think it has great value over time,” said Norris, who now heads up a program called The Bridge at Aspen Institute, which focuses on race, identity, and inclusion. “I’ve done a lot of high-order research. What I would give to have an archive like this to better understand the lived experience of race and identity from the 1930s, or 1940s, 1960s, or even the 1970s, which wasn’t that long ago.”

“And this project, this crazy project that started on the third floor of my house, I think will provide a unique window for people who are trying to understand the moment that we’re living in right now,” she says.

 

Full piece:

https://www.yesmagazine.org/people-power/a-way-to-talk-about-race-6-words-at-a-time-20180913?utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=YTW_20180914&utm_content=YTW_20180914+CID_3a58e48b2a7b6e0ca7425d920c5743f5&utm_source=CM&utm_term=A%20Way%20to%20Talk%20About%20Race%206%20Words%20at%20a%20Time

No human is illegal.

September 12, 2018

I recently met a professor who left a predominantly white college to teach undocumented youth in Souther California. When I asked him how it was going, he said, “Best move I ever made. My previous students felt entitled and demanded to be entertained. My undocumented students are hungry to learn, hard working,  and courageous enough to keep moving beyond their comfier zones.”

America will be renewed by people with those qualities. And if we who have privilege and power will welcome them, collaborate with them, and help remove the obstacles in their way, the years ahed will be full of promise for all of us.

-Parker Palmer, On the Brink of Everything

CNSNews.com

Susan Jones/Sept. 12, 2018

https://www.cnsnews.com/news/article/susan-jones/ice-issues-proposed-rule-keep-families-together-pending-immigration-rulings

On Sept. 7, the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency (ICE) issued a proposed regulation that would make it easier for the government to detain adults along with their children — but even that family unity plan is controversial.

Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) on Tuesday night accused the Trump administration of intending to “establish internment camps to lock up children behind barbed wire.”

“So we’re going from the horrendous policy of ripping children out of their parents’ arms, and of course we’re still trying to reunify all those families — to a new strategy of building internment camps that would be funded through…I.C.E.”

Merkley told MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow he has obtained a document showing that the Department of Homeland Security is taking $10 million out of the FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) budget and is transferring that $10 million to ICE to support detention centers where children could stay with their parents or legal guardians.

Until recently, the Trump administration was essentially arresting the adults, then putting their children in custody of centers run by the Health and Human Services Department.

Merkley and Maddow noted that the $10 million cut out of FEMA’s budget happened at the start of hurricane season, and now, with all eyes on the approaching Hurricane Florence, they criticized the transfer:

“So $10 million comes out of FEMA when we’re facing a hurricane season, knowing what happened last year,” Merkley said. “And then look what we’ve had since, a hurricane just barely missed Hawaii; a tropical storm that almost became a hurricane hit Mississippi; and now we have this hurricane Florence bearing down on the Carolinas.”

Merkley said he finds it “extraordinary” that the Trump administration would take money from FEMA’s response and recovery budget to build what he calls “family internment camps.”

“And we haven’t done anything like that since World War II,” Merkley said. “It absolutely comes from a dark and evil place in the heart of this administration. They’re going from one strategy of inflicting trauma on children to a new strategy that they’re trying to implement to inflict trauma on children, all to send, as Jeff sessions says, a message of deterrence to discourage people who are fleeing persecution from ever considering arriving on the shores of the United States of America.” 

(Merkley said much the same thing on CNN Wednesday morning.)

~

“We have been taught that in the annihilation of a mail, the ancient virtue of the family is destroyed. And in the destruction of the virtue and traditions of a people, vice and impiety overwhelm the whole race.”

Bhagavad Gita

Deep-Fake Video. It’s real.

September 11, 2018

By Thomas Kent – Washington Post 

The most powerful false-news weapon in history is around the corner. The media industry has only a short time to get ahead of it.

If technology continues its current advance, we may soon face totally convincing videos showing events that never happened — created so effectively that even experts will have trouble proving they’re fakes.

“Deep fake” video will be able to show people saying, with the authentic ring of their own voices, things they never said. It will show them doing things they never did, by melding their images with other video or creating new images of them from scratch.

At a political level, deftly constructed video could show a political leader advocating for the reverse of what she stands for, or portray bloody events that never happened. It could trigger riots, swing elections, and sow panic and despair.

At a business and personal level, it could be equally dangerous. Fake statements by chief executives or banking officials could throw financial markets into turmoil. False videos could be created about anyone’s private life, with devastating effects.

https://ethicaljournalismnetwork.org/fake-news-more-dangerous
Fake news is about to get so much more dangerous” has been republished with the permission of the author. Thomas Kent is president and chief executive of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, former Standards Editor of the Associated Press and an advisor to the Ethical Journalism Network.

Finally, in publicizing the dangers, media need to avoid a tone of hopelessness — “Soon we may never know what is real and what isn’t.” Quality media outlets need to emphasize how carefully they vet video. They should make sure their ethics codes and verification procedures adequately address the dangers. Otherwise, audiences will doubt any video — including legitimate and important footage that media outlets gather in their own breaking-news coverage and investigative work

17 years ago today.

‘Only wisdom confounds Satan and all his wickedness. Pure holy simplicity confounds all the wisdom of this world and the wisdom of the flesh.

-St. Francis, Salutation of the Virtues

Prayer: The wisdom that comes from above is first of all pure, then peaceable, gentle, and considerate, full of mercy and good fruits, without any trace of partiality or hypocrisy.

[photo: 9/11 memorial in NYC captured from above]

9.11

3,000 died that day, and many more since the terrorists struck, the first responders and those who stayed for weeks and months trying to repair the city.

The Guardian

September 11: nearly 10,000 people affected by ‘cesspool of cancer’

By Erin Durkin in New York

“Tens of thousands of people who lived or worked in the neighborhood at the time found themselves breathing in air thick with toxic fumes and particles from the pulverized, burning skyscrapers. Many have since become sick, many have died and new cases are still occurring all the time that are linked back to the poisons that were in the air around the wreckage.”

https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2018/sep/10/911-attack-ground-zero-manhattan-cancer

“Yes, it still hurts, and we still mourn. Our beliefs do not change the fact that we suffer from the experiences of our human existence. We should mourn our dead and feel horror at violence. We should seek justice, commemorate the bravery of first responders and honor the sacrifices of the many people who pulled together in countless small ways to comfort and support each other.

