AuthorTopic: Knarf's Knewz Channel  (Read 1741548 times)

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Why the average American hasn’t made a new friend in 5 years
« Reply #12675 on: May 11, 2019, 05:40:59 AM »
Forty-five percent of adults say they find it difficult to make new friends, according to new research.

A new study into the social dynamics of 2,000 Americans revealed that the average American hasn’t made a new friend in five years.

In fact, it seems for many that popularity hits its peak at age 23, and for 36 percent, it peaks even before age 21.

The study, conducted by OnePoll in conjunction with Evite, uncovered that one of the reasons 42 percent of adults struggle to make friends is due to introversion or shyness.

And the challenge is not just in breaking out of their shell but also breaking into new social situations and circles.

The majority of respondents cite friendship-making barriers that include aversion to the bar scene where most people choose to socialize, or the feeling that everyone’s friendship groups have already formed.

Other notable reasons Americans can’t seem to make new friends as an adult include commitments to family (29 percent), not having any hobbies that allow them to meet new people (28 percent) and moving to a new city (21 percent).

Though adults find the struggle to be very real when it comes to making new friends, they are open to suggestions for expanding their social circle. In fact, 45 percent of those studied reveal they would go out of their way to make new friends if they knew how or had more opportunities.

“For the 45 percent who are looking to make new friends, the best and most underrated way to do that these days is still in-person. You can host a party, or something more low-key like book club or happy hour, and tell each of your guests to bring a friend,” said Piera Pizzo, Evite’s in-house party specialist.

“You’ll be surprised at how naturally social circles can come together, and at the lasting connections you can make when bonding face-to-face.”

And how many friends do adults actually have? Turns out, 16. The average American has three friends for life, five people they really like and would hang out with one-on-one, and eight people they like but don’t spend time with one-on-one or seek out.

Most people have remained close with friends they met when they were younger. Nearly half of those surveyed have stayed friends with peers from high school, and a further 31 percent with peers from college.

Kicking it even more old-school, three in 10 Americans say they have made lasting connections with people they met in their childhood neighborhood.

However, 82 percent of those studied feel like lasting friendships are hard to find. The number one cause of lost friendships is moving away, with 63 percent revealing this to be a reason they’ve fallen out of touch with a former friend.

With no shortage of challenges to staying in touch with friends, how can Americans ensure that growing up doesn’t mean growing apart?

Pizzo suggests: “We know better than anyone else that nothing happens unless you get it on the calendar. Whether it’s a casual bi-weekly dinner with local friends, or an annual trip for long-distance ones, take the initiative to make and set time for the people you value in your life. That time is even proven to make you happier and healthier, so there’s no reason to wait.”

Being introverted/shy    42%
Most people just want to go to a bar but that’s not my scene    33%
I feel like everyone has their friendship groups already formed    33%
My family takes up a lot of my time    29%
I don’t have any hobbies that allow me to meet new people    28%

https://nypost.com/2019/05/09/why-the-average-american-hasnt-made-a-new-friend-in-5-years/
Mark Twain — 'There are many humorous things in the world; among them, the white man's notion that he is less savage than the other savages.'

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Meditation retreats bad for your mental health, study suggests
« Reply #12676 on: May 11, 2019, 05:47:00 AM »
Going on trendy meditation retreats may be bad for participants’ mental health, a new study suggests.

An international survey of people who attended residential meditation programmes found three in ten suffered “unpleasant” episodes, including feelings of anxiety or fear.

The study by University College London (UCL) found that, overall, more than a quarter of people who regularly meditate experience such feelings.

However, those engaging in currently fashionable “deconstructive” forms such as Vipassana or Koan meditation, which encourage insight through questioning permanence of the self and the reality of sensations, were more likely to be affected.

These can take the form of days’ long silent retreats with highly regulated sleep and diet regimens and restricted access to the outside world.

Last year the Twitter co-founder and CEO Jack Dorsey attended a highly-publicised 10-day Vipassana meditation in Burma, encouraging his four million online followers to try it for themselves.

But Marco Schlosser, who led the research at UCL, said that meditation which ultimately reduces familiar feelings and views into fleeting sensations can engender sudden feelings of danger, particularly among inexperienced meditators.

“Meditation has become quite trendy and an image has been constructed - perhaps explicitly by the mindfulness industry - that its a panacea, but it’s not,” he said.

“It’s benefits may have been exaggerated.

“However, we should be equally cautious not to exaggerate the harms.

“It’s an extremely young field of research.”

Of the 1,232 people who participated in the survey, 25.6 said they had previously encountered “particularly unpleasant” meditation-related experiences.

Men were more likely to suffer these experiences than women, as were people who did not have a religious belief compared to people who were religious.

More than 29.2 per cent who practised only deconstructive types of meditation reported an unpleasant experience, compared to 20.3 per cent who only engaged in other forms.

“Insight meditation practices often encourage meditators to attune their attention to the impermanent, unsatisfactory, and impersonal nature of thoughts, feelings, and body sensations that arise within the space of awareness,” the study reads.

“Perceiving phenomena that might commonly be conceived of as inherently permanent and separate (e.g., the sense of self) as a vibrating field of fleeting and interpenetrating sensations could, for instance, give rise to a fear of annihilation.”

The new study is published in the journal PLOS One.

https://uk.news.yahoo.com/meditation-retreats-bad-mental-health-175758729.html
Mark Twain — 'There are many humorous things in the world; among them, the white man's notion that he is less savage than the other savages.'

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Siblings Katie and Lander Meinen survey their street by kayak with their dog, Bailey, in the Colony Bend neighborhood of Sugar Land, Texas, on Wednesday, May 8, 2019. Residents have been surprised that the water has not receded more quickly as it has in the past when the rain has stopped. More rain is forecast for the coming days.

Clusters of violent and slow-moving thunderstorms converged on the Houston area Thursday night, unleashing torrential rain and enormous hail. The deluge wrought havoc on the city, spurring floods reminiscent of Hurricane Harvey in some areas.

And the heavy rain threat is not over.

Houston is under a flash flood watch through Saturday night given the potential for at least one to three additional inches of rain on top of the two to five inches which fell Thursday night and two to three inches Tuesday.

"Soils remain saturated from recent rainfall and many bayous, creeks and rivers remain high so any additional rainfall should run off quickly and cause flooding," the National Weather Service office serving Houston wrote.

Houston is in a slight risk zone for excessive rainfall both Friday and Saturday.

Additional rainfall is not predicted to be as intense as Thursday night's deluge, but the Weather Service urged residents to "stay put" if extreme rainfall returns: "Do not attempt to travel," it warned. "Underpasses and low-water crossings will be life-threatening. If caught in a sinking vehicle, get OUT. Bayous will likely exceed banks and structure flooding could be possible."

By all accounts, Thursday night's storms in Houston, which have left the region susceptible to more flooding, were wild. "This is probably the most hellacious rain I've ever heard in my life," tweeted Matt Lanza, meteorologist for the Houston weather website SpaceCityWeather.com.

The storms left "at least three bayous flowing over the top of their banks, nearly 90,000 residents without power and dozens reportedly trapped for a time in floodwater on Interstate 10," The Washington Post's Timothy Bella reported.

As much as five inches of rain reportedly fell in one hour in east Houston's Greens Bayou.

On Friday morning, parts of downtown Houston were "impassable after the heavy rains caused the Buffalo Bayou to overflow," according to Click2Houston. That's just one of several locations that were inundated, per SpaceCityWeather.com reporting.

Flooding caused numerous school districts, businesses, and area events to be cancelled Friday, including the Houston public school district.

The torrent was unlike Houston's typical tropical flooding episodes. Much of it was powered by intense supercell thunderstorms, which also unleashed giant hailstones.

The supercells, fed by speedy high-altitude winds, featured powerful updrafts which allowed such enormous hail to form.

"There were many reports of hail, some up to the size of tennis balls in the Houston metro area. The hail did shatter some windows and likely caused a good bit of damage for some folks," Lanza said in an interview. Some isolated reports of baseball- or even softball-sized hail came in as well.

Big hail is unusual in this region, in part due to its proclivity for tropical rainstorms which tend to have cloud tops closer to the ground (where it's warmer) and warmer air at high altitudes. In terms of historical incidents of large hail right around Houston, there aren't many.

The hail onslaught has limited precedent in records dating to 1850 in Harris County, Lanza noted. "[T]here were at least three reports of hail two inches in diameter or larger," Lanza said. "There have only been 19 reports of hail that large on record in Harris County."

Houston's stormy night was the second of the week. As much as six to ten inches of rain fell Tuesday in the region.

Flooding this week has affected not only southeast Texas but also parts of the southern Plains, the South, and Great Lakes.

Flash flood watches currently extend east from Texas through Louisiana and much of Mississippi.

