…sundays are supposed to be relaxing…so if you want to skip straight to the bottom where hopefully there’ll be a few tunes & some comments at some point…that’d be fair enough…since I don’t know that I’d say much of the next bit could be viewed as anything too relaxing
Authorities in Hiroshima and the northern part of Kyushu issued their highest evacuation alert as the weather agency reported unprecedented levels of rain in the area on Saturday.
Under the non-compulsory alert, about 1.4 million residents have been asked to leave their homes immediately, public broadcaster NHK reported.
Downpours are forecast for several more days over a large swathe of the country. Scientists say the climate crisis is intensifying the risk of heavy rain in Japan and elsewhere, because a warmer atmosphere holds more water.
“Unprecedented levels of heavy rain have been observed,” Yushi Adachi, a meteorological agency official, told reporters in Tokyo. “It’s highly likely that some kind of disaster has already occurred. The maximum alert is needed even in areas where risks of landslides and flooding are usually not so high.”https://www.theguardian.com/world/2021/aug/14/million-urged-to-seek-shelter-as-floods-and-landslides-hit-japan
…with other kinds of tremors being felt in other places
…& with apologies to those who still know what figuratively means
…then, of course, there’s afghanistan…which would, well, literally be a war
Evacuations begin as Taliban close in on the capital, which is now the only major city under government control after the fall of JalalabadKabul: US starts evacuating embassy as Taliban reach outskirts of Afghanistan capital [Guardian]
The UK defence secretary has criticised the US decision to leave Afghanistan as a “mistake” that has handed the Taliban “momentum”.
Speaking to Sky News, Ben Wallace warned that “the international community will probably pay the consequences” and said he was worried al-Qaida would regain a base in Afghanistan.
Wallace said the withdrawal agreement negotiated in Doha, Qatar, by the Trump administration was a “rotten deal” which the UK tried to resist.
Asked how big a mistake it was to withdraw troops, Wallace said: “At the time of the Trump deal with, obviously the Taliban, I felt that was a mistake to have done it that way. We will all, in the international community probably pay the consequences of that.”
He added: “I’ve been pretty blunt about it publicly and that’s quite a rare thing when it comes to United States decisions, but strategically it causes a lot of problems and as an international community, it’s very difficult for what we’re seeing today.”
Asked about the threat of Afghanistan becoming a base for terrorism, Wallace said: “I’m absolutely worried that failed states are breeding grounds for those types of people. It’s why I felt this was not the right time or decision to make because al-Qaida will probably come back.”
Wallace added: “I think the deal that was done in Doha was a rotten deal. It effectively told a Taliban that wasn’t winning that they were winning, and it undermined the government of Afghanistan and now we’re in this position where the Taliban have clearly the momentum across the country.
“The United States are leaving, we are leaving alongside them, and that leaves a very, very big problem on the ground developing with the Taliban, obviously with the momentum and it’s not what we probably would have liked. I did try after the announcement, to see if we can bring together the international community. And I’m afraid most in that community weren’t particularly interested.”https://www.theguardian.com/world/2021/aug/13/us-withdrawal-afghanistan-mistake-uk-defence-secretary-ben-wallace
…which is perhaps a notable thing for someone in that position to say…but saying so doesn’t really do much to make it a more comfortable position for anyone who might not be leaving that part of the world
[…if that WaPo link works it’s worth bearing in mind that those documents came out a while back…that article dates from early december 2019]
…but the thing is (& perhaps not least when talking about somewhere that’s been called “the graveyard of empires”)
…it’s similarly easy to point fingers when stuff like this floats to the top of the headlines
…but there are famously less firearms to be found on the rainy little island off the coast of a europe it insists it isn’t part of these days…but the authorities there still gave this asshole his shotgun back after having found a reason to take it away previously…& look how great that turned out
Police must start taking misogyny more seriously in order to prevent more tragedies such as that in Plymouth, a top prosecutor has said, after a man who had regularly expressed his hatred of women killed five people and wounded two more.