As metaphysicians, however, we do not stop there. We set our eyes and hearts to looking beyond what happened to what can come from it. For there is always something good that can be belated, whether or not we can see it in the moment. There is always love, showing up in ways big and small. We saw it for days, weeks and months after 9/11. Surely, we can keep that movement going even after 17 years. As for me, I intend to feel the pain, honor the courage, seek the path to forgiveness the best I can and always, always return to love.”

Affirmation: I remember those who died, those who save others and those who were so misguided on this day 17 years ago. I hold them all in my heart and remember that I am one with them all in the One.

-Rev. Katherine Saux, Science of Mind

11.6.18

To young people:

“You need to vote, because our democracy depends on it.”

-President Barack Obama

The Broken Places

September 10, 2018

The Hemingway Seminar concluded on Saturday, Sept. 8th, at the Community Library in Ketchum, with a focus on Hemingway’s third book, A Farewell to Arms. At the ending presentation, University of Maryland english professor David Wyatt discussed the various 47 endings Hemingway considered, including an ending Hemingway’s friend, F. Scott Fitzgerald, pleaded with him to use.

If people bring so much courage to this world the world has to kill them to break them, so of course it kills them. The world breaks everyone and afterward many are strong at the broken places. But those that will not break it kills. It kills the very good and the very gentle and the very brave impartially. If you are none of these you can be sure it will kill you too but there will be no special hurry.

Hemingway would ultimately choose a different ending, and include 68 more pages after this one, which is found on page 216 in A Farewell to Arms, The Hemingway Library Edition, Includes the Author’s 1948 Introduction, Early Drafts, and All of the Alternative Endings (2012).

The Hemingway Society

The Bi-Annual conference moves to Wyoming in 2020 after Paris in 2018.

“We will begin in Sheridan, Wyoming, where A Farewell to Arms was finished and end in Cooke City, MT, from where final drafts of Death in the Afternoon and To Have and Have Not were mailed, with stops at the Little Bighorn Battlefield, Yellowstone National Park and Hemingway pertinent towns – Cody, WY and Red Lodge, Montana. The Hemingway Society invites you to join us in 2020 to celebrate the 80th anniversary of For Whom the Bell Tolls, experience some of the America’s most pristine wilderness, and explore the final frontier of Hemingway scholarship.”

https://www.hemingwaysociety.org

The gospel of giving.

Exploiting tax codes in the name of philanthropy.

“For every foundation that existed in 1930, there are now five hundred.”

Just Giving: Why Philanthropy is Failing Democracy and How It can Do Better,  

 Rob Reich, Stanford political science professor

 

David Callahan:

“It’s not just that the megaphones operated by 5019c0(3) groups and financed by a sliver of rich donors have gotten louder and louder, making it harder for ordinary citizens to be heard. These citizens are helping foot the bill.

When it comes to who gets heard in the public square ordinary citizens can’t begin to compete with an activist donor classes. How many very rich people need to care intensely about a cause to finance megaphones that drown out the voices of everyone else? Not many.”

Gospels of Giving For the New Gilded Age/Are today’s donor classes solving problems, or creating new ones?

By, Elizabeth Kolbert

https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2018/08/27/gospels-of-giving-for-the-new-gilded-age

Kolbert:

The idea that both liberals and conservatives are exploiting the tax code is small consolation.

In the spring of 1889, Andrew Carnegie published an essay on money. If possession confers knowledge, then there was no greater expert on the subject: Carnegie was possibly the richest American who ever lived.

The “Gospel” opened with a discussion of inequity. This was the Gilded Age, and, even as most Americans were struggling to get by, the one-per-centers were putting up “cottages” in Newport. The disparity was, in Carnegie’s view, unavoidable. It was the price of progress, and progress, ultimately, benefitted everyone.

“The Gospel of Wealth” has been called the “ur-text of modern philanthropy.” It advocated a new kind of giving, a form of charity that wasn’t charity but something more pragmatic and, at the same time, more ambitious—a giving aimed, in Carnegie’s words, at improving “the general condition of the people.” Acting on his own advice, Carnegie went on to endow Carnegie Hall, the Carnegie Foundation, the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, the Carnegie Institute of Technology (now part of Carnegie Mellon University), and more than twenty-five hundred local libraries. His contemporaries financed the Rockefeller Foundation, the Russell Sage Foundation, the Field Museum, and the University of Chicago.

The “Gospel” also prompted the ur-critiques of philanthropy. In 1890, the Reverend Hugh Price Hughes, a Methodist minister, wrote that, while he was sure Carnegie was “a most estimable and generous man,” his “Gospel” represented a “social monstrosity” and a “grave political peril.” William Jewett Tucker, a professor of religion who would later become the president of Dartmouth, was no less horrified. What the “Gospel” advocated, Tucker wrote, was “a vast system of patronage,” and nothing could “in the final issue create a more hopeless social condition.” To assume that “wealth is the inevitable possession of the few” was to evade the essential issue: “The ethical question of today centres, I am sure, in the distribution rather than in the redistribution of wealth.”

To critics, the Homestead strike made explicit the inconsistency of Carnegie’s position. How could a person ruthlessly exploit his employees and, at the same time, claim to be a benefactor of the toiling masses? The Saturday Globe, a Utica-based weekly, published a cartoon showing two Carnegies, conjoined at the hip. One, smiling, handed out a library and a check; the other held out a notice telling workers that their pay had been slashed. “As the tight-fisted employer he reduces wages that he may play philanthropist,” the caption read.

It is difficult to say what fraction of philanthropic giving goes toward shaping public policy. Callahan estimates that the figure is somewhere around ten billion dollars a year. Such an amount, he says, might not sound huge, but it’s more than the annual contributions made to candidates, parties, and super-pacs combined. The result is doubly undemocratic. For every billion dollars spent on advocacy tricked out as philanthropy, several hundred million dollars in uncaptured taxes are lost to the federal treasury.

