Cmnd+F: 1/11/2017

[For reactions, skip to the end→]

Trump and Related

The dossier, which is a collection of memos written over a period of months, includes specific, unverified, and potentially unverifiable allegations of contact between Trump aides and Russian operatives, and graphic claims of sexual acts documented by the Russians. BuzzFeed News reporters in the US and Europe have been investigating various alleged facts in the dossier but have not verified or falsified them. CNN reported Tuesday that a two-page synopsis of the report was given to President Obama and Trump.

Via the New York Times:

The memos suggest that for many years, the Russian government of Mr. Putin has looked for ways to influence Mr. Trump, who has traveled repeatedly to Moscow to investigate real estate deals or to oversee the Miss Universe competition, which he owned for several years. Mr. Trump never completed any major deals in Russia, though he discussed them for years.

“In short, there is no indication so far that his confirmation is in jeopardy.”

Climate Change

Nature Climate Change (story below)

The temperature for the contiguous U.S. was 2.9°F above the 20th century average for 2016, displacing 2015 and ranking only behind 2012, when searing heat waves hit the middle of the country.

More notable than the back-to-back second place years, Arndt said, was that 2016 was the 20th consecutive warmer-than-normal year for the U.S. and that the five hottest years for the country have all happened since 1998. Those streaks mirror global trends, with 15 of the 16 hottest years on record occurring in the 21st century and no record cold year globally since 1911.

“Any economic strategy that doesn’t take climate change into account will result in fewer jobs and less economic growth in the long term.”

“December produced the least snow in Switzerland since record-keeping began more than 100 years ago.”

“NOAA challenged idea of [the]global warming ‘pause.’ Now new research says the agency was right.”

The ash, buried as much as 6 feet below mean sea level, is “highly vulnerable to coastal hazards, including flooding, storm surge, erosion and sea level rise,” says the report from researchers at Western Carolina University’s Program for the Study of Developed Shorelines. “Further, with the changing climate in the coming decades, these hazards are only expected to worsen” at the Chesapeake Energy Center site.

On (the) Media

I think the one thing we’ve been smacked in the head with in recent years is that people don’t understand that stuff. And the most non-elitist thing we can do is to assume people don’t understand it. To relax a bit in forms of storytelling, to tell people when we witness things and observe things. To be transparent…

Readers pay our bills more than they ever have. We have to listen to them.

I went to a couple of US Uncut protests and then it died out, but a lot of the protesters at US Uncut went over to Occupy Wall Street. So, I was at Zuccotti Park the first day of the Occupy Wall Street protest, which at the time didn’t seem like it was going to amount to anything and then, of course, it blew up. And because The Nation is cool, they were like “Yeah, do that for us!” So that was really my first big journalism break.

It is dangerous to give Donald Trump, a known and habitual liar, the opportunities to attempt to paint lies as truth. In my mind it is not even so much an issue over printing Trump’s response, but that there was not an immediate refutation of his claims by the article’s author in the piece itself. These may seem like small issues, even down to single turns of phrase. But they are also the slipperiest of slopes.

The trajectory that started with Franklin D. Roosevelt’s use of the radio for fireside chats — and continued with the Age of Television — is reaching its natural conclusion with Trump and the real-time social Web…

We are living in a moment in which communications regulation, both official and cultural, is in freefall. Mark Zuckerberg and Jack Dorsey set the rules whereby heads of state communicate and the rest of us respond. Other disruptive political movements — the Brexit campaign in the UK; the Five Star Movement in Italy; and, most notoriously, ISIS — have also used the convergence of communications technologies to recruit and activate entirely new power bases.


“The SEALs believe that they can handle the discipline themselves, that’s equal to or greater than what the criminal justice system would give to the person,” said Susan Raser, a retired Naval Criminal Investigative Service agent who led the agency’s criminal division but did not investigate this mission. “They have an internal process that they think is sufficient and they are not inclined to cooperate unless they absolutely have to.” Raser, who conducted investigations into both regular SEAL units and SEAL Team 6, said that in her experience, SEALs simply didn’t report wrongdoing by their teammates.

In 2016, US special operators could be found in 70% of the world’s nations, 138 countries — a staggering jump of 130% since the days of the Bush administration… the Obama administration dropped at least 26,171 bombs. This means that every day last year, the US military blasted combatants or civilians overseas with 72 bombs; that’s three bombs every hour, 24 hours a day.

The jury of nine whites and three blacks, who last month found Mr. Roof guilty of 33 counts for the attack at this city’s Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, returned their unanimous verdict after about three hours of deliberations.

Despite the anger I am still coping with from my mother’s death, I don’t believe in the death penalty, even for the man who killed her. That’s my conviction because of my faith. I’ve said the same thing all along — I don’t believe as human beings that we should take away someone’s life just because we have the power to do so.

