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Posted on on October 27th, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (

A Sensible Version of Donald Trump.

OCT. 27, 2015

by David Brooks – Op-Ed Columnist of the New York Times.

The voters, especially on the Republican side, seem to be despising experience this year and are looking for outsiders. Hence we have the rise of Donald Trump and Ben Carson. People like me keep predicting that these implausibles will collapse, but so far, as someone tweeted, they keep collapsing upward.

But imagine if we had a sensible Trump in the race. Suppose there was some former general or business leader with impeccable outsider status but also a steady temperament, deep knowledge and good sense.

What would that person sound like? Maybe something like this:

Ladies and gentlemen, I’m no politician. I’m just a boring guy who knows how to run things. But I’ve been paying close attention and it seems to me that of all the problems that face the nation, two stand out. The first is that we have a polarized, dysfunctional, semi-corrupt political culture that prevents us from getting anything done. To reverse that gridlock we’ve got to find some policy area where there’s a basis for bipartisan action.

The second big problem is that things are going badly for those in the lower half of the income distribution. People with less education are seeing their wages fall, their men drop out of the labor force, their marriage rates plummet and their social networks dissolve.

The first piece of good news is that conservative and progressive writers see this reality similarly, which is a rare thing these days. The second piece of good news is that we have new research that suggests fresh ways to address this problem, ways that may appeal to both Democrats and Republicans.

The studies I’m talking about were done at Harvard by Raj Chetty, Nathaniel Hendren and Lawrence Katz. They looked at the results of a Clinton-era program called Moving to Opportunity, which took poor families and moved them to middle-class neighborhoods. At first the results were disappointing. The families who moved didn’t see their earnings rise. Their kids didn’t do much better in school.

But as years went by and newer data accumulated, different and more promising results came in. Children who were raised in better environments had remarkable earnings gains. The girls raised in the better neighborhoods were more likely to marry and raise their own children in two-parent homes.

The first implication of this research is that neighborhood matters a lot. When we think about ways to improve the lot of the working class, it’s insufficient to just help individuals and families. We have to improve entire neighborhoods.

Second, the research reminds us that to improve conditions for the working class it’s necessary to both create jobs and improve culture. Every time conservatives say culture plays a large role in limiting mobility, progressives accuse them of blaming the victim.

But this research shows the importance of environment. The younger the children were when they moved to these middle-class environments, the more their outcomes improved. It’s likely they benefited from being in environments with different norms, with more information about how to thrive, with few traumatic events down the block.

I know the professional politicians are going to want to continue their wars, but I see an opportunity: We launch a series of initiatives to create environments of opportunity in middle-, working- and lower-class neighborhoods.

Recent Comments
gemli 2 minutes ago

David Brooks has been writing this same column for years. It’s just an old whine in a new bottle, offering nothing new and repeating the…
Meredith 6 minutes ago

What ‘social fabric’ has produced the radical rw that David has long made excuses for? A social environment which normalized greed,…
Expat Annie 7 minutes ago

Wow, Mr. Brooks, this article is full of so many great suggestions: improve entire neighborhoods! Improve schools! Expand early childhood…

This will mean doing some things Republicans like. We’ve got to devolve a lot of power from Washington back to local communities. These neighborhoods can’t thrive if they are not responsible for themselves. Then we’ve got to expand charter schools. The best charter schools radiate diverse but strong cultures of achievement. Locally administered social entrepreneurship funds could help churches and other groups expand their influence.

This will mean doing some things Democrats like. We’ve got to reform and expand early childhood education programs, complete with wraparound programs for parents. They would turn into community hubs. Infrastructure programs could increase employment.

Basically we’ve got to get socialist. No, I don’t mean the way Bernie Sanders is a socialist. He’s a statist, not a socialist. I mean we have to put the quality of the social fabric at the center of our politics. And we’ve got to get personalist: to treat people as full human beings, not just economic units you fix by writing checks.

Then we’ve got to get integrationist, to integrate different races and classes through national service and school and relocation vouchers. And finally, we have to get a little moralistic. There are certain patterns of behavior, like marrying before you have kids and sticking around to parent the kids you conceive, that contribute to better communities.

Look, I don’t know if I’m red or blue. If you want a true outsider, don’t just pick someone outside the political system. Pick someone outside the rigid partisan mentalities that are the real problem here.


Posted on on September 23rd, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (

From the Boulder , Colorado, National Renewable Energy Laboratories – Victoria Healey  victoria.healey at
September 22, 2015

This week the Solutions Center, in partnership with the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED) and other international experts, published a report, “Policies to Spur Energy Access”, which reveals policy options for developing countries to engage the private sector in creating market solutions to energy access. The report discusses the regulatory and policy frameworks that can enable decentralized solutions and attract private sector investment. The report also notes that creating a robust market for energy services requires policymakers to address broader market issues. Policymakers can catalyze private financing and build human capacity to meet the needs of an emerging market. Because energy access impacts a wide range of development goals—poverty alleviation, health, education, agriculture, disaster planning and the environment—integrating the efforts of various public ministries can streamline energy access and leverage wider resources. The second part of this two-volume report includes in-depth case studies of public-private programs for financing energy access in Bangladesh, Ethiopia, Mali, Mexico and Nepal. The case studies focus on the policy decisions that underpin each program and their impact on energy access for underserved populations. Along with this report, the Solutions Center has engaged additional international experts on energy access to offer assistance to policymakers via the Ask an Expert program.

The report can be accessed and downloaded at….

If you have questions about this report you may contact Terri Walters ( terri.walters at and Vickie Healey ( victoria.healey at

Best regards,
Vickie Healey
Project Leader, Clean Energy Solutions Center
National Renewable Energy Laboratory


Posted on on September 19th, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (


Invitation to a seminar on Governance, Technology and Skills Transfer:
An Entrepreneurial Approach to Meeting Post 2015 Global Development Goals in Education Health and Innovation.

Date: Friday, 25 September 2015

Time: 9:00 am – 12 pm

Location: UK Trade & Investment at the British Consulate
845 Third Avenue, 9th Floor, New York, NY 10022

To register, visit…

The current increase in poverty, hunger, civil unrest, migration and social cohesion are major challenges to the UN development goals to implement and realise the proposed agenda to 2030. But can individuals help solve these problems?

This seminar coinciding with the opening of the UNGA Summit for “the Adoption of the Post 2015 Development Agenda” uses experiences from key stakeholders and innovators to propose a model for sustainable, scalable development based on a multilevel partnership of governmental ‘top down’ and grassroots ‘bottom up’ approach of local communities.

Issues of governance, commissioning, technology – and more importantly – skills transfer will be connected in ways that develop a value chain which drives the sustainability, growth and ultimate success of the of this proposed plan.


Prof Farida Fortune CBE, Queen Mary University London
Mr Ian Jones, CEO, Goonhilly Earth Station, UK
Prof Willaim Jacobs, Jr., Albert Einstein College of Medicine
Prof Julio Rezende, Centre of Innovation and Sustainability in Semiarid lands.

Presentations from leading practitioners on sustainable models for health and science education
Presentation and discussion of an action plan for future funding proposals


Posted on on September 18th, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (

From William Rivers Pitt, Columnist and Editor, Truthout
Truthout, P.O. Box 276414, Sacramento, CA 95827
September 18, 2015

So I sat through the first Republican debate on CNN on Wednesday night, and then sat through the mind-erasing eternity that was the three-hour-long second Republican debate that came hot on the ridiculous heels of the first, took voluminous notes, and then wrote about it for Truthout … and I reached one utterly inescapable conclusion when all was said and done.

We are in deep trouble.

I’ve known this for a while, but it was reinforced during my long slog through Wednesday’s nonsense: In order to exist in that vapid atmosphere, one must accept – down through the bone and into the very marrow – a carefully concocted, vicious, violently delirious fiction of the world that has no contact whatsoever with reality.

If this is the best we can do as far as assembling presidential candidates – and the Democratic side of the deal is no New Orleans parade, mind you – doom is tapping us on the shoulder and blowing sweet nothings in our ears. We can do better, we must do better, and information is how we will do better.

Truthout is where that information can be found, come Hell or high water.


Posted on on September 14th, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (

From US Senator Bernie Sanders:

Dear Friend,
It’s time to break up the banks.


The greed, recklessness, and illegal behavior on Wall Street drove this country into the worst recession since the Great Depression. Their casino-style gambling has helped divert 99 percent of all new income to the top one percent. And it has contributed to the most unequal level of wealth and income distribution of any major country on earth.

In the midst of all of this grotesque inequality sits a handful of financial institutions that are still so large, the failure of any one would cause catastrophic risk to millions of Americans and send the world economy into crisis.

If it’s too big to fail, it’s too big to exist. That’s the bottom line.

I introduced legislation in Congress that would break up banks that are too big to fail.

Banking should be boring. It shouldn’t be about making as much profit as possible by gambling on esoteric financial products. The goal of banking should be to provide affordable loans to small and medium-sized businesses in the productive economy, and to Americans who need to purchase homes and cars.

That is not what these financial institutions are doing. They’re instead creating an economy which is not sustainable from a moral, economic, or political perspective. It’s a rigged economy that must be changed in fundamental ways.

Let’s be clear who we’re talking about: JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America, Citigroup, Goldman Sachs, Wells Fargo, Morgan Stanley, and other institutions; they’re all too big to fail. So they must be broken up.

Wall Street can’t be an island unto itself separate from the rest of the productive economy whose only goal is to make as much money as possible. I fear very much that the financial system is even more fragile than many people may perceive.

Millions of Americans are working longer hours for lower wages, while virtually all new income goes to the people who need it the least. In fact, the top 14 wealthiest people saw their wealth grow more last year than the bottom 130 million have in total.

We must break this cycle to save the middle class in America. Can you show your support for my bill to break up the banks?

I’m running for President of the United States because I believe that it is incumbent on us to try to take back our country from the billionaires and make it thrive again for the working and middle class. Breaking up the banks is a critical part to making that a reality.

Thank you for all of your support.

Senator Bernie Sanders



Jeff Weaver, Bernie 2016 <>
September 15, 2015

Pincas -

If you haven’t had a chance to read the email Bernie sent earlier today, please do.

The billionaire class is terrified. No presidential campaign in American history has accomplished what we have in just a few months, and they’ve responded as you’d expect: by activating their Super PACs in an effort to halt our progress.

Now that they’re attacking our campaign directly, we have a choice: we can either stand by and accept business as usual, or we can strike back and send a message that we’ve had ENOUGH of billionaires and corporations buying our elections.

The billionaire class has never dealt with a threat like ours before, and this will not be the last time a Super PAC considers attacking our campaign. If we stand together in this moment, we can make them think twice the next time they do.

In solidarity,
Jeff Weaver
Campaign Manager
Bernie 2016



Posted on on September 6th, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (

Postcapitalism and the refugee crisis

Julian Sayarer 5 September 2015

This was brought to our attention by the London based OpenDemocracy…

and was written by Julian Sayarer of “this is not for charity.” That site and blog arose from his 2009 world record for a circumnavigation of the globe by bicycle – a protest against the corporatisation of sport and human endeavour. You can buy his account of the adventure – “Life Cycles.”


The response of European citizens to the imperative to offer refuge has been inspiring, unlike the response of some governments. It shows the best face of postcapitalism.

2,200 cars are moving from Austria to Hungary, so as the drivers might ease the march of those Syrian refugees walking away from Hungary’s xenophobic position on the refugee crisis, and towards the safe haven that has been offered, in particular, by Germany.

The refugee crisis is dire and has been for a long time. We should not allow ourselves to forget that the image of a drowned toddler served only to bring us belatedly to our collective moral senses – we might have expected many of the innocent deaths before his to have done so already, but you cannot undo the past, only make good on your mistakes. The obligatory mention of western culpability, which is not the point to be dwelt on here, must also be made; western governments and media rushed into rash and heady military interventions that were painfully ill-judged. Some news outlets that now run hot for a refugee crisis have cultivated the indifference that saw the same crisis ignored for so long. It would be dangerous were we to forget that we have been fickle and that we have acted poorly, but it would be no less dangerous to have that remorse stopper our attempts to do good in the face of so much that is now ill. Right now, as 2,200 Austrian drivers head to Hungary to pick up refugees, positive things are happening in Europe.

This week, a flatmate asked me if we could house a refugee in our front room in London. I am, ordinarily, the flatmate urging we switch to a provider of renewable energy, the flatmate encouraging his flatmates consider a look at a Triodos ethical savings account rather than one with Lloyds Bank. My flatmates know that’s what I’m like, and so too do I know it, and as a result I go easy on them; well aware that there are arguments to be made on the part of ethics, but if you disregard the demanding daily lives of those you mean to convince, then they will soon disregard your ethics. And so I was not about to suggest we have a Syrian move in. Not only, however, was it my flatmate and not me who suggested we house a refugee, but a third housemate, on hearing the suggestion of the second, responded to the proposal with borderline approval. At this point, naturally, I announced that I would not be the flatmate that vetoed the decision to house a Syrian refugee. More significant than this good intention, however, is the extent to which it is already being put into practice; a UK initiative is in the process of trying to find ten thousand willing homes for Syrians, an Icelandic initiative has already found ten thousand (on an island of only 300,000), and a German initiative is actively pairing refugees with homes around the country and beyond. This is to say nothing of the assorted crowdfunding ventures and, once again, the 2,200 Austrians currently driving to Hungary to help drive refugees towards asylum.

That so many individuals now care enough to do so much so out of the ordinary is, in itself, remarkable. Still more encouraging, however, is the fact that it is working. Europeans are creating a trickle-up politics whereby Austrians drive to collect Syrians from Hungary and so Hungary feel compelled to – at least – provide buses, Iceland’s government realise it has misjudged the popular mood in only 50 asylum places and so return with an offer in the thousands. David Cameron is yet to announce how many Syrians will now be granted asylum in the UK, but – even before a 12th September march on Downing Street that will number into the tens of thousands – the figure will be substantially higher than the one the Government once felt it could get away with as the bare minimum of human rights duties. None of this is to say that now is a time for congratulating ourselves, quite the opposite – it is simply a reminder that the campaigning is working and we should keep at it. What is more, however, is that this is no longer only adversarial – whether it is the Daily Mail or the Conservative Party, some of the voices most steadfastly opposed to the movement of human beings – be that in refuge or migration – are being swallowed by the size of the consensus now under construction. The silent majority on immigration is, at last, speaking – the centre ground is being redefined. We have a humanitarian crisis and so we must respond as humans – some who would have bemoaned the issue of refugees a fortnight ago are doubtless becoming more sympathetic to the matter, and while it would be nice if we’d all of us agreed all along, this is real life, and the reality of winning a debate is that people who disagreed with you come to agree. It should be welcomed, not condemned.