Instead of promoting equality, Reich worries, tax subsidies for philanthropy may actually be doing the reverse. He cites, in particular, local-education foundations, or lefs. These are, essentially, souped-up PTAs, formed to supplement public-school budgets, and they’ve grown dramatically in recent years. Some lefs raise only enough money to buy paint sets or musical instruments, but some, in more affluent districts, raise thousands of dollars a pupil. In the town of Hillsborough, California, just north of Stanford, Reich reports, parents of public-school students get a letter at the start of the year asking for a contribution of twenty-three hundred dollars for each child enrolled. While the contributing parents can’t dictate exactly how the money will be spent, Reich writes, it’s easy to imagine groups of parents pressing the district to hire specialized teachers or to purchase sophisticated equipment that “can be targeted to benefit their own children.” This arrangement, in his view, exacerbates existing inequities in school funding, and, since contributions to lefs are tax deductible, rich districts are, in effect, receiving a subsidy from other taxpayers.

The New Yorker/The Mail

Sept. 10, 2018:

As someone who is working to elect a Democrat in a Republican-held congressional district, I asked myself why none of the philanthropists mentioned in Kolbert’s article are working to protect the most basic mechanism of democracy: the right to vote. According to the Brennan Center for Justice, forty-one states have outdated voting machines that are vulnerable to hacking and breakdowns. Officials in thirty-three states told researchers that they didn’t have enough funds to upgrade their systems before 2020. If Silicon Valley is happy to sell voting systems to the government, shouldn’t tech billionaires feel some responsibility for safeguarding them and fixing them, since hacking threatens the liberal, free-market democracy that enabled their companies to succeed in the first place? My first thought upon finishing Kolbert’s article was: Will anyone rescue our democracy with a funds-for-secure-elections drive? Because the federal government hasn’t done so, and apparently won’t.

Sharona Muir

Perrysburg, Ohio

 

Aretha.

August 16, 2018

1942-2018

‘Looking out at the morning rain…’

Renaissance For Truth & Accuracy

August 11, 2018

Boston Globe Calls For Nationwide Media Response To Trump’s Attacks On The Press

Woodstein U: Notes on the Mass Production and Questionable Education of Journalists

“There is an inextricable link between repressing the freedom of the press and repressing the freedom for civil society to campaign for their rights. Both are an attempt to repress “inconvenient truths,” silencing protesting voices, and dimming the spotlight on illegal activity perpetrated by individuals, companies, and governments in power. And both deserve the world’s attention.”

The late Ben Bagdikian, who wrote a cover story for The Atlantic in March 1977 on the so-called Woodstein phenomenon, summed it up like this: Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein “were young, inexperienced, and not particularly promising in the eyes of their superiors. Working in a city and on a paper where the country’s most celebrated journalists were in top command, the two beginners beat them all and became national heroes … If they could do it, why couldn’t every high school student?”

Washington Post writers Carl Bernstein, left, and Robert Woodward, who pressed the Watergate investigation, are photographed in Washington, D.C., May 7, 1973. It was announced that The Post won the Pulitzer Prize for public service for its stories about the Watergate scandal. (AP Photo)

But one experienced news director at a major television station said: “I prefer someone who majored in sociology or architecture or art history or psychology rather than somebody who spent a year or two learning how to put a film story together. One of our best reporters was a Rhodes scholar specializing in Florentine history. Given the nature of politics in this city. I don’t think that expertise in Machiavellian politics is such a bad idea.”

The people who hire journalists say they are divided on the value of journalism schools. But what about practitioners of journalism who, with the benefit of years of experience, can look back and judge for themselves? Did journalism graduates distinguish themselves over non-journalism graduates?

I wrote to fifty-three journalists who have won Pulitzer Prizes over the last ten years. Of those who responded. 75 percent did not major in journalism, most having degrees in English. English literature, history, or philosophy. Three did not attend college.

These Pulitzer Prize-winners were largely hostile to the idea of journalism schools and most of those approving a journalism degree specified that they favored a different undergraduate degree with journalism solely in a year of graduate work.

https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/1977/03/woodstein-u-notes-on-the-mass-production-and-questionable-education-of-journalists/306923/

Repressing Journalism Is Repressing Civil Society

“THE POLITICS OF DISTRACTION” TROUBLE MEDIA STUDIES PROF. KEVIN HOWLEY

August 10, 2018

[A newspaper column from DePauw University Professor Kevin Howley takes media to task for being distracted from real issues by rhetoric.]

“Ever since [DT] announced his candidacy, the news media has followed his Twitter account with all the anticipation and credulity of a child on Christmas morning,” according to Kevin Howley, professor of communication at DePauw University. In a newspaper column, Howley continues, “Eager to publish — and profit handsomely from — the latest presidential tweet storm, an obliging press corps rewards Trump’s narcissism as it normalizes his authoritarianism.”

After the president tweeted last week that Attorney General Jeff Sessions should end the ongoing ngoing Special Counsel investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election, “Reporters and pundits spent the better part of the news cycle parsing the president’s words and debating whether this latest episode constitutes obstruction of justice,” Dr. Howley observes. “What’s most troubling about all of this is how willingly reporters and editors participate in Trump’s politics of distraction.”

In Howley’s view, the media’s myopic obsession with the president amount to “endless distractions that prevent us from addressing vital problems, like climate change and the health care crisis, that require immediate attention.”

The professor’s op-ed concludes, “The Romans knew a thing or two about the politics of distraction. They called it ‘bread and circuses.’ We call it ‘fake news.’ Despite, or perhaps because of the spectacle, the Roman Empire collapsed under its own imperious weight. Maybe there’s a lesson in that for the American Empire.”

You’ll find the complete text at the website of Indiana’s Kokomo Tribune.

Dick Cavett in the Digital Age

Stopping to smell the flowers with the last great intellectual talk-show host.

“Well, that’s an awkward subject matter for me, because I know all of them,” Mr. Cavett, 81, said on a recent sunny Thursday afternoon at his sprawling country house in Connecticut. “I’m not addicted to talk shows. God knows, I’ve spent enough time on them.”

As in Mr. Cavett’s 1960s and ’70s heyday, the country is in a period of turbulence, with racial tensions flaring, protests in the streets, and a fundamental ideological fissure. The hosts who have emphasized substance, who have “gone political,” have been praised and nominated for Emmys.

But “the next Cavett”? Is such a thing possible?

If only.