The excessive rains in many parts of the U.S. this week come just as the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration released data showing the last 12 months have been the wettest in recorded history for the Lower 48 states.

https://www.chron.com/news/article/Genuinely-scary-Torrential-rain-in-Houston-13834973.php
Mark Twain — 'There are many humorous things in the world; among them, the white man's notion that he is less savage than the other savages.'

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I wonder how Eddie is doing in Austin?

RE
Save As Many As You Can

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1 minute video of his falling.

 A man who survived a harrowing ordeal, falling 60 feet while climbing the Flatirons in Boulder, Colorado, has finally left rehabilitation.

Kyle Walker, 26, was making his way up the range's second flatiron April 16 -- without ropes -- when he fell. His GoPro camera, which was strapped to his chest at the time, captured the terrifying incident.

The video, which is a little less than six minutes long and was posted on YouTube, begins with Walker's hands desperately holding onto rocks as he tries to maintain his grip.

"Oh, what have you done?" he can be heard saying to himself.



 On that day, he was alone and free-climbing -- meaning climbing without ropes. He said he'd tackled the Flatirons hundreds of times.

But, at the video's 48-second mark, he appears to lose his grip. He told the Boulder Daily Camera that his foot had actually slipped.

"In the middle of my final move I realize I’m tiring quickly and I have one chance to explode over the rock to a resting place," Walker told the Boulder Daily Camera. "Instead my feet slipped on the lichen-covered section of the wall and I was in free fall before I knew what had happened."

 The camera captured the free-fall down the rock's face. After the fall, almost five minutes of video showed very little but captured Walker's ragged breathing as he went in and out of consciousness on the ground.

He was found by a hiker about an hour later and was taken by rescuers to a hospital. There, he learned that he'd broken his wrists, eight ribs as well as his pelvis. He also punctured a lung in the fall, according to the newspaper.

He was released from Boulder Community Health’s Foothills Hospital this week.

https://abcnews.go.com/US/climbers-camera-captures-horrifying-60-foot-free-fall/story?id=62967861
Mark Twain — 'There are many humorous things in the world; among them, the white man's notion that he is less savage than the other savages.'

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Cuban LGBT activists defy government, hold unprecedented indie pride parade
« Reply #12680 on: May 12, 2019, 05:06:12 AM »
HAVANA (Reuters) - Cuban gay rights activists held an unauthorized independent pride parade in Havana on Saturday despite the Communist government warning against it and calling it subversive, an unprecedented show of civil society in the one-party state.

More than a hundred Cubans chanting “long live a diverse Cuba” and carrying rainbow flags joyfully marched nearly one kilometer (0.6 mile) from Havana’s Central Park down to the seafront boulevard before being stopped by dozens of security officials.

At least three activists were arrested by plainclothes policemen while others were ordered to disperse given the activity did not have an official permit.

“This moment marks a before and an after for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community but also for Cuban civil society more generally,” said independent journalist and LGBT activist Maykel Gonzalez Vivero.

“Social media is playing its role and civil society demonstrated it has strength, and can go out onto the streets if necessary, and from now on the government will have to take that into account.”

This was the second march organized independently of state institutions - hitherto a rare occurrence in Cuba - in just over a month, although the previous one, in defense of animal rights, had received a permit from local authorities.

Activists called for their own parade after the state-run National Center for Sex Education (CENESEX) earlier this week abruptly canceled its 12th annual conga against homophobia - Cuba’s equivalent of gay pride.

CENESEX, headed by Mariela Castro, the daughter of Communist Party leader Raul Castro, said in a statement that certain groups were planning to use the event to undermine the government, emboldened by the escalation of aggression by the Trump administration against Cuba and its leftist ally Venezuela.

The United States has for decades financed often covert programs to promote democracy on the island and undermine the Communist government.

But many LGBT activists said they felt the government was reacting more to pressure from evangelical churches, which have a growing following in Cuba and have campaigned against the expansion of gay rights.

CENESEX denounced the alternative parade as a “provocation” and several activists say they received threats either anonymously on social media or from state security in person not to attend it - not that it stopped them.

“This isn’t a political march, this is a celebration to give the LGBT community visibility,” said Myrna Rosa Padron Dickson.
CIVIL SOCIETY STRENGTHENING?

Activists promoted the march on social networks thanks to the expansion of the internet in Cuba in recent years that has more broadly seen increasing numbers of Cubans mobilize online over certain issues, sometimes apparently managing to influence policy.

The government for example postponed the full implementation of a decree clamping down on the arts after an online campaign protesting the law, and stepped back on regulations governing the private sector after entrepreneurs and experts complained.

So far, however, the government has retained tight control over physical public spaces, mostly restricting marches to expressions of support for the government, like the recent Labor Day parade.

The conga in Havana was an exception that became a regular occurrence, and a reminder that the government, which once sent gays to work camps in the early days of Fidel Castro’s 1959 revolution, had made considerable advances in LGBT rights in recent years.

The country guarantees rights such as free sex-change operations and forbids discrimination on the basis of sexuality, in a region where some countries still have anti-sodomy laws.

Some LGBT activists say they felt the cancellation of the conga was a sign those rights are being eroded, possibly because a recent public consultation over a new constitution revealed that there was more opposition to the community than previously thought.

Many Cubans expressed their opposition to a change in the draft constitution that would have explicitly opened the door to gay marriage.

Evangelical churches also ran unprecedented campaigns against the change, which was eventually watered down.

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-cuba-lgbt/cuban-lgbt-activists-defy-government-hold-unprecedented-indie-pride-parade-idUSKCN1SH0JJ
Mark Twain — 'There are many humorous things in the world; among them, the white man's notion that he is less savage than the other savages.'

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We ignore poverty and visit ruin on the planet. But I have a plan…
« Reply #12681 on: May 12, 2019, 05:13:11 AM »
If Nicola Sturgeon is serious about making Scotland carbon-neutral, she should read my modest proposal

Perhaps there’s a reason why still too few of us pay heed to warnings about how we are killing the planet by cruel and unusual methods. How can you persuade people to stop endangering other species and start protecting the environment when they don’t seem concerned about torturing themselves?

According to Child Poverty Action Group in Scotland, almost one in four (230,000) of Scotland’s children are officially recognised as living in poverty, one of the highest rates in Europe. And unless there is a significant policy shift north and south of the border, the Institute for Fiscal Studies is forecasting that more than a third of UK children will be in poverty by 2022. The charity’s definition of child poverty is a reasonable one: “It means growing up in families without the resources to obtain the type of diet, participate in the activities and have the living conditions and amenities which are the norm in 21st-century Scotland.”

We are rarely more than a few weeks between revelations about another public health crisis in Scotland’s communities. The causes are wearyingly familiar to all those who have been paying attention. The communities that bear the brunt of these crises are the same as those that did so a hundred years ago.

So if no government north and south of the border over the course of the century has been able to effect enough change in the living (and dying) circumstances of these neighbourhoods, how on earth can we be confident they will take steps to stop us torturing the planet? According to a UN report last week, about one million species of animals, plants and insects are facing extinction in the near future. No species, it seems, is considered too big or too plentiful to die.

The pattern of irresponsibility mirrors that which characterises our efforts to end human poverty. We know what is required and we have the means to effect it. We even know the specific neighbourhoods and streets requiring most help to address poverty, while David Attenborough has told us exactly where to find the threatened species.

We also know that if we don’t improve our means of producing food and energy and take greater care in disposing of waste there is a real risk of irrevocably destroying the ecosystem that sustains the existence of animals and humans.

I think we’re also entitled to ask if there is a point at which we declare a state of emergency to rescue ourselves and our environment. Scotland could take the lead. This country imagines itself as providing a gold standard in caring for the environment. At the STUC conference in Dundee in April Nicola Sturgeon pledged to make Scotland carbon-neutral and thus make it “a healthier, wealthier and fairer nation”. The traditional embedded interests that have always influenced UK domestic policy would suggest that nothing will ever be allowed to interfere with free market priorities.

The first minister should declare a state of national environmental emergency. It should take the form of a sort of national boot camp. Under this, the government would award itself special powers to impose a form of compulsory national service to save the planet and ourselves. It would apply to all over the age of 16.

The following is a list of measures to get the ball rolling: no overseas travel (unless by boat) for two years. This would reduce our carbon footprint to around a manageable size four. It would also give an almighty boost to Scotland’s tourist trade and the fragile economy of the Highlands and Islands. Lots of jobs would be created and hard-pressed families would save money by not going on ridiculous trips to Florida and Cancun they can’t really afford.

Compulsory beekeeping. Every Scottish family would be required to sign up to a national beekeeping register. This would enjoin them to volunteer for a minimum time each week looking after the wee furry fellas at the community beehive centre. We’d not only save the bees, which are a key building block of our ecosystem, it would get the kids out, give them a sense of purpose and improve their mental health.

