Thursday, June 30, 2016


All Eyes (and Ears) on Jupiter - The New York Times

All Eyes (and Ears) on Jupiter - The New York Times:

 "As NASA’s Juno spacecraft closes in for its Monday arrival at Jupiter, many other eyes are also staring at the solar system’s largest planet."

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Planet Nine

Boris Johnson Won’t Seek to Lead Britain, but Michael Gove Will - The New York Times

Boris Johnson Won’t Seek to Lead Britain, but Michael Gove Will - The New York Times:

"LONDON — In a day of intrigue and betrayal, predictions about the next prime minister of Britain were overturned on Thursday as the presumed favorite, Boris Johnson, said he would not run after his ally in the Brexit campaign, Michael Gove, suddenly announced his candidacy."

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Bernie Sanders Returns to the Capitol, His Campaign in Tow - The New York Times

Bernie Sanders Returns to the Capitol, His Campaign in Tow - The New York Times:

 "WASHINGTON — The lusty applause that greeted his return to the Capitol is behind him now, as are the pecks on the cheek he received as he sat at his desk on the Senate floor, looking vaguely glum, receiving good wishes like a warrior returned to civilization, injured but intact."

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Wednesday, June 29, 2016


Illinois lawmakers, who have two days to pass a bill before becoming the first state since the Great Depression to go more than a year without a budget, were greeted by a rare push by nearly 60 newspapers to get the job done.
Newspapers from the Chicago Sun-Times to the Peoria Journal-Star joined in to turn up the pressure on legislators to get something passed as they reconvened on Wednesday morning. “Enough” read the pointed, one-word headline for an editorial that was the only story on the cover of The State Journal-Register, which is located in the state capital of Springfield and led the joint editorial effort on Wednesday.
The state’s Republican governor and Democratic legislature have been deadlocked over the state’s finances for over a year and are two days away from failing to pass a state budget for the second year in a row, at midnight on June 30.

“Illinois’ people cannot be held hostage for a second year without a budget. Voters must revolt,” wrote the Journal Register’s editorial board.
For the next 48 hours, the legislature will consider two bills that could provide a quick and temporary fix. A $50.3 billion stopgap budget proposal would provide funding for basic government services like prisons and State Police for six months, including an increase in funding for public schools. A second bill will fund college scholarships, higher education and human services.
In the run-up to the final-hour legislative session, spokespeople for political rivals Gov. Bruce Rauner and Speaker Michael Madigan said they were hopeful something would be passed.
For the past year, certain core functions have continued to operate thanks to a series of court orders and limited legislative actions, but the state’s backlog of bills now stands at around $8 billion, according to the comptroller’s office.
Without a spending plan, roadwork through the Illinois Department of Transportation ground to a halt last week. Thousands of social-service providers have closed programs over the past year, from substance abuse treatment to elderly care, and the struggling Chicago Public Schools said it could start the school year late if funding is delayed.
The stalemate has made Illinois the first state since the Great Depression to go a full year without a budget, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
“We felt like we really needed to do something dramatic to try and amplify the message,” said State Journal-Register editor Angie Muhs. “This was pretty unprecedented.”

Summit in Canada Is a Farewell for Obama and a Debut for Justin Trudeau - The New York Times

Summit in Canada Is a Farewell for Obama and a Debut for Justin Trudeau - The New York Times:

"OTTAWA — President Obama arrived in the Canadian capital on Wednesday to meet the leaders of Canada and Mexico in a summit meeting that will be his North American farewell, as well as a debut of sorts for Justin Trudeau, the Canadian prime minister, who recalls Mr. Obama’s youthful image and has inherited his mantle of change.


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Who Got Rich Off the Student Debt Crisis | Common Dreams | Breaking News & Views for the Progressive Community

Who Got Rich Off the Student Debt Crisis | Common Dreams | Breaking News & Views for the Progressive Community:

"A generation ago, Congress privatized a student loan program intended to give more Americans access to higher education."

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Young Lawyers Ready to Argue a Major Abortion Case Before the Supreme Court - The New York Times

Young Lawyers Ready to Argue a Major Abortion Case Before the Supreme Court - The New York Times:

"Facing off before the Supreme Court on Wednesday, in what could be the most momentous abortion case in a quarter-century, will be two lawyers who are still in their thirties and are described by colleagues as whip-smart masters of the law and unflappable under pressure."