For three decades, Mr. Cavett was the thinking person’s Johnny Carson, embodiment of an East Coast sophisticate. He wore smart turtlenecks and double-breasted blazers, had more cultural references than a Google server and laced martini-dry witticisms into lengthy, probing talks with 20th-century luminaries including Bette Davis, James Baldwin, Mick Jagger and Jean-Luc Godard.

A Renaissance salon in a rabbit-ears era, “The Dick Cavett Show” was woke some 50 years before the term came into vogue. Viewers tuned in to see Muhammad Ali spout off about the Vietnam War or to see Yoko Ono in a 90-minute discussion with John Lennon.

While Mr. Cavett said he loathed Nixon’s politics, he called him “a brilliant, brilliant man” and was cordial to him in person. Years after Watergate, he remembers seeing the former president and his younger daughter, Julie, seated at an outdoor restaurant in Montauk, so he grabbed a menu and, posing as a waiter, began to list the specials: Yorba Linda cream pie, Whittier College soufflé.

Not his best material, Ms. Nixon told him.

The current president is perhaps the only celebrity over the age of 70 that Mr. Cavett has never met, other than being beaten by him to shrimp in a benefit buffet line years ago.

“I think all people who get to president of the United States must have something wonderful about them,” Mr. Cavett said in a mock-diplomatic tone.

“With that,” he added, “Cavett held a gun to his head and shot himself.”

AP Headline:

Republicans promote fear, not tax cuts, in key elections”

[From space to borders, ‘fear is a contagion in a democracy.’]

“FEAR: Trump in the White House,” by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and bestselling author Bob Woodward, will be published by Simon & Schuster on Sept. 11th.

  • “Drawing from hundreds of hours of interviews with firsthand sources, contemporaneous meeting notes, files, documents and personal diaries, FEAR brings to light the explosive debates that drive decision-making in the Oval Office, the Situation Room, Air Force One and the White House residence.”
  • Jonathan Karp, president and publisher of Simon & Schuster: “‘FEAR is the most acute and penetrating portrait of a sitting president ever published during the first years of an administration.”
  • “FEAR is Woodward’s 19th book with Simon & Schuster, beginning with ‘All the President’s Men’ in 1974. Each of the previous 18 books he authored or co-authored has been a national nonfiction bestseller. Twelve of those have been #1 national bestsellers.”

The WashPost’s Manuel Roig-Franzia writes that the “expected tenor of the book is underscored by its unsettling cover, an extreme close-up of a squinty-eyed Trump depicted through a gauzy red filter.”“The hush-hush project derives its title from an offhand remark that then-candidate Trump made in an interview with Woodward and Post political reporter Robert Costa in April 2016.

“DT said: “Real power is, I don’t even want to use the word: ‘Fear.’

 “Woodward … has privately described the remark as ‘an almost Shakespearean aside.'”

Hope Reese, JSTOR Daily

The American philosopher Martha Nussbaum’s new book, The Monarchy of Fear, examines the politics of primal fear in the 2016 election.

In November 2016, the American philosopher Martha Nussbaum was in Tokyo preparing to give a speech when she learned of the results of the U.S. presidential election. Worrying about the implications of Trump’s victory, Nussbaum, who has long studied the philosophy of emotions, realized that she “was part of the problem.”

The examination of her own reaction resulted in Nussbaum’s latest work, The Monarchy of Fear––part manifesto, part Socratic-style dialogue about the large role that fear plays in our current political era and why it represents a serious danger to democracy. Nussbaum has explored a range of emotions in her work, and this book, she tells me, makes the case that “anger, disgust, and envy…are poisoned and made more disruptive by fear.” Fear, Nussbaum argues, is both a primal emotion, an impulse felt by infants, and an emotion shaped by social context as we become older. Fear is asocial, narcissistic––and often misguided. When we fear others, Nussbaum says, we are often not taking facts and information into account––and we are often perceiving dangers that don’t exist.

“The nature of fear is that it’s very volatile and it’s very easily hijacked by rhetoric.”

Martha Nussbaum: Overcoming Fear, Embracing Democracy

Civics education should be about more than just facts

The list of what ails the U.S. politically today is long and complicated, with problems as different as vast economic inequalityand gerrymandered congressional districts. But if we’re honest with ourselves, many of the country’s most serious problems exist within us, in the hearts and minds of its people. We shelter ourselves from perspectives and facts that disagree with our own. Our politics seem more rooted in contempt and schadenfreude than empathy and reason. Politicians exploit racial, ethnic, and class divisions, leaving many Americans feeling even more targeted and disenfranchised. And a foreign adversary disseminates false information through social media because it believes that Americans cannot (or won’t really care to) distinguish reality from manipulative fiction.

Those are shortcomings in our skills and dispositions. Do public schools have a role to play in developing them? We believe they do. Schools, more than any other public institution, are charged with preparing students for the responsibilities of civic life. Parents play a critical role, too, but schools are better positioned to ensure that all children have a core set of experiences. This includes developing skills that might not be on parents’ radar, like how to evaluate news disseminated over social media. Believing that schools ought to sharpen students’ civic skills and dispositions isn’t, as Finn suggests, a product of political correctness run amok, nor is it an inherently left-of-center idea. Americans have long seen this kind of thing as a core function of schools, and even Milton Friedman’s argument for vouchers is built on a notion that schools ought to instill a common set of values.

Perhaps Finn’s critique is that teaching facts is the way to develop civic skills and dispositions, or that students develop these skills and dispositions without schools teaching them explicitly. Perhaps rather than directly teaching news and media literacy or providing students with opportunities to engage in and experience the political process, schools should stick to teaching facts and modeling nice behaviors. We see that as a missed opportunity.

Hannah Arendt Explains How Propaganda Uses Lies to Erode All Truth & Morality: Insights from The Origins of Totalitarianism

In an ever-changing, incomprehensible world the masses had reached the point where they would, at the same time, believe everything and nothing, think that everything was possible and nothing was true… The totalitarian mass leaders based their propaganda on the correct psychological assumption that, under such conditions, one could make people believe the most fantastic statements one day, and trust that if the next day they were given irrefutable proof of their falsehood, they would take refuge in cynicism; instead of deserting the leaders who had lied to them, they would protest that they had known all along that the statement was a lie and would admire the leaders for their superior tactical cleverness.

The result of a consistent and total substitution of lies for factual truth is not that the lie will now be accepted as truth and truth be defamed as a lie, but that the sense by which we take our bearings in the real world—and the category of truth versus falsehood is among the mental means to this end—is being destroyed.

