The Wrong Time to Cut Back on Refugees – By Michael Mullen – NYT

“In slashing resettlement, the president is taking a recklessly narrow view of how best to put America first. Shutting out refugees would not only increase human suffering; it would also weaken the country and undermine its foreign policy.

There are more than 22 million refugees in the world, the highest number since World War II. Even before the Trump presidency, the United States response to this crisis was relatively modest. In fiscal year 2016, the United States resettled about 84,000 refugees, the most of any year under President Barack Obama. For comparison’s sake, the country took in roughly 200,000 refugees a year in the early 1980s under President Ronald Reagan.

Nonetheless, the resettlement effort under President Obama served American interests. For one thing, it helped the states that host the vast majority of Syrian refugees: Jordan, Turkey and Lebanon. (In fiscal year 2016, 12,500 of the refugees resettled by the United States came from Jordan, a key American ally in a strategically crucial region.) The huge influx of refugees into these nations has strained their resources and infrastructure, becoming a potential source of instability and even conflict. By resettling refugees, the United States helps preserve stability and sends a message of support to countries whose cooperation it needs on a range of issues.”

“It’s no wonder that numerous studies have found that refugees are a net benefit to the American economy. The administration’s own study — which the president solicited from the Department of Health and Human Resources — concluded that refugees added $63 billion to the economy between 2005 and 2014.

Support for refugees creates another form of currency for the United States. Call it respect or admiration or credibility, this currency accrues when the United States leads by example and champions human rights on the world stage. It’s an invaluable and fungible resource, amassed over many decades. It enables the United States to forge ties with democratic movements. It also helps Washington persuade allies to do difficult things and pressure foes to stop their bad behavior. It is crucial to forging trade pacts, military coalitions and peace deals.More than any other resource — including military and economic might — this accounts for American greatness. We sacrifice it at our peril.”

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Twitter- With Accounts Linked to Russia- to Face Congress Over Role in Election – The New York Times

“But there is evidence that Twitter may have been used even more extensively than Facebook in the Russian influence campaign last year. In addition to Russia-linked Twitter accounts that posed as Americans, the platform was also used for large-scale automated messaging, using “bot” accounts to spread false stories and promote news articles about emails from Democratic operatives that had been obtained by Russian hackers.

Twitter has struggled for years to rein in the fake accounts overrunning its platform. Unlike Facebook, the service does not require its users to provide their real name (or at least a facsimile of one) and allows automated accounts — arguing that they are a useful tool for tasks such as customer service. Beyond those restrictions, there is also an online black market for services that can allow for the creation of large numbers of Twitter bots, which can be controlled by a single per . . .”

 

David Lindsay                                                                                  A NYT Pick!

Hamden, CT 23 hours ago

It is time to regulate severely Twitter and Facebook, and any social media that is willing to allow foreigners to pose as Americans to poison or influence elections. Twitter allows bot accounts, and it allows people to join while concealing their real identity. Russians should be banned from these outfits until after the next presidential election, while we sort out how to monitor their social media espionage.
These revelations are execrable. It should be as hard to get a twitter account as it is to get a drivers license. And laws should be passed so that these social media companies can be sued for damages for fake news and fake users. They should be made liable for the harm they are allowing to our democracy.
David Lindsay, InconvenientNews.wordpress.com

 

Posted in Fake News, Journalism Media and Social Media | Tagged | Leave a comment

EPA’s Role in ENERGY STAR | About ENERGY STAR | ENERGY STAR .GOV

“EPA’s Role in ENERGY STARThe ENERGY STAR program was established by EPA in 1992, under the authority of the Clean Air Act Section 103(g). Learn more about EPA’s statutory authority for ENERGY STAR.EPA ensures unbiased credibilityEPA ensures that ENERGY STAR provides the trusted information critical to an efficient private market—information that American businesses and consumers rely on every day. Industry shares the data that EPA uses to set performance-based definitions of leadership in energy efficiency—a collaboration that would not be possible without the confidence ENERGY STAR business partners place in EPA. Guided by a set of well-tested principles, EPA acts as an impartial arbiter of energy performance to set objective criteria that are central to all aspects of the program.Every ENERGY STAR label is independently certified, whether on a product, a home, a building, or a manufacturing plant. For example, in 2016, EPA oversaw robust third-party certification of ENERGY STAR products, administered by 24 independent certification bodies and more than 600 labs. EPA also requires that a sample of products be tested directly off retailers’ shelves. Last year, more than 1,800 products were tested; 95 percent passed, affirming consumer confidence in the label. Learn more about how EPA ensures ENERGY STAR’s program integrity.EPA provides a single national platform for utilities and local governments,

Nationwide, utilities invested $7.7 billion in energy efficiency programs in 2015.1 With hundreds of disparate utilities scattered around the country, EPA plays a critical unifying role to guide their energy efficiency programs. EPA enables utilities to leverage ENERGY STAR as a common national platform, avoiding the creation of hundreds of independent utility programs across the nation, which could fragment the market and stall innovation. Nearly 700 utilities—serving roughly 85% of American households—partner with ENERGY STAR, providing consistency and uniformity to the private market.Additionally, as of last year, 23 local governments and two states rely on EPA’s ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager® tool as the foundation for their energy benchmarking and transparency policies, creating uniformity for businesses and reducing transaction and implementation costs.”