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Senate advances Puerto Rico rescue bill days before debt cliff - The Washington Post

Senate advances Puerto Rico rescue bill days before debt cliff - The Washington Post:

"The Senate moved Wednesday to close a long-running debate about whether and how Congress should intervene in Puerto Rico’s mounting fiscal crisis, two days before the U.S. territory is set to default on roughly $2 billion in debt payments."

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You Break It, You Own It - The New York Times

You Break It, You Own It - The New York Times:

 "The British vote by a narrow majority to leave the European Union is not the end of the world — but it does show us how we can get there."

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My father fought in WW1, and my mother learned Esperanto – this is what they would have thought of Brexit by Robert Fisk

“Britain, right or wrong.” My Dad also used to say that, just to make me mad. Born in 1899 and married to a much younger woman – my mother Peggy was only 25 when she married Bill in 1945 – he was a brave soldier of the Great War, a hard working chartered accountant, a man who believed in paying his bills on time, who was scrupulously loyal to his wife and his friends but who, alas, could be a bigot, a bully, an outrageous racist, a pint-in-the-hand enemy of immigration. 
Long after he’d retired as Borough Treasurer of Maidstone, he continued to work voluntarily for the National Savings movement, and he’d return from London in the late 1960s complaining that everyone he’d seen on the tube train had been “as black as the ace of spades”.
Some of this was said to enrage his precocious, arrogant, super-liberal lefty late-teenage son. Bill liked to argue – to the point where I would later abandon him and my poor Mum in Maidstone, and storm off back to my reporting assignments in Belfast or Beirut in the hope that I wouldn’t have to see him for many years. 
I was partly educated in Dublin – I gained a PhD in politics at Trinity College – and my father knew of my great affection for Ireland. So he knew what he was doing when he announced one day that the Irish had only themselves to blame for their 19th century famine – they were too lazy, he said, and too drunk to grow more than potatoes – and after that, I don’t think I spoke to him for more than an hour during the rest of his life. When he was dying in a Maidstone nursing home, I didn’t go to see him.
I was a European rather than an Englishman. You’d think at the time that Bill was – as we would say today – a Brexit man, through and through. My gentle, thoughtful, infinitely patient Mum – who became a magistrate and sought leniency for poor offenders and came to distrust the word of Kent Police – literally wrung her hands in anguish as she repaired and re-repaired the damaged, hopeless relationship between her husband and her son. 
Poor Peggy, she did not deserve this. Nor did my Dad. I have written before of how just after the First World War, 2nd Lt Bill Fisk of the King’s Liverpool Regiment refused to command a firing squad to execute a British soldier for murder – a magnificent and brave decision which destroyed his military career and was, I later realised, perhaps the finest act of his life.
The condemned ‘Brit’ was in fact an Australian in a British regiment and he was shot by others at Le Havre, but Bill emerged an honourable man. Yet later, he became an advocate for corporal and capital punishment. As a member of a rent assessment tribunal, I remember him refusing to lower the cost of a couple’s rented accommodation in Maidstone because he suspected they were not married. Was it age that produced this profound cruelty? Or because the cruellest of all front lines had eventually penetrated his own mind? 
Bill hated socialists, communists, Bertrand Russell, Hugh Gaitskell (because of the latter’s denunciation of Suez), Harold Wilson and – before he died – just about every politician who hadn’t fought in the First or Second World Wars with the exception of Margaret Thatcher. Of course, his favourite warrior was Winston Churchill whose gloomy portrait hung over the fireplace of our dining room in Maidstone until, after Bill’s death in 1992 at the grand old age of 93, my mother asked me if it would be disrespectful to take it down. I said it wouldn’t be. And down it came.
These past few days, however, in the aftermath of the Brexit catastrophe, I’ve begun to ask myself how Bill and Peggy would have voted, and what they really thought of Europe, the continent which we have just aborted from our lives. And of the British politicians who led us – through selfishness and lies – into this impasse. Certainly Bill judged politicians of every class and party according to their appearance. He would have spotted at once the problem of Boris, Michael and Nigel. The first he would have identified as a clown, the second as a dodgy public schoolmaster and the third as a “Spiv”, a word my father used a lot and which oddly catches Farage rather well.
Cameron he would have seen through at once because he never trusted public relations men, and other Tories would have met with his disfavour because – and this was a feeling he shared with my mother – he never trusted anyone whose hair fell over their collar. George Osborne might have escaped his immediate suspicion but Bill would, I think, have doubted whether the ‘Britain, right or wrong’ motif came from experience and knowledge of history or was merely a cliché brought out of the cupboard to serve young Osborne’s purpose in wriggling out of his lie about the emergency post-Brexit budget.
But let’s go back to 1914, when Bill tried to join the British army under-age so he could join his school chums and fight in France. His mother – my grandmother, who I never met – dragged him back from the recruiting office at Preston but couldn’t prevent him joining the Cheshire Regiment in 1916. He wanted to fight for little Catholic Belgium, and for France whose history – Napoleon’s, of course – and whose army of First World War “poilus”, Bill admired enormously. Padraig Pearse changed Dad’s plans and he was sent to Cork to counter Sinn Fein after the 1916 Rising, which saved him from the first day of the Somme battle among whose 20,000 dead were some of his school friends. I still have their postcards to Bill, urging him to join them at the front. 