Davison, 22, killed his mother on Thursday in the Keyham area of Plymouth before going on to shoot dead four more people, including a three-year-old girl, and injure two others.
An investigation has been launched by the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) into Davison’s possession of a shotgun and a firearms licence, which were returned to him in July after being removed last December following an allegation of assault against him in September 2020.
The Plymouth gunman’s social media usage suggested a strong interest in the misogynistic “involuntary celibate” culture of men who are unable to form sexual relationships with women.
According to Jonathan Hall QC, the independent reviewer of terrorism legislation, the government is likely to consider treating so-called “incels” as terrorists.https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2021/aug/14/plymouth-shootings-police-urged-to-take-misogyny-more-seriously
…& although this next one barely scratches the surface of how entirely fucked up pretty much everything surrounding this case is/was…just look up daniel morgan (& be warned – if you don’t know anything about it his death was pretty gruesome) to demonstrate that police corruption is totally a thing in that part of the world, too
…although…while I don’t think the US has cornered the market on hypocrisy or anything…there are certainly times when that south park episode about it being a nation founded on doing one thing while saying another might have been more accurate than I’d like?
“Dirty work” can refer to any unpleasant job, but among social scientists, the term has a more pointed meaning. In 1962, Everett Hughes, an American sociologist, published an essay titled “Good People and Dirty Work” that drew on conversations he’d had in postwar Germany about the mass atrocities of the Nazi era. Mr. Hughes argued that the persecution of Jews proceeded with the unspoken assent of many supposedly enlightened Germans, who refrained from asking too many questions because, on some level, they were not entirely displeased.
This was the nature of dirty work as Mr. Hughes conceived of it: unethical activity that was delegated to certain agents and then disavowed by society, even though the perpetrators had an “unconscious mandate” from their fellow citizens. As extreme as the Nazi example was, this dynamic existed in every society, Mr. Hughes wrote, enabling respectable citizens to distance themselves from the morally troubling things being done in their name. The dirty workers were not rogue actors but “agents” of “good people” who passively stood by.
Contemporary America runs on dirty work. Some of the people who do this work are our agents by virtue of the fact that they perform public functions, such as running the world’s largest penal system. Others qualify as such by catering to our consumption habits — the food we eat, the fossil fuels we burn, which are drilled and fracked by dirty workers in places like the Gulf of Mexico. The high-tech gadgets in our pockets rely on yet another form of dirty work — the mining of cobalt — that has been outsourced to workers in Africa and to foreign subcontractors that often brutally exploit them.
Like the essential jobs performed by grocery clerks and other low-wage workers during the Covid-19 pandemic, this work sustains our lifestyles and undergirds the prevailing social order, but privileged people are generally spared from having to think about it. One reason is that the dirty work occurs far away from them, in isolated institutions — prisons, slaughterhouses — that are closed to the public. Another reason is that the privileged rarely have to do it. Although there is no shortage of it to go around, dirty work in America is not randomly distributed. It falls disproportionately to people with fewer choices and opportunities such as high-school graduates from depressed rural areas, undocumented immigrants, women and people of color.
Many of these workers are victims in their own right, susceptible not only to exploitation and physical injury — as is true of so many people in low-status occupations — but also to another, less familiar set of hazards, owing to the unpalatable nature of the jobs they do. In their classic book, “The Hidden Injuries of Class,” the sociologists Richard Sennett and Jonathan Cobb called for shifting the focus of class analysis away from material conditions to “the moral burdens and the emotional hardships” that workers bear. For dirty workers, these burdens include stigma, self-reproach, corroded dignity and shattered self-esteem. In some cases, they include “moral injury,” a term that military psychologists have used to describe the suffering that some soldiers endure after they carry out orders that transgress the values at the core of their identity.https://www.nytimes.com/2021/08/13/opinion/us-dirty-work.html
Though more difficult to quantify, the moral and emotional wounds that many dirty workers experience can be as debilitating as material disadvantage, shaping people’s sense of self-worth, their place in the social order and their capacity to hold on to their dignity and pride. The result is a form of moral inequality that mirrors the economic kind. Just as the rich and poor have come to inhabit starkly different worlds, an equally stark gap separates the people who perform the most thankless, ethically troubling jobs in America and those who are exempt from these activities. Like so much else in a society that has grown more and more unequal, the burden of dirtying one’s hands — and the benefit of having a clean conscience — are increasingly functions of privilege: of the capacity to distance oneself from the isolated places where dirty work is performed while leaving the sordid details to others.
