David Lindsay merges this blog into InconvenientNew.wordpress.com, which he has rebranded as InconvenientNews.net.

David Lindsay merges this blog into InconvenientNew.wordpress.com, which he has rebranded as InconvenientNews.net.

He will no longer post at this blog. It will remain for a while as a resource and back up. He has also imported all the posts from his blog On Vietnam and East Asia, at TheTaySonRebellion.com into InconvenientNews.net, so his three blogs have become one.

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Opinion | What Happens When Our Leaders Lack Moral Courage – By Wesley K. Clark – The New York Times

Power is acting for good — and knowing when you should.

By Wesley K. Clark

Mr. Clark is a former NATO supreme allied commander.

The White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico.CreditMaddie McGarvey for The New York Times

“Over the years, thousands of cadets at the United States Military Academy, myself included, have memorized and recited West Point’s Cadet Prayer. “Make us to choose the harder right instead of the easier wrong,” the prayer goes, “and never to be content with a half-truth when the whole can be won. Endow us with courage that is born of loyalty to all that is noble and worthy, that scorns to compromise with vice and injustice, and knows no fear when truth and right are in jeopardy.”

The prayer describes the value of acting for good, and how moral authority is itself the deepest source of power. Cadets are taught that one’s values ought to be the primary reason to seek power, and its only justification for use. This is the essence of the “courage” described in the prayer, the courage that should be a part of every leader’s core.

But we as a nation and as leaders have not always demonstrated this courage. Two major events in my career illustrate when we acted for good with our values in mind, and when we did not.

On April 6, 1994, a plane carrying Juvénal Habyarimana and Cyprien Ntaryamira, the Hutu presidents of Rwanda and Burundi, was shot down over Kigali, the Rwandan capital. Their assassinations sparked a campaign of ethnic cleansing whose scope and brutality would shock the world. Early in the crisis, the American government expressed concern and called on Hutu authorities in Rwanda to halt the unfolding genocide. Washington pleaded for the United Nations to reinforce its small peacekeeping force in Rwanda to end the slaughter. But that was the extent of it.”

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A Possible Weight Loss Strategy: Skip Breakfast Before Exercise – By Gretchen Reynolds – The New York Times

“Skipping breakfast before exercise might reduce how much we eat during the remainder of the day, according to a small but intriguing new study of fit young men.

The study finds that the choice to eat or omit a meal before an early workout could affect our relationship to food for the rest of the day, in complicated and sometimes unexpected ways.

Weight management is, of course, one of the great public — and private — health concerns of our time. But the role of exercise in helping people to maintain, lose or, in some instances, add pounds is problematic. Exercise burns calories, but in many past studies, people who begin a new exercise program do not lose as much weight as would be expected, because they often compensate for the energy used during exercise by eating more later or moving less.

These compensations, usually subtle and unintended, indicate that our brains are receiving internal communiqués detailing how much energy we used during that last workout and, in response, sending biological signals that increase hunger or reduce our urge to move. Our helpful brains do not wish us to sustain an energy deficit and starve.”

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Trump Administration Could Blacklist China’s Hikvision, a Surveillance Firm – The New York Times

“WASHINGTON — The Trump administration is considering limits to a Chinese video surveillance giant’s ability to buy American technology, people familiar with the matter said, the latest attempt to counter Beijing’s global economic ambitions.

The move would effectively place the company, Hikvision, on a United States blacklist. It also would mark the first time the Trump administration punished a Chinese company for its role in the surveillance and mass detention of Uighurs, a mostly Muslim ethnic minority.

The move is also likely to inflame the tensions that have escalated in President Trump’s renewed trade war with Chinese leaders. The president, in the span of two weeks, has raised tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese goodsthreatened to tax all imports and taken steps to cripple the Chinese telecom equipment giant Huawei. China has promised to retaliate against American industries.

Hikvision is one of the world’s largest manufacturers of video surveillance products and is central to China’s ambitions to be the top global exporter of surveillance systems. The Commerce Department may require that American companies obtain government approval to supply components to Hikvision, limiting the company’s access to technology that helps power its equipment.”

David Lindsay Jr.
Hamden, CT | NYT Commets
Thank you Ana Swanson and Edward Wong. My god this is complicated. I confess I liked comments which appeared on the surface at least, to disagree with each other. We need to try and help the oppressed Uighurs of Xinjiang. But are tariffs the best way to do it, or do tariffs bite us as well as the Chinese? We need to play hard balll with China, but are tariffs the right tool? Was there anything in th TPP, (the Trans Pacific Partnership) tool bag for its members to help the Uighurs? Please write more about this complexity. Does our trade war with China help or hurt our need to reduce world green house gases dramatically in the next ten years? I would like to hear from world famous economists as well as Sinophiles.
David Lindsay Jr. is the author of “The Tay Son Rebellion, Historical Fiction of Eighteenth Century Vietnam” and blogs about the environment at TheTaySonRebellion.com and InconvenientNews.wordpress.com.
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Trump’s Love for Tariffs Began in Japan’s ’80s Boom – By Jim Tankersley and Mark Landler – The New York Times

InconvenientNews.Net

By Jim Tankersley and Mark Landler
May 15, 2019, 9
“WASHINGTON — Donald J. Trump lost an auction in 1988 for a 58-key piano used in the classic film “Casablanca” to a Japanese trading company representing a collector. While he brushed off being outbid, it was a firsthand reminder of Japan’s growing wealth, and the following year, Mr. Trump went on television to call for a 15 percent to 20 percent tax on imports from Japan.