This is – it bears saying – a work in progress; Eritreans, Afghans and the Sudanese are every bit as brutalised as Syrians, the latter are not the ‘special case’ some tabloids have sought to define them as – a cherry-picked victim by which we superficially re-legitimise World War Two narratives of safe-havens and our own morality. This is not to say that we can or should take infinite refugees, rather, that we must give according to our own ability and the needs of others, and that our foreign policies ought be waged (if that is still the correct verb) in a fashion that considers these human repercussions and where they flee to.

My own position on how much we might do is, probably, more utopian than most. I love to imagine British people talking of the successes and difficulties faced in integrating the Syrian couple now living with them for six months. Of people telling their boss they’ll be late for work because of dropping-off an adopted child at an English class – the boss understanding because his neighbour is running a day care centre for similar reasons. I fantasise about the idea of us all being forced to interrupt our business as usual, being reminded that millions of ruined lives and our ability to help a little was worth more than what the damn markets are saying. Sure, plenty of it is fantasy, but, there again, a week ago the UK was to take a few hundred Syrians. Next week, already with a certainty that that number will have increased, tens of thousands will march on Downing Street to demand more. I don’t go in for the nationalist baloney that The British People are good and moral… I simply believe that people are good and moral, especially where an agenda can be cleared of ulterior motives and polling data-induced paralysis, at which point you let people make up their own mind as to whether they like helping or vilifying those in need. That this open heartedness should not stop at international refugees goes without saying, but those I’ve seen most active on the refugee crisis are also those most active on UK inequality, its housing crisis, and the reliance of millions on food banks. What we are exercising is our emotional-political muscle to do good and demand more.

Individually, our own, personal morality-politics already represents as much. Countless memes circulate the internet on a feel-good theme that performing an act of kindness, of generosity, does not leave you depleted of that energy, but rather gives you your own energy redoubled. It is good to be a good person, just as it is good to be a nation that stands for values and humanity. Buddhist monks forego all possession and work so as to allow those around them opportunity to be humane in their support – the west and westerners have not, collectively, behaved with the piety of monks, and we should seek no self-congratulation, but societies have an impulse for compassion, and where that impulse is continuously stifled – where we are consistently bludgeoned with ideas that we haven’t the time, the capital, the empathy – we eventually come to believe it. Western society needs to be reminded that it can stand for change and stand for good, not only for a cheap fiscal orthodoxy; it is vitally important that we seize this moment, for it is in times of crisis that humans are able to reinvent themselves by either rising to, or falling, in the face of the challenge. We should continue to campaign, work and innovate for the sake of refugees from the Middle East and North Africa, but we should also be doing it for ourselves.

Crucial in the call to action now rising are the voices of those elderly people who remember the evacuation of children from cities during World War II – their memory is essential for in them is a precedent, a recollection, that people can take in strangers for the good of all, and that life as you know it can legitimately be interrupted for an act of conscience. In those born since that time, the idea is only a text book or a history lesson, and it is so very important that each generation builds these examples anew so that they can continue to live on in the memory of those who come next.

There are, of course, practical considerations beyond only the good intention. As has been pointed out, even the 800,000 asylum places made available in Germany cannot be accessed from a refugee camp in Turkey or Lebanon, nor – quite possibly – even from the consulates within those nations. People are being obliged to make perilous and extortionately costly journeys (which, from the outset, marginalise the most economically vulnerable) to get to those asylum spaces; the momentum now needs to turn to military airlifting or charter flights. The pairing of refugees and willing hosts needs to gather momentum, and crowdfunding of – for example – the necessary bank deposits for visa sponsors could be an avenue for investigation.

None of these measures will, in themselves, solve the crisis, but by asking for them we will continue to build pressure on our governments to deliver the more adequate responses being demanded by their populations. In many ways, what we are seeing now is a hacking of government politics – the mechanisms of a much-vaunted ‘sharing economy’ put to humanitarian rather than market ends. Pressure should be applied to Airbnb to make good their ‘sharing credentials’ and have their reach and infrastructure leant to implementing, genuinely, the open-hearted human values they market themselves as espousing. People – whether in their accommodation, vehicles, expertise, time or spare belongings – are taking the unused value of their surpluses and investing it towards making good. This is what postcapitalism looks like, and here we see are seeing the network technologies of the twenty-first century mobilised to ameliorate the sort of crisis not seen since the twentieth.

The response of European governments and campaigners so far has – by and large – been one of terrible inaction on the part of governments shamed by enterprise and passion on the part of people. Governments can be embarrassed, either by other governments’ positions (read: Germany) or when their own populations demand more of them, either vocally, or by outdoing the efforts of the government itself; creating such a clamour that you break the machinery of government, the emotional armour, and break through to the humans that wear it. The Greek bailout crowdfunder, which so cheerfully managed to raise under 1% of only one debt instalment, illustrates that the efforts of networked individuals cannot match the smallest clout of a government. We should let this refugee crisis show that, whilst groundswell cannot replace government, it can and must help shape it.


Posted on on September 5th, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (

In the run-up to Paris2015 Kevin Rudd of the New York based Asia Society argues that “U.S., China, and India Must Lead Together for a Climate Deal in Paris,” Lord Nicholas Stern said that there will be a complete change in what the planet will look like in 100 years from now, and Christiana Figueres said that what countries have prepared for Paris is insufficient, but she hopes that in those 100 coming years they will be more forthcoming.

On August 28, 2015 – on CNN International’s Amanpour – Kevin Rudd, the Asia Society Policy Institute (ASPI) President, discussed the effects of climate change – with Lord Nicholas Stern, chairman of the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment at the London School of Economics, and international climate policy, with Christiana Figueres, executive secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.

Noting that projected levels of greenhouse gas emissions would cause average temperatures to rise by three-and-a-half to four degrees Celsius over the next 100 years, Lord Stern said “that is very dangerous territory” that the planet hasn’t seen “for around three million years,” since the end of the last Ice Age.

“These kinds of temperature increases are just enormous and would rewrite where we could live, where the rivers are, where the seashores are, what the weather is like,” said Lord Stern.

The poorest areas of the world would be “hit strongest and earliest,” he added. “Probably most of Southern Europe would look like the Sahara Desert.”

Figueres said that countries’ national climate change plans, which governments have been announcing ahead of the United Nations Conference on Climate Change in Paris this December, will fall short of “where we should be, according to science, to be on the two degree [temperature increase] pathway.”

The resulting gap “will not be filled in Paris,” Figueres said. “It will not be filled in January.”

She noted that the Paris climate agreement “is being constructed, actually, as a progressive effort over a certain period of timeframes, during which countries need, and will be able to, because of increased technology and further capital flows … increase their contribution to the solution.”

Video: Kevin Rudd discusses climate change with Lord Nicholas Stern and Christiana Figueres on CNN International’s Amanpour.

Related Links
Kevin Rudd on CNBC: Don’t Confuse the Chinese Stock Market with Overall Economy
Kevin Rudd in the New York Times: U.S., China, and India Must Lead Together for a Climate Deal in Paris



Ms. Christiana Figueres – the Executive Secretary of UNFCCC will end her contract at the end of this year after the conclusion of the Paris 2015 meeting – having guided the organization through all this preparatory years. It is being suggested that her candidacy be submitted for the 2016 selection process for next UN Secretary-General position. She would be the best informed person to lead the UN in the crucial 2017-2026 period when Climate Change and Sustainability become main UN topics under the incoming title from Paris – “Transforming Our World: The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.”

The UN is in need of another period of reform, so it is ‘fit for purpose’ in ensuring that the new Sustainable Development Goals become the agenda of all its organs over the next 15 years.


UN climate chief: No such thing as ideal pace for pre-Paris talks

4. Sep, 13:47

UN climate chief Christiana Figueres countered criticism that preliminary talks for a Paris climate treaty were moving too slowly. “There is no such thing as an objective [ideal] pace of negotiations that everyone can agree on”, she said at a press conference Friday after a round of talks in Bonn.


Posted on on August 25th, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (

We react here to the New York Times Editorial of August 24, 2015 that seemingly wants us to believe that Putin and the Ayatollahs found religion when they heard that 250,000 Arabs were killed in Syria. Really – why should they care?

Let us suggest that “THE DEAL” has turned the interest of Iran to revive its International Banking if the Sanctions are removed – and that is the real driving force that eventually can bring Putin and the Ayatollahs to the table IN EXCHANGE FOR A SAUDI AND THE OTHER GULF STATES OIL EXPORTERS PROMISE TO REDUCE THEIR EXPORTS OF OIL.

YES – the US and the Europeans are driven by humanitarian concepts – the Russians and the Iranians think of the PRICE OF OIL that hit them hard in their economies. The US and the Europeans enjoyed the lowering of the price of oil – based on the high supply figures and a decreasing demand that resulted from GREEN ACTIVITIES – higher efficiency and alternate sources of energy.
But also these two developing energy topics can only benefit from a higher price for oil. So what the heck – let us help the Syrians and save whatever cultural monuments the Islamic State has not destroyed yet. We know that one way or another – the Christian population of Syria and Iraq is doomed and the Lebanese Maronites strive already decades in Brazil like the Iraqi Jews who spread all over the globe – from the Far East to the Far West. But let the enlightened world deal with the problem – and explain to the Saudis that time has come for them to listen to the global woes and do their part by selling less oil !!!


Posted on on August 24th, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (

Alaska Dispatch News
Published on Alaska Dispatch News

August 24, 2015

The White House on Sunday revealed some details of President Barack Obama’s upcoming three-day trip to Alaska [1].

The president will travel to “the Seward area, where he will have the opportunity to view the effects of climate change firsthand,” on Tuesday, Sept. 1, according to White House spokesperson Hallie Ruvin.

On the following day, the president will visit Dillingham and Kotzebue, “where he will engage directly with Alaskans on issues important to their communities and to the local economy,” Ruvin said.

Obama will leave the state on Sept. 2, Ruvin said, adding that additional details will be available later this week.

Speculation over Obama’s plans has grown as the date draws near. The president will touch down in Anchorage on Aug. 31 and deliver a speech at a State Department-sponsored Arctic conference that will draw nearly a dozen foreign ministers and hundreds of attendees.

Obama has said he plans to address climate change during his visit. But details are sparse — and rumors rampant — about whether he will address other issues, if security concerns will enable a visit to some of the most rural parts of Alaska, and just what kind of impacts the unusual visit will have on downtown Anchorage.

Source URL:…



The three member Alaska Congressional delegation – two Senators and one Member of the House of Representatives – complained that they were not consulted by the White House. We assume that the President had good reasons for making his own decisions.


Posted on on August 24th, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (

Report: Retired Saudi General Makes it His ‘Personal’ Goal to Achieve Saudi-Israeli Peace.

From the Algemeiner and WSJ – August 23, 2015

Anwar Eshki, a retired major general in the Saudi armed forces, has made it his personal goal to strike peace between Saudi Arabia and Israel, the Wall Street Journal reported on Friday.

A former top adviser to the Saudi government, Eshki raised eyebrows in June when he appeared alongside Israeli Foreign Ministry Director-General and longtime confidant of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu Dore Gold at a conference held by the Council on Foreign Relations in Washington DC, espousing desires to build a Saudi-Israel peace, especially to counter the regionally destabilizing expansion of Iran.

“The main project between me and Dore Gold is to bring peace between Arab countries and Israel,” said Eshki.

The former general noted that while the initiative is “personal,” Riyadh “knows about the project” and “isn’t against it, because we need peace.”

Eshki said Israeli and Saudi plans for their shared principal enemy Iran do not completely align, especially regarding an Israeli strike against Iran. He added, however, that Israel would be interested in dealing first with the threat posed by Iran’s proxy in Lebanon and Syria, Hezbollah, before committing its military to countering the much larger and imposing threat of Iran.

Saudi Arabia is also fighting an Iranian-backed group in Yemen, the Houthi rebels, who have taken over the Yemeni capital of Sana’a, and Eshki said it was the common threat of Iranian attempts to destabilize the region and “revive the Persian Empire” that has brought him and Gold together.

Israeli and Saudi officials have reportedly held several meetings in light of the P5+1 arrangement with Iran to peel back international sanctions in exchange for some restrictions on and monitoring of its nuclear program, which Jerusalem and Riyadh view as a boon to Iranian efforts to spread its influence in the Middle East.



Posted on on August 23rd, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (

Professor Jeffrey D. Sachs

Jeffrey D. Sachs, Professor of Sustainable Development, Professor of Health Policy and Management, and Director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University, is also Special Adviser to the United Nations Secretary-General on the Millennium Development Goals. His books include The End of Poverty, Common Wealth, and, most recently, The Age of Sustainable Development.

Read more at…

The UN at 70

Project Syndicate – Sunday, August 23, 2015

NEW YORK –The United Nations will mark its 70th anniversary when world leaders assemble next month at its headquarters in New York. Though there will be plenty of fanfare, it will inadequately reflect the UN’s value, not only as the most important political innovation of the twentieth century, but also as the best bargain on the planet. But if the UN is to continue to fulfill its unique and vital global role in the twenty-first century, it must be upgraded in three key ways.

Fortunately, there is plenty to motivate world leaders to do what it takes. Indeed, the UN has had two major recent triumphs, with two more on the way before the end of this year.

The first triumph is the nuclear agreement with Iran. Sometimes misinterpreted as an agreement between Iran and the United States, the accord is in fact between Iran and the UN, represented by the five permanent members of the Security Council (China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the US), plus Germany. An Iranian diplomat, in explaining why his country will scrupulously honor the agreement, made the point vividly: “Do you really think that Iran would dare to cheat on the very five UN Security Council permanent members that can seal our country’s fate?”

The second big triumph is the successful conclusion, after 15 years, of the Millennium Development Goals, which have underpinned the largest, longest, and most effective global poverty-reduction effort ever undertaken. Two UN Secretaries-General have overseen the MDGs: Kofi Annan, who introduced them in 2000, and Ban Ki-moon, who, since succeeding Annan at the start of 2007, has led vigorously and effectively to achieve them.