This one-sided representation of campus speech doesn’t reflect my 14 years teaching in large public institutions in Michigan, Texas and Wisconsin. In that time, no student has ever demanded that my classes include a trigger warning or asked for a safe space. But my colleagues and I have been given much more reason to worry about the ideological agendas of elected officials and politically appointed governing boards. Students can protest on the campus mall, demanding that policies be changed; elected officials can pass laws or cut resources to reflect their beliefs about how a campus should operate. One group has much more power than the other.

Reactions to President Obama’s farewell speech

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The week in climate change

12/19— 12/25


White House officials in a conference call with reporters said previous “indefinite withdrawals” remain in place and voiced confidence that Mr. Obama’s decision will stand.

Advocacy groups were already warning that they were prepared to file suit to protect the ban during future administrations.


I can’t recommend this interview with James Hansen enough. Good points on the Paris agreement, a carbon fee and why Al Gore is too optimistic:

We’re close to that point of no return. Whether we’ve passed it or not, I don’t know…. We’ve passed it in the sense that some climate impacts are going to occur and some sea-level rise is going to occur, but we have not necessarily hit the disastrous level, which would knock down global economies and leave us with an ungovernable planet.

The dramatic melting of Arctic ice is already driving extreme weather that affects hundreds of millions of people across North America, Europe and Asia.

Even after adjusting for uncertainty, he writes, there is “virtually no chance” that nations will prevent the world from warming more than 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 Fahrenheit), the upper bound for avoiding cascading catastrophes. With revisions to methods and data in the model, he estimates that the price associated with each ton of carbon dioxide emitted should be about 50 percent higher than the previous version of DICE.


What I witnessed is that a shift is underway the likes of which we have not experienced since the time of the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense (BPP) and the American Indian Movement (AIM), when the oppressed peoples from all over the world are uniting in a common cause: to end the harmful exploitation of our peoples and planet, and caring for our world and peoples in such a way that ten generations from now our descendants will inherit a healthy and vibrant world to share…

When we arrived at the camp we were asked to set these feelings aside and to pray for the police, the army, the militias, and the mercenaries suppressing the people at Standing Rock. This was difficult for me, as it was for many others, too. Then I heard a report about one of the leaders of theInternational Indigenous Youth Council, speaking directly to how the people interact with the police during a prayer ceremony;

“It is our duty not to dehumanize others, as we seek to establish our own humanity.”

What I learned from this is that I am no better if I create the same trauma that I am seeking to overcome. I cannot become my enemy and still expect to overcome the oppression I suffer from my enemy. The means must be consistent with the ends, if the ends are to be just.

“I think the most pressing issue is our inability as a species to get along, our inability to work together, our sort of amplification of religious ideas and our continued propagation of certain socioeconomic and geopolitical divides, and nationalism,” he says. Such deeply rooted socioeconomic and historical divisions cannot simply be wished away nor solved with art. And fighting to transcend these issues in the face of entrenched economic interests rooted in the fossil fuel industry — members of which are slated to occupy key positions in the Trump administration — is a growing rather than receding challenge for climate change activists.

While climate change advocates often frame their message as a warning about the future of the planet, it might be more effective to speak about restoring the environment to its former glory. “Activists can use this research to more effectively market climate change science. We know that scientific evidence alone is often not an effective way to convince people,” says Baldwin. “Taking care to understand the audience and tailor the message to fit the audience is as important in science as it is in any other marketing domain.”

Climate change, like a lot of things, is scary. But if mental health professionals a tip for coping, it seems to be this: Talk about it. Share your feelings. And remember that we are all in this together.

Piers Sellers, 1955–2016

Leonardo DiCaprio interviews Dr. Piers Sellers. Credit: NASA/Goddard/Rebecca Roth

“Very quickly, I found out that I had no desire to jostle with wealthy tourists on Mount Everest, or fight for some yardage on a beautiful and exclusive beach, or all those other things one toys with on a boring January afternoon. Instead, I concluded that all I really wanted to do was spend more time with the people I know and love, and get back to my office as quickly as possible.” *


What should the rest of us do? Two things come to mind. First, we should brace for change. It is inevitable. It will appear in changes to the climate and to the way we generate and use energy. Second, we should be prepared to absorb these with appropriate sang-froid. Some will be difficult to deal with, like rising seas, but many others could be positive. New technologies have a way of bettering our lives in ways we cannot anticipate. There is no convincing, demonstrated reason to believe that our evolving future will be worse than our present, assuming careful management of the challenges and risks. History is replete with examples of us humans getting out of tight spots. The winners tended to be realistic, pragmatic and flexible; the losers were often in denial of the threat.


In Colorado it’s born out through diminished snowpack in the mountains, drought and heat-induced wildfires and pine beetles and now spruce beetles devastating our forests. Although 2016 was a great year in the state for precipitation, the EPA says April snowpack has declined by 23 percent over the past 61 years in the West in part due to warming temperatures.