In 1918, Bill was at last sent to France – I have another postcard of my very handsome 2nd lieutenant father leaning against a wall with “Arras, 1918” written in his own hand in fountain pen in the corner. He took pictures of the trenches and no-man’s land – cameras were officially forbidden, but perhaps he had his unborn son’s reporter’s instinct – and he always remembered liberating Cambrai with the Canadian army, its streets on fire. There is movie film of this inferno and Bill must have known some of the soldiers on the footage although they are impossible to identify today. I still have Bill’s English-French dictionary. He stayed on as a soldier in France after the war and there is some evidence of a young French woman he may have cared for, a lady’s straw hat in the corner of a photograph in which Bill is standing in trench puttees, another distant picture of Bill and a woman in the back of an ancient French car, two tickets to the races at Longchamp in 1919.
In the late 1930s, not long before the Second World War, Peggy, daughter of a middle class female café-owner and her Sussex baker husband, travelled to Paris with her teenage friends from Maidstone Girls Grammar School. There are pictures of Peggy standing in the 6th Arrondissement. She had studiously learned the extraordinary language of Esperanto – a 19th century attempt to build a new form of communication from the roots of European languages. “People in France understood me in Esperanto!” my Mum would declare triumphantly when I was old enough to understand, although I always thought it might have been easier if she had simply learned French. She kept postcards of the France that was soon to fall to Nazi Germany, and guide books to the exhibitions of Paris.
After the Second World War, when Master Robert was still in short trousers, Bill, as borough treasurer of Maidstone, volunteered to travel to the ruins of the Reich to help German accountants in Hamburg set up a new local authority. In the years that followed, he insisted that I travel with both him and Peggy to France and Germany, to learn about Europe and history. Of course, Bill took me to the Somme but also to the 1916 French battlefield of Verdun and my mother took colour footage of my father and myself walking between the French crosses at Fort Douaumont. There are snapshots aplenty of Bill and Peggy and Robert in the Black Forest of Germany, in Strasbourg, in Paris. Yes, my Mum and Dad wanted to me to know that I was a European, not just a “Brit”.
Why else would they have spent so much money on those currency-restricted visits to France and Germany and Belgium? Why else did they encourage me as a schoolboy to travel back to France alone, to visit other great French cities, to travel to Amsterdam to look at the art of Rembrandt? True, my father hated the French immigration officials as they sullenly stamped our passports at Boulogne – yes, this really is what might await us again after Brexit! – but loathed even more the Dover customs officers who smelled my father’s guilt the moment he arrived at the Marine Station with his higher-than-allowance boxes of Capstan cigarettes buried among his trousers and waistcoat, his jacket and old regimental tie. 
We used to cross to France on the old British Railways’ “Shepperton Ferry”, built in 1932 and used as a minelayer in the Second World War, and my mother would recall this most uncomfortable of vessels when I and my friends arrived to see her in Kent where, gripped by Parkinsons, she was to die in 1998. She wanted to be told, repeatedly, of the marvels of the Eurostar, of how fast this symbol of the EU passed from Folkstone to Calais. Could we see the English Channel from the train, she used to ask?
I inherited my Dad’s books when he died and I have them still; hundreds of volumes on the two world wars, of course, Churchill’s biography of Marlborough (signed by the author) and works on British history and my own old child’s copy of “Our Island Story”, but also histories of the Tsars, of the French kings and the wars of the Spanish succession and the Hundred Years War and the new Italy of Garibaldi and the dark history of Germany and Stalinist Russia. Because Bill was also a child of Europe.
In her last years, Peggy and her sister – my Auntie “Bibby” (her real name was Dorothy) – splurged their savings to take week-long tours of France and Spain and Italy. My mother went to Venice and saw Rome and revisited the Paris of her youth. They were, I realise today, Europeans as much as they were British. My father too, I now believe. As my French improved over the years and he heard me speaking in French on the phone and knew that I was giving lectures on the Middle East in French in Paris, Bill would express his pleasure that his son could speak another European language.
Years before, when I was still at school, he had invited the son of our hotel manager in the French city of Beauvais – his name was Michel Moutier and I have long lost touch with him – to stay with us in Kent, insisting he speak French at the breakfast table so that he and my mother and I could listen to him in his own language. And as the years went by – and later, of course, I was guilty of forgetting my father’s foresight and his broadmindedness at such a great age – he would encourage me to bring my European non-Brit friends home to Maidstone to meet him and Peggy.
I doubt if he ever recovered from his fear of the unknown – of the alien – which his racist remarks about black people obviously reflected. He sometimes used the word “n****r”, which made me want to disown him, although he took care never to use such vile expressions when others were around. But he was also a man of his time and I must admit that he was a titan compared to the midget politicians who have, for personal gain and ambition, led us into the Brexit perdition. My father would have said “Britain, right or wrong”, but Bill, who was also an accountant, knew what “wrong” was, and he and Peggy would have voted Remain.
Though he might have disdained his music, Bill – as my own wife pointed out to me — would surely have agreed with Sting’s description of politicians as “game show hosts”. They are men who could not have known history as my father lived it. And when Cameron spoke of the “swarms” of refugees at Calais, my Dad would not have understood him. He would have thought of the swarms of German Messerschmitts circling over Calais in 1940 to join the Luftwaffe air fleet setting off to bomb Kent, where he lived and where he would marry my mother and where I would be born in 1946. He did not forget the lessons of war.
When I went back to Maidstone to see my mother after his death, Bill had left on his desk a framed postcard, a photo of himself as a young soldier. It showed him and a comrade riding British army horses behind the front lines in First World War in France, one of the animals with white fur above its hooves. On the back of the card, my father had written: “Self on ‘White Socks’ near Hazebruk.” Harzebrouk is in French Flanders; it was my last sight of my European soldier Dad.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Bernie Sanders: Democrats Need to Wake Up - The New York Times