“We too,” writes Jeffrey Isaacs at The Washington Post, “live in dark times”—an allusion to another of Arendt’s sobering analyses—“even if they are different and perhaps less dark.” Arendt wrote Origins of Totalitarianism from research and observations gathered during the 1940s, a very specific historical period. Nonetheless the book, Isaacs remarks, “raises a set of fundamental questions about how tyranny can arise and the dangerous forms of inhumanity to which it can lead.” Arendt’s analysis of propaganda and the function of lies seems particularly relevant at this moment. The kinds of blatant lies she wrote of might become so commonplace as to become banal. We might begin to think they are an irrelevant sideshow. This, she suggests, would be a mistake.

Hannah Arendt Explains How Propaganda Uses Lies to Erode All Truth & Morality: Insights from The Origins of Totalitarianism

 

“VOTE. It’s the only thing left.”

August 7, 2018

All that’s left is the vote.

George Packer.

DT’s consolidation of power. None of the other forces that might have checked the rise of a corrupt homegrown oligarchy can stop or even slow it. The institutional clout that ended the Presidency of Richard Nixon no longer exists. The honest press, for all its success in exposing daily scandals, won’t persuade the unpersuadable or shame the shameless, while the dishonest press is Trump’s personal amplifier. The federal courts, including the Supreme Court, are rapidly becoming instruments of partisan advocacy, as reliably conservative as elected legislatures. It’s impossible to imagine the Roberts Court voting unanimously against the President, as the Burger Court, including five Republican appointees, did in forcing Nixon to turn over his tapes. (Brett Kavanaugh, Trump’s nominee to succeed Anthony Kennedy, has even suggested that the decision was wrong.) Congress has readily submitted to the President’s will, as if legislation and oversight were burdens to be relinquished. And, when the independent counsel finally releases his report, it will have only the potency that the guardians of the law and the Constitution give it.

Behind these institutions lies public opinion, and we are quickly learning that it matters more than laws, more than the Constitution, more than the country’s supposedly inviolable founding principles. “If large numbers of people are interested in freedom of speech, there will be freedom of speech, even if the law forbids it,” George Orwell wrote, in “Freedom of the Park.”  “If public opinion is sluggish, inconvenient minorities will be persecuted, even if laws exist to protect them.” During 1973, the year Watergate became a national scandal, facts changed the political views of millions of Americans, Nixon’s approval rating fell from sixty-seven per cent to less than thirty per cent, and his fate was sealed. In our time, large blocs of public opinion are barely movable: Trump’s performance in Helsinki—declaring himself on the side of Russia, against his own intelligence agencies and the integrity of American elections—received favorable reviews from eighty per cent of Republicans. Yet public opinion still plays a central role in safeguarding democracy, and it becomes decisive through voting. Demonstrations can capture attention and build solidarity, books can provide arguments, social media can organize resistance. But if the Republicans don’t suffer a serious defeat in November, Trump will go into 2020 with every structural advantage.

Democrats have a habit of forgetting to vote between Presidential elections. Republican turnout has exceeded or equalled Democratic turnout in very midterm since 1978, no matter which party held the Presidency, with an average margin of three per cent—more than enough to decide control of Congress in a closely divided election. The demographic groups that are least likely to vote—young people, Latinos, and those with a high-school education or less—tend to be Democratic constituencies. This tendency has been especially stark in the past two midterm cycles: in 2014, the turnout among eligible voters aged eighteen to twenty-nine was seventeen per cent—one in six. The disappearing Democratic voter also had an effect on the latest Presidential election, when, for example, African-American turnout dropped almost five per cent from 2012—a crucial difference in the three key states that gave Trump the Electoral College.

Republicans, for their part, don’t always entrust their hold on power to democratic methods. Since 2010, nearly half of the states have passed laws that make it harder to vote—from restrictions on early voting to I.D. requirements, mandatory proof of citizenship, and purges of voting rolls. The purpose of these laws is not to fight a mythical epidemic of fraud but to depress turnout of normally Democratic constituencies. They show incremental signs of success: a government study found that new laws reduced turnout in 2012 in Kansas and Tennessee by two or three per cent, notably among young and black voters. Other states have expanded the franchise, particularly to former felons, but Republican control of two-thirds of state legislatures and the shift of courts to the right give the momentum to efforts to curtail voting.

Gerrymandering is another effective tool for staying in power. The Brennan Center for Justice recently released a report on the effects of redistricting in states like Michigan, North Carolina, Ohio, and Texas. Algorithmic mapping has grown so precise that Republican legislatures have created a sixteen-seat advantage in the House of Representatives that remains impervious to standard electoral pressures. In November, just to achieve a bare majority, Democrats will have to win the national congressional vote by nearly eleven per cent. (Other studies put the number at around seven per cent.) And legislatures elected this year will redraw state and federal districts after the 2020 census. There’s a thick seawall standing in the way of a blue wave.

But it’s self-defeating to exaggerate the external obstacles: in 2016, Democratic turnout declined in states with and without new voter restrictions. Gerrymandering is a time-honored practice of both parties—look at Maryland’s House delegation. Unfettered money in politics doesn’t always favor Republicans, let alone guarantee victory—Hillary Clinton raised twice as much as Trump did. The greatest obstacle to voting is the feeling that it won’t matter, and that feeling seems to be more prevalent among Democrats.

In some cases, that sense may be based on overconfidence and insularity—a presumption that the other party’s outrages will automatically disqualify it in voters’ eyes. More often, it comes from a belief that politics doesn’t change anything in people’s lives. For two generations, the Republican Party has been an expression of grassroots conservatism, most recently the fever that’s ceded the Party to Trump. Meanwhile, the Democratic Party has grown less connected to its voters. It’s like a neglected building, perennially on the edge of collapse, which left-leaning Americans occasionally use for some purpose and then abandon.

This year, something seems to be changing. The new faces among Democratic candidates, the new energy behind them, suggest a party of members, not squatters. But, come November, they will have to vote. It’s the only thing left. ♦

The disturbing world of Jim Carrey’s anti-trump cartoons.

(Holed up in his L.A. home, the actor sketches furiously, and watches lots of cable news.)