Even more startling are changes at the top and bottom of the world. In the Arctic, water temperatures are as much as 9 degrees warmer than the 30-year average, and sea ice late in the year has been at a record minimum. In the Antarctic, glacial melting is happening at a startling rate, threatening unprecedented seal level rise.

The city of Las Vegas is now drawing 100 percent of its power from renewable energy sources, a goal officials have been working toward for the better part of a decade.

Cmnd+F: 12/21/2016

Everything worth reading for Wednesday, Dec. 21.


Trump and Related

Trump plans to nominate a wealthy financial executive, Vincent Viola, to be secretary of the Army. Viola would be at least the fourth Trump nominee with a net worth in the billions. And that’s not counting Trump’s own 10-figure fortune.

No candidate talked much about automation on the campaign trail. Technology is not as convenient a villain as China or Mexico, there is no clear way to stop it, and many of the technology companies are in the United States and benefit the country in many ways…

Another analysis, from Ball State University, attributed roughly 13 percent of manufacturing job losses to trade and the rest to enhanced productivity because of automation. Apparel making was hit hardest by trade, it said, and computer and electronics manufacturing was hit hardest by technological advances…

The changes are not just affecting manual labor: Computers are rapidly learning to do some white-collar and service-sector work, too. Existing technology could automate 45 percent of activities people are paid to do, according to a July report by McKinsey. Work that requires creativity, management of people or caregiving is least at risk.


[W]hatever form it takes, no coalition or movement can function without a base. And building a base today means defending marginalized communities against the forces of white supremacy and neoliberalism, while also shoring up their power so that they’re never compelled to capitulate to corporations or neoliberal solutions…

Much of the recent discourse on whiteness has focused on privilege and being a “good ally” within black, brown, and queer movements. There is undoubtedly value in this, and any cross-racial movement we build now must prioritize the voices of the communities most impacted by America’s racial capitalism. But there is also value — and urgency — in dismantling white supremacy among the white working class, who also stand to lose under the anti-labor, anti-environment and anti-democratic policies the Trump administration has promised.

[I]f there’s a more organized political effort in 2018 and 2020, it will have to incorporate a deep, pervasive structural program to subordinate corporations to humans under the law and the Constitution

An interesting note regarding Brand New Congress:

There’s also a Green Party candidate [Matt Funiciello] who could be a sure winner. The press loves him. He’s articulate on more issues than you can believe. And the Democrats weren’t smart enough to come to him and say, “What does it matter, Green or Republican, we’re going to support you because you can win in a two-way race.” Now what is Brand New Congress going to do? They want to support Democrats.

On (the) Media

This is a TV show and it’s definitely going to be problematic/disappointing. Expect hot takes by the dozens after each episode. Also- there are probably so many kids in the same circumstances as the daughter in this trailer. That’s sad.

This interview is really, really good. For my journo/writer friends — they get into writing career advice in the last 10 minutes.

Isn’t the answer here that sustained efforts at total delegitimization, no matter how deranged, is actually the path back to power?

Climate Change

This is the biggest piece of news in this whole post:

It’s totally unclear how (not)permanent these restrictions are. I suspect this is actually a legitimate setback for offshore drilling expansion because the court battles over that question will last years and cost millions.

The American Petroleum Institute pointed to 2008 when President George W. Bush used a simple memorandum to remove previously withdrawn lands and make all Outer Continental Shelf lands available for leasing except marine sanctuaries…

But White House officials in a conference call with reporters said previous “indefinite withdrawals” remain in place and voiced confidence that Mr. Obama’s decision will stand.

Advocacy groups were already warning that they were prepared to file suit to protect the ban during future administrations.


9 million prime-age working men in our country are out of work. 7 million of them have stopped looking for work completely.

[A]t least one of the two great powers of the 20th century intervened in about 1 of every 9 competitive, national-level executive elections [during the Cold War].

Note: If you enjoy anything in this post, especially if its from an article, please click the link — even if you don’t (intend to) read the whole thing — to at least give the author/source the page view.

Last Week in Climate Change

What was new in climate change: 12/13 — 12/18

Svein T veitdal

Trump and Related

  • This is the most important link on this page:

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The difference between the Carbon Bubble deflating rapidly now and popping spectacularly in a decade or more could mean literally trillions more dollars in profits for the kind of people now helicoptering into Washington.

But that same delay would also bring on climate catastrophe, damage our democracy and bring financial ruin for the investors who are left holding those assets when the bubble pops. If history is any guide, those investors will be pensions and mutual funds and small timers — in other words, regular people…

Journalists are unused to thinking about climate change as being an economic and financial issue — much less the core political issue of our day — so for a lot of us this whole problem is invisible, despite the credibility of everyone pointing it out. It sounds like a conspiracy theory, frankly, because we are so cognitively unprepared to see the Bubble in front of us. That we are so blind to these risks is a tragedy.