Bernie Sanders: Democrats Need to Wake Up - The New York Times:

"Surprise, surprise. Workers in Britain, many of whom have seen a decline in their standard of living while the very rich in their country have become much richer, have turned their backs on the European Union and a globalized economy that is failing them and their children."

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NASA’s Juno Spacecraft Will Soon Be in Jupiter’s Grip - The New York Times

NASA’s Juno Spacecraft Will Soon Be in Jupiter’s Grip - The New York Times:

"After traveling for five years and nearly 1.8 billion miles, NASA’s Juno spacecraft will announce its arrival at Jupiter with the simplest of radio signals: a three-second beep."

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Climate Change High on Agenda as Obama and Trudeau Meet for Summit - The New York Times

Climate Change High on Agenda as Obama and Trudeau Meet for Summit - The New York Times:

"OTTAWA — When Justin Trudeau, the prime minister of Canada, appeared at the United Nations this spring to sign the Paris climate accord, the rapturous ovation he received was worthy of the celebrity he had become, a leader full of promise and of promises, especially on climate change."

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Monday, June 27, 2016


Naomi Klein on the racism that underlies climate change inaction

In recent months, the world’s gaze has landed again and again on a hellish Australian terrain of climate-related disaster. Bushfires ravage some of the planet’s oldest trees in Tasmania. Catastrophic coral bleaching leaves much of the Great Barrier Reef a ghostly white. The first known mammal to be wiped out by global warming was recently identified there.

And yet, there is little to no discussion of climate change in your federal election campaign, which is why many Australian groups are forcefully calling for “Pollution Free Politics”: as in North America, the fossil fuel industry has managed to capture not only the debate and key levers of policy, but also huge government subsidies that help to lock in their civilisation-threatening business model, even as renewables surge around the world.

But responding to the climate crisis is not just a matter of closing coal plants and building more solar arrays. A rapid transition to green energy is also an opportunity to remake our world for the better – to lower emissions in ways that also address historical injustice and inequality, bolster democracy, and prevent the kind of brutal, inhumane future that we are already catching far too many glimpses of, from the treatment of refugees on Manus Island and Nauru to the devastating tragedy in Orlando.

In March, two major peer-reviewed studies warned that sea-level rise could happen significantly faster than previously believed. One of the authors of the first study was James Hansen, perhaps the most respected climate scientist in the world. He warned that, on our current emissions trajectory, we face the “loss of all coastal cities, most of the world’s large cities and all their history” – and not in thousands of years, but as soon as this century.