Mandatory adoption of an endangered animal. Every Scottish family would be required to adopt an endangered animal and help pay for its welfare. I adopted a couple of amur leopards a few years ago called Henrik and Lubo for a very small annual consideration. Regrettably, I let it lapse but am now scanning the internet for other threatened beasties to help out.

Leave the Munros alone (for a wee while at least). I think some of our wild and beautiful places deserve a break from the intense human behaviour they’ve been subjected to over recent decades when Munro-bagging has become a chi-chi lifestyle accoutrement. I’d limit permits to much more sustainable levels. To ensure we are all getting exercise the Scottish government must establish compulsory attendance at community Falun Gong sessions.

Compulsory lights out. Every family would be required to spend one day a week without any form of energy supply. This would be monitored by smart meters and Alexa (who we all know is spying on us anyway). Not only would it make us carbon-neutral more quickly but it would engender a sense of community and family togetherness in the candlelight. It would also boost the Scottish population, which an independent Scotland requires for a buoyant economy. Any unforeseen costs in rolling out the national boot camp would, in future, be met by the £163m annual savings on paying for Trident.

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/may/12/we-ignore-poverty-and-visit-ruin-on-the-planet-but-i-have-a-plan
Mark Twain — 'There are many humorous things in the world; among them, the white man's notion that he is less savage than the other savages.'

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Bill McKibben and Elizabeth Kolbert on the U.N. Extinction Report
« Reply #12682 on: May 12, 2019, 05:20:38 AM »
While the political tide could be turning on climate change, both writers worry that it is too late.


“The problem with climate change is that it’s a timed test,” the writer Bill McKibben says. “If you don’t solve it fast, then you don’t solve it.”

After years of languishing far down the list of voters’ priorities—for Democrats and even more so for Republicans—the desire for action on climate change has brought this issue to the top of many voters’ concerns, according to a CNN poll. Now Presidential candidates are competing to establish themselves as leaders on the issue, while children are making headlines for striking from school.

Bill McKibben, whose book “The End of Nature” brought the idea of global warming to public consciousness thirty years ago, tells David Remnick that the accumulation of weather catastrophes—droughts, wildfires, floods—may have finally made an impact. McKibben joined Elizabeth Kolbert in a conversation about the U.N.’s new report on species extinction. It finds that a million species could become extinct within a few decades, and that human life itself may be imperilled. While the political tide could be turning, both worry that it is too late.

This conversation has been edited and condensed.

David Remnick: Bill, you wrote “The End of Nature,” which was really the first popular book on climate change, thirty years ago. What are you seeing now in the current moment that’s different from what you’ve seen before? We’ve had so many missed opportunities.

Bill McKibben: What’s different about now? Well, one of the things that’s different is it’s much easier to see precisely what’s going on. I mean, thirty years ago we were offering warnings, even ten years ago. It was still a little hard to make out the precise shape of climate change as it started to affect the planet. Now, I mean, you watch as a California city literally called Paradise literally turns into Hell inside half an hour. You know, once people have seen pictures like that, it’s no wonder that we begin to see a real uptick in the response. In the last six months we’ve seen this rise of the demand for a Green New Deal in the Democratic Party. We’ve seen the Extinction Rebellion shut down London, the center of London, for a week, and the Tory-led Parliament and the U.K. declare a climate emergency. And, you know, most poignantly, we’ve watched a few million schoolchildren following the lead of Greta Thunberg, in Sweden, and walking out of classes. It’s not a good sign that we‘re asking twelve-year-olds to solve the problem for us, but it’s good that they’re stepping up.

Do you think that this had to be the case? In other words, that we had to see, say, Guatemala so affected by climate change that thousands of, essentially, climate refugees come to our borders. Or Syria, in many ways, was a product not only of political rebellion but also climate rebellion, in a certain sense. Did this have to be?

McKibben: I don’t think it had to be. I think that we were capable of taking the warnings from science and doing the right thing. I mean, heck, in 1988, Republican President George H. W. Bush announced that he would, quote, “fight the greenhouse effect with the White House effect.” But what happened was a thirty-year, no-holds-barred campaign by the fossil-fuel industry, the richest industry on earth, to confuse and obfuscate and deny and delay, and it‘s been remarkably successful. I mean, thirty years later, the Republican President believes that climate change was a hoax manufactured by the Chinese. So, you know, it’s that thirty years that may turn out to have been the crucial thirty years.

So, just to be clear, you’re blaming the fossil-fuel industry as the singular culprit for these lost thirty years, above all other factors.

McKibben: Well, you know, it obviously would have been hard to change, because it’s a big problem, but imagine the alternative-history version where—I mean, this is the kind of “Man in the High Castle” approach—where, in 1988, after Jim Hansen testifies before Congress, we now know from great investigative reporting that the big oil companies knew and understood and agreed with that assessment of climate change. If the C.E.O. of Exxon had gone on TV that night and said, “You know what? Our scientists are telling us the same thing.” And that, by the way, is pretty much the least that any moral or ethical system you could come up with would demand, or so it seems to me. If that had happened, no one was going to be running around saying, “Oh, Exxon’s a bunch of climate alarmists, you know, pay them no mind.” We would have gotten to work. And thirty years ago there actually were things that weren’t that hard to do. A modest price on carbon in 1988 or ’89 would have started steering the giant ocean liner that is our economy a few degrees differently, and, thirty years later, we’d be in a different ocean. We didn’t do that. Now all our choices are very tough, and it’s going to require extraordinary political maturity and will to move as quickly as we need to move.

Betsy, I think what Bill is saying is that we’re at a certain kind of tipping point now, a political tipping point, where climate change is concerned, that hadn’t existed before. How do you perceive the politics around climate change at this moment? Because, in many ways, the Trump Administration is proactively making the problem much worse. 

Elizabeth Kolbert: Yes, I think it’s going to be, you know, if we have a history, if we have a future that will look back on this moment, it will be a very interesting moment, because we do have these two extraordinary trends happening simultaneously. As Bill says, there is a lot of energy on the street, and for the first time, you know, you have Democratic candidates competing to be the climate candidate with some very detailed and pretty significant programs to try to wean us off of fossil fuels. At the same time you have just the most remarkably retrograde Administration in Washington, which isn’t just not making progress on these issues but actively rolling back whatever modest progress was made under the Obama Administration. That will take, at a minimum, years to undo that—if we decide to undo it, you know, if you don’t decide to give them another term. And meanwhile, on the ground, just the facts in the air, as it were, are really bad. When Bill wrote “The End of Nature,” I just checked back, and the records, CO2 levels in the atmosphere were approximately three hundred and fifty parts per million. We just hit four hundred and fifteen. So things are going in the wrong direction, and very rapidly.

What does that difference mean, qualitatively, in terms of our lives and the environment?

Kolbert: Well, every increment of CO2 that we put up there is a certain amount of warming that you get out at the end of this process, and this sort of general, very, very rough rule of thumb is, if we want to keep average global temperatures from rising more than two degrees Celsius, which has been sort of defined as this threshold that you do not want to cross, this sort of general sense is we really can’t get above four hundred and fifty parts per million. Now we’re really—it’s very, very hard, if you think about how fast we’ve moved from three fifty to four fifteen. Meanwhile, CO2 emissions are increasing every year, they just increased pretty dramatically in 2018, we just got those figures. So it’s pretty hard to come up with a scenario in which we keep things under four hundred and fifty parts per million without, you know, sort of immediately ceasing globally—and this is not just in the U.S., you know—to burn fossil fuels.

Now, why would Donald Trump, who is not an executive in the oil industry, believe something like that global warming is a Chinese hoax? And why, correspondingly, why is a matter of science a matter of partisan politics? You say that the Democratic Party believes X, but a lot of Republicans believe otherwise.

Kolbert: Well, this is, as Bill alluded to, this has been kind of a long history of a combination of moneyed interests and political interests colluding, as it were—the word of the hour—to make this issue seem to be one of belief. It has nothing to do with your belief. It has to do with geophysics, and geophysics that have been established for quite some time now. And so how we got into the situation here, the most technologically sophisticated society in history in the world where you still have a lot of people saying—and a lot of people in very high places, like the White House, and also at the head of the E.P.A.—and they’ve put in place, they‘ve taken people out of this, you know, denier complex, and put them into top offices in the federal government. And those guys know exactly what they want to undo, and they are pretty systematically going about doing it. I don’t know—to be honest, with all the noise there is around the Trump Administration, I’m not sure enough attention has been paid to what they’re doing to environmental regulations across the board.