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Trump has already made it pretty clear that he would like to undo the Paris Climate Agreement. CEI lays out a plan for doing so by reclassifying the agreement as a treaty requiring ratification in the Senate, which would almost certainly fail to receive the necessary two thirds vote…

CEI also calls for overturning the Obama administration’s Clean Power Plan, which includes carbon dioxide and other pollution standards for power plants. If Congress can’t dismantle the actual Clean Power Plan rule, which the report describes as “an unlawful power grab that will increase consumer electricity prices,” the think tank suggests a plan B, defunding the EPA’s implementation of it.

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[Under Tillerson] Exxon shifted from its public position of doubting climate change to declaring that there is “no question” that human activity was the source of carbon dioxide emissions contributing to the phenomenon…

After Tillerson took over, the company backed a tax on carbon dioxide emissions, implemented an internal accounting measure to put a fee on carbon emissions and stopped funding many groups that outright reject the scientific consensus behind climate change, all major shifts away from its previous positions.

Exxon endorsed last year’s agreement in Paris on global warming.

That doesn’t mean anyone should be putting any faith in him to change Trump’s views (or do anything not terrible), however:

Tillerson nonetheless disagrees with environmentalists’ views that fighting climate change means using less fossil fuels. Instead, Exxon looks at solutions like replacing coal with natural gas — which the company produces — and adapting to the effects of a changing world.

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“There is no doubt that Rick Perry is completely unfit to run an agency he sought to eliminate — and couldn’t even name. Perry is a climate change denier, opposes renewable energy even as it has boomed in Texas, and doesn’t even believe CO2 is a pollutant,” League of Conservation Voters President Gene Karpinski said in a statement. “Not only that, he is deep in the pocket of Big Polluters, who have contributed over $2.5 million to his presidential campaigns, a disturbing sign that they expected him to protect their profits in office, not do what’s best for the American people.”

Perry sits on the board of Energy Transfer Partners, the firm that is trying to complete work on the Dakota Access Pipeline on the Great Plains.


This is kind of an incredible clip.

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Drinking water can be affected at any stage of the fracking process, the report notes, from acquiring the water that will be used to injecting it into production wells and disposing of the wastewater afterward. Impacts are generally seen at sites close to production wells.

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A number of independent groups of scientists, technologists and journalists are working to get a snapshot of crucial U.S. government datasets and mirror it on private servers should access be curtailed…

American data is crucial for understanding everything from big questions about how carbon dioxide moves around the globe to tiny ones like how tides are affecting sand crabs on South Padre Island in Texas. Its usefulness extends beyond pure science questions to ones about infrastructure, forest management, climate negotiations and insurance rates…

“What strikes me the most over those 20 years is that even when researchers aren’t specifically looking for evidence of climate change or anthropogenic influence, they often find it,” said Laura Naranjo, a science writer at the National Snow and Ice Data Center…

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“We are going to respect the professional and scientific integrity and independence of our employees at our labs and across our department,”
– Energy spokesman Eben Burnham-Snyder


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The world’s tallest animal is at risk of extinction after suffering a devastating decline in numbers, with nearly 40% of giraffes lost in the last 30 years, according to the latest “red list” analysis…

The natural world is in the midst of a mass extinction as wild places are destroyed by conversion to farmland, mining and pollution, and animals are hunted in huge numbers. In October, a major analysis found the number of wild creatures was on track to fall by two-thirds by 2020, compared to 1970. Recent red list updates have found the eastern Gorilla and whale shark moving closer to extinction, while the prospects of the giant panda are improving.


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The overall shift to clean energy can be more expensive in wealthier nations, where electricity demand is flat or falling and new solar must compete with existing billion-dollar coal and gas plants. But in countries that are adding new electricity capacity as quickly as possible, “renewable energy will beat any other technology in most of the world without subsidies,” said Liebreich.

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This is likely the first time an American city has wielded its zoning code to halt such a large array of fossil fuel projects. Under the new ordinance, which will take effect next month, new large terminals for transporting and storing coal, methanol and various natural gas and oil products can’t be built in the city. The rules also forbid expansion of Portland’s 11 existing facilities — one liquefied natural gas (LNG) plant and 10 terminals for petroleum fuels.

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As a scientific concept, the Anthropocene is ambiguous and disputed. As a political and ethical concept, it is sharper: it means we have take responsibility for a world we partly create. Simple “preservation of the world,” as Thoreau named it, is not an option anymore, just as nothing today is truly wild…

I’ve been wondering, though, whether we can’t have a Thoreau for the Anthropocene, a Thoreau who is less interested in wilderness than in how to live with, relate to and value a world we have irrevocably changed, a world where nothing is really separate from us. I like this idea because the Anthropocene needs its own cultural history, its environmental texts.

Command+F: 12/13/2016

Everything worth reading on December 13, 2016

What is Cmnd+F?

