March 11, 2019

Posted by orrinj at 9:02 PM


Cheney tells Pence Trump's foreign policy is 'more like Barack Obama than Ronald Reagan' (The Week, 3/11/19)

A person who attended the event gave the Post a transcript of the discussion, which started off with pleasantries, before Cheney began pressing Pence on foreign policy, saying the administration "looks a lot more like Barack Obama than Ronald Reagan."

Cheney relayed several concerns, telling Pence he was alarmed by Trump not agreeing with intelligence reports, canceling military exercises with South Korea, his desire to withdraw troops from Syria, and his hard line approach to NATO allies, the Post reports. It got tense at times, a person at the forum told the Post, and the crowd could be heard murmuring. 

If Donald were as internationalist as President Obama we'd be in the TPP, trading with Iran and the economy would not be slowing.

Posted by orrinj at 8:55 PM


LePage suggests Democrats' money comes mostly from Jews (Associated Press, 3/11/19)

Former Gov. Paul LePage suggested Monday that the Democratic Party's money comes mostly from Jewish people.

Posted by orrinj at 5:06 PM


Americans' Support for Immigration Is at a Record High. There's No Need to Appease Fascists.: Last year, only 24 percent of Americans supported cutting legal immigration, down from 40 percent in 2006. (NOAH LANARD, MARCH 11, 2019, Mother Jones)

In 1995, the British immigrant turned American white nationalist Peter Brimelow began his book Alien Nation with an usual argument: Immigration to the United States was Adolf Hitler's "posthumous revenge" on America because "mass immigration" was transforming and potentially destroying the "American nation." David Frum, now a staff writer for The Atlantic and a prominent #NeverTrump Republican, blurbed Brimelow's book, calling it a "formidable work." Since then, Americans have become dramatically more supportive of immigration. Frum, evidently, has not.

On Monday, The Atlantic published a cover story in which Frum calls for a radical cut to legal immigration in the name of promoting assimilation and warding off fascism. Frum cites the election of Donald Trump as evidence of a widespread backlash to immigration. He argues that Americans feel threatened by rising levels of immigration and will turn to more right-wing extremists like Trump unless Washington implements new policies that sharply reduce immigration. "Many Americans feel that the country is falling short of its promises of equal opportunity and equal respect," he writes. "Levels of immigration that are too high only enhance the difficulty of living up to those promises." But do Americans actually think there's too much immigration? The answer, according to polling data, is a resounding no.

Last year, only 24 percent of Americans supported cutting legal immigration, down from 40 percent in 2006, according to data provided to Mother Jones by the Pew Research Center. Among Republicans without a college degree, the heart of Trump's base, 59 percent say legal immigration should be increased or kept at the present level. 

The Muslims are coming!

Posted by orrinj at 3:17 PM


Algeria's Bouteflika will not run for a fifth term (Reuters, 3/11/19) 

Tens of thousands of people from all social classes have been demonstrating almost daily against Bouteflika's decision to stand in the election, rejecting a stale political system dominated by veterans of an independence war against France that ended in 1962. Bouteflika has ruled for 20 years.

Posted by orrinj at 9:53 AM


How Not to Fuel Anti-Semitism When Discussing Israel (Bill Scher, March 11, 2019, RCP)

In Omar's telling, she is not treating pro-Israel lobby groups any differently than she treats other lobby groups. She is criticizing them all for pressuring politicians to put the special interest ahead of the public interest.

The narrative that well-financed donors and special interest lobbies are what thwart the public will is deeply embedded in our discourse. Just as the left blames Big Oil for our lack of action on climate change, so does the right blame Big Labor for resistance to reform of public schools and government bureaucracies. [...]

What Omar and her defenders chafe at, in Omar's words, is accusations of anti-Semitism that are "designed to end the debate." But it is not hard to construct arguments critical of Israeli government policies that do not go near anti-Semitic tropes; there's nothing bigoted about criticizing the Israeli government's settlement policies or its efforts to undermine the Iran nuclear deal. The rhetoric only gets uncomfortably conspiratorial when discussing pro-Israel lobbyist influence, and assuming the underlying motives of those lobbyists.