The MDGs have engendered impressive progress in poverty reduction, public health, school enrollment, gender equality in education, and other areas. Since 1990 (the reference date for the targets), the global rate of extreme poverty has been reduced by well over half – more than fulfilling the agenda’s number one goal.

Inspired by the MDGs’ success, the UN’s member countries are set to adopt the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) – which will aim to end extreme poverty in all its forms everywhere, narrow inequalities, and ensure environmental sustainability by 2030 – next month. This, the UN’s third triumph of 2015, could help to bring about the fourth: a global agreement on climate control, under the auspices of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, in Paris in December.

The precise value of the peace, poverty reduction, and environmental cooperation made possible by the UN is incalculable. If we were to put it in monetary terms, however, we might estimate their value at trillions of dollars per year – at least a few percent of the world economy’s annual GDP of $100 trillion.

Yet spending on all UN bodies and activities – from the Secretariat and the Security Council to peacekeeping operations, emergency responses to epidemics, and humanitarian operations for natural disasters, famines, and refugees – totaled roughly $45 billion in 2013, roughly $6 per person on the planet. That is not just a bargain; it is a significant underinvestment. Given the rapidly growing need for global cooperation, the UN simply cannot get by on its current budget.

Given this, the first reform that I would suggest is an increase in funding, with high-income countries contributing at least $40 per capita annually, upper middle-income countries giving $8, lower-middle-income countries $2, and low-income countries $1. With these contributions – which amount to roughly 0.1% of the group’s average per capita income – the UN would have about $75 billion annually with which to strengthen the quality and reach of vital programs, beginning with those needed to achieve the SDGs. Once the world is on a robust path to achieve the SDGs, the need for, say, peacekeeping and emergency-relief operations should decline as conflicts diminish in number and scale, and natural disasters are better prevented or anticipated.

This brings us to the second major area of reform: ensuring that the UN is fit for the new age of sustainable development. Specifically, the UN needs to strengthen its expertise in areas such as ocean health, renewable energy systems, urban design, disease control, technological innovation, public-private partnerships, and peaceful cultural cooperation. Some UN programs should be merged or closed, while other new SDG-related UN programs should be created.

The third major reform imperative is the UN’s governance, starting with the Security Council, the composition of which no longer reflects global geopolitical realities. Indeed, the Western Europe and Other Group (WEOG) now accounts for three of the five permanent members (France, the United Kingdom, and the US). That leaves only one permanent position for the Eastern European Group (Russia), one for the Asia-Pacific Group (China), and none for Africa or Latin America.

The rotating seats on the Security Council do not adequately restore regional balance. Even with two of the ten rotating Security Council seats, the Asia-Pacific region is still massively under-represented. The Asia-Pacific region accounts for roughly 55% of the world’s population and 44% of its annual income but has just 20% (three out of 15) of the seats on the Security Council.

Asia’s inadequate representation poses a serious threat to the UN’s legitimacy, which will only increase as the world’s most dynamic and populous region assumes an increasingly important global role. One possible way to resolve the problem would be to add at least four Asian seats: one permanent seat for India, one shared by Japan and South Korea (perhaps in a two-year, one-year rotation), one for the ASEAN countries (representing the group as a single constituency), and a fourth rotating among the other Asian countries.

As the UN enters its eighth decade, it continues to inspire humanity. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights remains the world’s moral charter, and the SDGs promise to provide new guideposts for global development cooperation. Yet the UN’s ability to continue to fulfill its vast potential in a new and challenging century requires its member states to commit to support the organization with the resources, political backing, and reforms that this new era demands.

Read more at…


How to Select the Next UN Secretary-General.

By Dean Ngaire Woods and Nina Hallon, Project Syndicate, Oxford University

Ngaire Woods is Dean of the Blavatnik School of Government and Director of the Global Economic Governance Program at the University of Oxford.

Nina Hall, a post-doctoral fellow at the Hertie School of Government in Berlin, is the lead researcher on the WEF/BSG project.

Read more at…

OXFORD – When the United Nations elects a new secretary-general next year, the world will face a crucial choice. With crises erupting in every region of the world, the need for strong, decisive leadership is self-evident. And yet the selection process for filling important international posts has often been characterized more by political horse-trading than a meritocratic search for the best candidate.

The tools to improve the process are available, and the time is right to ensure their adoption by the UN and other international organizations. A new report by the World Economic Forum and Oxford University’s Blavatnik School of Government lays out a series of best practices – each one of which has already been implemented by at least one international agency – that can guarantee that leaders are drawn from the most qualified candidates, and that the organizations for which they work are vested with the best possible management practices.

For starters, it is important to professionalize the selection process. For too long, backroom deals among governments have taken precedence over searching for a candidate with the relevant skills and experience. When Pascal Lamy, one of the authors of the report, was chosen to become head of the World Trade Organization, there was not even a description of the job against which his qualifications could be measured.

Once a candidate has been chosen, it is important to set clear performance expectations that can be evaluated annually. Groups like the World Health Organization – which came under fierce criticism during the Ebola crisis – can learn from the 80% of American non-profit boards that have a formal process in place for a yearly evaluation of their CEO.

Ethical standards also need to be strengthened. In April, Spanish police questioned Rodrigo Rato, a former managing director of the International Monetary Fund, as part of a corruption probe. Not long before that, his successor at the IMF, Dominique Strauss Kahn, faced pimping charges in France.

Putting in place a code that sets out clear standards for identifying conflicts of interest and robust methods for dealing with complaints about a leader’s behavior is crucial. In recent years, allegations of improper behavior have led to resignations by the heads of the IMF, the World Bank, and the UN Refugee Agency.

A leader is only as good as the people who work for him, so organizations must make it a high priority to attract and retain good staff and rid themselves of those who lack professional integrity or competence. Many global agencies are introducing systematic surveys of their employees, but much remains to be improved. Crucially, international organizations must build up the capacity to resist governments’ efforts to protect their underperforming nationals. Performance evaluations should be made public, allowing outsiders to measure progress (or the lack thereof).

Organizations also need to focus more on delivering results and tracking outcomes. For decades, countries borrowing from the World Bank and regional development banks have begged for the loan process to be expedited; most cannot afford to wait more than two years to find out whether a loan has been approved. Halving the time it takes to approve a loan is the kind of operational goal that a good leader can set, and for which he or she can subsequently be held to account.

It is also important to ensure well-structured, systematic engagement with stakeholders and civil-society groups, which is necessary to ensure high-quality and innovative inputs. Adopting an ad hoc approach, as many organizations currently do, frequently yields poor results.

Finally, it is crucial that organizations learn from their mistakes. Fortunately, almost all global agencies have instituted processes for independent evaluation. Less happily, most are still grappling with how to implement lessons learned. Evaluation is important, but it needs to be followed up with strong governance reforms that require leaders to shift incentives and behavior.

Pressure for change is mounting. In November 2014, Avaaz, the United Nations Association, and other NGOs launched a campaign to reform the selection process by which the UN secretary-general is chosen, replacing an opaque process dominated by the permanent members of the Security Council with a transparent one, in which all countries have a say. Among their demands are a clear job description for the role, public scrutiny of candidates, and a shortlist with more than one candidate.

Progress is being made in some agencies. The UN High Commission for Refugees now describes its objectives in its Global Strategic Priorities and evaluates progress toward them annually. And all senior UN officials must file an annual financial-disclosure statement with the organization’s ethics office.

One notably successful agency in this regard is the African Development Bank (AfDB), which has introduced an organization-wide whistle-blowing policy, an anti-corruption and fraud framework, and an office to investigate disclosures. The AfDB will choose a new president in May, and it has not only defined the job clearly; it has also identified eight candidates and asked each to set out their strategy in advance of the election.

The world relies on international organizations to coordinate the global response to a host of critical threats, from pandemics to financial crises. An effective UN leader needs to be able to persuade member states to cooperate, manage the organization well, and deliver results. Without good leadership, any organization – even the UN – is destined to fail.

Read more at…


Gareth Evans

Gareth Evans, former Foreign Minister of Australia (1988-1996) and President of the International Crisis Group (2000-2009), is currently Chancellor of the Australian National University.

He co-chairs the New York-based Global Center for the Responsibility to Protect and the Canberra-based Center for Nuclear Non-Proliferation and Disarmament.

He is the author of The Responsibility to Protect: Ending Mass Atrocity Crimes Once and For All and co-author of Nuclear Weapons: The State of Play 2015.

MAR 26, 2013 – Project Syndicate
Valuing the United Nations.

MELBOURNE – There is nothing like exposure to smart and idealistic young people to make jaded and world-weary policymakers and commentators feel better about the future. I have just had that experience meeting delegates to the 22nd World Model United Nations Conference, which brought together in Australia more than 2,000 students from every continent and major culture to debate peace, development, and human rights, and the role of the UN in securing them.

What impressed me most is how passionately this generation of future leaders felt about the relevance and capacity of the UN system. They are right: the UN can deliver when it comes to national security, human security, and human dignity. But, as I told them, they have a big task of persuasion ahead of them.

No organization in the world embodies as many dreams, yet provides so many frustrations, as the United Nations. For most of its history, the Security Council has been the prisoner of great-power maneuvering; the General Assembly a theater of empty rhetoric; the Economic and Social Council a largely dysfunctional irrelevance; and the Secretariat, for all the dedication and brilliance of a host of individuals, alarmingly inefficient.

My own efforts to advance the cause of UN reform when I was Australia’s foreign minister were about as quixotic and unproductive as anything I have ever tried to do. Overhauling Secretariat structures and processes to reduce duplication, waste, and irrelevance? Forget it. Changing the composition of the Security Council to ensure that it began to reflect the world of the twenty-first century, not that of the 1950’s? No way.

But I have also had some exhilarating experiences of the UN at its best. The peace plan for Cambodia in the early 1990’s, for example, dragged the country back from hellish decades of horrifying genocide and ugly and protracted civil war. Likewise, the Chemical Weapons Convention, steered through the UN Conference on Disarmament in Geneva, is still the most robust arms-control treaty related to weapons of mass destruction ever negotiated.

Perhaps one experience stands out above all. In 2005, on the UN’s 60th anniversary, the General Assembly, convening at head of state and government level, unanimously endorsed the concept of states’ responsibility to protect populations at risk of genocide and other mass atrocity crimes. With that vote, the international community began to eradicate the shameful indifference that accompanied the Holocaust, Rwanda, Srebrenica, Darfur, and too many similar catastrophes.

What needs to be better understood publicly is just how many different roles the UN plays. The various departments, programs, organs, and agencies within the UN system address a broad spectrum of issues, from peace and security between and within states to human rights, health, education, poverty alleviation, disaster relief, refugee protection, trafficking of people and drugs, heritage protection, climate change and the environment, and much else. What is least appreciated of all is how cost-effectively these agencies – for all their limitations – perform overall, in both absolute and comparative terms.

The UN’s core functions – leaving aside peacekeeping missions but including its operations at its New York headquarters; at offices in Geneva, Vienna, and Nairobi; and at the five regional commissions around the world – now employ 44,000 people at a cost of around $2.5 billion a year. That might sound like a lot, but the Tokyo Fire Department spends about the same amount each year, and the Australian Department of Human Services spends $3 billion more (with less staff). And that’s just two departments in two of the UN’s 193 member states.

Even including related programs and organs (like the UN Development Program and the office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees), as well as peacekeeping activities (which involve more than 110,000 international military, police, and civilian personnel), the UN system’s total cost is still only around $30 billion a year. That is less than half the annual budget for New York City, and well under a third of the roughly $105 billion that the US military has been spending each year, on average, in Afghanistan. Wall Street employees received more in annual bonuses ($33.2 billion) in 2007, the year before the global financial meltdown.

The whole family of the UN Secretariat and related entities, together with current peacekeepers, adds up to around 215,000 people worldwide – not a small number, but less than one-eighth of the roughly 1.8 million staff employed by McDonald’s and its franchisees worldwide!

The bottom line, as the youngsters gathered in Melbourne fully understood, is that the UN provides fabulous value for what the world spends on it, and that if it ever ceased to exist, we would have to reinvent it. The downsides are real, but we need to remember the immortal words of Dag Hammarskjold, the UN’s second secretary-general: “The UN was created not to bring us to heaven, but to save us from hell.”

Read more at…


Posted on on August 20th, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (

Mayors of cities like London, Vienna, Istanbul, are usually the second most important elected official in their countries. Why is this not the case with New York City? What is different here? I feel like having a proposed answer:

In New York City special interests are stronger then in above named cities. The reason for my writing this posting is my anger at what I see in New York City as an exaggerated importance allowed to the Yellow Cabs Owners’ Associations that seem to have a historical hold on the way the city develops public transportation. This is not just the problem of the present Mayor – Mr. Bill De Blasio, but we also saw this during the reign of his predecessor Mr. Michael Bloomberg – the Republican tycoon. Then we were not astonished by this fact.

But Mr. De Blasio is the Democrat elected for his presumably progressive ideas. Indeed – he runs all over the globe talking about the environment and climate change – just like Mr. Bloomberg did. He helped recently lead the world’s Mayors to the Vatican in order to line up behind Pope Francis to help save the Paris 2015 UNFCCC meeting. But what does he do here at home?

I am targeting my attention to the Public transportation in NYC – specifically the bus service of the MTA that cuts into the business of the yellow cabs – and their owners had the upper hand. So, New York City was probably the only large city in the world without a decent public link to its airports.

Mayor Bloomberg already started to undo the Manhattan Transit buses under the guise of improving it. The case in point is the line M15 and the introduction of the SELECT transportation to replace the EXPRESS bus stops. With three Select runs for each regular run, and the elimination of some connections to the crosstown lines – like at East 72nd street – the riders started switching to yellow cabs right back six-seven years ago. This was a boon to the yellow cabs that started suffering from the competition from the Green cabs that came into existence when sectors of the public were pointing fingers at the “Yellows” refusing to go to outer boroughs under the guise (clearly against the law) that it was dangerous.

Under De Blasio things got worse. So often you see buses skipping a scheduled departure and taking off instead with a “NOT IN SERVICE” sign going from end-to-end without passengers and leaving those in need of that transportation to turn to cabs.