Well, how sincere are they? In other words, those officials, those government officials in the Trump Administration have children and grandchildren, as well. And they have to see what the effects of climate change you’ve seen already—whether it‘s in Central America or Bangladesh, or the air quality in Delhi or Beijing. This is happening already. This is not something that we‘re projecting twenty years, thirty years, fifty years, a hundred years in the future. It is happening now.

Kolbert: Well, I would think it would be extremely interesting if you could, in an unguarded moment—I don’t think any of the three of us are getting these guys in an unguarded moment—but to say, you know, how how do you sleep with yourself at night? How do you look at yourself in the mirror? I would love to be able to pose that question now. I think that one of the lessons of the last couple of years, unfortunately, is the capacity for human delusion and self-delusion is limitless. So, you know, it’s possible that you could administer truth serum to these guys and they would still be saying the same thing, because they actually, you know, quote-unquote “believe it.” I honestly don‘t know.

Bill, you made a decision in your life to become not only a writer but an activist. You wrote your book thirty years ago. It had a certain effect. And at a certain point you decided, That’s not enough, that, I have to get out from behind my desk, which is unusual for for most writers who enjoy the kind of solitude of being behind the desk—except when they’re not enjoying it, I guess. What propelled you to do this, and what complications does it cause in your own activity?

McKibben: Well, you know, I miss the solitude of my desk, too. Like most writers, I’m really an introvert. But at a certain point it became clear to me that I had made a mistake, that we were not really engaged in an argument. The argument about climate change was over by the early nineteen-nineties, when scientists had reached a very robust consensus. We’d won the argument. We were just losing the fight, because the fight was not about data and reason and evidence. It was about the thing that fights are always about: money and power. And, I mean, this goes directly to your previous question for Betsy. Look, the richest person in our society is the two Koch brothers taken together, our biggest oil-and-gas barons. They’ve purchased themselves a political party. So we knew we’d never have the money to stand up to that. But sometimes, in human history, organizing, movement-building, is enough to at least start to counterbalance that power. So that’s what we’ve been trying slowly to build over these last decade or so. And now, thank heaven, with those foundations laid, it’s an enormous number of people rushing in to do this work, which might even mean that I can get back to my desk a little more, we’ll see.

Well, what’s so striking about the movement in in large measure is that it’s led very often by kids, by teen-agers. In mid-March, nearly a million and a half kids worldwide went on a climate strike and refused to go to school. You saw this young woman, I think she’s sixteen or so, Greta Thunberg, speak in front of the E.U., in front of other political bodies. The most striking speaker one could ever imagine. Why is this generational shift happening, and what effect is it having?

McKibben: So, young people have been at the forefront of this for quite a while. When we started 350.org, it was myself and seven undergraduates here at Middlebury. And I think the reason that young people are so involved is because, well, because, you know, you and I are going to be dead before climate change hits its absolute worst pitch. But if you’re in high school right now, that absolute worst pitch comes right in the prime of your life. And if we’re not able to take hold of this, then those lives will be completely disrupted, and they’ve figured that out. That said, it’s not O.K. for the rest of us to leave it to fourth graders to solve the problem. There’s going to be—keep your eyes peeled, but I think soon there’ll be calls for adult strikes, as it were, to follow and back up the kids, beginning in the autumn. And that makes real sense. You know, it’s at some level business as usual that’s doing us in. The fact that we get up each day and do more or less the same thing that we did the day before. Even while the worst scenario that we’ve seen in our civilization is unfolding, you get a sense of that. I was just looking at the newspapers today. The U.N. just published a truly remarkable report saying that we’re going to lose a million species on the planet sometime over the next few decades. It completely backs up the work that Betsy did so brilliantly in “The Sixth Extinction.” And yet, you know, it’s in the newspapers, but it’s well below the new royal baby and the trade talks with China, and it’s that business as usual that’s literally doing us in. And we have to figure out how to disrupt it a little bit.

Betsy, I hate to be a competitive journalist, but when I read the report about “The Sixth Extinction” in the U.N. report, I said, The New Yorker had that ten years ago, when you published it, in 2009, the very same thing. What is the difference between 2009 and 2019 in terms of the extinction of hundreds of thousands of species on the planet Earth?

Kolbert: Well, I think that it’s one of those cases where, as I’m sure Bill would say, you don’t like to see the news bearing out what you said. But, in this case, you know, the only difference is more documented destruction, really. And a lot more studies piled on the ones that were available to us five, ten years ago. But the general trend lines—an accelerating trend line, I do want to say, of human impacts—but the general trend line of biodiversity loss, which has been recognized for quite some time now, it’s all just playing out according to plan, unfortunately. And what this report does, I think, it’s really trying to, (a), raise the alarm, but, (b), really pointing to, there seems to be this strange disconnect, once again, out there. And it’s true that global G.D.P. is larger than ever. And at the same time species loss and destruction of the natural environment, natural world, other species is also greater than ever. And those two things are very intimately linked, and if you only pay attention to the G.D.P. part, you might say, “Oh, everything’s fine.” But I think what the point that this report is really trying to make is, those lines are going to cross. People are still dependent on the natural world—all the oxygen we breathe, all the food we eat, all the water—you know, these are biological and geochemical systems that we’re still dependent on, for better or worse, and we are mucking with them in the most profound ways. I think that that is the message, the take-home message of that report.

In other words, this so-called soaring economy that we’re enjoying now is the worst kind of illusion.

Kolbert: Well, once again, it depends on how you measure it. If you measure it by stuff that we’re producing, I don’t want to say it’s an illusion. But if you look at the other side of that, the cost it’s taken on the natural world, everything from land use gobbling up habitat to plastic pollution in the oceans. The list goes on and on and on. And the question of, can you sustain that over time, we haven’t been at this project very long without really wreaking havoc with the systems that sustain us. I mean, there are two issues here. And I think they have to be separated to a certain extent, intellectually if not biologically. And one is, could humans go on like this for quite a long time, just letting the rest of the world decay around us? Is that O.K.? You know, for us as a species to just do in a million or more other species, just because we are enjoying a better and better standard of living, is that O.K.? That’s one question, and then the other question is, can that happen? You know, just physically, are we capable of sustaining this, with all of these other trends going around, or are we really threatening our own life-support systems? And I think this report is suggesting very significantly that we are threatening our own life-support systems. But I think that the other question of the ethical stance that we take toward this is also extremely important.

And yet, for years and years, if you betrayed the fact that you cared about this, you were described as a tree-hugger and mocked.

Kolbert: Well, and that’s still true. I mean, we are arguing in this country right now. Even as I speak, and we speak, this goes back to the Trump Administration, and how they’re systematically trying to unravel a lot of very basic environmental protections in this country. We’re going to argue over the Endangered Species Act, which actually has been quite successful, in its own modest way. If you are a species, you get on the list, you have to have a recovery plan, and those species have tended to survive—not necessarily thrive, but survive. And now we’re going to argue about whether we should even be doing that. So these arguments are never-ending and, you know, pitting human welfare against the welfare of everything else, that doesn’t seem like a winning strategy over the long run.

Bill, I was really interested to read that you think that the great climate-change document of our time is by Pope Francis.

McKibben: Well, I think that the encyclical that he wrote three and a half years ago now, “Laudato Si,” it is amazing. Mostly because, though it takes off from climate change, it’s actually a fairly thorough and remarkable critique of modernity. And it talks really about precisely the things that Betsy has been talking about—understanding this as, yes, a problem of physics and of the need to put up a lot of solar panels and wind turbines, which we now can do because the engineers have made them affordable, but also understanding it as a problem of human beings and their relations with each other. As Francis points out, the last forty years, this period of time when we’ve worshipped markets and assumed they solved all problems has not only spiked the temperature through the roof, it’s spiked inequality through the roof. And the two are not unrelated.

How are they related? What is the essential relationship between the two?

McKibben: One of the things I spent some time doing in this new book is kind of teasing out the history that begins with Ayn Rand and kind of reaches a first zenith in the Reagan Administration, in 1980. The idea now in the air that we breathe, literally, that government is the problem, that if you leave corporations alone they’ll get done what needs doing, this reigning ideology came just at the wrong moment. It came at precisely the moment when we actually needed governments to be doing something very strong to deal with climate change. And that combination of ideology and interest has been enough to suppress our reactions in the crucial thirty years.

But have other governments that are less capitalist-oriented been any more successful in tamping down climate change than the United States?

McKibben: Sure. The first thing to be said is that same period was the period when the U.S. was ascendant over the rest of the world, so it held sway to some degree everywhere. But, go to Germany and look at what they did, beginning about 2000, with this law that made it easy for people to put up renewable energy. There will be days this month when Germany generates way more than half the power it uses from the sun, which is saying something, because no one ever went to Germany on a beach vacation, you know. Look at Northern Europe, at Scandinavia. I mean, they’re doing remarkable things. The engineers gave us an enormous gift. They dropped the price of renewable energy ninety per cent in the last decade. In China and India, thank God, that’s resulting now in very, very rapid expansion of renewable energy.