The way to avoid crossing the line into anti-Semitism is to first conduct a thorough assessment of whether unethical lobbyist influence really is distorting the behavior of our government. Then, if so proven, lay out a carefully crafted case that can hold up to scrutiny. If a robust and productive debate about Israeli policies is the objective, then consider whether that objective will be achieved with cheap shots about foreign "allegiance" and clap-back tweets about "the Benjamins," or with hard facts.

Both the left and the right have a tendency to scapegoat special interest influence as a useful foil for which to galvanize support, and as an excuse to rationalize any difficulty in earning sufficient support. But the obstacles to reform are often more complicated than our preferred pat narratives would suggest, and understanding the complexity is necessary to develop successful strategies. Just because we are comfortable being simplistic when discussing most political issues, that's no reason to do so on a subject where simplicity is oxygen for hate.

Posted by orrinj at 9:49 AM


Posted by orrinj at 9:32 AM

Slow Cooker Guinness Beef Stew Recipe (Elise Bauer, 3/11/19, Simply Recipes)


2 Tbsp butter
2 pounds (900 g) well marbled chuck beef roast, cut into 2-inch pieces
2 cups chopped onion (about 1 large onion)
2 celery stalks, chopped
2 Tbsp tomato paste
1 pint (16 ounces, 475 ml) Guinness extra stout (make sure you use extra stout and not draught)
3 cups (700 ml) beef broth
2 large carrots, peeled and cut into chunks
3 to 4 parsnips, peeled and cut into chunks
1/2 pound (280 g) celery root, potatoes, or very young turnips, peeled and cut into chunks
2 teaspoons dried thyme
4 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley (optional)

Special equipment:
6-quart or larger slow cooker

1 Brown the beef, transfer to slow cooker: Heat the butter in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat. Brown the beef in the butter, starting with the fattiest pieces of meat, fat side down in the pan. This will allow some beef fat to render out. Work in batches as to not crowd the pan.

Sprinkle salt over the beef as it browns. Once browned on all sides, transfer the beef pieces into a 6-quart or larger slow cooker.

2 Sauté onions and celery, transfer to slow cooker: Add the onions and celery to the pan in which you just browned the beef. Sauté the onions and celery until they begin to brown at the edges, about 5 minutes.

Add the tomato paste and mix well. Cook for a minute or two, then add a little of the Guinness, enough to make it easier for you to scrape up any browned bits at the bottom of the pan.

Transfer the celery and onions into the slow cooker.

3 Add Guinness, broth, root vegetables, thyme, salt: Add the rest of the Guinness, the beef broth, carrots, parsnips, celery root, and thyme to the slow cooker. Add two teaspoons of salt.

4 Cook in slow cooker: Cover and cook on "high" for 4 hours, or "low" for 8 hours. When done, add more salt to taste. If you want, sprinkle with fresh parsley to serve.

Posted by orrinj at 9:05 AM


Why Trump Should Fear Nikki Haley (Steve Chapman, March 10, 2019, National Memo)

Her assets are hard to overstate. She's an uncompromising Reaganite who thrilled hawks with her aggressive rhetoric at the U.N. Critical of Trump in the primaries, she was a loyal soldier after he won. She somehow managed to stay in his good graces and depart the administration with her reputation intact, a feat akin to staying dry while swimming in a rainstorm.

Haley has not been so rash as to challenge any important article of right-wing dogma. As governor of South Carolina, Haley got a 100 percent rating from the National Rifle Association, won the endorsement of the anti-tax Club for Growth PAC and got a score of zero from NARAL Pro-Choice America.

Compared with Trump, she is more closely aligned with congressional Republicans on policy toward Russia, NATO and Saudi Arabia. If she were to run against him, she would draw on a large stock of conservative goodwill.

Could she win? Given today's conditions, no. But conditions are likely to get worse for Trump, not better. Republicans would be strongly reluctant to abandon him -- unless he looked like a sure loser and they had an alluring alternative at hand. Haley would be exactly that.