So, this mayor increased the spewing of fumes and greenhouse gasses by having useless bus trips and unneeded single passenger cab runs – something only the cab owners could love.

I write this today after having observed at Third Avenue and East 45th Street how the M101 Express passed by without stopping and out of the two lines M102 and M103 both scheduled to stop there at 4:29 PM (? in itself questionable) only the M103 stopped, while the other bus passed empty – NOT IN SERVICE.

Further – the public likes the recent introduction of the new UBER service but the mayor entered in a fight to disallow this service. I never understood his position beyond – again – it would hurt existing yellow cab owners. Is he indeed wedded to them?

The recent pols show the Mayor may have a hard time getting reelected. We hope some truly progressive Democrat steps forward to challenge him.


THE UPDATE of August 20, 2015 to our original article of August 8, 2015:

Mr. De Blasio seems to have found a new outlet for his energies – the nearly naked women-beggars of Times Square. But the “Job 1″ of his, according to the Wednesday August 19, 2015 editorial of amNewYork, is “MAKE THE TRAINS RUN ON TIME.” That is the subject we hammered on in our original paper as well.

Thinking of the mayhem that lies ahead of us in New York during the second half of this September month – this because New York is in effect the Capital of the World and most Heads of State will be flocking here – De Blasio simply does not feel like up to this situation. Sorry we must keep hammering on this.



Posted on on August 19th, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (

Last night – August 18, 2015 – in New York City – we went to Philharmonic Hall at Lincoln Center to listen to a performance of perfection – Joshua Bell playing Bach – the Chaconne dating from 1720 and the Violin concerto in E major dating to “before 1730.”

I thought this became a subject for our website because of an article by Lars Gustafsson that was part of the printed program brochure that was handed out to us. The title “THE STILLNESS OF THE WORLD BEFORE BACH” – the fact that we might think that it might seem there was no great music before Bach – BUT THERE MUST HAVE BEN SOMETHING THERE BEFORE 1720.

Then I thought = wait the steam engine was developed over a period of about a hundred years by three British inventors. The first crude steam powered machine was built by Thomas Savery, of England, in 1698. Savery built his machine to help pump water out of coal mines – only in 1781 James Watt patented a steam engine that produced continuous rotary motion.

So we can say that the development of the steam engine, that brought about the industrial revolution, went on in parallel with the development of music that started with Bach and if we may say continued with Haydn, Beethoven and Mozart.

Could we say that some form of life did exist before we started to use coal en-masse and invented concepts of economic growth and development? What was the life we replaced? What was the cultural expressions we lost when accepting the progress in music?
The Gustafsson article stimulates our thoughts.

Gustafsson – since the late 1950s has produced poetry, novels, short stories, critical essays, and editorials. He gained international recognition as a Swedish writer with literary awards such as the Prix International Charles Veillon des Essais in 1983, the Heinrich Steffens Preis in 1986, Una Vita per la Litteratura in 1989, a John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship for poetry in 1994, and several others. He has been nominated for the Nobel Prize in Literature. His major works have been translated into fifteen languages, and Harold Bloom includes Gustafsson in The Western Canon: The Books and School of the Ages (1994). John Updike offered high praise for Gustafsson’s The Death of a Beekeeper in his collection of criticism, Hugging The Shore.

Gustafsson said once “I listen. I listen and I look. Creativity knows no rules. You can get an idea for a novel from a little something someone says, or just a face you see. A rabbi once told me that when God spoke to Moses in that bush, it wasn’t in a thundering voice; it was in a very weak voice. You have to listen carefully for that voice. You have to be very sharp.”

In May 2009, Lars Gustafsson declared that he would vote for the Pirate Party in the upcoming elections for the European Parliament

Lars Gustafsson: The Stillness of the World Before Bach

There must have been a world before
the Trio Sonata in D, a world before the A minor partita,
but what kind of a world?

A Europe of vast empty spaces, unresounding,
everywhere unawakened instruments
where the Musical Offering, the Well-Tempered Clavier
never passed across the keys.

Isolated churches
where the soprano line of the Passion
never in helpless love twined round
the gentler movements of the flute,
broad soft landscapes
where nothing breaks the stillness
but old woodcutters’ axes
the healthy barking of strong dogs in winter
and, like a bell, skates biting into fresh ice;
the swallows whirring through summer air,
the shell resounding at the child’s ear
and nowhere Bach nowhere Bach
the world in a skater’s stillness before Bach.

published in New Directions Paperback NDP656, “The Stillness of the World Before Bach: New Selected Poems” by Lars Gustafsson.

Yes – there was a harmonious world even without the sound of Bach – that is what I took from the above poem.
Surely, I did not transform this into a feeling that this was a better world – simply I picked up that it was still a livable world that could exist with simpler pleasures.

Nevertheless we are thankful to Bach for having shown us the way to perhaps a higher level of civilized pleasures. How does this translate to the Steam-engine thought that we understand today as a step backwards – because of the dependence on fossil fuels?

But this would be a wrong conclusion – it would be more correct to see that we can get all those benefits from higher technologies like we get from Bach’s music, if we only opt to use Renewable Energy and even higher tech methods that allow us similar results without that pesky dependence on oil and coal. Gustafsson was right in in opting for the Pirates in his search for true enlightenment in a corrupt world.


Posted on on August 18th, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (

Why Republicans Vote for Bernie?
Monday, 17 August 2015 00:00 By Thom Hartmann, The Thom Hartmann Program
| Op-Ed

Ann Coulter knows who she wants to be the Democratic nominee for president, and who that person is, well, it may surprise you.

She wants Hillary Clinton to be the nominee, and thinks that if Bernie gets the nod, he’ll beat whoever the Republicans come up with to run against him.

You won’t hear me say this often, but Ann Coulter is right.

See more news and opinion from Thom Hartmann at Truthout here.

If Bernie Sanders ends up being the Democratic nominee for president, and it looks more and more every day like he will be, his Republican opponent is going to have a very hard time beating him.

And that’s because of all the Democratic candidates running, Bernie Sanders has the best chance of capturing Republican votes.

I’ve seen how Bernie does this, up close and personal.

Despite its reputation as a place filled with liberal hippies, Vermont, like most of rural northern New England, is home to a lot of conservatives.

Anyone running for statewide office there needs to win these conservatives’ votes, and Bernie is great at doing that.

Back in 2000 when Louise and I were living in Vermont, it wasn’t all that uncommon to see his signs on the same lawn as signs that said “W for President.”

Seriously, I’m not kidding.

And as NPR’s “Morning Edition” found out last year, some of Bernie’s biggest fans are in Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom, the poorest and most conservative part of the state.

It’s people from the Northeast Kingdom who’ve overwhelmingly elected Bernie to almost 20 years in Congress and two straight terms as senator, and it’s people like them in the rest of the country who will probably send Bernie to the White House if he gets the Democratic nomination for president.

So why is that?

Why is Bernie Sanders, a socialist, so popular with people who should hate “socialism?”

The answer is pretty simple.

While Americans disagree on social issues like gay marriage and abortion, they’re actually pretty unified on the bread and butter economic issues that Bernie has made the core of his campaign.

In fact, a recent poll by the Progressive Change Institute, shows that Americans overwhelmingly agree with Bernie on key issues like education, health care and the economy.

Like Bernie, 75 percent of Americans poll support fair trade that “protects workers, the environment and jobs.”

Seventy-one percent support giving all students access to a debt-free college education.

Seventy-one percent support a massive infrastructure spending program aimed at rebuilding our broken roads and bridges, and putting people back to work.

Seventy percent support expanding Social Security.

Fifty-nine percent support raising taxes on the wealthy so that millionaires pay the same amount in taxes as they did during the Reagan administration.

Fifty-eight percent support breaking up the big banks.

Fifty-five percent support a financial transaction or Robin Hood tax.

Fifty-one percent support single payer health care, and so and so on.

Pretty impressive, right?

And here’s the thing – supporting Social Security, free college, breaking up the big banks, aren’t “progressive” policies, they’re just common sense, and 60 years ago they would have put Bernie Sanders smack dab in the mainstream of my father’s Republican Party.

This is why Ann Coulter is so scared of Bernie becoming the Democratic nominee.

She knows that he speaks to the populist, small “d” democratic values that everyday Americans care about, regardless of their political affiliation.

That’s the really radical part of Bernie’s 2016 campaign, and what’s what maybe, just maybe, might make him the 45th President of the United States.

This article was first published on Truthout and any reprint or reproduction on any other website must acknowledge Truthout as the original site of publication.



Posted on on August 17th, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (

The time for feeling powerless in the face of climate chaos is over.

From: May Boeve -

Monday, August 17, 2015


2015 is on track to be the hottest year in recorded history, and this December hundreds of world governments will meet in Paris to try to strike a global climate agreement. It will be the biggest gathering of its kind since 2009, and it’s potentially a big deal for our global movement.

In Paris our governments are supposed to agree on a shared target for climate action, based on the national plans governments have been putting together all year — but the numbers just aren’t adding up. Everything being discussed will allow too many communities that have polluted the least to be devastated by floods, rising sea levels and other disasters.

This has the makings of a global failure of ambition — at a moment when renewable energy is becoming a revolutionary economic force that could power a just transition away from fossil fuels.

Join us in telling world leaders to keep fossil fuels underground and finance a just transition to 100% renewable energy by 2050.

Our movement has grown tremendously — and it shows every time a new leader stands up to declare we must keep fossil fuels under ground, or a university, church or pension fund divests from fossil fuels. The problem is the power of the fossil fuel industry.

The Paris negotiations could potentially send a signal that world governments are serious about keeping fossil fuels in the ground. If they fail, it will embolden the fossil fuel industry and expose more communities to toxic extraction and climate disasters.

The solutions are obvious: we need to stop digging up and burning fossil fuels, start building renewable energy everywhere we can, and make sure communities on the front lines of climate change have the resources they need to respond to the crisis.

This could be a turning point — if we push for it. Join our global call for action to world governments, telling them to commit to keeping at least 80% of fossil fuels underground, and financing a just transition to 100% renewable energy by 2050.

The time for feeling powerless in the face of climate chaos is over. No matter what happens in the negotiating halls, we must build power to hold them accountable to the principles of justice and science.

After many months of consultation with our global network, here is the plan for what I call “The Road Through Paris”: the plan to grow our movement and hold world leaders accountable to the action we need.

First, in September we will launch a global framework to grow the movement before and after the Paris talks. On September 10th, Bill McKibben, Naomi Klein and others will be joined by global movement leaders in New York City to lay out our vision for the road ahead. Then on September 26th communities across the globe will hold workshops to plan for the coming months of action. After that, I think we’ll see several months of escalating activity as communities drive the message home that we can’t wait for action.

The talks in Paris start on November 30th, and run for 2 weeks. But before the talks start, the world will stand together in a weekend of global action, paired with an enormous march in the streets of Paris. During the talks, 350′s team on the ground will do their best to help keep you in the loop on the most important developments. And when the talks wrap up, we’re planning a big action in Paris on December 12th to make sure the people — not the politicians — have the last word.

But most importantly, we won’t stop there. I want you to mark your calendars for the month of April in 2016. That’s when we will mobilize in a global wave of action unlike any we’ve seen before. Not one big march in one city, not a scattering of local actions — but rather a wave of historic national and continent-wide mobilizations targeting the fossil fuel projects that must be kept in the ground, and backing the energy solutions that will take their place.

In the 6 years has been around, this is the most ambitious plan we’ve ever proposed. But ambition is what is called for, along with courage, faith in each other and the readiness to respond when disaster strikes, plans change, or politicians fail to lead.

We are nearer than ever to the changes we’ve been fighting to see. I hope to stand with you in the coming months to see them through.

May Boeve
Executive Director


Posted on on August 13th, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (

Breaking Latest forecast suggests ‘Godzilla El Niño’ may be coming to California
By Rong-Gong Lin II

The strengthening El Niño in the Pacific Ocean has the potential to become one of the most powerful on record, as warming ocean waters surge toward the Americas, setting up a pattern that could bring once-in-a-generation storms this winter to drought-parched California.

The National Weather Service’s Climate Prediction Center said Thursday that all computer models are now predicting a strong El Niño to peak in the late fall or early winter. A host of observations have led scientists to conclude that “collectively, these atmospheric and oceanic features reflect a significant and strengthening El Niño.”

At the moment, this year’s El Niño is stronger than it was at this time of year in 1997. Areas in red and white represent the warmest sea-surface temperatures above the average. (Source: NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory at La Cañada Flintridge – their climatologist Bill Patzert)

To see the graphs – please go to Los Angeles Times or Rolling Stones – our source at:…

Patzert said El Niño’s signal in the ocean “right now is stronger than it was in 1997,” the summer in which the most powerful El Niño on record developed.

“Everything now is going to the right way for El Niño,” Patzert said. “If this lives up to its potential, this thing can bring a lot of floods, mudslides and mayhem.”

After the strongest El Niño on record muscled up through the summer of 1997, the following winter gave Southern California double its annual rainfall and dumped double the snowpack in the Sierra Nevada, an essential source of precipitation for the state’s water supply, Patzert said.

A strong El Niño can shift a subtropical jet stream that normally pours rain over the jungles of southern Mexico and Central America toward California and the southern United States.

But so much rain all at once has proved devastating to California in the past. In early 1998, storms brought widespread flooding and mudslides, causing 17 deaths and more than half a billion dollars in damage in California. Downtown L.A. got nearly a year’s worth of rain in February 1998.

The effects of this muscular El Niño – nicknamed “Bruce Lee” by one blogger for the National Weather Service – are already being felt worldwide. While a strong El Niño can bring heavy winter rains to California and the southern United States, it can also bring dry weather elsewhere in the world.

Already, El Niño is being blamed for drought conditions in parts of the Philippines, Indonesia and Australia, as occurred in 1997-98.

Drought is also persistent in Central America. Water levels are now so low in the waterways that make up the Panama Canal that officials recently announced limits on traffic through the passageway that links the Atlantic and Pacific oceans.

El Niño also influenced the heavy rainstorms that effectively ended drought conditions in Colorado, Texas and Oklahoma.

There are a couple reasons why scientists say El Niño is gaining strength.

First, ocean temperatures west of Peru are continuing to climb. The temperatures in a benchmark location of the Pacific Ocean were 3.4 degrees above the average as of Aug. 5. That’s slightly higher than it was on Aug. 6, 1997, when it was 3.2 degrees above normal.