Trump and Related

[Trump is] seeking to put the former Texas governor in control of an agency whose name he forgot during a presidential debate even as he vowed to abolish it…

“The fact that Gov. Perry refuses to accept the broad scientific consensus on climate change calls into question his fitness to head up a science-based agency like DOE,” said Ken Kimmell, president of the Union of Concerned Scientists. But, he added, as governor Perry “increased the ambition of the state’s Renewable Energy Standard, directed state funds to innovative wind energy R&D initiatives, and created a ‘Competitive Renewable Energy Zone’ that helped expand transmission of renewables, bringing clean wind energy from rural communities to new state markets.”

Climate Change

Drinking water can be affected at any stage of the fracking process, the report notes, from acquiring the water that will be used to injecting it into production wells and disposing of the wastewater afterward. Impacts are generally seen at sites close to production wells.

North Dakota officials estimate more than 176,000 gallons of crude oil leaked from the Belle Fourche Pipeline into the Ash Coulee Creek.

688 institutions and nearly 60,000 individuals in 76 countries [have divested] themselves of shares in at least some kinds of oil, gas and coal companies, according to the report.

Having an independent repository of the sum total of American knowledge of the climate system will serve as a testament to future fundraising efforts, if necessary, to support universities or other nongovernmental organizations to continue the (previously public) practice of climate science in the United States. I see our efforts as a firewall against a hostile administration: The more we can preserve before Trump takes power, the less incentive he has to stand in the way of science.

On (the) Media

This is a really good take on the Tomi Lahren “Daily Show” interview.

While the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) does not dispute the CIA’s analysis of Russian hacking operations, it has not endorsed their assessment because of a lack of conclusive evidence that Moscow intended to boost Trump over Democratic opponent Hillary Clinton, said the officials, who declined to be named…

The Federal Bureau of Investigation, whose evidentiary standards require it to make cases that can stand up in court, declined to accept the CIA’s analysis — a deductive assessment of the available intelligence — for the same reason…

“It’s obvious that the Russians hacked into our campaigns,” [John]McCain said. “But there is no information that they were intending to affect the outcome of our election and that’s why we need a congressional investigation,” he told Reuters.

The current discourse on this issue is plagued by partisan gibberish — there is a disturbing trend emerging that dictates that if you don’t believe Russia hacked the election or if you simply demand evidence for this tremendously significant allegation, you must be a Trump apologist or a Soviet agent.

The reality, however, is that Trump’s reference to the Iraq War and the debacle over weapons of mass destruction is both utterly cynical and a perfectly valid point. U.S. intelligence agencies have repeatedly demonstrated that they regularly both lie and get things horribly wrong. In this case they may well be correct, but they cannot expect Americans to simply take their word for it.


Ignore the title of this video. It provides an interesting glimpse into the minds of Trump supporters as well as Bernie Sanders’ take on Trump’s campaign promises:

The new abortion regulations, which will take effect in 90 days unless a court halts them, will make it a fourth-degree felony for a physician to perform an abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy when the fetus is viable. The crime is punishable by up to 18 months in prison. A conviction also would result in the loss of a physician’s medical license.

Note: If you enjoy anything in this post, especially if its from an article, please click the link — even if you don’t (intend to) read the whole thing — to at least give the author/source the page view.

Command+F: 12/9

The ultimate reading list for Friday, Dec. 9

Trump and Related

Together with their families, Trump’s nominees gave $11.6 million to support his presidential bid, his allied super PACs and the Republican National Committee, according to a Washington Post analysis of federal campaign filings.

WWE co-founder Linda McMahon — contributed $7.5 million to back his White House run before Trump selected her to run the Small Business Administration this week. She and her husband Vince were also the top outside donors to Trump’s private foundation.

[M]ore than $14.6 million worth of campaign funds went back into Trump’s businesses in the form of air travel, event rentals and even $8,040.01 to Trump’s bottled water company, Trump Ice LLC.

Climate Change

“Last month was easily the hottest November on record globally, according to satellite data sets.

In fact, satellite data, ground-based weather stations, sea-based buoys, and even weather balloons all reveal a steady long-term warming trend.”

This interactive (link above) does a really good job of visualizing carbon emissions and America’s pledge under the Paris agreement.

Other nations are not expected to back out of their pledges if the United States does not participate, but there is concern over how much developing countries will be able to do.

Part of the global climate conversation is focused on financial assistance to poorer countries. Developed nations agreed to give $100 billion a year by 2020, which will require coordination and planning on a large scale, and the United States may have a critical role in that planning.

The questionnaire, which one Energy Department official described as unusually “intrusive” and a matter for departmental lawyers, has raised concern that the Trump transition team was trying to figure out how to target the people, including civil servants, who have helped implement policies under Obama.

“The president’s executive order closes off 40,300 square miles from future oil and gas leasing — the Norton Basin planning area and parts of the St. Matthew-Hall planning area. The areas are in the waters offshore of Nome and surrounding St. Lawrence Island…

Obama has made it clear that he would rather listen to Alaska Native groups than the state’s elected officials. In 2015, he became the first sitting president to visit Alaska’s Arctic, and he has spoken extensively about protecting the region from the results of encroaching climate change. The executive order closely mirrors requests brought to the White House this year by the Association of Village Council Presidents, Kawerak, Inc. and the Bering Sea Elders Group.”