She might be the candidate Democrats would least like to run against. She would be more than capable of uniting the GOP. But as a first-generation Indian-American woman who removed the Confederate flag from the South Carolina statehouse grounds, she would also be relatively well-positioned to appeal to some independents who find Trump distasteful, if not repulsive.

Posted by orrinj at 8:58 AM


A Dangerous Conflation of Terms: "Anti-Israel" and "Anti-Semitic" (Joseph Mussomeli, 3/11/19, Imaginative Conservative)

 I remain a staunch supporter of the Israeli state; indeed, more than supporting the state as such, I firmly believe in the idea of Israel as a safe-haven and refuge for all times for a people who have been appallingly oppressed for centuries. I would go even further to say that there remains an outrageous double standard regarding Israel-the plain truth is we expect far more in terms of freedom and democracy from Israel than we do from any of our other Middle Eastern allies. 

Likewise, we require more of South Korea than of North, yet no one considers this anti-Koreanism.  The notion that certain peoples need not meet the universalist standards of the Declaration is bigotry.

Posted by orrinj at 8:52 AM


We Have a Better Story (REGIS NICOLL, 3/11/19, Crisis)

I once heard Oxford theologian Alister McGrath suggest that instead of leading with logic and argument to prove Christianity true, we lead with a story to make people wish it were true--a story that appeals not only to reason, but the imagination. In the same vein, Bishop Robert Barron, in his 2017 Erasmus Lecture, endorses the approach of Hans Urs von Balthasar who recommended that we lead with the beautiful over the true and good. In either case, we have a story that is better than the other side and we need to tell it in a way that is more compelling.

I'm reminded what someone once said about evangelism: the job of the evangelist is not to give people a drink or even lead them to water; it's to make them thirsty. Of course, that requires knowing people enough to know what will trigger that thirst.

Given that all is faith, the choice of faiths is aesthetic.

Posted by orrinj at 8:40 AM


The story of the Florida spa owner selling Chinese citizens access to Trump is only getting weirder (The Week, 3/11/19)

Li (Cindy) Yang, a Florida Chinese-American entrepreneur who founded (then sold) the massage parlor where Patriots owner Robert Kraft was allegedly caught paying for sex, didn't just watch the Super Bowl with President Trump last month. She also started a consulting business in 2017 offering Chinese business executives access to Trump, including at his private Mar-a-Lago club, Mother Jones reported Saturday. On Sunday, Mother Jones said Yang is also an officer in local chapters of two clubs with ties to China's Communist government.

Posted by orrinj at 8:31 AM


$15 Minimum Wage Laws Are Wiping Out Jobs in New York and Illinois (Hans Bader, 3/10/19, FEE)

Big minimum wage hikes wipe out a lot of jobs. Illinois recently enacted a $15 minimum wage, a large increase in the minimum wage that will be phased in over several years. And businesses are already announcing plans to close up, move out of the state, or curb their expansion in the state. The Daily Gazette and Sauk Valley Media provide the example of Hopper's Poppers:

After a little more than 2 years downtown, Hopper's Poppers - the business, and the building it's in - are being put up for sale, the owner said. Ryan Hopper also closed his Sycamore shop this week, citing Gov. J.B. Pritzker's approval of a statewide $15 minimum wage increase. Three months ago, he and his wife Stephanie were considering adding a third location in Roscoe, which would have brought him closer to his five-location goal. But he said the the minimum wage hike and Illinois's notoriously high property taxes solidified the decision for his family to continue their business ventures outside Illinois.

Jobs are being lost in New York, too. New York City experienced its worst decline in restaurant jobs since 9/11 after a $15 minimum wage there was enacted. The city saw its sharpest fall in restaurant employment in nearly 20 years. Its 40% increase in the minimum wage was phased in over a two-year period, but substantial job losses are already evident.

The law is just a Neoconomic means of taxing business into automating to replace human labor. Of course it works.