The mass of warm water in the Pacific Ocean is also bigger and deeper than it was at this point in 1997, Patzert said.

Second, the so-called trade winds that normally keep the ocean waters west of Peru cool — by pushing warm water further west toward Indonesia — are weakening.

That’s allowing warm water to flow eastward toward the Americas, giving El Niño more strength.

For this year’s El Niño to truly rival its 1997 counterpart, there still needs to be “a major collapse in trade winds from August to November as we saw in 1997,” Patzert said.

“We’re waiting for the big trade wind collapse,” Patzert said. “If it does, it could be stronger than 1997.”

There is a small chance such a collapse may not happen.

“There’s always a possibility these trade winds could surprise us and come back,” Patzert said.

Overall, the Climate Prediction Center forecast a greater-than-90% chance that El Niño will continue through this winter in the Northern Hemisphere, and about an 85% chance it will last into the early spring.

In California, officials have cautioned the public against imagining that El Niño will suddenly end the state’s chronic water challenges. A forecast is never a sure thing, they say.

And they also want to remind the public that California has been dry for much of the last 15 years. Even if California gets a wet winter this year, it could be followed by another severe multi-year drought.

“We certainly wouldn’t want people to think that, ‘Gee, because it’s an El Niño this year, it’s going to be wet and therefore we can stop conserving water,” Jeanine Jones, the California Department of Water Resources’ deputy drought manager, said in July.

Another problem is that the Pacific Ocean west of California is substantially warmer than it was in 1997. That could mean that though El Niño-enhanced precipitation fell as snow in early 1998, storms hitting the north could cause warm rain to fall this winter. Such a situation would not be good news “for long-term water storage in the snowpack,” said Daniel Swain, a climate scientist at Stanford University.

Drought officials prefer snow in the mountains in the winter because it slowly melts during the spring and summer and can trickle at a gentle speed into the state’s largest reservoirs in Northern California. Too much rain all at once in the mountains in the winter can force officials to flush excess water to the ocean to keep dams from overflowing.

Swain said it’s important to keep in mind that all El Niño events are different, and just because the current El Niño has the potential to be the strongest on record “doesn’t necessarily mean that the effects in California will be the same.”

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“A strong El Niño is very likely at this point, namely because we’ve essentially reached the threshold already, but a wet winter is never a guarantee in California,” Swain said in an email.

“I think a good way to think about it is this: There is essentially no other piece of information that is more useful in predicting California winter precipitation several months in advance than the existence of a strong El Niño event,” Swain said. “But it’s still just one piece of the puzzle. So while the likelihood of a wet winter is increasing, we still can’t rule out other outcomes.”

Updated Aug. 13, 8:10 a.m.: In another sign that El Niño is gaining strength, sea surface temperatures in the Pacific Ocean have risen to their highest level so far this year.

That temperature increase — 3.4 degrees Fahrenheit above the average — was recorded Aug. 5 by the National Weather Service’s Climate Prediction Center at a benchmark location in the Pacific. That is slightly higher than it was on Aug. 6, 1997, when it was 3.2 degrees Fahrenheit above normal.


Updated Aug. 13, 9:29 a.m.: “This could be among the strongest El Niños in the historical record dating back to 1950,” said Mike Halpert, deputy director of the National Weather Service’s Climate Prediction Center.


California will soon have toughest shower head requirements in nation

Another El Niño sign: Ocean temps hit highest level of the year


Posted on on August 10th, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (

The Point of No Return: Climate Change Nightmares Are Already Here

By Eric Holthaus, Rolling Stone

09 August 15

The worst predicted impacts of climate change are starting to happen — and much faster than climate scientists expected

istorians may look to 2015 as the year when shit really started hitting the fan. Some snapshots: In just the past few months, record-setting heat waves in Pakistan and India each killed more than 1,000 people. In Washington state’s Olympic National Park, the rainforest caught fire for the first time in living memory. London reached 98 degrees Fahrenheit during the hottest July day ever recorded in the U.K.; The Guardian briefly had to pause its live blog of the heat wave because its computer servers overheated. In California, suffering from its worst drought in a millennium, a 50-acre brush fire swelled seventyfold in a matter of hours, jumping across the I-15 freeway during rush-hour traffic. Then, a few days later, the region was pounded by intense, virtually unheard-of summer rains. Puerto Rico is under its strictest water rationing in history as a monster El Niño forms in the tropical Pacific Ocean, shifting weather patterns worldwide.

On July 20th, James Hansen, the former NASA climatologist who brought climate change to the public’s attention in the summer of 1988, issued a bombshell: He and a team of climate scientists had identified a newly important feedback mechanism off the coast of Antarctica that suggests mean sea levels could rise 10 times faster than previously predicted: 10 feet by 2065. The authors included this chilling warning: If emissions aren’t cut, “We conclude that multi-meter sea-level rise would become practically unavoidable. Social disruption and economic consequences of such large sea-level rise could be devastating. It is not difficult to imagine that conflicts arising from forced migrations and economic collapse might make the planet ungovernable, threatening the fabric of civilization.”

Eric Rignot, a climate scientist at NASA and the University of California-Irvine and a co-author on Hansen’s study, said their new research doesn’t necessarily change the worst-case scenario on sea-level rise, it just makes it much more pressing to think about and discuss, especially among world leaders. In particular, says Rignot, the new research shows a two-degree Celsius rise in global temperature — the previously agreed upon “safe” level of climate change — “would be a catastrophe for sea-level rise.”

Hansen’s new study also shows how complicated and unpredictable climate change can be. Even as global ocean temperatures rise to their highest levels in recorded history, some parts of the ocean, near where ice is melting exceptionally fast, are actually cooling, slowing ocean circulation currents and sending weather patterns into a frenzy. Sure enough, a persistently cold patch of ocean is starting to show up just south of Greenland, exactly where previous experimental predictions of a sudden surge of freshwater from melting ice expected it to be. Michael Mann, another prominent climate scientist, recently said of the unexpectedly sudden Atlantic slowdown, “This is yet another example of where observations suggest that climate model predictions may be too conservative when it comes to the pace at which certain aspects of climate change are proceeding.”

Since storm systems and jet streams in the United States and Europe partially draw their energy from the difference in ocean temperatures, the implication of one patch of ocean cooling while the rest of the ocean warms is profound. Storms will get stronger, and sea-level rise will accelerate. Scientists like Hansen only expect extreme weather to get worse in the years to come, though Mann said it was still “unclear” whether recent severe winters on the East Coast are connected to the phenomenon.

And yet, these aren’t even the most disturbing changes happening to the Earth’s biosphere that climate scientists are discovering this year. For that, you have to look not at the rising sea levels but to what is actually happening within the oceans themselves.

Water temperatures this year in the North Pacific have never been this high for this long over such a large area — and it is already having a profound effect on marine life.

Eighty-year-old Roger Thomas runs whale-watching trips out of San Francisco. On an excursion earlier this year, Thomas spotted 25 humpbacks and three blue whales. During a survey on July 4th, federal officials spotted 115 whales in a single hour near the Farallon Islands — enough to issue a boating warning. Humpbacks are occasionally seen offshore in California, but rarely so close to the coast or in such numbers. Why are they coming so close to shore? Exceptionally warm water has concentrated the krill and anchovies they feed on into a narrow band of relatively cool coastal water. The whales are having a heyday. “It’s unbelievable,” Thomas told a local paper. “Whales are all over
the place.”

Last fall, in northern Alaska, in the same part of the Arctic where Shell is planning to drill for oil, federal scientists discovered 35,000 walruses congregating on a single beach. It was the largest-ever documented “haul out” of walruses, and a sign that sea ice, their favored habitat, is becoming harder and harder to find.

Marine life is moving north, adapting in real time to the warming ocean. Great white sharks have been sighted breeding near Monterey Bay, California, the farthest north that’s ever been known to occur. A blue marlin was caught last summer near Catalina Island — 1,000 miles north of its typical range. Across California, there have been sightings of non-native animals moving north, such as Mexican red crabs.

No species may be as uniquely endangered as the one most associated with the Pacific Northwest, the salmon. Every two weeks, Bill Peterson, an oceanographer and senior scientist at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Northwest Fisheries Science Center in Oregon, takes to the sea to collect data he uses to forecast the return of salmon. What he’s been seeing this year is deeply troubling.

Salmon are crucial to their coastal ecosystem like perhaps few other species on the planet. A significant portion of the nitrogen in West Coast forests has been traced back to salmon, which can travel hundreds of miles upstream to lay their eggs. The largest trees on Earth simply wouldn’t exist without salmon.

But their situation is precarious. This year, officials in California are bringing salmon downstream in convoys of trucks, because river levels are too low and the temperatures too warm for them to have a reasonable chance of surviving. One species, the winter-run Chinook salmon, is at a particularly increased risk of decline in the next few years, should the warm water persist offshore.

“You talk to fishermen, and they all say: ‘We’ve never seen anything like this before,’?” says Peterson. “So when you have no experience with something like this, it gets like, ‘What the hell’s going on?’?”

Atmospheric scientists increasingly believe that the exceptionally warm waters over the past months are the early indications of a phase shift in the Pacific Decadal Oscillation, a cyclical warming of the North Pacific that happens a few times each century. Positive phases of the PDO have been known to last for 15 to 20 years, during which global warming can increase at double the rate as during negative phases of the PDO. It also makes big El Niños, like this year’s, more likely. The nature of PDO phase shifts is unpredictable — climate scientists simply haven’t yet figured out precisely what’s behind them and why they happen when they do. It’s not a permanent change — the ocean’s temperature will likely drop from these record highs, at least temporarily, some time over the next few years — but the impact on marine species will be lasting, and scientists have pointed to the PDO as a global-warming preview.

“The climate [change] models predict this gentle, slow increase in temperature,” says Peterson, “but the main problem we’ve had for the last few years is the variability is so high. As scientists, we can’t keep up with it, and neither can the animals.” Peterson likens it to a boxer getting pummeled round after round: “At some point, you knock them down, and the fight is over.”

Attendant with this weird wildlife behavior is a stunning drop in the number of plankton — the basis of the ocean’s food chain. In July, another major study concluded that acidifying oceans are likely to have a “quite traumatic” impact on plankton diversity, with some species dying out while others flourish. As the oceans absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, it’s converted into carbonic acid — and the pH of seawater declines. According to lead author Stephanie Dutkiewicz of MIT, that trend means “the whole food chain is going to be different.”

The Hansen study may have gotten more attention, but the Dutkiewicz study, and others like it, could have even more dire implications for our future. The rapid changes Dutkiewicz and her colleagues are observing have shocked some of their fellow scientists into thinking that yes, actually, we’re heading toward the worst-case scenario. Unlike a prediction of massive sea-level rise just decades away, the warming and acidifying oceans represent a problem that seems to have kick-started a mass extinction on the same time scale.

Jacquelyn Gill is a paleoecologist at the University of Maine. She knows a lot about extinction, and her work is more relevant than ever. Essentially, she’s trying to save the species that are alive right now by learning more about what killed off the ones that aren’t. The ancient data she studies shows “really compelling evidence that there can be events of abrupt climate change that can happen well within human life spans. We’re talking less than a decade.”

For the past year or two, a persistent change in winds over the North Pacific has given rise to what meteorologists and oceanographers are calling “the blob” — a highly anomalous patch of warm water between Hawaii, Alaska and Baja California that’s thrown the marine ecosystem into a tailspin. Amid warmer temperatures, plankton numbers have plummeted, and the myriad species that depend on them have migrated or seen their own numbers dwindle.

Significant northward surges of warm water have happened before, even frequently. El Niño, for example, does this on a predictable basis. But what’s happening this year appears to be something new. Some climate scientists think that the wind shift is linked to the rapid decline in Arctic sea ice over the past few years, which separate research has shown makes weather patterns more likely to get stuck.

A similar shift in the behavior of the jet stream has also contributed to the California drought and severe polar vortex winters in the Northeast over the past two years. An amplified jet-stream pattern has produced an unusual doldrum off the West Coast that’s persisted for most of the past 18 months. Daniel Swain, a Stanford University meteorologist, has called it the “Ridiculously Resilient Ridge” — weather patterns just aren’t supposed to last this long.

What’s increasingly uncontroversial among scientists is that in many ecosystems, the impacts of the current off-the-charts temperatures in the North Pacific will linger for years, or longer. The largest ocean on Earth, the Pacific is exhibiting cyclical variability to greater extremes than other ocean basins. While the North Pacific is currently the most dramatic area of change in the world’s oceans, it’s not alone: Globally, 2014 was a record-setting year for ocean temperatures, and 2015 is on pace to beat it soundly, boosted by the El Niño in the Pacific. Six percent of the world’s reefs could disappear before the end of the decade, perhaps permanently, thanks to warming waters.

Since warmer oceans expand in volume, it’s also leading to a surge in sea-level rise. One recent study showed a slowdown in Atlantic Ocean currents, perhaps linked to glacial melt from Greenland, that caused a four-inch rise in sea levels along the Northeast coast in just two years, from 2009 to 2010. To be sure, it seems like this sudden and unpredicted surge was only temporary, but scientists who studied the surge estimated it to be a 1-in-850-year event, and it’s been blamed on accelerated beach erosion “almost as significant as some hurricane events.”

Possibly worse than rising ocean temperatures is the acidification of the waters. Acidification has a direct effect on mollusks and other marine animals with hard outer bodies: A striking study last year showed that, along the West Coast, the shells of tiny snails are already dissolving, with as-yet-unknown consequences on the ecosystem. One of the study’s authors, Nina Bednaršek, told Science magazine that the snails’ shells, pitted by the acidifying ocean, resembled “cauliflower” or “sandpaper.” A similarly striking study by more than a dozen of the world’s top ocean scientists this July said that the current pace of increasing carbon emissions would force an “effectively irreversible” change on ocean ecosystems during this century. In as little as a decade, the study suggested, chemical changes will rise significantly above background levels in nearly half of the world’s oceans.

“I used to think it was kind of hard to make things in the ocean go extinct,” James Barry of the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute in California told the Seattle Times in 2013. “But this change we’re seeing is happening so fast it’s almost instantaneous.”