…& I don’t know about anyone else but I’m starting to get some sort of cognitive whiplash from the way the rhetoric around some stuff seems to be at odds with what I’m still doing my best to consider to be some sort of objective reality we could all theoretically agree to call “the way things are”…particularly when it comes to how anything that might be a way to improve matters might actually get from the “talking about” stage to the “actually doing something” stage
Nine moderate House Democrats told Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Friday that they will not vote for a budget resolution meant to pave the way for the passage of a $3.5 trillion social policy package later this year until a Senate-approved infrastructure bill passes the House and is signed into law.
The pledge, in a letter released early Friday, is a major rift that threatens the carefully choreographed, two-track effort by congressional Democrats and the Biden administration to enact both a trillion-dollar, bipartisan infrastructure deal and an even more ambitious — but partisan — social policy measure. The nine House members are more than enough to block consideration of the budget blueprint in a House where Democrats hold a three-seat majority.https://www.nytimes.com/2021/08/13/us/politics/house-democrats-budget-infrastructure.html
If they stick to their position, Democratic leaders and President Biden face their first major test in the process. More than half of the nearly 100-strong Congressional Progressive Caucus has taken the opposite position, saying they will not vote for the infrastructure bill until they have a social policy measure funding their priorities: climate change, education, health care, family leave, child care and elder care.
…if there are enough people who won’t vote to pass the one thing until the other thing is passed…on both sides of the things in question…does that constitute a perpetual-no-motion-machine?
…then there’s the folks who you’d think would know better
Vaccination mandates have given new focus to some Covid deniers and anti-vaccination activists, helping to align disparate “liberty” groups around a single cause, as lockdowns did earlier in the pandemic. Among them are nurses who have been vocal opponents of various pandemic mitigation efforts, some of whom have become adept at garnering social media attention, mainly on Instagram, Facebook and TikTok.https://www.nbcnews.com/tech/social-media/vaccine-mandates-spread-protests-follow-some-spurred-by-nurses
The individual accounts present a hodgepodge of vaccination misinformation, including distorted data from the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System, to suggest that the vaccines are killing thousands of people.
Health care workers have never been immune from anti-vaccination views. Online groups like Nurses Against Mandatory Vaccines were early participants in the modern anti-vaccination movement and have been known to rally behind health care professionals who refuse yearly flu shots. Since the pandemic began, Covid and vaccine misinformation has permeated mainstream nursing groups and led professional groups like the American Nurses Association to announce support for the vaccines and warn against online misinformation that erodes public trust.
While more than 96 percent of practicing doctors in the U.S. have been fully vaccinated, according to an American Medical Association survey, some other health care workers are more hesitant. One in 4 hospital workers with direct contact with patients had not received a single dose of a Covid vaccine by the end of May, according to a WebMD and Medscape Medical News estimate using data collected by the Department of Health and Human Services.
…or do better
Being the historical top emitter of climate-killing greenhouse gases, the United States has a clear obligation to help lead the world in rapidly reducing emissions and transitioning the planet to clean, renewable energy. Yet every indication thus far from the Biden administration suggests that this critical, urgent action won’t be coming.
In order to stand a reasonable chance of avoiding the worst, science overwhelmingly dictates that Earth must cut all greenhouse gas emissions in half in just nine years, and essentially zero them out by 2050. Like other world leaders, President Biden has publicly adopted this target. But his actions show something very different. Since Biden took office, Food & Water Watch has been diligently tracking notable comments and commitments on climate and energy issued by Biden and administration officials. The results are clear: they apparently have no intention of taking up this existential fight.