You wrote a wonderful piece for The New Yorker about solar panels in Africa. And yet you’re very—I think both of you are very wary of an excessive emphasis on technological transformation to solve all problems in climate change. Am I right?

McKibben: Well, technology is going to help enormously. We obviously have to produce a lot of electrons, and now we can, with renewable energy, but we can’t do that job—or the job of energy efficiency, or the job of starting to relocalize economies—we can’t do that without mustering political will. The reason that we build movements is not so much to pass particular pieces of legislation. It’s because one tries to change the Zeitgeist, the sense of what is natural and normal and obvious and coming next. And when you win that battle, then legislation follows. We’re getting closer. The polling last week showed that, for Democratic voters, anyway, climate change is now far and away the most important issue going into these primaries. That’s something that would have been unthinkable even a few years ago. And it’s a sign that all the movement-building, all the science, all the writing, all the engineering are reaching some kind of head, one hopes not too late.

Betsy, is Silicon Valley on the side of the angels here?

Kolbert: Well, I think to the question of, is technology going to save us, which is a very big question, perhaps the question right now, I think one of the things that’s important to think about is, there are a lot of steps that we could take that would potentially mitigate or alleviate climate change that would actually be terrible for other species. So, for example, one of the real tragedies of the last couple of decades has been the transformation of Indonesia into a series of palm-oil plantations, which has really just destroyed habitats for a lot of iconic and non-iconic species, like orangutans, for example. Now, one of the—only one of the drivers behind that, but a driver, was the Europeans deciding that biofuels were good for climate change, which, on some level, they are, but if the cost of that is mowing down the world’s remaining rain forests, then the cure can be as bad as the disease. So one of my fears is that we’re moving into a lot of territory where some of the answers to climate change involve land-use change are good on a climate balance sheet, but they’re terrible on a biodiversity balance sheet. And to make all of these things add up is extremely difficult. And that is why we’re in the situation we’re in, and that is why we got that new report.

Betsy, at the forefront of political conversation where this is concerned is the Green New Deal. What do you make of the proposals, and is it sufficiently specific for you?

Kolbert: Well, I think there’s a tremendous amount of thought that went into the Green New Deal, and it’s sort of the very big-tent view of who should be interested in climate change. I think it was very smart in a lot of ways, because one of the things that always happens when you try to use, for example, pricing mechanisms to drive us off of fossil fuels and toward renewable energy is you can get this terrible coalition of polluters and poor people, or people who claim to be campaigning on behalf of low-income Americans, because there’s ways, for example, to do a carbon tax that is revenue-neutral and that’s cost-neutral to people. But there are also ways to play it so that it seems like it’s a regressive tax on the poor. So we need a really big tent to get some of these key pieces of legislation passed, and I think that that’s a very smart aspect of the Green New Deal, that it’s really trying to bring as many people together, a coalition of labor interests, of people working on behalf of income equality, all sorts of causes under the same tent. Now, that being said, to get from here to there, to get to the kind of society that is envisioned in the Green New Deal, which the three of us here might very much agree with, that’s not one political battle, that’s a zillion political battles. So that’s the question, you know, is it better to try to take on all these things at one point, or would it be better to have one single piece of legislation. There is no legislation associated with the Green New Deal. It is really just as a series of aspirational goals at this point.

Bill, how do you see the Green New Deal? Do you see it the same way?

McKibben: I think it’s the first time we’ve had legislation that’s on the same scale as the size of the problem. I mean, look. It’s one of these places where I have to be careful not to be a jerk and say, “Oh if only you listened to me when . . .” Because, as I said before, there were things we could have done at a certain point that were relatively small and easy, but those options are no longer available. Like a modest carbon tax, which still makes perfect sense but by itself is nowhere big enough to get the yield, the savings in carbon emissions that we now desperately need, because we’re talking six, seven per cent a year or more now to try and meet anything like these U.N. goals. Those are enormous, on the bleeding edge of technically possible. So I think it’s really important that the Green New Deal is out there, and I think it’s really important, most of all, that we just keep ramping up pressure on this system to produce something large.

Well that’s why the first reaction to the proposal of a Green New Deal from the President of the United States and people at CPAC and the rest was, “They’re going to take away your hamburgers, they’re going to ban cows.” You’re dealing with an opposition that’s working not in the spirit of science or good faith.

McKibben: Right. Which is why it’s probably not worth trying to spend a whole lot of time coming up with a solution that the President’s going to love and enjoy. What we have to do is rally the three-quarters of this country that understands we’re facing a really serious problem. I think that this is going to become one of the issues in this Presidential campaign, because I think everyone’s begun to realize how out of touch Trump is with most voters. It’s a good thing, too, because, David, we’re basically out of Presidential cycles in order to deal with this problem.

How do you mean?

McKibben: Well the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change last November issued their most recent report, and it was by far their most pointed to date. It said if really fundamentally transformative work was not well under way by 2030 then we were not going to catch up with the math of climate change. Physics was going to just be too far ahead in this race. And you know enough about political life in this country or any other to know that a decade is a short period of time—if we want to have anything substantial happening in a decade then we have got to be doing it right away.

Now, there’s a recent CNN poll, Betsy, that shows that Democrats care more about climate change than any other issue in the upcoming election. More than health care, more than gun control, more than impeaching or not impeaching President Trump. Did that surprise you? And do you think that will hold up somehow when it comes time for the campaign to intensify in the debates to happen?

Kolbert: I will confess that I was very surprised by that. I mean, you’ve always seen climate change rank, you know, nineteenth, or something like that. And so I think that’s an extraordinary development. And you could argue it’s a positive result, and you could argue, oh, my God, that’s the scariest thing I’ve ever heard, because it does suggest that people are really seeing changes in their own lives that they find very frightening. And I think that, to get back to your point of, do the Koch brothers have grandchildren, I mean, people look at their kids. You know, I certainly do, and all the kids who are out on the street and say, “What is the world going to look like?” You know, twenty or thirty years from now, when my kids are my age—it’s scary and it’s depressing and it makes you ashamed. I mean, how could we leave a world like this to our children? I think increasing numbers of people are feeling that.

I guess they don‘t have to look very far. If you were to visit Delhi and try to breathe, if you go to Beijing or Shanghai and try to breathe, or try to be a farmer in Central America, or exist in Bangladesh, it’s not that hard to figure out it’s no longer a speculative matter, is it?

Kolbert: No. And I mean, you don’t have to go as far as Bangladesh. You can go to Miami or you can go to New Orleans, you can go to, to be honest, you can go to New York City. All of these major American cities that are going to be dealing and already are dealing with sea-level rise, and a lot of places are dealing with storms that they never saw. We’re seeing tremendous flooding right now in the Mississippi, which probably has a climate fingerprint on it. So almost everywhere you go in this country, farmers are grappling with it in the U.S., you know, what is the weather going to be like. It’s changing the crops you can grow. So all of these things do have a bearing on how people see the world, which, as I say, is fortunate in some ways, but very scary in another.

Bill, in the financial crisis of 2009, as discussed, very often people say, Well, why didn’t anybody go to jail? Why didn’t anybody from various offending institutions, banks, or the like go to jail? I never hear that when it comes to the fossil-fuel industries in the late eighties and nineties.

McKibben: Well, people are really beginning to talk at least about trying to hold those companies financially accountable. As you know, the New York state attorney general is suing Exxon on the grounds that it lied to investors. New York City is suing the oil companies on the grounds that their product produced a knowable and foreseeable harm in terms of the sea-level rise. The city is now spending billions to try and cope with it. This is happening now around the country and around the world. The clearest analogy probably is to the tobacco wars of the previous generation. In fact, the oil industry hired veterans of the tobacco wars and the DDT wars to try and pull the same trick here. And they did it with, sadly, great power. That’s what happens when you have the biggest industry in the world all in behind the most consequential lie in human history.

You know, for nearly twenty years that I’ve been working together with Betsy, the running joke between us is about Betsy’s pessimism, which is well-founded, but we managed to joke about it anyway. And Bill, early on in “Falter,” your new book, you write, “There is one sense in which I am less grim than in my younger days. This book ends with the conviction that resistance to these dangers is at least possible.” And I sense in both of you, each in your own way, and it might be different, but each in your own way, some sense of hope is informing your work now, in 2019, the way it might not have five years ago. Am I right, Betsy?

Kolbert: I’ll play my usual role here: Eeyore. I do see glimmers of hope on a political front but it’s sort of like mountains after mountains after mountains. And I think, as they say, the facts on the ground, climate change, the thing that distinguishes it from a lot of other environmental problems is it’s cumulative. It’s not something where you can say, at the moment you don’t like things, let’s undo them and have a chance of undoing them. There’s a lot of time lag in the system, there’s a lot of inertia in the system.