Thanks to the pressure we’re putting on the planet’s ecosystem — warming, acidification and good old-fashioned pollution — the oceans are set up for several decades of rapid change. Here’s what could happen next.

The combination of excessive nutrients from agricultural runoff, abnormal wind patterns and the warming oceans is already creating seasonal dead zones in coastal regions when algae blooms suck up most of the available oxygen. The appearance of low-oxygen regions has doubled in frequency every 10 years since 1960 and should continue to grow over the coming decades at an even greater rate.

So far, dead zones have remained mostly close to the coasts, but in the 21st century, deep-ocean dead zones could become common. These low-oxygen regions could gradually expand in size — potentially thousands of miles across — which would force fish, whales, pretty much everything upward. If this were to occur, large sections of the temperate deep oceans would suffer should the oxygen-free layer grow so pronounced that it stratifies, pushing surface ocean warming into overdrive and hindering upwelling of cooler, nutrient-rich deeper water.

Enhanced evaporation from the warmer oceans will create heavier downpours, perhaps destabilizing the root systems of forests, and accelerated runoff will pour more excess nutrients into coastal areas, further enhancing dead zones. In the past year, downpours have broken records in Long Island, Phoenix, Detroit, Baltimore, Houston and Pensacola, Florida.

Evidence for the above scenario comes in large part from our best understanding of what happened 250 million years ago, during the “Great Dying,” when more than 90 percent of all oceanic species perished after a pulse of carbon dioxide and methane from land-based sources began a period of profound climate change. The conditions that triggered “Great Dying” took hundreds of thousands of years to develop. But humans have been emitting carbon dioxide at a much quicker rate, so the current mass extinction only took 100 years or so to kick-start.

With all these stressors working against it, a hypoxic feedback loop could wind up destroying some of the oceans’ most species-rich ecosystems within our lifetime. A recent study by Sarah Moffitt of the University of California-Davis said it could take the ocean thousands of years to recover. “Looking forward for my kid, people in the future are not going to have the same ocean that I have today,” Moffitt said.

As you might expect, having tickets to the front row of a global environmental catastrophe is taking an increasingly emotional toll on scientists, and in some cases pushing them toward advocacy. Of the two dozen or so scientists I interviewed for this piece, virtually all drifted into apocalyptic language at some point.

For Simone Alin, an oceanographer focusing on ocean acidification at NOAA’s Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory in Seattle, the changes she’s seeing hit close to home. The Puget Sound is a natural laboratory for the coming decades of rapid change because its waters are naturally more acidified than most of the world’s marine ecosystems.

The local oyster industry here is already seeing serious impacts from acidifying waters and is going to great lengths to avoid a total collapse. Alin calls oysters, which are non-native, the canary in the coal mine for the Puget Sound: “A canary is also not native to a coal mine, but that doesn’t mean it’s not a good indicator of change.”

Though she works on fundamental oceanic changes every day, the Dutkiewicz study on the impending large-scale changes to plankton caught her off-guard: “This was alarming to me because if the basis of the food web changes, then?.?.?.?everything could change, right?”

Alin’s frank discussion of the looming oceanic apocalypse is perhaps a product of studying unfathomable change every day. But four years ago, the birth of her twins “heightened the whole issue,” she says. “I was worried enough about these problems before having kids that I maybe wondered whether it was a good idea. Now, it just makes me feel crushed.”

Katharine Hayhoe, a climate scientist and evangelical Christian, moved from Canada to Texas with her husband, a pastor, precisely because of its vulnerability to climate change. There, she engages with the evangelical community on science — almost as a missionary would. But she’s already planning her exit strategy: “If we continue on our current pathway, Canada will be home for us long term. But the majority of people don’t have an exit strategy.?.?.?.?So that’s who I’m here trying to help.”

James Hansen, the dean of climate scientists, retired from NASA in 2013 to become a climate activist. But for all the gloom of the report he just put his name to, Hansen is actually somewhat hopeful. That’s because he knows that climate change has a straightforward solution: End fossil-fuel use as quickly as possible. If tomorrow, the leaders of the United States and China would agree to a sufficiently strong, coordinated carbon tax that’s also applied to imports, the rest of the world would have no choice but to sign up. This idea has already been pitched to Congress several times, with tepid bipartisan support. Even though a carbon tax is probably a long shot, for Hansen, even the slim possibility that bold action like this might happen is enough for him to devote the rest of his life to working to achieve it. On a conference call with reporters in July, Hansen said a potential joint U.S.-China carbon tax is more important than whatever happens at the United Nations climate talks in Paris.

One group Hansen is helping is Our Children’s Trust, a legal advocacy organization that’s filed a number of novel challenges on behalf of minors under the idea that climate change is a violation of intergenerational equity — children, the group argues, are lawfully entitled to inherit a healthy planet.

A separate challenge to U.S. law is being brought by a former EPA scientist arguing that carbon dioxide isn’t just a pollutant (which, under the Clean Air Act, can dissipate on its own), it’s also a toxic substance. In general, these substances have exceptionally long life spans in the environment, cause an unreasonable risk, and therefore require remediation. In this case, remediation may involve planting vast numbers of trees or restoring wetlands to bury excess carbon underground.

Even if these novel challenges succeed, it will take years before a bend in the curve is noticeable. But maybe that’s enough. When all feels lost, saving a few species will feel like a triumph.


Posted on on August 9th, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (

Democrats are also looking forward to Thursday’s debate among the Republican presidential candidates — and making demands.

The Democratic governor of California – Edmund G. Brown – released a two-page letter Wednesday in advance of last Thursday’s planned GOP debate in Cleveland. He says California is hotter and drier than it’s ever been, making wildfires more severe and extending the fire season.

The Governor was asking the GOP candidates what they plan to do about climate change.

“Longer fire seasons, extreme weather and severe droughts aren’t on the horizon, they’re all here — and here to stay,” Brown said in his letter. “This is the new normal. The climate is changing. Given the challenge and the stakes, my question for you is simple: What are you going to do about it? What is your plan to deal with the threat of climate change?”

In general, the Republicans have criticized President Obama’s climate change plans as government overreach that will cut jobs in the energy sector and increase utility bills for middle class Americans.

But the Fox team under the leadership of Ms. Megin Kelly did not ask the candidates a single question in that direction.
So what is the candidates stand on these issues? Would they rather give up California then take a stand? Or the silence at that debate was imposed by the Republican National Committee.


Posted on on August 7th, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (

The Republican Party of the USA is the guardian of Corporate America in effect it is owned by the corporations and we heard this from last night’s stage at the Cleveland Ohio Arena – the future home of the Republican National Convention that will be called to nominate the party’s candidate for the 2016 Presidential elections. We heard this from Donald Trump who said in the open that he gives money to any candidate just for the asking – he gave also to some of the others on that stage. He even gave to the foundation of the Clintons – that is how he owns them. Hillary came to his wedding – she had to – she got his money.

All the Senators on the stage are corporate owned he established. That explains many things. He thinks he would be the best President to save the country from this oppression from banks and Wall Street because he is one of those that know the system from the inside and he knew how to work with them to his advantage which he demonstrated in his corporations that went through four bankruptcies without himself ever have gone bankrupt.

The real problem with the US is this tremendous debt – in major part owed to China. He feels he is qualified to handle this issue more then any of those Corporate owned other competitors – he even is not promising to back any of them if they if they are nominated – he is savvy. Ever heard such a rebellion and ever figured that he is on solid ground in this rebellion?
Now about FOX NEWS – their owner and management are sworn Republicans and them running last night’s show turned it into a family affair rather then an event open to the Nation. Into this milieu intruded Donald Trump and rather then seeing in him the revolutionary they saw the sensation aspect but fought him in order to please the right-wing party base. They sat up a moderator team centered around a good looking monumental blonde and asked only questions on social issues that please that “base.”

THERE WERE NO REAL QUESTIONS ABOUT THE ECONOMY, ENERGY INDEPENDENCE, THE COMING GLOBAL CLIMATE CHANGE DISASTERS OR ANY OTHER REAL QUESTION ABOUT MATTERS OF GLOBAL CONCERNS. Instead we heard a question about if the candidate is getting his orders from God and innumerable attacks on Obamacare and the agreement with Iran.

My wife wrote me from Vienna that it is good Fox News cannot be seen live on local TV – so the locals do not see the US in all its political backwardness.

But, what is worse, seemingly no effort was made to open up the show to the non-initiated even here in the US. For example, in Manhattan NY it is known that Channel 5 is Fox News – but they did not show there – they moved it instead to one of their side channels 43 or 44. This while on Channel five they announced that they will give a summary of the first debate at 6 PM – and they did not do even that. I attest to it that mind-numbbing programs went on at least till 8:30 PM. Even I lost because of this the first debate before I found their whereabouts.

But, despite this Republican Leadership clear positioning as roadblock to American Progress, this show was NOT a total loss.
Starting already in the 5 PM “HAPPY HOUR or DRIVING time slot for what was presented as the second tier panel, there was an unprogrammed breakout by Carly Fiorina who was listed originally as 14th. She showed she could content-wise measure up to Mr. Trump, but could also be a leader something that he did not develop. Right there – like in the physical tests for military officer school – she got from among the contestants some that were ready to accept her leadership – this from no less then former Governor of Texas – Mr. Perry – whose starting ranking was 11th. So clearly the rankings will change and we expect Ms. Fiorina to be part of the upper tier at next meeting that will be handled by true outsiders from CNN.

The only other true discovery on those two panels was Dr. Benjamin Solomon “Ben” Carson, Sr. (born September 18, 1951) he is an American author, political pundit, and retired Johns Hopkins neurosurgeon. On May 4, 2015, Carson announced he was running for the Republican nomination in the 2016 Presidential election at a rally in Detroit, his hometown.

Carson was the first surgeon to successfully separate conjoined twins joined at the head. In 2008, he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President George W. Bush.

After delivering a widely publicized speech at the 2013 National Prayer Breakfast, he became a popular conservative figure in political media for his views on social and political issues.

He was the one true intellectual on the panels and on the main panel the only non-lily-white person. In effect he is black and the right-wing counterpart to President Obama. He speaks slowly and each word is a thought out pearl. He was fifth on the ingoing list.

At some point he showed impatience and noted to the moderators that they do not direct questions to him. When he got a chance he said that color of skin is not the man and as a neurosurgeon he worked with the real man. Finally, his parting sentences noted that he is the only one on the panel who knows to separate Siamese twins and to remove half brain – but seemingly in Washington he was beaten to it.

I believe that whoever becomes next President – Democrat or Republican – ought to bring in Dr. Carson as a Consultant.

Our own evaluation of the results:




We believe that THE ONE TO WIN IN CLEVELAND NEXT TIME – the real decision making event – WILL NOT BE TRUMP, BUSH, OR WALKER -

For further evaluation – please read what we mainly got from CNN – the true MEDIA winner from evaluating last nights panels.

CNN ARTICLE FRIDAY, August 7, 2015 – that is built on the FOX NEWS HELD REPUBLICAN DEBATE that THE FOX was not able to review by themselves.

By Gloria Borger, CNN Chief Political Analyst…

(CNN)CNN Opinion asked a range of contributors to give their take on the first Republican Party debate of the 2016 presidential campaign, and to pick their biggest winners and losers from the night. The opinions expressed in these commentaries are solely their own.

David Gergen: Trump, a gift to the GOP

Donald Trump may ultimately wind up damaging Republican chances next November but yesterday he gave the GOP presidential candidates a huge gift: his presence generated the biggest, most attentive opening day audience in American politics. Each of the 17 candidates had a chance to audition before a massive number of voters, not to mention donors and journalists. (The debate had a record 24 million viewers, according to Nielsen.)

As a group, the candidates generally rose to the occasion. Yes, there was still too much ideological rigidity, too many canned answers and too little attention to ways that technology and globalization are reshaping the United States. But with nine sitting or former governors and five sitting or former Senators among the candidates, the GOP could showcase plenty of talent.

For my money, there were two candidates who helped themselves the most. One was Governor John Kasich of Ohio: while sticking to conservative principles, he gave voice to common sense Midwestern values as well as a moral commitment to Americans living in the shadows. In effect, he tapped into some of the same anger that Trump has understood but turned it in a warm, positive direction.

The other big winner was Carly Fiorina whose performance in the afternoon debate was universally acclaimed in the press and social media. The GOP ought to hope that she moves up the polls so that women can see at least one representative on center stage — and in her case, one who is articulate, sophisticated and strong.

As for Trump himself, the old rules would say he hurt himself last night, especially with opening answers that came across as narcissistic and boorish. But with so much free floating anger and frustration in today’s politics, the old rules aren’t as powerful as they once were. Who knows? He could deliver yet another big audience when CNN hosts a second round of debates in September.

David Gergen is a senior political analyst for CNN and has been a White House adviser to four presidents. A graduate of Harvard Law School, he is a professor of public service and co-director of the Center for Public Leadership at The Harvard Kennedy School. Follow him on Twitter: @david_gergen. The opinions expressed in this commentary are his.


Dan Pfeiffer: The debate was Trumped

This was the Donald’s debate. He dominated the discussion, he was the focus of the moderators, social media traffic spiked every time he opened his mouth. Other than Rand Paul (who is apparently still running for President), all of his fellow candidates went out of their way to avoid stoking his ire. Two years after the RNC’s post-election autopsy declared that the only path to victory is a more inclusive tone, Trump has pushed the party further to the right on immigration than it has ever been before. Smart professionals in the Republican Party cringed at every mention of illegals, deportations and walls being built.

Trump may have hurt himself or helped himself, no one really knows because he defies all the traditional rules of politics (he probably hurt himself a lot). But his effect on the field is clear. This is Donald Trump’s party and all the other candidates just seem glad to be invited.

Winner: Marco Rubio. On a night of very uneven performances, Rubio showed flashes of why Democrats fear him most. He has had a tough few months, losing a lot of altitude and momentum, and basically disappearing from the discussion, but he gave Republicans a reason to remember his name tonight.

Loser: Jeb Bush. After several bad weeks, Jeb Bush could really have used a good night. He didn’t have it. Bush, like Huntsman in ’12 and Dukakis in ’88, seems to shrink under the klieg lights. He was nervous, halting, and just painfully uninspiring. Politics in our polarized age is about motivation and Bush gave no indication that he could motivate anyone to get out of bed and vote on a rainy day in November.