“I believe very strongly in tariffs,” Mr. Trump, at the time a Manhattan real estate developer with fledgling political instincts, told the journalist Diane Sawyer, before criticizing Japan, West Germany, Saudi Arabia and South Korea for their trade practices. “America is being ripped off,” he said. “We’re a debtor nation, and we have to tax, we have to tariff, we have to protect this country.”

Thirty years later, few issues have defined Mr. Trump’s…

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Opinion | How to Stop the March to War With Iran – By Wendy R. Sherman- The New York Times

By Wendy R. Sherman

Ms. Sherman is the former under secretary of state for political affairs.

  • The USS Abraham Lincoln, an aircraft carrier, has been deployed to the Persian Gulf in response to unspecified threats from Iran.CreditU.S. Navy, via Agence France-Presse — Getty Images
  • “Either the Trump administration is trying to goad Iran into war or a war could come by accident because of the administration’s reckless policies, but the prospect of the current tensions in the Middle East escalating into a serious conflict are now dangerously high.

This week, four commercial tankers were reportedly sabotaged off the coast of the United Arab Emirates, near the Strait of Hormuz, a strategic shipping lane for about 40 percent of the world’s oil. Saudi Arabia also reported that drones attacked an oil pipeline, possibly by Iranian-supported Houthis. Both incidents ratcheted up tensions as anonymous American officials in the press pointed to Iran as the perpetrator. Tehran has denied this.

Additionally, during a meeting with European foreign ministers in Brussels, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo reportedly shared reports of escalating Iranian threats in the Middle East. On Wednesday, the State Department announced that it was pulling nonessential staff from Iraq, citing unspecified Iranian threats. This came after increased American sanctions against Iran and the movement of an American aircraft carrier and B-52s to the Persian Gulf. With Iran threatening to step back from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, better known as the Iran nuclear deal, the Trump administration leaked plans to send 120,000 troops to the Middle East if war is to come.

But war is not inevitable. President Trump campaigned on bringing troops home, not sending tens of thousands more to the Middle East. Such a deployment, although inadequate for a full-scale war, is more than foolish. War in the Middle East, as we should have learned by now, is neither swift to end nor sure to achieve its purpose.”

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Opinion | President Trump- Come to Willmar – by Thomas Friedman – The New York Times

“. . .  That’s not what I’ve found. America is actually a checkerboard of towns and cities — some rising from the bottom up and others collapsing from the top down, ravaged by opioids, high unemployment among less-educated white males and a soaring suicide rate. I’ve been trying to understand why some communities rise and others fall — and so many of the answers can be found in Willmar.

The answers to three questions in particular make all the difference: 1) Is your town hungry for workers to fill open jobs? 2) Can your town embrace the new immigrants ready to do those jobs, immigrants who may come not just from Latin America, but also from nonwhite and non-Christian nations of Africa or Asia? And 3) Does your town have a critical mass of “leaders without authority”?”

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Can CBD Really Do All That? – The New York Times

“When Catherine Jacobson first heard about the promise of cannabis, she was at wits’ end. Her 3-year-old son, Ben, had suffered from epileptic seizures since he was 3 months old, a result of a brain malformation called polymicrogyria. Over the years, Jacobson and her husband, Aaron, have tried giving him at least 16 different drugs, but none provided lasting relief. They lived with the grim prognosis that their son — whose cognitive abilities never advanced beyond those of a 1-year-old — would likely continue to endure seizures until the cumulative brain injuries led to his death.

In early 2012, when Jacobson learned about cannabis at a conference organized by the Epilepsy Therapy Project, she felt a flicker of hope. The meeting, in downtown San Francisco, was unlike others she had attended, which were usually geared toward lab scientists and not directly focused on helping patients. This gathering aimed to get new treatments into patients’ hands as quickly as possible. Attendees weren’t just scientists and people from the pharmaceutical industry. They also included, on one day of the event, families of patients with epilepsy.

The tip came from a father named Jason David, with whom Jacobson began talking by chance outside a presentation hall. He wasn’t a presenter or even very interested in the goings-on at the conference. He had mostly lost faith in conventional medicine during his own family’s ordeal. But he claimed to have successfully treated his son’s seizures with a cannabis extract, and now he was trying to spread the word to anyone who would listen.”