If we don’t demand radical change we are headed for a whole world of people searching for a home that no longer exists. In countries such as the Marshall Islands and Fiji and Tuvalu, they know that so much sea-level rise is inevitable that their countries likely have no future. But they refuse just to concern themselves with the logistics of relocation, and wouldn’t even if there were safer countries willing to open their borders – a very big if, since climate refugees aren’t currently recognised under international law.

Instead they are actively resisting: blockading Australian coal ships with traditional outrigger canoes, disrupting international climate negotiations with their inconvenient presence, demanding far more aggressive climate action. If there is anything worth celebrating in the Paris agreement signed in April – and sadly, there isn’t enough – it has come about because of this kind of principled action.

For the past three decades, since the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change was created and climate negotiations began, the refusal of our governments to lower emissions has been accompanied with full awareness of the dangers. And this kind of recklessness would have been functionally impossible without institutional racism, even if only latent. It would have been impossible without orientalism – what Edward Said described in his landmark book of the same name as “disregarding, essentialising, denuding the humanity of another culture, people or geographical region”. It would have been impossible without all the potent tools on offer that allow the powerful to discount the lives of the less powerful. These tools – of ranking the relative value of humans – are what allow the writing off of entire nations and ancient cultures. And they are what allowed for the digging up of all that carbon to begin with.

Why? Because the thing about fossil fuels is that they are so inherently dirty and toxic that they require sacrificial people and places: people whose lungs and bodies can be sacrificed to work in the coalmines, people whose lands and water can be sacrificed to open-pit mining and oil spills. As recently as the 1970s, scientists advising the United States government openly referred to certain parts of the country being designated “national sacrifice areas”. Think of the mountains of Appalachia, blasted off for coalmining – because so-called “mountain-top removal” coalmining is cheaper than digging holes underground. There were theories of othering used to justify the sacrificing of an entire geography: after all, if you are a backwards “hillbilly”, who cares about your hills?

Turning all that coal into electricity required another layer of othering, too: this time for the urban neighbourhoods next door to the power plants and refineries. In North America, these are overwhelmingly communities of colour, black and Latino, forced to carry the toxic burden of our collective addiction to fossil fuels, with markedly higher rates of respiratory illnesses and cancers. It was in fights against this kind of “environmental racism” that the climate justice movement was born.
Fossil fuel sacrifice zones dot the globe. Take the Niger Delta, poisoned with an Exxon Valdez-worth of spilled oil every year, a process Ken Saro-Wiwa, before he was murdered by his government, called “ecological genocide”. The executions of community leaders, he said, were “all for Shell”.

Fossil fuels require sacrifice zones: they always have. And you can’t have a system built on sacrificial places and sacrificial people unless intellectual theories that justify their sacrifice exist and persist: from manifest destiny to terra nullius to orientalism, from backward hillbillies to backward Indians.

Some people insist that it doesn’t have to be this bad. We can clean up resource extraction; we don’t need to do it the way it’s been done in Appalachia or in the Niger Delta. Except that we are running out of cheap and easy ways to get at fossil fuels. This, in turn, is starting to challenge the original Faustian pact of the industrial age: that the heaviest risks would be outsourced, offloaded, onto the other – the periphery abroad and inside our own nations. From fracking the picturesque countryside to oil trains barrelling through major cities, that outsourcing is becoming less and less possible.

There is also an avalanche of evidence that there is no peaceful way to run an economy powered by coal, oil and gas. The trouble is structural. Fossil fuels, unlike renewable forms of energy such as wind and solar, are not widely distributed but highly concentrated in very specific locations, and those locations have a bad habit of being in other people’s countries. Particularly that most potent and precious of fossil fuels: oil. This is why the project of orientalism, of othering Arab and Muslim people, has been the silent partner of our oil dependence from the start – and inextricable, therefore, from the blowback that is climate change. If nations and peoples are regarded as other – exotic, primitive, bloodthirsty, as Said documented in the 1970s – it is far easier to wage wars and stage coups when they get the crazy idea that they should control their own oil in their own interests. The reverberations from such interventions continue to jolt our world, as do the reverberations from the successful burning of all that oil. The Middle East is now squeezed in the pincer of violence caused by fossil fuels, on the one hand, and the impact of burning those fossil fuels on the other.