On (the) Media

Vice News

MIT’s analysis — which used the social media company’s complete data set — shows that on Twitter, Trump supporters formed a particularly insular group when talking about politics during the general election. They had few connections to Clinton supporters or the mainstream media. By contrast, Clinton supporters were more splintered and verified journalists often overlapped within their mutual follower networks. (Vice News)

[I]f you have prominent journalists telling the public to trust an anonymous group with a false McCarthyite blacklist, or telling it to ignore informative documents on the grounds that they are fake when there is zero reason to believe that they are fake, that is a direct threat to democracy. In the case of the Podesta emails, these lies were perpetrated by the very factions that have taken to most loudly victimizing themselves over the spread of Fake News.

But the problem here goes way beyond mere hypocrisy. Complaints about Fake News are typically accompanied by calls for “solutions” that involve censorship and suppression, either by the government or tech giants such as Facebook. But until there is a clear definition of “Fake News,” and until it’s recognized that Fake News is being aggressively spread by the very people most loudly complaining about it, the dangers posed by these solutions will be at least as great as the problem itself.

Welch told the Times he learned about “Pizzagate” from friends and then conducted his own online investigation once he had internet installed at his house. His research convinced him that “something nefarious was happening.”

He told the newspaper that Alex Jones, who used his conspiracy site InfoWars to promote the “Pizzagate” conspiracy and whose page he follows on Facebook, was “a bit eccentric.”

“He touches on some issues that are viable but goes off the deep end on some things,” Welch explained.


”I think there’s a reason attitudes about my presidency among whites in northern states are very different from whites in southern states.” -Pres. Barrack Obama

Note: If you enjoy anything in this post, especially if its from an article, please click the link — even if you don’t (intend to) read the whole thing — to at least give the author/source the page view.

Command+F: 12/08/2016

Everything worth reading for Thursday, December 8.


Trump and related

Larry Lessig says his new effort, which he calls “The Electors Trust,” will provide free counsel to electors.

Pruitt, the Republican attorney general for Oklahoma since 2011, has interacted most directly with the EPA by suing it over what he sees as over-reaching federal regulations. Some scientists have also questioned his fitness to run the environmental agency considering he has publicly stated that he believes the debate over the cause of global warming is “far from settled.”

First, Trump blasted an Indiana union boss personally on Twitter, prompting a blistering response from labor leaders. Then he announced his choice for secretary of the Department of Labor is fast-food executive Andrew Puzder, a union critic who’s even floated the idea of automating his restaurants to avoid worker costs.

“This is about the opposite of what Trump promised he was going to do when he said he was going to be the president for the working class. This pick is about pulverizing the working class.” — Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers

“I like beautiful women eating burgers in bikinis. I think it’s very American.” — Andrew Puzder

Mr. Puzder has spent his career in the private sector and has opposed efforts to expand eligibility for overtime pay, while arguing that large minimum wage increases hurt small businesses and lead to job loss among low-skilled workers.


[M]ore than 800 Earth science and energy experts in 46 states have signed an open letter to Donald Trump, urging him to take six key steps to address climate change to help protect “America’s economy, national security, and public health and safety.”

Publicly acknowledge that climate change is a real, human-caused, and urgent threat. If not, you will become the only government leader in the world to deny climate science. Your position will be at odds with virtually all climate scientists, most economists, military experts, fossil fuel companies and other business leaders, and the two-thirds of Americans worried about this issue.

On Sunday, protesters in North Dakota celebrated as news that the Army Corps of Engineers would not be granting a necessary permit for the Dakota Access pipeline spread.

The next day, North Dakota’s State Health Department spill investigation team was dispatched to the western part of the state — about 200 miles from the protest camps at Standing Rock — to contain a crude oil spill from a different pipeline.

[T]he bulk of the planet’s technosphere is staggering in scale, with some 30 trillion tons representing a mass of more than 50 kilos for every square metre of the Earth’s surface…

Professor Williams said: “The technosphere can be said to have budded off the biosphere and arguably is now at least partly parasitic on it. At its current scale the technosphere is a major new phenomenon of this planet — and one that is evolving extraordinarily rapidly.

On (the) Media

At this point, no one can stop right-wing nuts from attaching fake news as an epithet to every CNN report that bothers them. But there may still be time for the reality-based community to find enough common ground to tackle the original problem. If we can’t collectively find a way to counter misinformation so egregious that even its authors admit it’s a hoax, the outlook for the media — and the truth — in the Trump era is bleak indeed.

An overview of the science on need for cognition shows that lower levels of this individual difference lend one to be influenced easily by short messages or strong images, engage in biased thinking and partisan news sources, and fall victim to other ill sources of information. They can also become overwhelmed by complicated, layered information, instead favoring mental shortcuts to make decisions. So what’s the harm? In short, the strong potential for bad decisions. Low need for cognition can lead down paths of following stronger personalities (see below), contributing to prejudice and interpersonal conflict, and, at worst, serving as a precursor to some of the most tragic human rights issues in modern history. Don’t think? Then don’t expect the best to happen for you or society!