No one outshines Donald Trump at GOP debate

Dan Pfeiffer is a former senior adviser to President Barack Obama and served in the White House in a variety of roles, including communications director.


Tara Setmayer: It’s all about relatability

Clear, concise, and a command of the issues. No, I’m not talking about the Donald or Jeb Bush (who terribly underperformed by the way). I’m referring to Florida Senator Marco Rubio. Although he was the youngest contender on the debate stage, he certainly came across as the adult in the room. On a night filled with plenty of zingers and testy exchanges, Rubio was able to rise above the bickering and overly produced bravado. He was prepared, comfortable and most importantly, relatable.

The spats on stage between Trump and Bush, Chris Christie and Rand Paul may have made for an entertaining spectacle, but none of that is worth a grain of political salt if voters cannot relate to you. The relatability factor sunk Romney in 2012 and is one of Hillary Clinton’s biggest vulnerabilities heading into 2016. In contrast, Senator Rubio’s own authentic life story as the son of Cuban immigrant parents, one a bartender, the other a maid, rising up from nothing to become a senator and stand on stage as the possible next President of the United States, represents the very essence of the American dream for anyone who believes in the limitless opportunities this country provides.

In one of Rubio’s strongest and most memorable lines of the night, he said: “Who is Hillary Clinton to lecture me about living paycheck to paycheck … who is Hillary Clinton to lecture me about repaying students loans?” Exactly.

If Rubio ends up the nominee, imagine the contrast on the debate stage a year from now between Clinton and Rubio. One represents the future, the other a relic of yesteryear. That’s a matchup the Clinton camp surely hopes to avoid and justifiably so.

Bush on the other hand had a disappointing performance. He came across as unsure, defensive and aloof. If Jeb comes across like that again in the upcoming CNN debate in September, watch for supporters on the fence between Bush and Rubio begin to move toward the junior senator from Florida.

Thursday’s winner: Marco Rubio

The loser: Jeb Bush

Breakout performance: Carly Fiorina

Tara Setmayer is former communication’s director for Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, R-California, and a CNN political commentator.


Opinion: Donald Trump was terrible

Mel Robbins: Trump won.

The first GOP debate is over and Trump is still winning. He dominated the polls leading into the debate. He dominated the pre-debate commentary. He was the only candidate the press greeted when he arrived in Ohio. And most importantly, the rest of the field wasn’t that memorable. Yes Trump’s shtick works best when he’s on the campaign trail, not the debate stage but Trump didn’t do too much damage. At least not enough to knock him from his lead. Plus, Fox pounded him with “gotcha’ questions – like – “when did you become a Republican” yet Trump stood firm. He won the night because even despite ridiculous assertions like ” building a big beautiful door” in the wall he’d build fencing off Mexico, he managed to hold his lead among nine other GOP candidates.

Keep in mind, timing is essential in a campaign. And, at this stage in the race, the public is not yet focused on the election. We’re focused on paying bills, the end of summer, the start of school, basically – everything but the election. So Trump grabbed our attention early and even though Rubio, Christie and Kasich had a good night, Trump still was more memorable; which means at this stage in the race he won; for now.

Loser: Women

Fox pushed an anti-choice agenda over and over and over – and the candidates took the baton and ran with it. From Scott Walker and the imaginary fetus he kept cradling as he talked about his anti-choice views, to Jeb Bush bragging about creating a pro-life culture in Florida despite his state’s record on rising births to unwed mothers to Huckabee pushing for a personhood amendment. Women, women’s health and a woman’s ability to make decisions about her body without men and the government interfering – were under attack.

When men control women’s bodies and our health decisions, every woman loses. And women lost tonight as these 10 men lectured America about what they’d do to limit our control over our bodies if they were president. When Carly Fiorina was asked about Jeb Bush’s quote (which he’s repudiated) that he was “not sure we need half a billion dollars for women’s health issues,” she said it was a “foolish” thing to say. Actually, it’s not foolish, it’s downright scary.

Mel Robbins is a CNN commentator, legal analyst, best-selling author and keynote speaker. In 2014, she was named outstanding news talk-radio host by the Gracie Awards.


Donald Trump slams Megyn Kelly

William Howell: Debaters run from race issue

For two hours, the top 10 Republican candidates held forth on the Fourth Amendment rights of unborn children, the imperatives of regulatory reform, the various manifestations of weakness shown by the Obama-Clinton foreign policy of the past six years, the need for a stronger military and simpler tax code, and the merits of a wall (or is it a fence?) along the U.S.-Mexican border.

Hardly a mention was made of race. Ben Carson brought it up only to dismiss its significance. No one confronted the violence, poverty, and incarceration rates that plague black and Hispanic communities. With the exception of Rand Paul’s last-minute shout out to Ferguson and Detroit, the candidates turned away from the bubbling cauldron of anger and alienation—expressed intermittently in resistance and deviance—that has captured national headlines for the last year.

At the 92nd minute, Fox anchor Megyn Kelly asked Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker about the Black Lives Matter movement. He responded with some abbreviated thoughts on the importance of police training. And there, the issue dropped flat, and the station cut to commercial.

Repeatedly, the panel of moderators needled candidates for their perceived weaknesses in an expected showdown with Hillary Clinton in the general election.

Newsflash: For a party that has failed to win a majority of the popular vote in 5 of the past 6 presidential elections, in a country where whites’ share of the electorate is shrinking, Republicans had better find a way to talk about race.

Winner: Marco Rubio. Cool, level-headed and sharp.

Loser: Donald Trump. Unable to command the stage, held in check by debate protocols and vacuous, this one blustered to audience boos

William Howell is the Sydney Stein professor in American politics at the University of Chicago.


Donna Brazile: Not a real debate, but an audition

With Donald Trump occupying center stage at the first presidential primary debate, the other nine contenders had to look for ways to interject their own ideas or to try to avoid taking a direct hit from the front runner. The task wasn’t easy.

From calling for a big wall to solve our broken immigration system to repealing Obamacare without an alternative, some of the candidates took up a lot of unnecessary room on that debate stage, especially when you consider how much they overlap, at least policy-wise. While they offered muted versions of conservative policies, Donald Trump, though, was the one who was saying those things right out loud.

It’s a bunch of guys saying the exact same thing, and trying to impress people with how well they say it. This wasn’t a debate, it was an audition to remain viable until the next debate or forum.

Biggest losers: Rand Paul and Chris Christie for their bitter clash over NSA surveillance and terrorism. They offered testosterone with a bit of Tabasco.

Donna Brazile, a CNN contributor and a Democratic strategist, is vice chairwoman for voter registration and participation for the Democratic National Committee. A nationally syndicated columnist, she is an adjunct professor at Georgetown University and author of “Cooking With Grease: Stirring the Pots in America.”


Buck Sexton: Paul showed up ready to fight

There was no clear standout in the big 10 GOP debate Thursday night, but several candidates turned in strong performances. Marco Rubio showed the polish and policy knowledge you would expect. Same for Ted Cruz, whose biggest obstacle may be over-eloquence, if there is such a thing. Chris Christie hit his stride on entitlements, and showed some glimmers of the swagger that made him a household name.

The biggest surprise of the night came from Rand Paul, who showed up ready to fight. The usually laid-back libertarian came out fiery, getting into squabbles with Donald Trump and Christie (winning the latter exchange). If nothing else, Senator Paul reminded America that he’s still in this thing in a meaningful way.

The rest of the candidates weren’t strong enough to move the needle in their favor. Scott Walker was just OK. Ben Carson came off as he is — an entirely likable, accomplished professional, but he still didn’t get much airtime. John Kasich, Mike Huckabee and Jeb Bush were not memorable — and Bush in particular affirmed his politics as usual persona.

Trump is in his own category here. If you didn’t like Trump as a candidate before Thursday night, he did nothing to change your mind. Refusing to pledge his support for the GOP set the tone — and then he admitted on national television that he is an avowed crony capitalist. Of course, none of this will faze Trump’s most ardent supporters, but tonight solidified that he has no chance of winning over the rest of the GOP.

So, the winners tonight? Rubio, Cruz, Paul and Christie

The losers: Bush, Trump, Huckabee and Carson

Buck Sexton is a political commentator for CNN and host of “The Buck Sexton Show” on the Blaze. He was previously a CIA counterterrorism analyst.


Dean Obeidallah: Race now wide open

On Thursday, we were treated to not one, but two episodes of the summer’s newest reality show. Some will blame Donald Trump for transforming the race into a reality show. And those people would be right. But Fox News also did a great deal to add the reality show feel. First off, they only picked the top 10 contestants, I mean candidates, for the big show. Nothing says you are in the loser debate like staring out at 20,000 empty seat, as the seven other candidates were left to do. And before the debate Fox News’ Chris Wallace even promised someone would hand Trump a “fat juicy ball” of a question with which to attack Jeb Bush to see if the former Florida governor could take it. Fox News should just have gone full reality with celebrity judges and a gong.

So, who were the big winners and losers from the two debates? In terms of not meeting or fulfilling expectations, it would have been Ben Carson, Jeb Bush and Donald Trump. Trump especially so in that he didn’t offer details on policies, he lashed out, and seemed uncomfortable with the audience turning against him. The winner, at least in terms of might see their poll numbers improve, are likely to be Ohio Gov. John Kasich and Carly Fiorina.

But the bottom line is that the race now seems more wide open than ever.

Dean Obeidallah, a former attorney, is the host of SiriusXM’s weekly program “The Dean Obeidallah Show.” He is a columnist for The Daily Beast and editor of the politics blog The Dean’s Report. He’s also the co-director of the documentary “The Muslims Are Coming!” Follow him @TheDeansreport.


Maria Cardona: Bluster, bravado, no specifics

First things first: She may not have been part of the 10-man “main event” GOP debate, but make no mistake: It was Carly Fiorina, hands down, who shone most Thursday, during the earlier, so-called “happy hour” debate. The second-tier debate, held at 5 p.m. Thursday, proved to be more substantive and let lesser-known candidates like Ms. Fiorina stand out.

The prime time debate, on the other hand, brought us more of the same from every candidate: bluster, bravado, and no specifics from Donald Trump; Chris Christie and Rand Paul yelling at each other over the Patriot Ac;, attacks on Hillary Clinton and Planned Parenthood all around (is Planned Parenthood running for president?), and criticisms of everything President Obama has done on foreign policy with scant suggestion from any of them about how they would do anything differently.

Donald Trump did not look like a serious candidate, compared with others on stage. But he has struck a chord with Republicans, so likely did no harm to his front runner status and in fact may have satisfied GOP voters for continuing to be a thorn in the side of the Republican establishment. John Kasich may have done himself some good too, taking advantage of his home court advantage and underscoring his accomplishments in Ohio. Scott Walker? Flat, as was Jeb Bush. But Marco Rubio showed flashes of passion, especially on the issue of abortion.

Tonight’s debate likely did not do much to change the standing of these candidates among Republican voters. However, the group underscored to women, minorities, young people, and middle class families why GOP policies would take the country back to a time when women were told what to do with their bodies, where walls, language and different cultures cut people off from the promise of America, and where your future was more determined by how rich you were and not how hard you were determined to work.

Winners: Carly Fiorina, John Kasich — and Hillary Clinton for all of the fodder the candidates gave her for the general election campaign.

Loser: Jeb Bush

Maria Cardona is a political commentator for CNN, a Democratic strategist and principal at the Dewey Square Group. She is a former senior adviser to Hillary Clinton and was communications director for the Democratic National Committee. She also is a former communications director of the Immigration and Naturalization Service.


Julian Zelizer: This is no way to pick a candidate

Welcome to the world of reality political television. While it is a good thing that an unusually large number of people seemed excited to gather Around their television sets and computer screens to watch Thursday night’s Republican debate, and the earlier “happy hour” debate, the importance of these contests is not a good sign for American democracy.

For sure, we were able to see whether candidates had the capacity to throw a good punch and deliver a catchy a quip. In the early debate, Carly Fiorina delivered some good lines about Donald Trump (“I didn’t get a call from Bill Clinton”) as well as Jeb Bush (“it is foolish to say that women’s health isn’t a priority”). And later, the top 10 candidates rose to the occasion as well, with lines that are sure to make the rounds on YouTube. Donald Trump delivered one about Rosie O’Donnell and political correctness that generated some excitement, while Jeb Bush demonstrated his wonkish qualities, though he certainly didn’t do enough to excite worried supporters. Rand Paul and Chris Christie had a heated interaction about government surveillance that showed both still have things to say.

Simply by taking up so much time, Donald Trump comes out of this debate continuing to be the center of attention, and all of the other candidates trying to take on Bush will feel frustrated in that they will probably have to continue to deal with Trump for more time to come.

But does all this tell us much about how any of these candidates would do as president? Ultimately, this is what voters need to know. At best, though, we get to judge how they will perform in the already stilted atmosphere of general election debates. That’s about it.

The debates have already skewed the decision process by creating two tiers of candidates based on national polls. And the format of the debate itself offered no time for substantive answers. The incentives in the debates are all for body language and making punchy statements. To be sure, there were some useful moments as the candidates talked about immigration, surveillance and other big issues of the day. But the benefits are limited.

Unfortunately, these debates have become the way we measure the people who are running — opinions are formed, buzz is generated, predictions are made, all on the basis of a stilted event that resembles prime time talent shows like “American Idol.” In fact, we are only a step away from having people call into a national number to vote off the candidate they like least. It’s no wonder than Donald Trump, the former star of The Apprentice, looked so comfortable on the stage and drew much of the attention.

Who was the biggest loser? American democracy. This is no way to pick who will run for president. Democracy deserves a more serious conversation.

Julian Zelizer is a professor of history and public affairs at Princeton University and a New America fellow. He is the author of “The Fierce Urgency of Now: Lyndon Johnson, Congress, and the Battle for the Great Society” and co-editor of a new book, “Medicare and Medicaid at 50: America’s Entitlement Programs in the Age of Affordable Care.”


Tom Rogan: Fiorina Thursday’s star

Carly Fiorina won the first debate. Easily. Implicitly criticizing Donald Trump and explicitly criticizing Hillary Clinton, Fiorina pressed GOP voters to give her their consideration. Fiorina will see a significant poll bounce in response — she even received applause when one of her comments was replayed during the primetime debate! Fiorina’s closest competitor in that debate was Rick Perry.