Posted by orrinj at 8:25 AM


3 cities in the U.S. have ended chronic homelessness: Here's how they did it (ADELE PETERS, 3/11/19, Co.Exist)

Communities in the program use a coordinated approach. Bergen County, New Jersey, with a population of nearly 1 million, was the first in the country to end chronic homelessness, reaching the goal in 2017. (Six months earlier, it had also ended veteran homelessness.) The county created a "command center" that brought together various organizations working on homelessness, and then began using real-time data about each person experiencing homelessness so that everyone could work together to get them housed. Like many places, Bergen County also committed to a "housing first" approach, meaning that people move into permanent housing as a first step before also getting help with finding a job, mental healthcare, or other issues. The data revealed trends, like the fact that their population of those who were chronically homeless-homeless for more than a year-was growing because people were sitting on a waiting list for so long that they were passing the one-year threshold. The county was able to begin prioritizing those who were close the one-year mark to get them into housing faster; now, no one has "aged in" to chronic homelessness for months.

Posted by orrinj at 8:06 AM


Algeria judges refuse to oversee vote if Bouteflika participates (Lamine Chikhi, 3/11/19, Reuters) 

More than 1,000 judges said they would refuse to oversee Algeria's election next month if President Abdelaziz Bouteflika contests it, in one of the biggest blows to the ailing leader since the start of protests now in their third week.

In a statement on Sunday, the judges added that they were forming a new association "to restore the gift of justice". Bouteflika returned to Algeria on Sunday after undergoing medical treatment in Switzerland.

Posted by orrinj at 8:00 AM


For Netanyahu, all Israelis are equal, but some are more equal than others (RAPHAEL AHREN, 3/12/19, Times of Israel)

Last July, a few days after the controversial Jewish Nation-State bill was voted into law, the Jerusalem Report magazine fired its longtime cartoonist Avi Katz for drawing the legislation's champions as pigs from George Orwell's 1945 classic "Animal Farm."

Above the illustration, Katz wrote the book's most famous line, "All animals are equal, but some are more equal than others."

One can argue over whether it's ever appropriate to draw Jews as pigs. But in Orwell's novel, they represent a corrupt ruling class claiming that all animals have the same rights when really they don't, and that was clearly the point Katz wanted to make.

Comments Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made over the weekend about the law suggest that Katz's illustration was spot-on, with the premier's explanation of what the legislation means regarding equality reflecting that of the pigs in "Animal Farm."

Posted by orrinj at 7:53 AM


The Green New Deal? It's Already Happening in Our Communities (Steven Pedigo & Abigail Sindzinski, 3/11/19, Governing)

These efforts extend beyond progressive hubs. Cities and mayors that have committed to the 100 percent renewable goal include Atlanta, Evanston, Ill., Fayetteville, Ark., and St. Petersburg, Fla. Among places that have already achieved that goal through wind and solar energy are Georgetown, Texas, Greensburg, Kan., and Rock Port, Mo.

At the state level, Hawaii, New Jersey, New York and Vermont are among those that have committed to using at least 50 percent renewables by 2030. New Jersey's goals are on a par with California's: Through an executive order signed last year by Gov. Phil Murphy, the state will aim to reach 100 percent clean energy by 2050. The state is poised to bolster and revamp its solar-energy and offshore-wind credits systems, and the governor also signed into law a nuclear-subsidy bill that supports the continued use of that energy source.

Though renewable and clean energy are crucial aspects of efforts to reduce global warming, there are other important components to combating the effects of climate change. In response to already increasing extreme weather, a number of cities are proactively addressing development through resilience planning. In the wake of Hurricane Harvey, for example, Houston has been rethinking development: The city is updating rules for building in flood-prone areas and planning new resilience-focused infrastructure, such as a reservoir and coastal storm barrier. Houstoun is a part of the Rockefeller Foundation's 100 Resilient Cities program, created to implement a strategy around climate, social and economic issues.