[…] Some signs from Biden the candidate last year were encouraging. His promise to ban new drilling and fracking on federal lands – an action that would be a simple, decisive first step in curtailing new fossil fuel extraction – was unequivocal: “No more drilling on federal lands, period. Period, period, period.”
The administration claims to be in the midst of a formal review of its policies on land resource extraction. Yet since taking office, Biden’s interior department has approved more than 2,000 new permits for drilling and fracking on federal land. In May, it appealed a federal court order that had paused fracking in Wayne national forest. In June, it advanced a proposal for new oil and gas exploration at Dinosaur national monument – a proposal the Trump administration had actually suspended under immense pressure from activists.
There are other similar disappointments – from the shocking approval of Trump’s plan to open Alaska’s North Slope to new oil drilling to the approval of the infamous Line 3 tar sands oil pipeline. At precisely the moment when we must be forcefully rejecting new drilling, fracking and pipeline infrastructure, Biden isn’t just tolerating fossil fuels – he’s uplifting them.
Similarly, the administration consistently boosts “carbon capture” as a climate solution, despite abundant evidence that it is absurdly inefficient, cost-ineffective and ultimately unproven. Existing carbon capture projects have cost billions of dollars without removing a significant amount of emitted carbon anywhere.
Furthermore, carbon capture serves as a boon to the oil and gas industry; the US energy secretary, Jennifer Granholm, recently went so far as to boast that it would facilitate an increase in fossil fuel production. So billions of dollars in new subsidies will go towards propping up a failed experiment in faulty, corporate-friendly policy.https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2021/aug/12/is-biden-serious-about-climate-his-2000-drilling-and-fracking-permits-suggest-not
Elon Musk has an enormous rocket and a tiny house. Last year the multibillionaire (who is the second-richest person in the world) announced that he was going to sell off most of his physical possessions, including multiple mansions, and “will own no house”. He appears to have made good on much of that pledge and is now living in a $50,000, 375-square-foot, prefab home in Texas that he rents from his company SpaceX.
[…] But let’s not pretend Musk is living a simple and sustainable lifestyle, shall we? His new digs aren’t so much an actual home as a $50,000 office; I’m fairly confident he’s not entertaining his six children there, anyway. It’s easy to eschew possessions when you can afford to get your hands on whatever you want, whenever you want it. And while Musk may not technically own a home, his company effectively owns the village of Boca Chica where his house is located. SpaceX has been accused of ushering out the village’s residents, many of whom are retirees, and pressuring them to sell their homes. Public beaches are reportedly frequently closed with little warning when SpaceX is running tests. Musk has also taken the liberty of unofficially renaming Boca Chica “Starbase”. “For better or worse, Boca Chica belongs to Elon now,” TexasMonthly sighed.
I’ll give credit where it’s due, Musk’s carbon footprint is low by billionaire standards (which isn’t saying much). Bill Gates, for example, who is trying to turn himself into a thought-leader on the climate crisis, is responsible for far more emissions. Still, it’s more than a little nauseating to watch a billionaire – whose wealth rocketed during a global pandemic – being venerated for living modestly. It’s also bizarre to watch him boasting about not owning property during a housing crisis. Thanks to decades of trickle-up economics, nearly half of American workers don’t earn enough to afford a one-bedroom rental, let alone buy a house. Musk wants us to think he is using his immense, and unconscionable, wealth to save the world. But billionaires like him are a result of the same greed that is helping to accelerate the climate crisis. If Musk really wanted to help the planet perhaps he should think less about his living arrangements and more about his tax arrangements.https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2021/aug/14/elon-musk-tiny-home-taxes
…it’s a pretty stark contrast when you think about it
Rents in the US continued to increase through the pandemic, and a worker now needs to earn about $20.40 an hour to afford a modest one-bedroom rental. The median wage in the US is about $21 an hour.
The data, from the National Low Income Housing Coalition, shows that millions of Americans – from Amazon warehouse workers to cab drivers to public school teachers – are struggling to pay rent. For the poorest Americans, market-rate housing is out of reach in virtually all of the country.