In his latest book, The Conflict Shoreline, the Israeli architect Eyal Weizman has a groundbreaking take on how these forces are intersecting. The main way we’ve understood the border of the desert in the Middle East and North Africa, he explains, is the so-called “aridity line”, areas where there is on average 200 millimetres of rainfall a year, which has been considered the minimum for growing cereal crops on a large scale without irrigation. He documents that all along the aridity line, you see places marked by drought, water scarcity, scorching temperatures and military conflict – from Libya to Palestine to Syria, to some of the bloodiest battlefields in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Weizman also discovered what he calls an “astounding coincidence”. When you map the targets of Western drone strikes onto the region, you see that “many of these attacks – from South Waziristan through northern Yemen, Somalia, Mali, Iraq, Gaza and Libya – are directly on or close to the 200mm aridity line”.

Just as bombs follow oil, and drones follow drought, so boats follow both: boats filled with refugees fleeing homes on the aridity line ravaged by war and drought. And the same capacity for dehumanising the other that justified the bombs and drones is now being trained on these migrants.

Camps are bulldozed in Calais, thousands of people drown in the Mediterranean, and the Australian government detains survivors of wars and despotic regimes in camps on the remote islands of Nauru and Manus. Conditions are so desperate on Nauru that in April an Iranian migrant died after setting himself on fire to try to draw the world’s attention. Another migrant – a 21-year-old woman from Somalia – set herself on fire a few days later. Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull warns that Australians “cannot be misty-eyed about this” and “have to be very clear and determined in our national purpose”.

I thought about Nauru when I read a columnist in a London-based Murdoch paper declaring that it’s time for Britain “to get Australian. Bring on the gunships, force migrants back to their shores and burn the boats.” In another bit of symbolism, Nauru is one of the Pacific Islands very vulnerable to sea-level rise. Its residents, after seeing their homes turned into prisons for others, will very possibly have to migrate themselves.

We need to understand that what is happening on Nauru, and what is happening to it, are expressions of the same logic. A culture that places so little value on black and brown lives that it is willing to let human beings disappear beneath the waves, or set themselves on fire in detention centres, will also be willing to let the countries where black and brown people live disappear beneath the waves, or desiccate in the arid heat. When that happens, theories of human hierarchy – that we must take care of our own first – will be marshalled to rationalise these monstrous decisions. We are making this rationalisation already, if only implicitly. Although climate change will ultimately be an existential threat to all of humanity, in the short term we know that it does discriminate, hitting the poor first and worst.

The most important lesson to take from all this is that there is no way to confront the climate crisis as a technocratic problem, in isolation. It must be seen in the context of austerity and privatisation, of colonialism and militarism, and of the various systems of othering needed to sustain them all. The connections and intersections between them are glaring, and yet so often resistance to them is highly compartmentalised. The anti-austerity people rarely talk about climate change, the climate change people rarely talk about war or occupation.

Overcoming these disconnections – strengthening the threads tying together our various issues and movements – is the most pressing task of anyone concerned with social and economic justice. It is the only way to build a counterpower sufficiently robust to win against the forces protecting the highly profitable but increasingly untenable status quo.

This is an edited extract of the Edward W. Said London Lecture 2016 with a revised introduction. The full, unedited text can be read here.

10 Injured During White Nationalist Protest in Sacramento - The New York Times

10 Injured During White Nationalist Protest in Sacramento - The New York Times:

 "A rally by a white nationalist group at California’s State Capitol in Sacramento became violent on Sunday when protesters clashed with the group, leaving at least 10 people hurt, two of them critically, fire officials said."

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Clashes Draw Support for Teachers’ Protest in Mexico - The New York Times

Clashes Draw Support for Teachers’ Protest in Mexico - The New York Times:

 "NOCHIXTLÁN, Mexico — The battle over education here has suddenly turned literal."

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Supreme Court Strikes Down Texas Abortion Restrictions - The New York Times

Supreme Court Strikes Down Texas Abortion Restrictions - The New York Times:

 "WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court on Monday struck down parts of a restrictive Texas law that could have reduced the number of abortion clinics in the state to about 10 from what was once a high of roughly 40."

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Sunday, June 26, 2016

Against Eurotimidity - The New York Times

Against Eurotimidity - The New York Times:

"I’m on vacation, but want to take a minute to react to this new “consensus” piece on shoring up the eurozone from Voxeu. The authors really are the best and brightest, economists who have been superb guides to the crisis and in some cases have made material contributions to solving or at least dealing with it. So I’d really like to say nice things."