The system, meaning science?

Kolbert: No, in the climate system. So we have not yet experienced the full impact of the greenhouse gases we have already put up there. And once we do, you know, in whatever, a decade or so, there’s a sort of a long tail to that, we will have put up that much more. So we’re always chasing this problem, and you can’t decide— once we decide “Oh, we really don’t like this climate,” you don’t get the old climate back for, you know, many, many, many generations. So we are fighting a very very, very uphill battle. And I think the point that Bill has made, and I agree with it, is maybe we can avoid the worst possible future. But I don’t think at this point we can avoid a lot, a lot, a lot of damage.

And we’ve been seeing it already.

Kolbert: And we’re seeing it, but it’s just beginning. And it’s not just beginning and then we can turn it around, it’s just beginning and a lot more is built in.

What can be held back, Bill, and what can’t be held back at this point?

McKibben: Well, look, Betsy’s right. The problem with climate change is that it’s a timed test, and if you don’t solve it, it’s really the first timed test like this we’ve ever had. And if you don’t solve it fast then you don’t solve it. No one’s got a plan for refreezing the Arctic once it’s melted, and we‘ve lost now seventy or eighty per cent of the summer sea ice in the Arctic. So that’s a tipping point more or less crossed. The oceans are thirty per cent more acidic than they used to. So we’re not playing for stopping climate change. We’re playing maybe for being able to slow it down to the point where it doesn’t make civilizations impossible. That’s an open question. There are scientists who tell you we’re already past that point. The consensus, at least for the moment, is that we’ve got a narrow and closing window, but that if we move with everything we have, then, perhaps, we’ll be able to squeeze a fair amount of our legacy through it. But Betsy is right, an already very difficult century is going to become a lot harder no matter what we do. It’s at this point trying to keep it from becoming not a difficult and even miserable century but a literally impossible one.

You’ve both expressed your admiration for some of the movements that are generated by younger people. Are there any politicians that are running for President at the moment with whom any hope can reside where this is concerned?

McKibben: Well, from my point of view, we need this time all the at least Democratic candidates to be climate candidates. And there’s some very good people who know a lot about climate running. Jay Inslee, say, and others who are doing a terrific job of talking about it in powerful ways. Elizabeth Warren’s plan on public lands is great. Bernie [Sanders] in many ways got this conversation started on a national level in the last Presidential election. I think it’s probably in the end maybe less important precisely who the President is than what the atmosphere is like, what the Zeitgeist is like. That will push them enormously in the right direction. That’s why people have got to be working on the Presidential campaign, but that can’t be all or even most of what we’re doing, at least for the next six months or so. There’s a lot of other organizing to get done. And you can tell, I mean, here’s the hopeful case, if you want it. Fifty years ago next spring, we had the first Earth Day, in 1970. Twenty million people, one in ten of the then American population, went into the street. Now Earth Day is kind of a nice day in the park, whatever. Then a lot of those people were angry, and that anger transformed the flavor of this issue in America over the next four years. Richard Nixon, who had not an environmental bone in his body, signed every piece of legislation on which we still depend, the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act, the Endangered Species Act that Betsy described is now under siege. Those all came because of that outpouring of public energy that shifted the Zeitgeist. We’d better do it again. And in spades.

Now, Betsy, we’ve been talking for a while as if the only political force that’s involved here is the United States. And right-wing populism has swept not only the United States, the executive branch of United States and the Senate, but you see this all over the world. Is right-wing populism in concert with anti-environmentalism globally?

Kolbert: Well, they they do tend to go hand in hand. They have tended to go hand in hand, and one of the strains to all of this, and it does get back to some of the points that Bill was making about this peculiar moment that we have lived through and live in, is climate change is a global problem. The atmosphere is the global commons. There’s just no getting around it. The atmosphere doesn’t care where the carbon was emitted, it just cares that it was emitted. And so you do need global coöperation and global action. And at precisely this moment where nothing could be more important we are seeing a resurgent nationalism. Coincidence? You know, possibly, but it is possibly also a lot of anxiety around how are we going to deal with this global problem.

And I don’t see when you look at all of the global politics involved, you know, putting even aside American politics for the moment, which are very hard to see beyond.

But that’s why I say it’s one of these problems where you scale one mountain and then you see, you know, another mountain chain ahead of you, unfortunately.

Elizabeth Kolbert, Bill McKibben—authors of really the essential works on climate change these last thirty years.

https://www.newyorker.com/news/the-new-yorker-interview/bill-mckibben-and-elizabeth-kolbert-on-the-un-extinction-report/amp
Mark Twain — 'There are many humorous things in the world; among them, the white man's notion that he is less savage than the other savages.'

Offline knarf

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A Mother's Day Realistic blog
« Reply #12683 on: May 12, 2019, 05:30:39 AM »



Adulthood Sucks
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Some days one or both of my children will wake up and complain about having to go to school. And it breaks my heart just a little bit because they have ABSOLUTELY NO IDEA how sweet their lives are right now.

adulthood

And I don’t want to scare them, I really don’t but maybe i’m doing them a disservice by not being honest about how shite being a grown-up can really be. Maybe one of these days i’m going to have to hit them up with some hard truths about life. Maybe one of these days our conversation needs to go a little bit like this…

Small child: I don’t want to go to school, it’s not fun – you just do boring stuff!

Me: Say what?! You get to play with dinosaurs, sing songs and paint sunshines all day… what’s not to love?! You see I’m not quite sure you realise what you are saying here kid because your life right now is about as good as it’s ever going to get! Do you know what happens after school?

Small child: You get to do whatever you like!

Me: WRONG! You get to get a job. There will be bills, responsibility, performance reviews, tax returns, the constant threat of redundancy and people cloning your credit card to buy themselves expensive TVs and holidays with YOUR money!

Many more entries WITH CARTOONS

http://hurrahforgin.com/
« Last Edit: May 12, 2019, 05:34:09 AM by knarf »
Mark Twain — 'There are many humorous things in the world; among them, the white man's notion that he is less savage than the other savages.'

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Re: We ignore poverty and visit ruin on the planet. But I have a plan…
« Reply #12684 on: May 12, 2019, 12:49:12 PM »
If Nicola Sturgeon is serious about making Scotland carbon-neutral, she should read my modest proposal

Perhaps there’s a reason why still too few of us pay heed to warnings about how we are killing the planet by cruel and unusual methods. How can you persuade people to stop endangering other species and start protecting the environment when they don’t seem concerned about torturing themselves?

According to Child Poverty Action Group in Scotland, almost one in four (230,000) of Scotland’s children are officially recognised as living in poverty, one of the highest rates in Europe. And unless there is a significant policy shift north and south of the border, the Institute for Fiscal Studies is forecasting that more than a third of UK children will be in poverty by 2022. The charity’s definition of child poverty is a reasonable one: “It means growing up in families without the resources to obtain the type of diet, participate in the activities and have the living conditions and amenities which are the norm in 21st-century Scotland.”

We are rarely more than a few weeks between revelations about another public health crisis in Scotland’s communities. The causes are wearyingly familiar to all those who have been paying attention. The communities that bear the brunt of these crises are the same as those that did so a hundred years ago.

So if no government north and south of the border over the course of the century has been able to effect enough change in the living (and dying) circumstances of these neighbourhoods, how on earth can we be confident they will take steps to stop us torturing the planet? According to a UN report last week, about one million species of animals, plants and insects are facing extinction in the near future. No species, it seems, is considered too big or too plentiful to die.

The pattern of irresponsibility mirrors that which characterises our efforts to end human poverty. We know what is required and we have the means to effect it. We even know the specific neighbourhoods and streets requiring most help to address poverty, while David Attenborough has told us exactly where to find the threatened species.

We also know that if we don’t improve our means of producing food and energy and take greater care in disposing of waste there is a real risk of irrevocably destroying the ecosystem that sustains the existence of animals and humans.

I think we’re also entitled to ask if there is a point at which we declare a state of emergency to rescue ourselves and our environment. Scotland could take the lead. This country imagines itself as providing a gold standard in caring for the environment. At the STUC conference in Dundee in April Nicola Sturgeon pledged to make Scotland carbon-neutral and thus make it “a healthier, wealthier and fairer nation”. The traditional embedded interests that have always influenced UK domestic policy would suggest that nothing will ever be allowed to interfere with free market priorities.

The first minister should declare a state of national environmental emergency. It should take the form of a sort of national boot camp. Under this, the government would award itself special powers to impose a form of compulsory national service to save the planet and ourselves. It would apply to all over the age of 16.