In terms of the major candidates in the second debate, Marco Rubio will win favor for his statements on abortion and American exceptionalism. Jeb Bush was strongest when defending education reforms in pursuit of social mobility, but largely played it safe. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie showed spark by challenging Rand Paul on national security and Mike Huckabee on entitlements. Ted Cruz was quiet, but recovered with a powerful concluding statement. Ohio Gov. John Kasich was confident — thriving off his supporters in the hall. Donald Trump, meanwhile, doubled down on his populist disdain, but struggled when pushed. And Kentucky Senator Rand Paul also struggled to find his voice.

The winner? I’d say Scott Walker, with Rubio and Kasich close behind. Walker received a tough question on Wisconsin’s economy but responded confidently. He was also impressive on foreign policy — an area where he’s previously been considered weak.

Thursday’s winner: Carly Fiorina and Scott Walker

The night’s loser? Rand Paul

Carly Fiorina shines in first GOP debate

Tom Rogan writes for National Review and is a panelist on The McLaughlin Group. He tweets @TomRtweets. His homepage is


Raul A. Reyes: Too much left unsaid

Watching the GOP debate tonight was something of a surreal experience because it offered a window into the mindset of the Republican base. This was a debate in which Donald Trump asserted that “no one was talking about immigration.” This was a debate in which 10 men, all of whom purport to be against big government, confidently discussed how they would regulate women’s bodies. This was a debate in which Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio denounced Obamacare — even though they both signed their families up for coverage.

But what was notable about this debate was what went unsaid. There was no discussion of the Voting Rights Act on its 50th anniversary. There was no discussion of U.S.-Cuba policy, Nor of Puerto Rico’s debt crisis. Most glaringly, for all the talk about illegal immigration, there was no discussion about what to do with the 11 million undocumented people who are already here.

One of the most potent social movements today, “Black Lives Matter,” merited exactly one question — to Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker. The entire discussion lasted less than a minute. Ironically, a movie trailer for the upcoming “Straight Outta Compton” film addressed police brutality in communities of color more than tonight’s debate did.

The Fox hosts certainly showed no hesitation to challenge Trump. Yet, despite his thin-as-paper responses, their continued focus on him may have served to elevate his stature. Trump was his usual blustery self and did not serve up any huge drama — which might have the effect of extending the life of his candidacy.

Ultimately, the big winner of the night was John Kasich. He introduced himself to the nation as rational, reasonable and able to hold his ground in a competitive field.

The big loser was Scott Walker. As someone in the top tier of candidates, he did not seize the moment to advance his candidacy. Indeed, his statements seemed canned and he rarely exceeded his allotted time.

Raul A. Reyes is an attorney and member of the USA Today board of contributors. Follow him @RaulAReyes.


Karlyn Bowman: Debate not a plus for GOP

There was much talent on the stage tonight, but we didn’t get to hear much of it. Perhaps it was impossible with 10 candidates on the stage, perhaps it was the circus like atmosphere of the first hour, perhaps it was Donald Trump the showman, perhaps it was the Fox hosts’ desire to play gotcha journalism. Regardless, this debate was not a plus for the GOP and the party needs to rethink these cattle calls. Trump and Jeb Bush may be the front runners in the polls, but Marco Rubio and Scott Walker did well.

Most of the candidates had at least one good line or an engaging back and forth with another candidate. Ben Carson had a terrific closing statement. I doubt this debate changed much. Trump is still a wild card, but I doubt the other candidates’ standing in the polls will change much.

Karlyn Bowman is a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute where she studies public opinion.


(CNN)Every time we land in a presidential election year, there is always a big prize the candidates try to lure: women.

also by Gloria Borger

It’s always fun to be courted as part of the gender gap. That’s when the pols start to talk about family, health care, education and security. We hear about so-called women’s issues nonstop. We see candidates’ wives tell us their husbands are really human, loving and fab dads. Translation: If we love them, you can too.

Why all the fuss? Because at some point in the last few decades, campaigns figured out that women vote in higher numbers — and not necessarily like the men in their lives. Sometimes, yes. But not always, not by any means. In fact, the influence can often go the other way. What’s more, women are no monolith: Mitt Romney won with married women in 2012 by 7 points, for instance. Yet Barack Obama won with women overall by 11 points. In order to win this time, a GOP candidate has to do better.

Enter Donald Trump. He just loves women. At least that’s what he tells us. And women, of course, just love him. Not quite sure what the evidence is there, except for Trump’s involvement with Miss Universe or his declaration in one of his books that “I love women.”

Well, not so much with debate moderator Megyn Kelly, it seems, after she asked Trump about his assorted rants against women he clearly doesn’t love as “fat pigs, dogs, slobs and disgusting animals.” His answer was an effort to cleverly deflect with some rhetoric about how neither he nor the country has time to be “politically correct.” Even if that’s true, how does the ever-so-busy Trump have the time to constantly tweet his insults? Seems like he has a lot of time to be politically incorrect.

In a final coup de grace, Trump went after Kelly, allowing as to how he had been “nice to” her (for which she should be grateful, I presume?), but then theorized that maybe he ought not to be. Whoa. An untweeted threat? The real, live audience booed. He tried to back off from the bluster, but there it was.

Oh, and by the way, no candidate stepped up debate night to agree that Trump’s insults about women were offensive. Maybe it was the rules that kept them silent? Or maybe it was that Carly Fiorina, the only woman in the GOP field, had been offstage, relegated to the first (I-didn’t-have-enough-support-to-make-it into-the-big-boy) debate?

By Friday morning, Trump’s official account retweeted a tweet that referred to Kelly — an accomplished anchor, lawyer and mother — as a “bimbo.” Awfully presidential, wouldn’t you say?

So here’s where we are: Clearly, Republicans know they need more women to vote for them if they are going to win the presidency. Second obvious point: With Hillary Clinton running for president, the gender gap could turn into a gender wave. And not just because Clinton is a woman — women don’t automatically vote for women (see: Hillary Clinton, circa 2008 campaign) — but because Republicans, at least so far, have made a mess of it.

It’s not that it’s a premeditated “war on women” as the Democratic Party apparatus likes to dub it; it’s more of a head-scratching, did-you-just-say-that process of flubs that slowly seeps into the ether. Jeb Bush stepped in it when he said, “I’m not sure we need half a billion dollars for women’s health issues.” Or that, while most Republicans oppose same-sex marriage, 58% of women support it. And in the last campaign, for instance, Republicans found themselves debating the issue of birth control, on the defensive after Senate candidate Todd Aiken spoke of “legitimate rape” and cringed in pain when Romney bragged he had “binders full of women” to choose from for potential statehouse jobs.

After 2012, Republicans even decided to hold seminars for GOP candidates about how to talk to women. Guess they left Trump off the list.

Generally, authenticity in politics is a great thing. We don’t see enough of it, to be sure. But that doesn’t mean that when you see it, you automatically have to like it. And in Trump’s case, count women as skeptical. A recent CBS News poll of registered voters shows that 62% of women have an unfavorable view of Trump. Among Republican women, he does somewhat better, but he’s still underwater: 42% have an unfavorable view of him; 38% like him.

In Trump’s book “The Art of the Comeback,” he waxes on about les girls: “There’s nothing I love more than women, but they are really a lot different than portrayed. They are far worse than men, far more aggressive, and boy, can they be smart. Let’s give credit where credit is due, and let’s salute women for their tremendous power, which most men are afraid to admit they have.”

If Trump says it, then it must be true.


Carly Fiorina shines in first GOP debate

By Mark Preston, CNN

Updated 12:50 AM ET, Fri August 7, 2015
| Video Source: CNN

(CNN)Carly Fiorina was one of the biggest winners Thursday night without even stepping on the prime-time stage.

The California businesswoman didn’t meet the eligibility criteria to participate in the marque event, but her strong performance at the 5 p.m. debate for second-tier candidates lingered throughout the evening.

She did make an appearance at the later forum — she was featured in back-to-back video clips about Iran that helped set up a question in the debate.

The first of them showed a moment from the earlier event in which one of her opponents, Rick Perry, turned to her while seeking to explain his position on the nuclear deal.

“I will tell you one thing,” Perry said, “I would a whole lot rather (have) had Carly Fiorina over there doing our negotiation than John Kerry. Maybe we would’ve gotten a deal where we didn’t give everything away.”

READ: Donald Trump roils GOP presidential debate

The compliment from the former Texas governor came about 50 minutes into the first Republican debate of the 2016 election — an acknowledgment from at least one of Fiorina’s rivals that she is a sharp, skilled negotiator.

When the final question was asked and answered in this first debate, it was clear that Fiorina stood out. Social media users and many commentators emphatically declared her the winner.

At this moment in the campaign, seven GOP candidates are fighting for relevancy, respect and their political futures. The “Republican Seven,” of which Fiorina is one, failed to make the cut for the main debate — the event that will feature Donald Trump at center stage.

For the seven lower-tier Republicans, there was no prime-time television exposure, no opportunities to compare and contrast themselves with former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, and no audience in the arena to watch them make the case as to why they should be the next commander-in-chief.

One of these seven Republicans needed a homerun to differentiate themselves from the other six and show why they deserve to be in the top 10 at the next debate at the Reagan Library in California.

The former Hewlett Packard CEO, who is sitting at between 1% to 2% in the national polls, did just that by demonstrating a sharp knowledge of the issues as she stood shoulder to shoulder on a stage of former and current U.S. senators and governors.
Carly Fiorina the superstar of first GOP debate?

Fiorina has an interesting story to tell and she let the viewers know that she did not begin her business career in a large corner office.

“I started as a secretary and became ultimately the chief executive of the largest technology company in the world, almost $90 billion in over 150 countries,” she said. “I know personally how extraordinary and unique this nation is.”

Does it sound familiar? A certain brash New Yorker has been dominating the political headlines of late by talking up his business acumen and how it has prepared him to be president. When asked by the moderator to explain why Trump is getting all of the attention, Fiorina was able to deliver a jab at the real estate mogul over his ties to the Clintons.

After acknowledging that Trump has hit a vein of anger in the American electorate, she pivoted and made a play for Republican primary voters. “I would just ask, what are the principles by which he will govern?” she said.

It is a question many Republicans, especially establishment Republicans, are wondering.

And for all of her talk, Fiorina is a political insider. Yet she does not carry the inside-the-Beltway stigma. On Thursday night, she deftly discussed her business accomplishments and governing philosophy while emphasizing her worldly connections and steely approach to pressing issues.

“On Day One in the Oval Office, I would make two phone calls,” she said. “The first one would be to my good friend, Bibi Netanyahu, to reassure him we will stand with the State of Israel.

READ: CNN fact checks the 2016 Republican debates

“The second will be to the supreme leader of Iran. He might not take my phone call, but he would get the message, and the message is this: Until you open every nuclear and every military facility to full, open, anytime, anywhere, for real inspections, we are going to make it as difficult as possible for you to move money around the global financial system.”

Fiorina ended the night by playing again to Republican primary voters looking for a candidate who can defeat Hillary Clinton in November 2016.

“We need a nominee who is going to throw every punch, not pull punches, and someone who cannot stumble before he even gets into the ring,” she said.

Clearly, Fiorina did not stumble, but it remains to be seen if her performance has caused enough GOP primary voters to reconsider her current standing in the race.

Even if they do, any budding Fiorina boomlet would have to overcome some stark realities. She needs to increase her name recognition, but she doesn’t appear to have the cash to do so. Her campaign has raised very little hard money — only $1.4 million — and her super PAC has had minimal success catching high-dollar donors.

And by flirting with invisibility in the polls, Fiorina hasn’t incurred the wrath of opposition research or had her resume thoroughly vetted. But that could soon change.


and from the left – from the Campaign for America’s Future -

AUGUST 7, 2015

The GOP Debate is What Oligarchy Looks Like.
Recently five Republican presidential candidates paraded themselves before a group of mega-donors convened by the Koch brothers. Thursday’s debate was an extension of the Kochs’ beauty pageant.


And From Senator Bernie Sanders:

He appeals to the Democrats to have a discussion on all those thigs that the Republicans left out.



Posted on on July 29th, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (

Coming Clean – The blog of Executive Director Michael Brune, The Sierra Club.
July 23, 2015

Obama’s Arctic Error: A Bad Call on Shell

The Obama administration inched a little closer to disaster yesterday when it issued almost-but-not-quite final approval to Royal Dutch Shell to drill in the Chukchi Sea this summer. Because Shell’s capping stack (a critical piece of emergency response equipment) is currently on its way to Portland, Oregon, aboard a damaged icebreaker that requires repairs, the oil company is allowed to drill only part way into the seafloor — stopping short of where the oil is. If and when the capping stack gets to the proposed drilling site, Shell could then reapply for permission to resume drilling the rest of the way.

Last week, I wrote about why letting Shell into the Arctic makes no sense. It’s a case of taking huge risks to get something we don’t need. In fact, not only do we not need that oil and gas — we can’t even afford to use it if we want to meet the urgent imperative to limit climate disruption.

So why has the administration allowed things to go this far? If this were a wedding with a reluctant bridegroom, we’d be listening to the minister clear his throat and gaze out over the congregation. I don’t know. Maybe, even though they know this is a bad idea, they just don’t have the guts to call it off.

But you know what? That’s the wrong analogy. What’s about to happen in the Chukchi Sea is more like a blind date than a shotgun wedding. Even if Shell manages to get its act together with its exploratory drilling this summer, it will still need approval for commercial drilling, and it will be even harder to make a case that such drilling can be done safely. Shell would also need to install hundreds of miles of pipeline, both on the seafloor and dry land. The process could take a decade or more, and every step along the way, we have opportunities to make the case that clean energy is better for our country and our planet. And the longer this drags on, the more obvious it will be that drilling in Arctic waters is an unnecessary invitation to disaster.

When Shell’s damaged ship arrives in Portland, we’ll be there. When Shell cuts corners or takes dangerous risks, we’ll be there. When this or any other administration flirts with selling more oil leases in the Chukchi and Beaufort seas, we’ll be there, in the courts and on the streets. We’re in this for the long haul, along with the hundreds of thousands of Americans who’ve already joined the growing #ShellNo! movement. We’re in it for the Arctic, for the wildlife, for the Native Alaskans, and for the climate. And we’re in it to win.

We will not rest until President Obama cancels all drilling and future leases and protects the Arctic Ocean.