Minnesota and its cities are also at the forefront, particularly on two crucial areas: transportation and urban planning. The state's Department of Transportation has set a goal of boosting the number of electric vehicles on its roads from the current 6,000 to 200,000 by 2030, and the Twin Cities are building on public transit with new and expanding light rail. Meanwhile, the impressive Minneapolis 2040 Plan promotes substantive rezoning across the city to create denser development. New and existing buildings will be retrofitted or redesigned, and the city will emphasize an array of transportation alternatives including incentives for electric-vehicle charging stations. is already on the glide path to solution.

It's 2050 And This Is How We Stopped Climate Change (Dan Charles, 3/11/19, NPR: MOrning Edition)

(Editor's note: Each story has two sections, the first reflecting the present and the second imagining the world of 2050.)

2019: I went looking for people who've mapped out this world without greenhouse emissions. I found them in Silicon Valley.

Sila Kiliccote is an engineer. The back deck of her house, high up in the hills, overlooks Cupertino. Apple's circular headquarters is hidden in the morning mist. It's a long way from Istanbul, in Turkey, where she grew up; a great place to conjure up future worlds.

"Maybe you'd like some coffee?" Kilicotte says.

Her coffee machine is powered by solar panels on the roof. So is her laptop and her wifi.

"Everything runs on electricity in this house," she says.

This is the foundation of a zero-carbon world: Electricity that comes from clean sources, mainly the sun and the wind, cheap and increasingly abundant.

Today, it powers this house; tomorrow, it could drive the world.

Last year, Kiliccotte quit her job at Stanford University and launched a startup company, eIQ Mobility, helping companies replace their fleets of vehicles, such as delivery vans, with electric-powered versions.

"In order to have impact, timely impact, I figured that I need to leave research and focus on impactful things that I want to do. And fast," she says.

It has to happen really fast. Last year, the world's climate scientists put out a report showing what it will take to limit global warming to 1.5 °C by the end of this century, averting the worst consequences of climate change. It requires bringing the globe's net greenhouse emissions down to zero by 2050.

It's a giant leap for humankind.

So Sila Kiliccotte and I take that leap. Sitting in her kitchen, with solar panels overhead and an electric car parked outside, we pretend that it's happened. It's 2050 and we've stopped climate change.

"Any sense of how we did it?" I ask her.

She pauses. "Yes," she says.

2050: The first step was electric cars. That was actually pretty easy.

"By 2025, battery technology got cheaper," she says. Electric cars were no longer more expensive. "At that point there was a massive shift to electric vehicles, because they were quieter, and cleaner, and [required] less maintenance. No oil change! Yippee! You know?"

Heating and cooling in homes and office buildings have gone electric, too. Gas-burning furnaces have been replaced with electric-powered like heat pumps.

We needed more electricity to power all this right when we were shutting down power plants that burned coal and gas. It took a massive increase in power from solar and wind farms. They now cover million of acres in the U.S., ten times more land than they did in 2020. Huge electrical transmission lines share electricity between North and South America. Europe is connected to vast solar installations in the Sahara desert -- which means that sub-Saharan Africa also has access to cheap power.

"It just changed Africa," Kiliccote says. "It actually fueled the economies of Africa."

We now store electricity so that it's always there when we need it. With batteries, of course, but in lots of other ways, too. For instance, cities are using electricity to heat and chill massive tanks of water, which then heat or cool buildings at any hour of the day or night.

Posted by orrinj at 7:47 AM


Former Gillibrand aide resigned in protest over handling of sex harassment claims (ALEX THOMPSON and DANIEL STRAUSS 03/11/2019, Politico)

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), one of the most outspoken advocates of the #MeToo movement who has made fighting sexual misconduct a centerpiece of her presidential campaign, spent last summer pressing legislators to update Congress' "broken" system of handling sexual harassment.

At the same time, a mid-20s female aide to Gillibrand resigned in protest over the handling of her sexual harassment complaint by Gillibrand's office, and criticized the senator for failing to abide by her own public standards.