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Fractures From ‘Brexit’ Vote Spread Into Opposition Labour Party - The New York Times

Fractures From ‘Brexit’ Vote Spread Into Opposition Labour Party - The New York Times:

"LONDON — Britain’s political crisis intensified on Sunday after its decision to leave the European Union, with the opposition Labour Party splitting into warring camps, Scotland’s leader suggesting that its local Parliament might try to block the departure and many Britons wondering if there was a plausible way for the nation to reconsider its drastic choice.


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Chile Tops Argentina in Shootout for Copa América Title - The New York Times

Chile Tops Argentina in Shootout for Copa América Title - The New York Times:

 "EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — Faces puckered in pain and anger. Studded cleats whipped dangerously through the air, aimed at flesh. Bodies collided with other bodies, crumpling and splaying onto the grass."

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Friday, June 24, 2016

West Virginia Floods Cause 20 Deaths and Vast Wreckage - The New York Times

West Virginia Floods Cause 20 Deaths and Vast Wreckage - The New York Times:

 "Record flooding in West Virginia killed at least 20 people, stranded thousands, left thousands more without utilities, and washed away houses, roads and vehicles after a band of thunderstorms battered the region on Thursday."

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The Rising Murder Count of Environmental Activists - The New York Times

The Rising Murder Count of Environmental Activists - The New York Times:

"On March 3, two armed men entered the home of Berta Cáceres, an environmental activist in Honduras, and shot her dead. For years, Ms. Cáceres had vigorously opposed the proposed Agua Zarca Dam, to be built on the land of an indigenous people, the Lenca."

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Brexit: The Morning After by Paul Krugman

Well, that was pretty awesome – and I mean that in the worst way. A number of people deserve vast condemnation here, from David Cameron, who may go down in history as the man who risked wrecking Europe and his own nation for the sake of a momentary political advantage, to the seriously evil editors of Britain’s tabloids, who fed the public a steady diet of lies.
That said, I’m finding myself less horrified by Brexit than one might have expected – in fact, less than I myself expected. The economic consequences will be bad, but not, I’d argue, as bad as many are claiming. The political consequences might be much more dire; but many of the bad things I fear would probably have happened even if Remain had won.
Start with the economics.
Yes, Brexit will make Britain poorer. It’s hard to put a number on the trade effects of leaving the EU, but it will be substantial. True, normal WTO tariffs (the tariffs members of the World Trade Organization, like Britain, the US, and the EU levy on each others’ exports) are low and other traditional restraints on trade relatively mild. But everything we’ve seen in both Europe and North America suggests that the assurance of market access has a big effect in encouraging long-term investments aimed at selling across borders; revoking that assurance will, over time, erode trade even if there isn’t any kind of trade war. And Britain will become less productive as a result.
But right now all the talk is about financial repercussions – plunging markets, recession in Britain and maybe around the world, and so on. I still don’t see it.
It’s true that the pound has fallen by a lot compared with normal daily fluctuations. But for those of us who cut our teeth on emerging-market crises, the fall isn’t that big – in fact, it’s not that big compared with British historical episodes. The pound fell by a third during the 70s crisis; it fell by a quarter during Britain’s exit from the Exchange Rate Mechanism in 1992; it’s down about 8 percent as I write this.
Here, from Bloomberg, is the pound-euro rate over the past 5 years. This is not a world-class shock:
Furthermore, Britain is a nation that borrows in its own currency, not subject to a classic balance-sheet crisis due to currency devaluation – that is, it’s not like Argentina, where the fall in the peso wreaked havoc with firms and consumers who had borrowed in dollars. If you were worried that fears about Brexit would cause capital flight and drive up interest rates, well, no sign of that – if anything the opposite. Here, again from Bloomberg, is the interest rate on British 10-year bonds over the past five years:
Now, it’s true that world stock markets are down; so are interest rates around the world, presumably reflecting fears of economic weakness that will force central banks to keep monetary policy very loose. Why these fears?
One answer is that uncertainty might depress investment. We don’t know how the process of Brexit plays out, and I could see CEOs choosing to delay spending until matter clarify.
A bigger issue might be fears of very bad political consequences, both in Europe and within the UK. Which brings me to the politics.
It seems clear that the European project – the whole effort to promote peace and growing political union through economic integration – is in deep, deep trouble. Brexit is probably just the beginning, as populist/separatist/xenophobic movements gain influence across the continent. Add to this the underlying weakness of the European economy, which is a prime candidate for “secular stagnation” – persistent low-grade depression driven by things like demographic decline that deters investment. Lots of people are now very pessimistic about Europe’s future, and I share their worries.
But those worries wouldn’t have gone away even if Remain had won. The big mistakes were the adoption of the euro without careful thought about how a single currency would work without a unified government; the disastrous framing of the euro crisis as a morality play brought on by irresponsible southerners; the establishment of free labor mobility among culturally diverse countries with very different income levels, without careful thought about how that would work. Brexit is mainly a symptom of those problems, and the loss of official credibility that came with them. (That credibility loss is why the euro disaster played a role in Brexit even though Britain itself had the good sense to stay out.)
At the European level, in other words, I would argue that Brexit just brings to a head an abscess that would have burst fairly soon in any case.
Where I think there has been real additional damage done, damage that wouldn’t have happened but for Cameron’s policy malfeasance, is within the UK itself. I am of course not an expert here, but it looks all too likely that the vote will both empower the worst elements in British political life and lead to the breakup of the UK itself. Prime Minister Boris looks a lot more likely than President Donald; but he may find himself Prime Minister of England – full stop.
So calm down about the short-run macroeconomics; grieve for Europe, but you should have been doing that already; worry about Britain.