Source: EPA’s Role in ENERGY STAR | About ENERGY STAR | ENERGY STAR

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How it Works — Heat Pump Water Heaters (HPWHs) | Products | ENERGY STAR .gov

“How it Works — Heat Pump Water Heaters (HPWHs)It’s generally easier to move something than to make something. Putting that principle to use, HPWHs use electricity to move heat from one place to another instead of generating heat directly.

To understand the concept of heat pumps, imagine a refrigerator working in reverse. While a refrigerator removes heat from an enclosed box and expels that heat to the surrounding air, a HPWH takes the heat from surrounding air and transfers it to water in an enclosed tank.

During periods of high hot water demand, HPWHs switch to standard electric resistance heat (hence they are often referred to as “hybrid” hot water heaters) automatically. HPWH come with control panels that you to select from different operating modes 1, which include: Efficiency/Economy – Maximizes energy efficiency and savings by only using the heat pump to heat water Auto/Hybrid – The default setting is ideal for daily use, providing energy-efficient water heating with sustained heat Electric/Heater – This high-demand setting is the least energy-efficient, using only the electric element to heat water Vacation & Timer (not available on all models) – Save on your energy when away from home by placing the unit in “sleep” mode until you return. . . . ”

Source: How it Works — Heat Pump Water Heaters (HPWHs) | Products | ENERGY STAR

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A Trump Travel Ban We’ve Seen Before – The New York Times

“The central question to ask about President Trump’s latest travel ban, which he issued on Sunday, is: Will it make Americans safer?The answer, as best as anyone can tell based on publicly available information, is no.Starting Oct. 18, the United States will permanently bar entry to most citizens of seven countries — Iran, Libya, Syria, Yemen, Somalia, Chad and North Korea. Certain citizens from Iraq and Venezuela will face restrictions and heightened scrutiny.

Mr. Trump justified these restrictions — which target countries that either failed or refused to meet new vetting standards — by saying he was acting “to protect the security and interests of the United States and its people.” Americans should be skeptical. While it may appear more modulated, Sunday’s proclamation is a direct descendant of a central plank of Mr. Trump’s campaign — his call for a “total and complete shutdown” of Muslims entering the United States, which he made in 2015, and which remained on his campaign website as late as May.”

 

Yes, and here is a comment I really liked.

jimbo

Guilderland, NY 4 hours ago

If the goal of not allowing people from certain countries from entering the US is to lower the risk to as close to zero as possible, I ask why we are spending so much time on changing existing policy when almost all of the terrorist attacks in the US since 9/11 have been committed by American citizens and not by recent immigrants or visitors to the US. If it’s risk you want to avoid, why are people allowed to obtain guns here when hundreds of times more people are killed by guns in the US by US citizens than all terrorist activity combined? Why is that far greater risk acceptable? Why no concern whatsoever when individuals shoot up a church or place of business or commit suicide or kill their spouse/ girlfriend, or people praying in a church? Why does that violence not trigger a desire to ban activity to lower the risk to as near zero as possible? Why not address the effort to maximum benefit? In the words of Dylan, ” How many deaths does it take til you know that too many people have died?”

Posted in Arms Dealers and Gun Control, Donald Trump, Immigration | Tagged | Leave a comment

Get Up- Stand Up! – by Gretchen Reynolds – NYT

“The scientists then found strong statistical correlations between sitting and mortality. The men and women who sat for the most hours every day, according to their accelerometer data, had the highest risk for early death, especially if this sitting often continued for longer than 30 minutes at a stretch. The risk was unaffected by age, race, gender or body mass.It also was barely lowered if people exercised regularly.

But interestingly, the risk of early death did drop if sitting time was frequently interrupted. People whose time spent sitting usually lasted for less than 30 minutes at a stretch were less likely to have died than those whose sitting was more prolonged, even if the total hours of sitting time were the same.

In essence, the data showed that “both the total hours spent sitting each day and whether those hours are accrued in short or long bouts” of physical stillness influenced longevity, says Keith Diaz, an assistant professor of behavioral medicine at Columbia University, who led the new study.”

David Lindsay

Hamden, CT

What a great article, exceptionally good common sense, and interesting science. As my Dad liked to advise, Don’t let the bastards get you down. I’d write more, but I think I’ve been reading the NYT now for two and a half hours straight, and having just absorbed the main gist of your reporting, I’d better walk about and do some chores.