-Robert J. Cramer, Associate Professor of Community & Environmental Health at Old Dominion University

That one time Rick Santorum told a dreamer to go back to her country and come back later (spoiler: if you were raised in the U.S., then it is your country).

Media Matters will now focus their efforts on grappling with misinformation, where it comes from, and how it spreads. These new efforts will include new staff and a focus on technology, bringing in experts to build in-house software to help track conspiracy theories and misinformation.


Noam Chomsky and Harry Belafonte spoke at the Democracy Now! 20th Anniversary event Monday night. The whole broadcast is worth watching if you have the time.

One pivot I’m encouraging is for people to think about strategic alignment between progressives, liberals and the radical left when necessary and possible. This will not be applicable to all issues but may apply most to potential campaigns, issues and strategies where the stakes are so high that we need to create multipronged strategic alliances. Whether we’re talking about the Muslim registry or the elimination of the Affordable Care Act, we need to be thinking about how we can simultaneously create local and state policies to prevent and/or undermine local and state government participation, and coordinate that work with civil disobedience, direct action and strategic communications. In these times, we need to examine the possibility of using public policy to increase our reach and power, and to support our survival.

A review by The New York Times of tens of thousands of disciplinary cases against inmates in 2015, hundreds of pages of internal reports and three years of parole decisions found that racial disparities were embedded in the prison experience in New York…

In most prisons, blacks and Latinos were disciplined at higher rates than whites — in some cases twice as often, the analysis found. They were also sent to solitary confinement more frequently and for longer durations. At Clinton, a prison near the Canadian border where only one of the 998 guards is African-American, black inmates were nearly four times as likely to be sent to isolation as whites, and they were held there for an average of 125 days, compared with 90 days for whites.

But there is a point where it becomes too much, a kind of roar of opinions and fears that does not truly stir us to action or make us more aware. There is a danger to unfettered catastrophizing, which will sap our energy and distract and drain us. On social media and elsewhere, our attention has been monetized, not figuratively but literally, to a personally and societally harmful degree. We are fully in danger of succumbing to the rope-a-dope of the outrage machine. If we aren’t careful, we’ll punch ourselves out by Inauguration…

The role of poetry in our time of crisis is the same as always: to preserve our minds and language, so we may be strong for whatever is to come. And also, to preserve the possibility of mutual understanding, not by arguing for it, but by demonstrating it.

“The explanation for Byrd Park says that the area is yellow because negroes- that’s the term they used for African Americans- travel back and forth to get to Byrd Park. And because the school is in Randolph, the African American neighborhood, and for that reason, losses on property are being taken. It’s explicit acknowledgment that it’s not just the presence of African Americans as neighbors that negatively affects these assessments from HOLC’s perspective, it’s even the proximity of African Americans. Not just as residents, but as pedestrians.” — Robert Nelson

“Jackson Ward was the single largest African American neighborhood in Richmond and it was a separate city together. It had its own economy. There were several Black-owned banks, there were department stores, law firms, insurance companies, and by the same token you had skilled labor and poor Blacks but they all lived in the same neighborhood.” — John Moeser

Liberty University announced that it had hired Ian McCaw, a “godly man of excellent character,” as its athletic director…

McCaw is well acquainted with Christian athletics. In May, he left his job as the athletic director at Baylor, another eminent Christian university. His departure followed a devastating investigation that found that the leaders of the football team and the athletic department had looked away when told of multiple gang rapes and sexual assault.

Note: If you enjoy anything in this post, especially if its from an article, please click the link — even if you don’t (intend to) read the whole thing — to at least give the author/source the page view.

This Week in Climate Change

The week of 11/28 to 12/4


  • The Department of the Army announced it would be halting construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline to review alternative routes. (HuffPo). Responses below.
  • A wildfire in the Smoky Mountains in Tennessee left 13 dead and burned at least 18,000 acres. (Knoxville News-Sentinel)
  • U.S. oil exports have increased almost 1,300 percent since 2009. (Climate Central)
  • Clear cutting in the Amazon is on the rise (again) — Brazil lost 8,000 square km of rainforest between August 2015 and July 2016. That’s larger than the entire state of Delaware. (WaPo)
  • Much to the dismay of climate scientists, the House committee on Science, Space and technology tweeted a Breitbart article purporting that global temperatures have been dropping. (The Guardian)
  • Australian researchers announced that the Great Barrier Reef suffered its worst bleaching event on record in 2016. (Vox)
  • A report from the Global Carbon Project found that carbon emissions remained flat in 2016. Over the last three years, emissions haven remained about the same even as the global economy grew. (ThinkProgress)
  • A new study published in the Journal Nature found “empirical support for the long-held concern that rising temperatures stimulate the loss of soil C to the atmosphere, driving a positive land C–climate feedback that could accelerate planetary warming over the twenty-first century.” (WaPo)

Dakota Access Pipeline Fight

Brian Cladoosby, National Congress of American Indians president:

“This isn’t over, but it is enormously good news. All tribal peoples have prayed from the beginning for a peaceful solution, and this puts us back on track.”