George Bethea

House Republicans have called for the impeachment of Rod Rosenstein, the Deputy Attorney General, who is overseeing the Russia investigation, but his defenders are speaking out. Jeff Sessions, the Attorney General, has called Rosenstein “highly capable,” while Sally Yates, the former acting Attorney General, said that the impeachment effort would “undoubtedly fail.” Perhaps the most impassioned testimonial came from the actor Jim Carrey, who drew a picture of Rosenstein as a saint with a halo, invoking early Christian art. Carrey tweeted a photo of the drawing to his nearly eighteen million followers, with an earnest plea: “I hope there are other Republicans like you who will defend us against this thuggish lot.”

Since 2016, Carrey has created more than a hundred cartoons protesting the Trump Administration, a pastime that borders on the obsessive. “I fight him to the end,” he said recently, citing the Bhagavad Gita. “It’s my Arjuna moment—my responsibility to pick up the sword.”

Carrey was at his home in Los Angeles, a one-story ranch-style house where he lives alone. (On this day, two employees and a publicist were on hand.) Now fifty-six, he wore a black T-shirt and cargo shorts. His hair was shaggy. He’s still acting—he’d spent the previous afternoon on the set of an upcoming Showtime series he’s starring in, “kidding”, directed by Michel Gondry—but, like everyone else these days, he watches a lot of cable news.

He sat down near a large television in his living room. “Right now, everybody is laser-focussed on every detail of this Administration,” he said. “And I am, too. I read news online, but mostly I watch MSNBC. They’re flawed, but Rachel Maddow is really good.” He sketches while he watches: wonky portraits, satirical headlines, grotesqueries. “It makes me feel better if I can alchemize all of this,” he said. “Turn it into something creative and make people on the Twitter feel good.”

Besides cartoons, Carrey also makes abstract paintings. The walls of his house are covered in his own work: Technicolor images streaked onto mirrored surfaces, or canvases that have been slashed and stitched. Some are signed “Church of FFC.” (The acronym stands for “Freedom from Concern.”) Though he was an artistic child, he didn’t start painting seriously until seven years ago, he explained, “in the midst of heartbreak.” The cartooning started the day before the 2016 Presidential election. “It was in the middle of the killer-clown phenomenon,” he recalled. He shouted to his art manager, in the next room. “Linda, can you find that killer-clown sketch?”

Linda replied, “The killer clown pressing the button, or the—”

“Pressing the button, yeah,” Carrey said, slightly impatient.

She brought over a drawing of Trump as a clown with a blue nose and fangs.

Politically, Carrey described himself as a “conservative Democrat, because I don’t like boundaries.” As a cartoonist, his humor tends toward the obscene. He flipped through a stack of sketches, and found a picture of Trump with a Russian flag planted in his rear end. “I did that one before the Helsinki meeting,”  he said. “It was a prediction.” There were drawings of all the minor players: Sean Hannity as a manatee, Trey Gowdy as an insect, Adam Schiff as a Ken doll dropping his pants. (Carrey found the ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee to be insufficiently animated on TV. “Show some passion!” he wrote in the caption. “We’ve had it with your calm, reasonable manner! make some f’ing noise!!!”) His position affords some flexibility. “I don’t work for a publication, so I’m allowed to do crude things, which I enjoy,” he said. “Twitter doesn’t mind.” Lingering on two Munch-esque portraits of Rudolph Giuliani, mid-scream, Carrey said, “I love these Giuliani images.” He pointed to his subject’s bridgework: white on top, brown below. “These people don’t bother to dye the bottom teeth.”

Carrey said that, as an actor, he’d most like to play Paul Manafort. “When I see Manafort walking into the courtroom, I’m, like, ‘Does anybody else notice that he’s, like, a frigging alien in a skin suit?’ Hasn’t studied his subject.” He stood up and did an impression, legs and arms akimbo. “He’s an interesting character, because he hasn’t visited his actual being in a long time. He’s been consumed by a maelstrom of future chaos.”

Carrey called out to another employee. “Brogan,” he said. “Can you bring up Roy Moore? You know, the little one? It’s in there.”

Like many people in show business, Carrey has crossed paths with Trump. He recalled meeting him at a New York fund-raiser. “He said, ‘Hey, Jim.’ I said, ‘Hey, Donald.’ Later, I rented his ice rink for a Valentine’s Day skate. He was a fine guy when he was a reality-show host.” He returned to his sketch pad. A more subtle idea had occurred to him. “I started drawing a cartoon this morning that’s just an empty desk and chair on the floor of the Senate,” he said. “I don’t know what the caption will be yet.” ♦

Capitalism with purpose, or validating privilege?

Bobby Turner

Our Vision

From the Turner Impact Capital website:
America faces profound challenges in core areas of our society: education, housing and healthcare among them. While government and philanthropy can treat these issues, they often fail to make a lasting difference. What’s needed to truly cure these problems are investments that create market-driven, long-term, sustainable solutions.
The company’s solution is built on the back of inequality, i.e., the 1/99%. His key message at the Sun Valley Forum is that capitalism is built on disparity of wealth. What our country as a whole suffers from is ‘hope’, saying,”We suffer from a disparity of hope.” But is his argument sound, or constructed on a false premise? It begs the question, if more Americans had greater access to the 1%, in other words, a greater dispersion of wealth among the 99%, would the disparity of hope be as great, and would we need The Bobby Turner’s to come in and save the day? Perhaps the saviors should be the capitalistic corporations that built the massive employment inequality instead of private hedge funds.

Turner Impact Capital has one mission: to create innovative and durable solutions to today’s challenges by investing in community-enriching infrastructure in underserved communities.