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Is Climate-Themed Fiction All Too Real? We Asked the Experts – by Livia Albeck-Ripka – NYT

Climate Effect: Adaptation‘The Machine Stops’

by E. M. Forster

Forster’s eerily prescient novella imagines a world where life on earth’s surface — besides ferns and “a little grass” — has become impossible. Humans live underground, where they communicate via glowing blue-lit plates and eat, drink and sleep to the rhythm of the eternally humming “Machine.”

Written in 1909 — just over a decade after the Swedish scientist Svante Arrhenius suggested anthropogenic emissions could change the climate — “The Machine Stops” prophetically described something like the internet. But it was far off in imagining how we would adapt to climate change, said Jonathan Foley, executive director of the California Academy of Sciences.“The idea that we could have self-sufficient civilization underground basically requires we replace the sun,” Dr. Foley said. “And any technology that’s capable of doing that — whether it be fusion, or some kind of magical technology — would have to be so powerful that I’d ask: Why didn’t we solve the climate problem first?”

Dr. Foley said the novel’s ideas weren’t that far from the science-fiction-like discussions he heard coming from Silicon Valley, where vertical gardens, orbiting microwave transmitters or machines that harvest carbon are touted as silver bullets for climate change. “The actual solutions are far simpler,” he said. “But they’re not as sexy. Like, hey: What if we threw less food away, or we ate less meat?”

Dr. Foley said that if he ever wrote a novel, it would be one in which “we all do the slow, hard muddling work of just pitching in, but no hero rides in on a spaceship to save us all.” It would be a terrible novel, he admitted. “No one would buy it, and Hollywood wouldn’t make a movie, but it’s the one I want, and it would surely save the world.”

Posted in Climate Change, Fiction Theater Music and Art | Tagged | Leave a comment

Snapshots Along the River Where China Meets North Korea – by Chris Buckley – NYT

“A narrow ribbon of river, and in many spots barbed wire, separates China from North Korea. But politically the two countries are further and further apart.”

https://static01.nyt.com/newsgraphics/2017/09/21/china-northkorea/607794cf03629af85f9b27aaf29cb742e1d26b4d/images/barbed_horiz.jpg

 

DL:  Buckley takes a picture of North Korea from the Chinese side of the Yalu River, which is populated by modern looking high rise office and apartment buildings.

Trump should stop the tweets on Twitter, and go silent on North Korea. North Korea is China’s backyard, not ours, and China will stop the North Korean nuclear arms buildup, when they decide it is in their interest to do so.

China absolutely will not do so, if it makes them appear like they have been ordered or bullied by the United States.  If we said we supported a fully nuclear armed North Korea, the Chinese would be more likely to stop the North Koreans from improving their nuclear weapons.

Posted in China, David Lindsay, Korea North & South | Tagged | Leave a comment

Germany’s Far Right Complicates Life for Merkel and the E.U. – by Steven Erlanger – NYT

“BERLIN — Angela Merkel’s re-election as chancellor of Germany was supposed to be the ceremonial capstone of a year in which Europe did better than anticipated in holding off a populist surge, especially after the new French president, Emmanuel Macron, won so decisively over the National Front of Marine Le Pen.

Instead, the election results on Sunday showed that the alienation with mainstream consensus politics has hardly gone away. Support for centrist parties, including Ms. Merkel’s Christian Democrats, eroded badly, as the far-right Alternative for Germany party received 12.6 percent of the vote.

Even if the far right was contained this year, it broke significant barriers in Europe’s core, making it to the final round of the presidential elections in France and now shattering a post-World War II taboo in Germany by entering the parliament.It has gained a powerful place from which to alter the agenda of European politics. The far right’s gains in Germany will now complicate not only the calculations of Ms. Merkel, the de facto leader of the European Union, but by extension the path ahead for the entire bloc.”

DL: The article also reports that these changes will hurt the chances that Macron of France will be able to create a stronger central European government, that collects and dispenses money more federally. Merkel’s support of these improvements will be hampered by the gains of the far right in Germany.

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Mr. Trump Squanders the World’s Trust – The New York Times

“At a crucial moment, Donald Trump is forcing the world to confront core questions it really shouldn’t have to ask: Can he be trusted? And, more saliently, can America be trusted? His threats to jettison the Iran nuclear deal are undermining America’s credibility as a negotiating partner and weakening America’s ability to lead the free world as it has for 70 years.

In his rush to bulldoze President Obama’s accomplishments, Mr. Trump has withdrawn from the 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement, leaving China with a freer hand to set trade rules in Asia; abandoned the hard-won 195-nation Paris Agreement to address climate change; and sowed grave doubts about his commitment to NATO, the bedrock alliance that has kept peace in Europe after World War II.”

 

DL: So sad, so true. I have posted and written about the TPP, and what an extraordinary piece of diplomacy it was by the Obama team.  Containing China is important, but mitigating the pollution exacerbating climate change is essential. We are losing precious months and years in leadership, and teamwork, that is necessary to preserve life as we know it on this fragile planet.

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