The following is a list of measures to get the ball rolling: no overseas travel (unless by boat) for two years. This would reduce our carbon footprint to around a manageable size four. It would also give an almighty boost to Scotland’s tourist trade and the fragile economy of the Highlands and Islands. Lots of jobs would be created and hard-pressed families would save money by not going on ridiculous trips to Florida and Cancun they can’t really afford.

Compulsory beekeeping. Every Scottish family would be required to sign up to a national beekeeping register. This would enjoin them to volunteer for a minimum time each week looking after the wee furry fellas at the community beehive centre. We’d not only save the bees, which are a key building block of our ecosystem, it would get the kids out, give them a sense of purpose and improve their mental health.

Mandatory adoption of an endangered animal. Every Scottish family would be required to adopt an endangered animal and help pay for its welfare. I adopted a couple of amur leopards a few years ago called Henrik and Lubo for a very small annual consideration. Regrettably, I let it lapse but am now scanning the internet for other threatened beasties to help out.

Leave the Munros alone (for a wee while at least). I think some of our wild and beautiful places deserve a break from the intense human behaviour they’ve been subjected to over recent decades when Munro-bagging has become a chi-chi lifestyle accoutrement. I’d limit permits to much more sustainable levels. To ensure we are all getting exercise the Scottish government must establish compulsory attendance at community Falun Gong sessions.

Compulsory lights out. Every family would be required to spend one day a week without any form of energy supply. This would be monitored by smart meters and Alexa (who we all know is spying on us anyway). Not only would it make us carbon-neutral more quickly but it would engender a sense of community and family togetherness in the candlelight. It would also boost the Scottish population, which an independent Scotland requires for a buoyant economy. Any unforeseen costs in rolling out the national boot camp would, in future, be met by the £163m annual savings on paying for Trident.

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/may/12/we-ignore-poverty-and-visit-ruin-on-the-planet-but-i-have-a-plan



Completely unconscionable & OUT OF CONTROL ......

These royal inbred fuq's can get spendy when it's BIG LEO's 500th & do the chest beat & back slap mambo, but let the useless eaters starve bitches  :evil4:
I know exactly what you mean. Let me tell you why you’re here. You’re here because you know something. What you know you can’t explain, but you feel it. You’ve felt it your entire life, that there’s something wrong with the world.
You don’t know what it is but its there, like a splinter in your mind

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Industry-wide scheme affects prices of more than 100 treatments used for HIV, asthma, cholesterol, ADHD and anti-depressants, huge legal case alleges

Leading drug companies including Teva, Pfizer, Novartis and Mylan conspired to inflate the prices of generic drugs by as much as 1,000 per cent, according to a far-reaching lawsuit filed on Friday by 44 states.

The industry-wide scheme affected the prices of more than 100 generic drugs, according to the complaint, including lamivudine-zidovudine, which is used to treat HIV; budesonide, an asthma medication; fenofibrate, which is used to treat high cholesterol; amphetamine-dextroamphetamine for ADHD; oral antibiotics; blood thinners; cancer drugs; contraceptives; and antidepressants.

In court documents, the state prosecutors lay out a brazen price-fixing scheme involving more than a dozen generic drug companies and just as many executives responsible for sales, marketing and pricing.

The complaint alleges that the conspirators knew their efforts to thwart competition were illegal and that they therefore avoided written records by coordinating instead at industry meals, parties, golf outings and other networking events.

The bulk of the collusive activity occurred from July 2013 to January 2015, according to the complaint, when Teva raised prices on nearly 400 formulations of 112 generic drugs.

A key element of the scheme, the complaint alleges, was an agreement among competitors to cooperate on pricing so each company could maintain a “fair share” of the generic drug markets.

At the same time, the companies colluded to raise prices on as many drugs as possible, according to the complaint.

Although the complaint paints Teva Pharmaceuticals USA, which is based in Pennsylvania, as a leader in the conspiracy, it describes the conduct as “pervasive and industry-wide”.

Teva denied the allegations.

“Teva continues to review the issue internally and has not engaged in any conduct that would lead to civil or criminal liability,” the company said in a statement.

The lawsuit was filed in the US District Court in Connecticut, where the multi-state investigation began.

It is a more expansive version of a suit filed in December 2016 in the US District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.

Pfizer denied any wrongdoing in a statement on Saturday.

The company said that Greenstone, a Pfizer subsidiary, “has been a reliable and trusted supplier of affordable generic medicines for decades and intends to vigorously defend against these claims”.

https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/drug-companies-inflate-prices-us-teva-pfizer-novartis-mylan-court-case-a8910606.html?utm_source=reddit.com
Mark Twain — 'There are many humorous things in the world; among them, the white man's notion that he is less savage than the other savages.'

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Billions laundered through B.C. real estate, spiking housing prices
« Reply #12686 on: May 12, 2019, 05:31:31 PM »
 A whopping $7.4 billion was laundered in B.C. in 2018, and about $5 billion of that was in housing, according to a new report.

The government said even that conservative estimate is more than anticipated and shows the scale of B.C.'s money laundering problem.

 "These findings are stark evidence of the consequences of an absence of oversight, the weakness of data collection and the total indifference of government until now to this malignant cancer on our economy and our society," Attorney General David Eby told reporters in Victoria Thursday.

The numbers come from a study done by British Columbia’s Expert Panel on Money Laundering in Real Estate. It was just one of two reports released by the provincial government today, the other being "Dirty Money – Part 2" by former RCMP official Peter German.

 According to Eby, German's report found hundreds of examples containing money laundering red flags such as people purchasing millions' worth of real estate without any apparent source of income for doing so. But German also found no agency or police force with both the jurisdiction and resources to adequately pursue these cases.

These included a case where a student purchased 15 condos in the same building for $2.9 million, the attorney general said. In other examples, German's report found a homemaker who had bought five luxury homes over three years for $21 million and a $3.5-million Gulf Island property acquired with funds allegedly embezzled from a $90-million loan fraud in India.

Eby said that even with limited time and resources, German found 494 different properties with between four and 29 mortgages registered and repaid rapid succession, and hundreds more where the owner's listed address is only a law firm or an off-shore financial centre, making it difficult to track down the true owner.

The panel estimates the impact of these kinds of activities on real estate to be a five-per-cent spike in prices.

"And remember, that's an average across the province, so certainly in areas where you would see more money laundering activity and higher prices of housing, you would have seen a higher escalation," said Finance Minister Carole James.

But that isn't the only cost of money laundering.

"Wealthy criminals and those looking to evade taxes have had the run of our province for too long, to the point that they are now distorting our economy, hurting families looking for housing an impacting those who have lost loved ones due to opioid overdose, a crisis so severe, it's impacting life expectancy data for British Columbia," Eby said.

The report notes estimating money laundering is different, but says its estimates are conservative. In 2015 the total estimate for B.C. is $6.3 billion growing to $7.4 billion in 2018. In terms of real estate the estimate is $5.3 billion in 2018 alone. Report authors were tasked with finding ways to tighten financial controls to prevent the crime.
 
Province vows to keep up the fight

B.C.’s beneficial ownership registry is a step in the right direction, noted the report.

A total of 29 recommendations were made, including more transparency, better paper trails and co-ordination with other jurisdictions.

One recommendation is to create Unexplained Wealth Orders which would allow for homes to be confiscated if an owner couldn’t show where the money to pay for it came from.

The German report outlined the red flags associated with real estate money laundering includes straw buyers, cash sales, private lending, unusual interest rates, flipping, quickly discharged mortgages, over and under-valued properties along with those who buy up numerous properties in a real estate shopping spree.

These aren’t necessarily evidence of money laundering, but a clue about what may be happening, according to report authors.

Private mortgage brokers have little visibility in the market according to the report. The report also found that nine per cent of residential properties or 90,000 properties may have private mortgages. Builders’ liens were found to be applied to homes to enforce illegal debts.

Approximately three per cent of straw buyers were students, homemakers or unemployed. 71,000 service addresses were post offices and the owners of $16.12 billion in property values had addresses outside Canada.

On Thursday, both Eby and James said the province will use the findings in its continued fight against money laundering.

"The party is over. It may be spring, but winter is finally coming for those who rely on bulk cash transactions in their businesses model, those hiding their identity from regulators and police while buying homes in our real estate market and those profiting handsomely from the death and misery of the overdose crisis," Eby said.

"Criminal profiteers distorting our provincial economy is not inevitable. While it may be our present, it is not British Columbia's future anymore."
 
Greens call for public inquiry

The BC Greens say the findings in the two reports reinforce the party's continued calls for a public inquiry into money laundering.

"We saw in German’s report a direct rationale for a public inquiry. Namely, that it would improve public awareness, play a crucial role in fault finding, and would help to develop full recommendations,” party leader Andrew Weaver said in a statement Thursday.