Bernie Sanders Campaign Showed How to Turn Viral Moments Into Money - The New York Times

Bernie Sanders Campaign Showed How to Turn Viral Moments Into Money - The New York Times:

"WASHINGTON — It was a serendipitous moment during an otherwise uneventful Bernie Sanders campaign rally in Portland, Ore.: A small bird landed on Mr. Sanders’s lectern mid-speech and locked eyes with him before flying away to applause from an appreciative crowd."

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Thursday, June 23, 2016

Britain Counts Tens of Millions of Ballots Cast in E.U. Referendum - The New York Times

Britain Counts Tens of Millions of Ballots Cast in E.U. Referendum - The New York Times:

"LONDON — Officials throughout Britain worked into Friday morning counting tens of millions of ballots that will determine whether the country will leave the European Union, after a fierce debate over trade, immigration and sovereignty that is unlikely to end no matter the outcome."

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Supreme Court Deadlocks on Obama Immigration Plan. It Remains Blocked. - The New York Times

Supreme Court Deadlocks on Obama Immigration Plan. It Remains Blocked. - The New York Times:

 "WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court on Thursday announced that it had deadlocked in a case challenging President Obama’s plan to shield millions of immigrants from deportation and allow them to work. The 4-4 tie left in place an appeals court ruling blocking the plan, dealing a sharp blow to an ambitious program that Mr. Obama had hoped would become one of his central legacies. Instead, even as the court deadlocked, it amplified the already contentious election-year debate over the nation’s immigration policy and presidential power."

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Supreme Court Upholds Affirmative Action Program at University of Texas - The New York Times

Supreme Court Upholds Affirmative Action Program at University of Texas - The New York Times:

"WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court on Thursday rejected a challenge to a race-conscious admissions program at the University of Texas at Austin, handing supporters of affirmative action a major victory.


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Wednesday, June 22, 2016


Another Age of Discovery - The New York Times

Another Age of Discovery - The New York Times:

 "Have we been here before? I know — it feels as if the internet, virtual reality, Donald Trump, Facebook, sequencing of the human genome and machines that can reason better than people constitute a change in the pace of change without precedent. But we’ve actually been through an extraordinarily rapid transition like this before in history — a transition we can learn a lot from."

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Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Argentina Shows Its Class With Decisive Win Over U.S. in Copa América Semifinal - The New York Times

Argentina Shows Its Class With Decisive Win Over U.S. in Copa América Semifinal - The New York Times:

 "HOUSTON — Before the first ball of the Copa América Centenario was kicked earlier this month, Coach Jurgen Klinsmann set a straightforward target for the United States men’s soccer team: reach a semifinal. It was an ambitious but realistic pursuit, even for a country whose history in the Copa had been sporadic at best."

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Janet Yellen

Mexico teacher protests buffet ruling party, eight killed in clashes | Reuters

Mexico teacher protests buffet ruling party, eight killed in clashes | Reuters:

"At least eight people were killed in clashes in southern Mexico over the weekend when police and members of a teachers' union faced off in violent confrontations, a senior state official said, piling fresh pressure on the country's embattled ruling party.


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Monday, June 20, 2016

Donald Trump Far Behind Hillary Clinton in Campaign Cash - The New York Times

Donald Trump Far Behind Hillary Clinton in Campaign Cash - The New York Times:

"Donald J. Trump enters the general election campaign laboring under the worst financial and organizational disadvantage of any major party nominee in recent history, placing both his candidacy and party in political peril.


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