Bill McKIbben, founder:

When native American protesters sat down in front of bulldozers to try and protect ancestral graves, they were met with attack dogs — the pictures looked like Birmingham, Alabama, circa 1963. But it went back further than that: the encampment, with its teepees and woodsmoke hovering in the valley, looked like something out of an 1840s painting. With the exception that this was not just one tribe: this was pretty much all of native North America. The flags of more than 200 Indian nations lined the rough dirt entrance road. Other Americans, drawn in part by a sense of shame at this part of our heritage, flooded in to help — when the announcement came today, there were thousands of military veterans on hand.

(The Guardian)

“I feel like I have my future back.”

“To me this is Selma. This is Birmingham. This is as big a civil rights movement and as big a civil rights moment as you’re ever going to see.”

City Lab mapped the last 30 years of oil and gas pipeline accidents. The video below shows accidents that killed or injured people.

“We are not stupid people. We are not ignorant people,” Former tribal council member Phyllis Young said in the meeting. “Do not underestimate the people of Standing Rock. We know what’s going on, and we know what belongs to us, and we know what we have to keep for our children and our grandchildren.”

Trump and Related

A senior Trump advisor announced that the president-elect plans to cut funding for NASA’s Earth science activities in favor of deep space projects.

Kevin Trenberth, senior scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research:

“We live on planet Earth and there is much to discover, and it is essential to track and monitor many things from space. Information on planet Earth and its atmosphere and oceans is essential for our way of life. Space research is a luxury, Earth observations are essential.”

(The Guardian)

If Trump decides to leave the Paris climate agreement, his fastest course of action would be to leave the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change. That’s according to Steven Groves of the Heritage Foundation. (Vox)

Trump Chief of Staff Reince Preibus said that the administration still intends to leave the Paris agreement, despite Trump telling the New York Times that he would keep an open mind. (ThinkProgress)

When the history of the 20th century is written, I’m hopeful that historians will conclude that the most important technology developed during those bloody hundred years wasn’t the atom bomb, or the ability to manipulate genes, or even the Internet, but instead the technology of nonviolence. (I use the word “technology” advisedly here.) We had intimations of its power long before: In a sense, the most resounding moment in Western history, Jesus’s crucifixion, is a prototype of nonviolent action, one that launched the most successful movement in history. Nineteenth-century America saw Thoreau begin to think more systematically about civil disobedience as a technique. But it really fell to the 20th century, and Gandhi, to develop it as a coherent strategy, a process greatly furthered by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and his associates in this country, and by adherents around the world: Otpor in Eastern Europe, various participants in the Arab Spring, Buddhist monks in Burma, Wangari Maathai’s tree-planters, and so on… The real point of civil disobedience and the subsequent movements is less to pass specific legislation than it is to change the zeitgeist.

Climate change effects

NASA Easth Observatory

Areas in and around Great Smoky Mountains National Park are dealing with year-to-date rainfall deficits of up to 20 inches. Through October, Tennessee is also having its third-warmest year on record. That’s ensured the entire state is mired in drought with the epicenter in the southeast part of the state that’s currently ablaze.

Whether climate change will make fires more common in the region is an ongoing area of research. It’s unclear if the Southeast will become wetter or drier due to climate change and that will have a big influence on future wildfire activity.

The region is likely to keep warming, though, and that means that any future dry spells will be more likely to lead to drought, creating more fuel for fires to burn.


By 1980, a report written by Exxon’s Canadian subsidiary and distributed to Exxon managers around the world stated matter-of-factly, “It is assumed that the major contributors of CO2 are the burning of fossil fuels…and oxidation of carbon stored in trees and soil humus…. There is no doubt that increases in fossil fuel usage and decreases in forest cover are aggravating the potential problem of increased CO2 in the atmosphere.”17 The next year Roger Cohen, director of Exxon’s Theoretical and Mathematical Sciences Laboratory, wrote in an internal memo that by 2030, projected cumulative carbon emissions could, after a delay, “produce effects which will indeed be catastrophic (at least for a substantial fraction of the earth’s population).”18

[N]ow, more than at any time in our history, our species needs to work together. We face awesome environmental challenges: climate change, food production, overpopulation, the decimation of other species, epidemic disease, acidification of the oceans.

Together, they are a reminder that we are at the most dangerous moment in the development of humanity. We now have the technology to destroy the planet on which we live, but have not yet developed the ability to escape it. Perhaps in a few hundred years, we will have established human colonies amid the stars, but right now we only have one planet, and we need to work together to protect it.