"The B.C. Green caucus has been calling for a public inquiry for months, as have thousands of British Columbians. It is time for this government to start a public inquiry so that the public can get the answers it deserves and B.C. can move forward."

"Dirty Money – Part 2" report also notes realtors are not required to report to FINTRAC, although the federal agency did get suspicious transaction reports from other reporting entities including banks.

Lawyers are vulnerable because they can hold trust funds for clients, and that’s a virtual black hole for police.

Partial releases of the second German report included revelations that no federal RCMP officers are specifically tasked with investigating money laundering, and that criminals were potentially getting tax refunds when using high-end vehicles to clean dirty cash. It also found vulnerabilities in the horse-racing sector but no major issues when it comes to money laundering.

German wasn’t asked to provide recommendations just findings.

The provincial cabinet is considering whether or not to call a public inquiry into money laundering amidst a chorus of voices asking for more answers about how the situation got so bad. Government said once it had the two reports released Thursday, cabinet would make a decision.

https://bc.ctvnews.ca/billions-laundered-through-b-c-real-estate-spiking-housing-prices-report-1.4415689
Mark Twain — 'There are many humorous things in the world; among them, the white man's notion that he is less savage than the other savages.'

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Longest-Serving Iowa Republican Becoming a Democrat, Blames Trump
« Reply #12687 on: May 12, 2019, 05:36:10 PM »
In a stinging op-ed in the Atlantic, Iowa’s longest-serving legislator Andy McKean says he is becoming a Democrat because of President Donald Trump’s “reckless spending and shortsighted financial policies; his erratic, destabilizing foreign policy; and his disdain and disregard for environmental concerns.” McKean writes that he might have “limped along” to work for the Republican Party, but the 2020 presidential election made him decide to become a Democrat. “He sets a poor example for the nation and our children,” McKean writes. “He delivers personal insults, often in a crude and juvenile fashion, to those who disagree with him, and is a bully at a time when we’re attempting to discourage bullying, on- and offline.” The elder statesman, who was first elected to the state legislature in 1978, continued: “In addition, he frequently disregards the truth and displays a willingness to ridicule or marginalize people for their appearance, ethnicity, and disability.”

https://www.thedailybeast.com/longest-serving-iowa-republican-andy-mckean-switches-parties-blames-trump
Mark Twain — 'There are many humorous things in the world; among them, the white man's notion that he is less savage than the other savages.'

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The human race has broken another record on its race to ecological collapse. Congratulations humanity!

For the first time in human history — not recorded history, but since humans have existed on Earth — carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has topped 415 parts per million, reaching 415.26 parts per million, according to sensors at the Mauna Loa Observatory, a research outpost of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Agency.


CO2 emissions over time as recorded by measurements of Arctic ice and the Mauna Loa Observatory. Courtesy of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography.

If the threshold seems unremarkable (it shouldn’t), it’s yet another indication of the unprecedented territory humanity is now charting as it blazes new trails toward environmental catastrophe.

Just last week a report revealed that at least 1 million species were at risk of extinction thanks to human activity and the carbon emissions that are a byproduct of economic development.

https://techcrunch.com/2019/05/12/co2-in-the-atmosphere-just-exceeded-415-parts-per-million-for-the-first-time-in-human-history/
Mark Twain — 'There are many humorous things in the world; among them, the white man's notion that he is less savage than the other savages.'

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Inside Facebook's global constitutional convention
« Reply #12689 on: May 12, 2019, 05:56:06 PM »


Everybody gets criticized — especially in the social media era. Faced with that flood of negativity, it can be hard to figure out what to listen to, and most of us default to listening to friends or people who know what they're talking about.

But if friendly, informed criticism is the best sort, then it must have been profoundly uncomfortable in the Facebook offices recently. In a New York Times op-ed this week, Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes called for the breakup of the company he helped start, claiming that the company has simply become too big and too powerful and too slow to react to the numerous issues of privacy, misinformation, and extremism on the platform.

Facebook wasn't happy about it (it claimed breaking up a successful company is the wrong approach) but also knows it has a lot work to do. Late last year, Mark Zuckerberg announced he intended to create a Facebook Oversight Board, a quasi-independent board of non-Facebook employees whose job it would be help with content moderation decisions. Facebook is also looking for feedback on board, partly through some roundtables held around the world with policy experts, one of which I attended this week in Ottawa, Canada. Though it occurred before the publishing of Hughes' op-ed, it was clear that Facebook is looking to preempt the kind of aggressive government intervention proposed.

What was also clear during the four hour session, however, was just how complicated the issue of moderating what people can post on Facebook is. It's also seems that the company is serious about the effort. Yet, despite what appears to be a sincere desire on the part of the company to make itself better, more accountable, and more transparent, it was difficult not to wonder if what Hughes and others are calling for isn't in fact correct — that even if and when Facebook gets better at being responsible, it still isn't is too big.

The roundtable was attended by Peter Stern, Manager of the Policy Group, and Kevin Chan, who is the Head of Public Policy at Facebook Canada. It took place under guidelines called “Chatham House Rules” which allow discussion of what was said of the group but forbid attributing what was said by whom. Around 25 policy experts attended from a variety of fields, from media literacy and the academy, to anti-hate advocacy groups and representatives from government.

The oversight board is ostensibly aimed at adjudicating content removal decisions — that is, when and why a piece of content gets removed, whether due to issues of hate speech, nudity, credible threats of violence and so on. It is in essence a bit like a supreme court for Facebook, a final step for significant or controversial decisions that extend beyond or challenge normal policy. Composed of 40 people drawn from a diverse background in both identity and area expertise, the decisions it makes will be binding and are meant to make Facebook more accountable.

In that sense, the proposed board is a step forward. Facebook's Peter Stern made it clear that the company was all in on the idea, and that the desire for the board also comes from a recognition that Facebook should not be making decisions alone. With a footprint of over 2 billion users, the platform accounts for an enormous percentage of speech online, and thus some sort of accountability that extends beyond, say, responsibility to shareholders seems a welcome change.

The scope of Facebook's purview is itself mind-boggling, with billions of pieces of content going up each day, and is also why the process of policing content is so complicated. But it's not just the sheer scale of things. With a global footprint, Facebook walks a fine line. On the one hand, it helps promote certain near-universal ideals like free speech, a boon in places under authoritarian rule. At the same time, it also needs to respect the massive variety of both legal and social differences across the globe. How, for example, can you come up with a rule for nudity when what is acceptable differs so much depending on where you are?

Its desire, then, to seek input from both experts and the public around the world seems well-intentioned, and it was clear that Facebook is grappling not just with the obvious questions — what are good rules, how do we apply them and so on — but also of issues over whether historically disadvantaged groups deserve special protection, or the sticky areas of how to separate satire and irony from hate speech.

All that said, serious concerns remain. For example, how might a 40 person board adequately represent the concerns of the thousands of groups across the globe? How might a set of “universal” rules address the significant disparities in belief and practice by the billions of people who use or will soon use the platform? How might a company firmly committed to American ideals not end up exporting those ideals, or enforcing such social values over and against smaller states? It's a dizzying miasma of problems for which solutions are not merely difficult to find, but perhaps impossible.

That difficulty seems inherent to what Facebook is actually doing: in essence, writing a constitution for the global moderation of speech. That it is doing so at all is a recognition of what is at stake on its platform. Yet, sitting and listening to Facebook dutifully receive and genuinely listen to feedback, the absurdity of the situation was also hard to ignore. Here was a private company with historically unprecedented reach trying its best to do the right thing, in which the “right thing” was to find the right way to govern speech on the world's largest democratic platform. It is indicative of the fact that the company is a kind of supra-state unto itself, significantly more powerful than most countries across the globe, and with enormous influence.

Faced with the utter strangeness of that fact, it is hard not to wonder if Chris Hughes et al are not on the right path — not just that Facebook needs to be broken up, but that its sheer size is itself the root of many problems. We are caught in a complex binary in which, on one hand, the Web and companies like Facebook play an important role in democratic and liberal processes around the world, but in which such companies also appear to have far too much power and too little accountability.

During the process of the roundtable, there was reason for both hope and despair. But one thing was clear: the proposed oversight board would be funded by Facebook, and work to better serve its own stated values, whether those are fairness and transparency — or, perhaps less generously, a desire to stave off punitive regulation. It is the bind we find ourselves in when private companies come to form core parts of public life: they have their interests, and we have ours, and in far too many ways, those are simply not the same thing. Facebook appears to be trying its best to respond sincerely to criticism — and alas, that simply may not be enough.

https://theweek.com/articles/840591/inside-facebooks-global-constitutional-convention
Mark Twain — 'There are many humorous things in the world; among them, the white man's notion that he is less savage than the other savages.'