I was Bernie’s biggest critic in 2016 — I’ve changed my mind

Peter Daou writes:

If you had told me in the spring of 2016 that three years later I’d be touting the merits of the Bernie Sanders campaign—taking flak from Hillary Clinton supporters for not being loyal enough to her—I would have laughed and asked what alternate reality you lived in. But life and politics have a way of taking unexpected turns, and here I am writing about the considerable strengths Sanders brings to the 2020 election.

I do so not to endorse Sanders or to minimize the large and diverse Democratic field. It is early in the primary and voters should take the time to assess all their options. I am going through that process myself, studying how the candidates campaign, how they deal with the corporate media, what policies they’re putting forward. The reason I’ve focused on Sanders in recent weeks is because I am concerned that festering anger from the 2016 primary is causing a rift in the electorate that Trump and the Republican Party can—and will—successfully exploit.

Bernie Sanders is unquestionably in the top tier of candidates for the Democratic nomination, and it would be an epic act of self-destruction for Democrats to plunge into an internecine conflict over his candidacy at a time when they need to marshal every asset to defeat Trump and his GOP cronies. I am calling on Democrats, progressives, and leftists to hit the pause button, to table our disagreements, no matter how intense, as we fight to preserve the rule of law and the last semblance of our democracy. We owe it to ourselves and our country. [Continue reading…]

A Trump transition staffer says it’s time for impeachment

J. W. Verret writes:

Let’s start at the end of this story. This weekend, I read Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report twice, and realized that enough was enough—I needed to do something. I’ve worked on every Republican presidential transition team for the past 10 years and recently served as counsel to the Republican-led House Financial Services Committee. My permanent job is as a law professor at the George Mason University Antonin Scalia Law School, which is not political, but where my colleagues have held many prime spots in Republican administrations.

If you think calling for the impeachment of a sitting Republican president would constitute career suicide for someone like me, you may end up being right. But I did exactly that this weekend, tweeting that it’s time to begin impeachment proceedings.

Let’s go back to the beginning. In August 2016, I interviewed to join the pre-transition team of Donald Trump. Since 2012, every presidential election stands up a pre-transition team for both candidates, so that the real transition will have had a six-month head start when the election is decided. I participated in a similar effort for Mitt Romney, and despite our defeat, it was a thrilling and rewarding experience. I walked into a conference room at Jones Day that Don McGahn had graciously arranged to lend to the folks interviewing for the transition team. [Continue reading…]

France blasts U.S. for weakened UN resolution on sexual violence in conflicts

France 24 reports:

The UN Security Council on Tuesday approved a watered-down resolution on sexual violence in conflicts, eliminating language on providing survivors “sexual and reproductive health care” to get US support in a move criticised by France.

Tuesday’s vote on the German-drafted resolution was 13-0, with Russia and China, which had submitted a rival draft, abstaining.

Both Russia and China said they opposed sexual violence in conflicts, but denounced “lax interpretations” in the text and a “manipulated” struggle to create new UN structures and “override” mandates already approved.

France vehemently criticised the US for threatening to use its veto over a reference in the text to reproductive rights, seen by Washington as an encouragement of abortion.

“It is intolerable and incomprehensible that the Security Council is incapable of acknowledging that women and girls who suffered from sexual violence in conflict — and who obviously didn’t choose to become pregnant — should have the right to terminate their pregnancy,” French UN Ambassador Francois Delattre told the 15-member body after the vote.

“We deplore that the veto threats were brandished by permanent members of the council to challenge 25 years of gains in favour of women’s rights in situations of armed conflict,” he said. [Continue reading…]

A Neanderthal tooth discovered in Serbia reveals human migration history

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A 3D recreation of a recently discovered Neanderthal tooth.
Joshua Lindal, Author provided

By Mirjana Roksandic, University of Winnipeg and Joshua Allan Lindal, University of Winnipeg

In 2015, our Serbian-Canadian archaeological research team was working at a cave site named Pešturina, in Eastern Serbia, where we had found thousands of stone tools and animal bones. One day, an excited Serbian undergrad brought us a fossil they had uncovered: a small molar tooth, which we immediately recognized as human.

A single tooth may not seem like much, but a lot of information can be drawn from it. We knew it was about 100,000 years old, because the layer it was found in had previously been dated. We were able to build a high-resolution 3D model to study the shape of the crown, roots and internal structure. We made detailed measurements and performed statistical analyses which are published in the June 2019 issue of the Journal of Human Evolution.

3D modelling of the discovered Neanderthal tooth.

The results of our analysis are clear: our little tooth belonged to a Neanderthal. Neanderthal fossils have been found in Croatia and Greece, but they are still relatively rare in the Balkans, compared to Western Europe and the Middle East. This is the first Neanderthal ever found in Serbia.

[Read more…]

Music: Rob Araujo — ‘Hike’

 

Earth Day founder thinks we’re close to political breakthrough on climate

Joe Romm writes:

Denis Hayes, the principal national organizer of the first Earth Day, in April 1970, said on Monday that the upcoming 50th anniversary next year will be “the largest, most diverse action in human history.” The goal is to engage three billion people around the world with a focus on climate change.

Thanks to a resurgence in youth-led climate activism, Hayes told reporters at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., that “2020 will be for climate what 1970 was for other environmental issues.”