Posted by orrinj at 12:02 AM


The blind spot: It's tempting to think science gives a God's-eye view of reality. But we forget the place of human experience at our peril (Adam Frank, Marcelo Gleiser, Evan Thompson,  1/08/19, Aeon)

Behind the Blind Spot sits the belief that physical reality has absolute primacy in human knowledge, a view that can be called scientific materialism. In philosophical terms, it combines scientific objectivism (science tells us about the real, mind-independent world) and physicalism (science tells us that physical reality is all there is). Elementary particles, moments in time, genes, the brain - all these things are assumed to be fundamentally real. By contrast, experience, awareness and consciousness are taken to be secondary. The scientific task becomes about figuring out how to reduce them to something physical, such as the behaviour of neural networks, the architecture of computational systems, or some measure of information.

This framework faces two intractable problems. The first concerns scientific objectivism. We never encounter physical reality outside of our observations of it. Elementary particles, time, genes and the brain are manifest to us only through our measurements, models and manipulations. Their presence is always based on scientific investigations, which occur only in the field of our experience.

This doesn't mean that scientific knowledge is arbitrary, or a mere projection of our own minds. On the contrary, some models and methods of investigation work much better than others, and we can test this. But these tests never give us nature as it is in itself, outside our ways of seeing and acting on things. Experience is just as fundamental to scientific knowledge as the physical reality it reveals.

The second problem concerns physicalism. According to the most reductive version of physicalism, science tells us that everything, including life, the mind and consciousness, can be reduced to the behaviour of the smallest material constituents. You're nothing but your neurons, and your neurons are nothing but little bits of matter. Here, life and the mind are gone, and only lifeless matter exists.

To put it bluntly, the claim that there's nothing but physical reality is either false or empty. If 'physical reality' means reality as physics describes it, then the assertion that only physical phenomena exist is false. Why? Because physical science - including biology and computational neuroscience - doesn't include an account of consciousness. This is not to say that consciousness is something unnatural or supernatural. The point is that physical science doesn't include an account of experience; but we know that experience exists, so the claim that the only things that exist are what physical science tells us is false. On the other hand, if 'physical reality' means reality according to some future and complete physics, then the claim that there is nothing else but physical reality is empty, because we have no idea what such a future physics will look like, especially in relation to consciousness.

The particular genius of the Anglosphere's skepticism allowed us to avoid the Cartesian error, unlike the poor benighted souls of the Continent.
Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


BROTHER TO THE SWAN (FARLEY MOWAT, 5/16/55. Sports illustrated)

For 20 Years one of my hobbies has been bird watching. I've seen my share of rarities, but the rarest American birds I ever saw were on a stretch of marshy land in southern England. It was a June day. The soft spring air was filled with the comings and goings of ducks, and within easy distance of me were many of the species I had searched for in vain at home, including a flock of North American trumpeter swans which are the largest and rarest of all swans.

I was a little dazed, for within an area of about 20 acres sat, swam or flew the greatest collection of wild waterfowl ever assembled in one spot.

But possibly the strangest thing about it all was that I was standing in the heart of one of the busiest industrial areas in the world, almost within sight of the chimney smoke of the great port of Bristol and less than two hours' train ride from London. Jet planes screamed low overhead and traffic rumbled on the nearby highways, but the winged guests of the Severn Wildfowl Trust never turned a feather.

Slimbridge, the home of the Severn Wildfowl Trust, is on the shores of the busy Severn River in Gloucestershire. Through historic times this piece of soggy land, called The Dumbles, has been the private goose-hunting preserve of the Berkley family. Immense flocks of geese have wintered here for untold centuries. It was the presence of a flock of over 4,000 of them that led to the birth of what is undoubtedly the most unusual wildfowl sanctuary in existence anywhere, with 140 species of ducks, geese and swans from all over the world.

That was in 1946. Peter Scott, the famous painter of birds, had returned from the Royal Navy fired with a dream to establish a refuge for waterfowl on a brand-new plan, where scientists could work out research problems and at the same time the general public could have a chance to see the incredible diversity and beauty of the geese, ducks and swans of the world. Scott happened to be visiting Slim-bridge on that momentous winter day when the geese were milling over The Dumbles and saw at once that this was the perfect site for his experiment. In short order, he acquired a long-term lease on 25 acres of swampy reclaimed ground bordering a salt marsh.