 

Two of Turner’s partners include Magic Johnson and Andre Agassi. He’s in the profit business, $2 billion in private equity, focusing on education and health care, building 79 charters schools, with another 70 planned for construction in the next several years [Idaho Mountain Express, July 3, 2018]. “Overall, Turner said, his methods rely on profit generation–but place societal benefit as the top priority. I get to make money while I’m doing it.”

https://www.mtexpress.com/news/sun_valley/sun-valley-forum-speaker-touts-private-sector-solutions-to-societal/article_5bd1b66c-96ac-11e8-86d1-ef4b5adf3a8c.html

Confessions Of A (Former) White Savior

by, Janice Erlbaum

“The white savior complex is about assimilation. It’s about feeling superior to another culture. It’s about validating your own personal, individual experience through the lives and experiences of other marginalized peoples. It’s taking their struggle (even if it’s a sometimes imagined or exaggerated struggle) and making it about how much of a good person you are.” – Uncredited quote on Tumblr

“The White Savior Industrial Complex is not about justice. It is about having a big emotional experience that validates privilege.” – Teju Cole

“The 19th century saw the rise of a pious, middle-class feminism, devoted to the moral uplift of the poor. By ministering to prostitutes, middle-class women got both respectable jobs and the frisson of proximity to vice.” – Molly Crabapple

It’s an improvement, but there’s still a lot of work for me to do. I grew up under the pervasive influence of a culture that taught me that black-skinned people were lesser than me, and the years of brainwashing I accepted without question will take years to overcome. But I’m doing my best to drop the Benevolent White Savior act, and to relate to people as the individuals they are.

[…]

It also reinforces the pernicious assumption that brown-skinned people need white-skinned people to help them. It facilitates the fetishization and exotification of African people. It may bring people together physically, but it also fortifies the divide between them: One person is the have, the other is the have-not. Those roles are rigid and can’t be recast.

[…]

I don’t want to discount the motives of every white volunteer, and I certainly don’t want to cast aspersions on the people working for non-governmental aid organizations who do life-saving work under impossibly dangerous circumstances (though NGOs often come with their own imperialist agendas). I think it’s possible for a white person to be of service to people of color without automatically reinforcing their racist assumptions. I think it’s tricky, but I think it’s possible.

Full article:

Confessions Of A (Former) White Savior

SVI: Where Convention and Opportunity Meet

Who do your dollars support?

Research banks and credit cards to discover dollars supporting and contributing to our changing climate, considering corporations shifting capital flows to reduce risk and optimize opportunity.

Julie Shafer, Head of Purpose Investments & Philanthropy, BNP Paribas/Bank of the West

Ivan Frishberg, Vice President for Sustainable Banking, Amalgamated Bank

Kristin Hull, Founder and CEO, Nia Impact Capital

Capital is mobilizing to solve global challenges and finance local resilience. Research how capital for impact and how corporations and investors, from the global to the local scale are working to bring trust and decentralized solutions back into finance.

https://www.amalgamatedbank.com

Nia: 

[nee-ah] (Swahili origin)

intention, purpose​

Nia Impact Capital designs portfolios where financial returns and social impact work hand-in-hand.

https://www.niaimpactcapital.com

‘Nia Impact Capital announced the launch of its women-led Registered Investment Advisor (RIA) dedicated to helping wealth management professionals meet the growing demand for impact investing solutions.’

THE IMPERATIVE: THE NEED FOR THE BIG PIVOT

The business world is facing unprecedented change. The mega trends that are changing the world in profound ways present new risks and opportunities for companies of all sizes and in all sectors. The World Economic Forum’s 2014 Global Risks survey asked the world’s business and political leaders to rank their biggest concerns. The top 10 global risks all fell into two categories: economy-wide concerns (fiscal crises, unemployment, inequity) and climate and natural resources (water scarcity, the risk of the world not addressing climate change, and more extreme weather). In addition, other fundamental global shifts, particularly the transparency that technology now enables, are putting companies under a powerful microscope and forcing them to answer new questions from customers, consumers, communities, governments, and employees.

http://www.andrewwinston.com/eco-strategies/

 

A Changing Climate/Farmers

NPR/Morning Edition

Rebecca Hersher

So far there are limited strategies for protecting wild rice harvests. Diverting runoff for slowing down floodwater so it doesn’t destroy plants could help, but rising temperatures may ultimately lead the plant’s range to shrink northward into Canada.

That would be bad news for people who currently harvest wild rice on reservations. “Migration as an adaptation strategy for tribes is not really an option,” says Melonee Montano, who works on traditional ecological knowledge outreach at GLIFWC. “Our land is fixed. All we can do is to work together to improve awareness and look for solutions.”

Climate Change Threatens Midwest’s Wild Rice

A Staple For Native Americans

Full Article:

https://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2018/08/07/632840187/climate-change-threatens-midwests-wild-rice-a-staple-for-native-americans

SVI: Where Convention and Opportunity Meet

 

Walter Starke:

“The spiritualization of our nation’s corporations is the most important development that can possible happen of the spiritual growth of the world as a whole.

Changing Climate/Climate Change

Visuals from the Sun Valley Forum

RISKS

OPPORTUNITIES

Mark Peters, Director, Idaho National Laboratory (INL)

‘The Idaho National Laboratory’s mission includes discovering, demonstrating and securing innovative clean energy options and critical infrastructure, making it a test bed and model for resilience innovation serving national security, including grid and cyber security and micrograms.’

Grid resilience

“Last fall, Idaho National Laboratory researchers assembled a coalition of partners to design a system of microgrids that would enhance grid resilience by maintaining and restoring power after a catastrophic event or a cyberattack.

During the coming months, the partners will demonstrate this technology in the small fishing village of Cordova, Alaska.

When the microgrid system is finished, Cordova’s electrical grid will automatically reroute power to ensure that critical public services — hospitals, emergency shelters and other vital services — have electricity if part of the grid is damaged or disabled.”

Microgrids and local generating capacity are central to surviving any catastrophic grid failure.” -Larry Schoen, Blaine county Commissioner

“As a medical professional and first responder, you learn to always have a back-up plan, and to think ahead even in life-threatening situations. In the same way, blaine county–and critical services like our hospital–need an energy back-up plan.” -Terry O’Connor, Blaine county/Sawtooth Regional EMS Director

SVI: Where Convention and Opportunity Meet

August 3, 2018

Initial takeaways from the 2018 Sun Valley Forum:

Re-invent impact.

The media promotes crazy extremes; the changing climate is not a political ideology.

Time is imperative.

“Stop thinking in silos.” -Julie Wrigley

407

Climate Mayors — the national coalition of 407 U.S. Mayors dedicated to pursuing solutions to global warming — denounces this unprecedented attack on both the environment and states’ rights, and vows to continue moving forward on transportation policies that help reduce the impact of climate pollution.

“I promise to leave the world better than I found it.”