The mobilization of young people demanding aggressive policies to address climate change has made Hayes especially optimistic that next year will be a watershed moment for the movement. From global school strikes led by Swedish 16-year-old Greta Thunberg to the Green New Deal, led by the youth-based Sunrise Movement and 29-year-old Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), young people across the globe are making it clear they will not accept inaction. [Continue reading…]

We’re losing the war on climate change

John D. Sutter writes:

For years now, people like environmentalist and journalist Bill McKibben have been screaming from the treetops that we need a World War II-scale mobilization to fight the scourge of climate change.

They’re right, of course. And on Earth Day — that 24-hour sliver of the calendar when we talk about the fact that humans exist on, and because of, a living planet — it’s clear not only that we are losing this war but that we still are failing to recognize it’s taking place at all.

I mean, yes, I’ve met Greta Thunberg, the Swedish teen who is “schooling world leaders” on climate policy and who started a global school walkout movement. I’ve read the Green New Deal and seen the videos of young people demanding that US reps adopt it. Just this month, protesters in London shut down parts of the city in their calls for a reckoning. It’s true that clean energy sources keep getting cheaper. Electric cars are more popular than ever.

But the scale of the outrage in no way matches the magnitude of this disaster, which, like WWII, threatens to cripple or even obliterate human life on the planet as we know it. [Continue reading…]

Global wealth gap would be smaller today without climate change, study finds

The New York Times reports:

Climate change creates winners and losers. Norway is among the winners; Nigeria among the losers.

Those are the stark findings of a peer-reviewed paper by two Stanford University professors who have tried to quantify the impact of rising greenhouse gas emissions on global inequality. It was published Monday in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Global temperatures have risen nearly 1 degree Celsius, or 1.8 degrees Fahrenheit, since the start of the industrial age, and the study was aimed at quantifying what effect that increase has had on national economies and the global wealth gap.

Poor countries lost out, while rich countries, especially those who have racked up a lot of emissions over the last 50 years, the study found, have “benefited from global warming.” [Continue reading…]

Sri Lanka’s pain is going to spread

Mihir Sharma writes:

In Sri Lanka, memories of war and terrorism are very much alive. The decades-long civil war between the Sinhala-dominated government in Colombo and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam was brutal by any standards, and it ended a decade ago with a climactic battle near the Indian Ocean that took thousands of civilian lives. But Sri Lanka, beautiful and multicultural, has never had just the one fault line. On Easter morning, when hundreds of Christians and hotel guests were killed by suicide bombers there, we were tragically reminded that this is not a country at peace with itself.

In that, it’s not alone in South Asia. The entire subcontinent that the British once ruled from Delhi has seen, over the past decade, religious and ethnic identities harden and divisions deepen. Pakistan and Afghanistan continue to be hotbeds of extremism and terrorism, with religious minorities most vulnerable to violence. In Buddhist-majority Myanmar, democratization has proved a mixed blessing, as the new government has overseen the persecution and expulsion of its Muslim Rohingya minority.

Violence in Kashmir has flared up again after a decade of relative quiet, and the transformation there of a secular-nationalist separatist movement into one dominated by radical Islamist impulses is complete. The Indian northeast is on edge as the government in New Delhi builds up a giant register of citizens in order to isolate and expel migrants from Bangladesh that officials claim number in the millions. And this Indian election, more than any other since independence, is being fought on the basis of religion, security and identity.

One thing is clear: The naive presumption that economic growth and prosperity, or even increasing education, would help minimize these cleavages and prevent them exploding into violence stands completely discredited. Sri Lanka itself is perhaps the most advanced part of the Indian subcontinent when measured in terms of human development indicators. Even within India, it isn’t just the poor and left-behind north that is the problem. [Continue reading…]

How Stephen Miller made immigration personal

Politico reports:

In the summer of 2017, a group of White House aides were in Paris, enjoying some rare downtime during Donald Trump’s first trip to France as president.

As the Trump officials soaked up a July evening along the banks of the Seine, one stepped away to take a phone call from the U.S. It was Stephen Miller, the president’s then-31-year-old chief policy adviser, speechwriter and hard-line immigration policy advocate.

As the other officials looked on, Miller spent several minutes loudly pressing administration officials on the other end of the line to deport an individual who had been detained by immigration authorities.

The episode, recounted by two former administration officials with direct knowledge of the matter, struck some of Miller’s colleagues as bizarre. They were familiar by then with Miller’s volatile temper, and of his central role in Trump’s immigration policy. Even so, the effort by a young White House aide to dictate the fate of a single detainee was a startling sign of his deep involvement in the federal government’s immigration system.

The one-time Senate aide is a key architect of Trump’s tough immigration policies — a controversial role affirmed when he helped engineer a recent purge of Department of Homeland Security officials deemed too soft on border security. Miller has helped shape several explosive Trump actions, including an early 2017 executive order banning travel from several Muslim-majority nations and Trump’s crusade for a wall on the border with Mexico. Most recently, he has backed an idea to relocate undocumented immigrants to “sanctuary cities” within the U.S., a scheme that has been described as political retribution by Democratic opponents.

While Miller’s influence over immigration policy is well-known by now, less understood is his granular interest in the people crossing the U.S. border, and the seemingly unprecedented steps he has taken to reveal information about their personal backgrounds. [Continue reading…]