About 14% of Americans fell behind on rent payments during the pandemic – roughly double the figure before the pandemic. A federal moratorium on evictions has kept renters from being kicked out of their homes, but the moratorium lapsed last month, only to be extended into early October for those in regions hardest hit by the pandemic.
It’s worth noting that relatively few Americans – about 250,000 – earn the federal minimum wage. Another 865,000 workers earn less than that amount, largely because this group includes tipped workers who can legally be paid less than the minimum wage (their tips are supposed to make up the difference).
But this data shows that even considering places with a higher minimum wage, the legal wage floor in every US county is not enough to afford a modest two-bedroom.https://www.theguardian.com/society/2021/aug/12/housing-renter-affordable-data-map
[…if you can bear to that one’s worth clicking through on, there’s a bunch of graphics that make things…well…graphically clear?]
…& although it seems pretty clear that even the people who did the calculations don’t think there’s a realistic possibility of imposing a 99% tax on the profits accrued by billionaires over the course of the pandemic…as an exercise in hypothetical book-keeping it’s…I’ll call it “instructive”
Every adult in the world could get a Covid-19 vaccine if the wealth billionaires collected during the pandemic was taxed 99% once, according to an analysis published on Thursday by several groups that advocate for economic equity.
This one-time tax on the world’s 2,690 billionaires could also cover $20,000 in cash paid to all unemployed workers, according to the analysis by Oxfam, the Fight Inequality Alliance, the Institute for Policy Studies and the Patriotic Millionaires.
That tax would still leave the billionaires with $55bn more than they had before the pandemic, the analysis said.https://www.theguardian.com/world/2021/aug/12/tax-billionaires-covid-windfall-vaccinate-every-adult-on-earth
The analysis used data from the financial magazine Forbes, which showed that billionaires increased their wealth by $5.5tn from 18 March 2020 to 31 July 2021. The increase over 17 months was greater than the $5.4tn billionaires gained in the 15 years from 2006 to 2020, the analysis said.
At least one dose of the Covid-19 vaccine has been administered to 30.7% of the world’s population, but only 1.2% of people in low-income countries have received a first dose.
…so…as the numbers get crunched for a census that was itself screwed with in the data collection phase but still came back with numbers that show the demographics most easily associated with the MAGA-insanity that masquerades as a political stance to be dwindling…how’s this for a spot of contextualization?
The United States is becoming a land filled with “democracy deserts”, where gerrymandering and voting restrictions are making voters powerless to make change. And this round of redistricting could make things even worse.
Since 2012, the Electoral Integrity Project at Harvard University has studied the quality of elections worldwide. It has also issued biannual reports that grade US states, on a scale of 1 through 100. In its most recent study of the 2020 elections, the integrity of Wisconsin’s electoral boundaries earned a 23 – worst in the nation, on par with Jordan, Bahrain and the Congo.
Why is Wisconsin so bad? Consider that, among other things, it’s a swing-state that helped decide the 2016 election. Control the outcome in Wisconsin, and you could control the nation. But Wisconsin isn’t the only democracy desert. Alabama (31), North Carolina (32), Michigan (37), Ohio (33), Texas (35), Florida (37) and Georgia (39) scored only marginally higher. Nations that join them in the 30s include Hungary, Turkey and Syria.
Representative democracy has been broken for the past decade in places like Wisconsin, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Michigan and Florida. When Republican lawmakers redistricted these states after the 2010 census, with the benefit of precise, granular voting data and the most sophisticated mapping software ever, they gerrymandered themselves into advantages that have held firm for the last decade – even when Democratic candidates win hundreds of thousands more statewide votes.
In Wisconsin, for example, voters handed Democrats every statewide race in 2018 and 203,000 more votes for the state assembly – but the tilted Republican map handed Republicans 63 of the 99 seats nevertheless. Democratic candidates have won more or nearly the same number of votes for Michigan’s state house for the last decade – but never once captured a majority of seats.https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2021/aug/13/america-is-full-of-democracy-deserts-wisconsin-rivals-congo-on-some-metrics
…still…it’s sunday…so I guess I’m grateful that for me those get to be tomorrow’s problems?