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Opinion | Surviving Despair in the Great Extinction – By Margaret Renkl – The New York Times

“. . .  Last week, the United Nations released the summary of an enormous report that broke my heart in more ways than any backyard-nature observations ever have. The Times article about the report, “Humans Are Speeding Extinction and Altering the Natural World at an ‘Unprecedented’ Pace,” called it “the most exhaustive look yet at the decline in biodiversity across the globe and the dangers that creates for human civilization.” The story opens with the picture of an olive ridley sea turtle washed up on an Indian beach. The turtle is dead, apparently strangled: Fishing rope is looped around its neck, cutting into its throat.

Image.

Fishing nets and ropes are a deadly hazard for olive ridley sea turtles.CreditSoren Andersson/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

If the photo is traumatizing, the story is worse. Because of human activity — both direct activity, like fishing and farming, and indirect activity, like the fossil fuels that accelerate climate change — up to one million species of plants and animals are headed for extinction if we don’t take immediate measures to halt the devastation.

That’s one million species. Every individual creature in a species — times one million. We can’t possibly conceive of such a thing. We can hold in mind, however uncomfortably, the image of a single animal who died a terrible death. Devastation on this scale is beyond the reach of imagination. How could we hold in mind a destruction so vast it would take not just one sea turtle but all that animal’s kind, as well as all the kind of 999,999 other species?

Whole expanses of the natural world are disappearing. It’s not just poster animals like polar bears, tigers and elephants; it’s life on earth as we know it.”

David Lindsay:

Thank you Margaret Renkl.  Here is one of several comments I admired. In this one, it is the quote of the Talmud that I value most.

Susan
Delaware, OH

In his iconic essay, The Starthrower, Loren Eiseley gives us reason to keep up the fight against impossible odds. Eiseley describes going to Costabel Spain and sees a figure on the beach repeatedly picking up starfish stranded on the beach by the receding tide and throwing them back into the water that they might live. The cynical Eiseley tries to explain to the starthrower that his task is hopeless. There are too many starfish to make a difference. But the starthrower proclaims “It makes a difference to this one.” as he returns it to the mother sea. In that moment, Eiseley realizes that it wasn’t starfish so much as men the thrower sought to save and there was something holy about reaching out a hand in pity across the gulf of evolution that separates mankind and starfish. The Talmud says: Do not be daunted by the enormity of the world’s grief. Do justly now. Love mercy now. Walk humbly now. You are not obligated to complete the work but neither are you free to abandon it. Ms. Renkl’s essay is a good down payment on the task.

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Opinion | Life as We Know It – The New York Times Editorial

By The Editorial Board

The editorial board represents the opinions of the board, its editor and the publisher. It is separate from the newsroom and the Op-Ed section.

CreditIllustrations by Yann Kebbi

“Our planet has suffered five mass extinctions, the last of which occurred about 66 million years ago, when a giant asteroid believed to have landed near the Yucatán Peninsula set off a chain reaction that wiped out the dinosaurs and roughly three-quarters of the other species on earth. A few years ago, in a book called “The Sixth Extinction,” the writer Elizabeth Kolbert warned of a devastating sequel, with plant and animal species on land and sea already disappearing at a ferocious clip, their habitats destroyed or diminished by human activities.

This time, she made clear, the asteroid is us — and we will pay heavily for our folly.

Humanity’s culpability in what many scientists believe to be a planetary emergency has now been reaffirmed by a detailed and depressing report compiled by hundreds of international experts and based on thousands of scientific studies. A summary was released last Monday in Paris, and the full 1,500-page report will be available later in the year. Its findings are grim. “Biodiversity” — a word encompassing all living flora and fauna — “is declining faster than at any time in human history,” it says, estimating that “around 1 million species already face extinction, many within decades,” unless the world takes transformative action to save natural systems. The at-risk population includes a half-million land-based species and one-third of marine mammals and corals.

Most of the causes of this carnage seem familiar: logging, poaching, overfishing by large industrial fleets, pollution, invasive species, the spread of roads and cities to accommodate an exploding global population, now seven billion and rising. If there is one alpha culprit, it is the clearing of forests and wetlands for farms to feed all those people (and, perversely, to help them get to work: The destruction of Indonesia’s valuable rain forests, and their replacement with palm oil plantations, has been driven in part by Europe’s boundless appetite for biodiesel fuels.)

Add to all this a relatively new threat: Global warming, driven largely by the burning of fossil fuels, is expected to compound the damage. “While climate change has not been the dominant driver of biodiversity loss to date in most parts of the world, it is projected to become as or more important,” said Sir Robert Watson, chairman of the biodiversity panel and former chairman of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, whose most recent alarming report on global warming has given that issue new currency in American politics. Rising seas and increased extreme weather events propelled in part by climate change — fire, floods, droughts — have already harmed many species. The most obvious victim is the world’s coral reefs, which have suffered grievously from ocean waters that have grown warmer and more acidic as a result of all the carbon dioxide they’ve been asked to absorb.”

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