The authors of Natural Capitalism say that these choices are possible and such an economy would offer a stunning new set of opportunities for all of society, amounting to no less than the next industrial revolution. The book has many practical suggestions for companies interested in a sustainable future.

According to the authors, the “next industrial revolution” depends on the espousal of four central strategies: “the conservation of resources through more effective manufacturing processes, the reuse of materials as found in natural systems, a change in values from quantity to quality, and investing in natural capital, or restoring and sustaining natural resources.

We win or die by our culture; we are everyday change makers.

#ClimateOptimist

The Climate Optimist Manifesto:

“I believe we can solve climate change.

I will shine a light on solutions, share my optimism & take positive action.”

climateoptimist.org

“There isn’t enough hope–we have to keep hope alive”

“Martin Luther King didn’t say, ‘I have a nightmare.’ He said, ‘I have a dream.'”

BlessedTomorrow.org

Climate Change Mitigation and Advocacy in 2018 and Beyond

by Anita Fete Crews

6.14.18

On May 2, Blessed Tomorrow and Auburn Seminary co-hosted the 2018 National Climate and Faith Leadership Forum, a gathering of nearly 50 faith leaders exploring how to increase climate change mitigation and advocacy activities across the country. Participants represented a diverse group of faith institutions and faith-based organizations, shared best practices, and discussed how to catalyze new, bolder, and broader efforts such as committing to 100% clean energy. Faith organizations and leaders are increasingly adopting climate change as a top priority, and embracing care for God’s creation as part of their faith identity and moral responsibility.

http://blessedtomorrow.org/blog/climate-change-mitigation-and-advocacy-2018-and-beyond

In Sun Valley, the Local Food Alliance:
If each Blaine County resident spends just $5 each week on locally grown food, our farmers will earn $56 million annually — a huge economic boost.

“Vote with your fork.” -Ali Long

“Local Food Alliance…is on and pushing the leading edge of dynamic social and economic changes that are increasingly important in an ever-widening circle of acceptance.” – Larry Schoen, Blaine County Commissioner

Senator Cory Booker (D) spoke with Founding Executive Director Aimee Christensen at the first Sun Valley Forum four years ago. On Friday, August 2nd, at the Netroots National Annual Conference he shared:

“No matter how powerful corporate greed and corporations might be getting, the power of the people is greater than the people in power.”

And this gives us hope.

[More from the forum soon–check this space.]

This is what makes America great.

July 28, 2018

 

An informal welcoming committee is offering support — with everything from plane tickets to birthday cupcakes. […] The staff and volunteers at Lutheran Social Services (with help from national advocacy groups like the American Civil Liberties Union and FWD.us) are ready, with everything from shoelaces to stuffed animals to pastors on call. Meanwhile, in Washington, DC — where it’s 10 or 11 at night — staffers for FWD.us are preparing to spend another few hours as impromptu travel agents, booking next-day flights from Phoenix to wherever the families are set to go.

The welcoming committee is trying to ensure that families make their initial check-in dates, something they feel the government should be helping with but isn’t. But they’re also trying to show another face of America to the victims of the family separation policy. “The American public is going to step in where the government has failed,” said Alida Garcia, the coalitions and policy director for FWD.us, on a press call Tuesday. “It’s going to provide comfort and love and care to these families.”

VOX/Dara Lind

https://www.vox.com/2018/7/26/17608480/separated-parents-children-deadline-together-help

FWD.us chapters are the central home for everything that we do—building networks, innovating advocacy, and sharing stories. We bring together passionate, talented people, and offer opportunities to engage in innovative advocacy that educates elected decision makers and changes the terms of public debate.

FWD.us is mobilizing the tech community to promote policies that keep the U.S.
competitive in a global economy, starting with fixing our broken immigration system and criminal justice reform.

Climate Change Linked to Suicide Increase

July 27, 2018

New research from Stanford University finds that higher temperatures are leading to more suicides. And by 2050, the study predicts, thousands of additional suicides will have occurred in North America alone due to the rising temperatures caused by climate change.

Published in the journal Nature Climate Change, the study examined decades of county-level suicide data — nearly 1.5 million observations spanning all of the United States and Mexico — as well as data that tracked monthly temperatures in each area. The team used data going back as far as 1968.

According to the research, a monthly rise in temperature of 1 degree Celsius leads to “about a 1 to 2 percent increase in the suicide rate,” says Dr. Marshall Burke, assistant professor of earth system science at Stanford University and lead author of the study.

Burke says there is “emerging physiological evidence” that the parts of the brain involved with regulating emotion are also used when dealing with heat. While “there is a plausible link here,” he says, the mechanism linking heat to suicide remains an open question.

“We need a movement in this country, more than anywhere, that makes it unacceptable for political leaders to […] not meet their climate obligations, or to deny that climate change is even a real thing,” he says.

-WBUR, Justin Kaplan

Full article: http://www.wbur.org/commonhealth/2018/07/23/global-warming-deaths-by-suicide 

Creating God.

July 25, 2018

‘Let’s take a moment to go back in time.

For most of human history, we lived in small groups of about 50 people. Everyone knew everybody. If you told a lie, stole someone’s dinner, or failed to defend the group against its enemies, there was no way to disappear into the crowd. Everyone knew you, and you would get punished.

But in the last 12,000 years or so, human groups began to expand. It became more difficult to identify and punish the cheaters and free riders. So we needed something big — really big. An epic force that could see what everyone was doing, and enforce the rules. That force, according to social psychologist Asim Shariff, was the popular idea of a “supernatural punisher” – also known as God.

Think of the vengeful deity of the Hebrew Bible, known for sending punishments like rains of burning sulfur and clouds of locusts, look and lice.

“It’s an effective stick to deter people from immoral behavior,” says Shariff.

For Shariff and other researchers who study religion through the lens of evolution, religion can be seen as a cultural innovation, similar to fire, tools or agriculture. He says the vibrant panoply of religious rituals and beliefs we see today – including the popular belief in a punishing God – emerged in different societies at different times as mechanisms to help us survive as a species.

This week on Hidden Brain, we explore a provocative idea about the origin, and purpose, of the world’s religions.’

-The Hidden Brain/NPR

https://www.npr.org/2018/07/16/628792048/creating-god?utm_source=twitter.com&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=hiddenbrain&utm_term=artsculture&utm_content=20180718

The political is spiritual.

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