Opinion | How Trump Helps MS-13 – by Bret Stephens – The New York Times

“. . . There are better options. Bill Clinton and then George W. Bush invested some $10 billion in counterinsurgency and counternarcotics efforts to rescue Colombia from the grip of jungle guerrillas and drug lords. The plan was expensive, took a decade, involved the limited deployment of U.S. troops, and was widely mocked.

Yet it worked. Colombia is South America’s great turnaround story. And nobody today worries about a Colombian migration crisis.

It’s always possible that Trump knows all this — and rejects it precisely because it stands a reasonable chance of eventually fixing the very problem that was central to his election and on which he intends to campaign for the next 18 months. Demagogues need bugaboos, and MS-13 and other assorted Latin American gangsters are the perfect ones for him.

But whether he gets that or not, it behooves Americans to know that the crisis at our border has a source, and that Trump continues to inflame it. The answer isn’t a big beautiful wall. It’s a real foreign policy. We used to know how to craft one.”

David Lindsay:

I thought this op-ed piece way above average, and praised Bret Stephens for being spot on in suggesting Trump might actually want to continue destabizing countries to our south. But these top comments do show, I was a little too generous on a major flaw.

RME
Seattle
Times Pick

While analysis is excellent, it’s perhaps inaccurate to blame Obama for creating the conditions that created the ISIS. That was created first by invasion of Iraq, which also benefited Iran. Then in particular by the decision to dissolve the Iraq army. And consider the US more or less told them if they surrendered – which they mostly did – they could keep thier jobs. Perhaps Obama should have negotiated harder to keep a US military presence in Iraq. But at the time there wasn’t much Democratic or Republican political support for continuing US military mission there. Blaming ISIS on that choice is a tad disingenuous.

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Susan commented May 11

Susan
Paris
Times Pick

“Colombia is South America’s great turnaround story. And nobody today worries about a Colombian migration crisis.” And Colombia has taken in millions of refugees fleeing the economic/political collapse in Venezuela. Despite limited means, the people of Colombia have responded to this humanitarian crisis with a compassion sorely lacking on our borders. Instead of threatening American intervention in Venezuela, why don’t we do something to help Colombia to deal with this crisis until Maduro is gone? Of course that wouldn’t provide as many opportunities for Trumpian grandstanding, but might actually do some good.

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Cemal Ekin commented May 11

Cemal Ekin
Warwick, RI
Times Pick

“Barack Obama’s ill-judged military exit from Iraq in 2011 …” Hold on! First, why must we bring President Obama into every discussion? Second, why distort the truth? The decision to withdraw from Iraq was signed by President Bush and the Iraqi government did not want the US troops there. The perpetual “Obama defense” on everything is wearing thin. Please be more careful to state the facts. A simple search will find reliable sources fact-checking this tired story. Why do you still use it?

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Posted in CC and Civil War, Central America, David Lindsay, drug wars, Immigration | Tagged , | Leave a comment

She Stopped to Help Migrants on a Texas Highway. Moments Later- She Was Arrested. – By Manny Fernandez – The New York Times

“MCALLEN, Tex. — Teresa L. Todd pulled over one recent night on a dark West Texas highway to help three young Central American migrants who had flagged her down. Ms. Todd — an elected official, government lawyer and single mother in a desert border region near Big Bend National Park — said she went into “total mom mode” when she saw the three siblings, one of whom appeared to be very ill.

Struggling to communicate using her broken Spanish, Ms. Todd told the three young people to get out of the cold and into her car. She was phoning and texting friends for help when a sheriff’s deputy drove up, followed soon by the Border Patrol. “They asked me to step behind my car, and the supervisor came and started Mirandizing me,” said Ms. Todd, referring to being read her Miranda rights. “And then he says that I could be found guilty of transporting illegal aliens, and I’m, like, ‘What are you talking about?”

Ms. Todd spent 45 minutes in a holding cell that night. Federal agents obtained a search warrant to examine her phone, and she became the focus of an investigation that could lead to federal criminal charges.

As the Trump administration moves on multiple fronts to shut down illegal border crossings, it has also stepped up punitive measures targeting private citizens who provide compassionate help to migrants — “good Samaritan” aid that is often intended to save lives along a border that runs through hundreds of miles of remote terrain that can be brutally unforgiving.”

David Lindsay: Thank you Manny Fernandez for a disturbing piece. I had trouble organizinging my thoughts on this story, but did articulate, it is somehow unAmerican to stop someone from helping another in distress.

Here are the top comments, which do a magnificent job of cleaning up my thoughts. I particularly like the last one in this list by Amy.

ImagineMoments
Times Pick

So if I ever encounter someone having a medical emergency I can’t dare help them, unless I first check their papers?

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Chickpea commented May 11

Chickpea
California
Times Pick

Anytime saving lives is “against the law,” that law is immoral. Ms Todd saw young people in trouble and possibly at risk of death. She acted as any caring responsible person should regardless of the legal status of the young people. This is shameful.

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Paul McGlasson commented May 10

Paul McGlasson
Athens, GA
Times Pick

Making simple acts of human decency and kindness a crime: so far will Trumpism go to define the immigrant as the OTHER and cast them out of society. If this continues from the side of the government, then I see no other option than to employ the methods of Martin Luther King Jr. That is, willingly, peacefully, but without fail, disobey any laws enacted against such simple acts of human decency and kindness, and pay the price. Such laws are, as King argued so gracefully, no laws at all. In New York harbor stands a Lady with a poem, including these words: Mother of Exiles. That is who we are. That is who we will always be. Trump cannot and will not change that. It is such acts of simple kindness recorded in this article that will defeat him.

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Stefan commented May 10

Stefan
Times Pick

Unfortunately, this did not shock me. Having just spent the last three months walking from Brownsville to El Paso, I met many people who face this type of Sophie’s choice every day. From residents in small cities like Los Ebanos and Roma to members of faith-based organizations in Eagle Pass and El Paso, people are regularly forced to make a conscious choice between helping migrants in need or adhering to the letter of the law. The fact that previous readers have referred to Todd’s compassionate actions as a lack of “common sense” and compare migrants to “bank robbers” is indicative of a larger problem not with immigration but with a lack of empathy and understanding. As someone who has been in her position, I applaud Todd’s actions and hope this article sets the stage for a larger conversation about the issue.

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Luis commented May 10

Luis
Erie, PA
Times Pick

@ImagineMoments In my home country, in the EU, refusing to aid a person who is suffering a medical emergency is actually a crime. I always assumed it was the same here in the US. Live and learn…

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Amy commented May 10

Amy
Times Pick

@bored critic, your views seem to hinge on the fact that these folks had crossed the border illegally, and therefore broke a law. It might be good to remember that they had been separated from the larger group they were with, and were essentially lost. It’s reasonable to assume that they just didn’t happen to come across a border crossing station, and were understandably more concerned with getting their sister the medical attention she so badly needed. It also seems like you hold a very black and white view on morality. I think being human is to realize that while laws in our societies can seem black and white, humanity does not fall into those extreme camps. While illegally entering a country because you are on the run from violence in your home is against the law, it is fallacious to equivocate between that and robbing a bank. Maybe try to put yourself in their shoes. If I felt unsafe in my home, the people around me being murdered, I would hope beyond hope that the global community would be sympathetic to my suffering and want to help me. Remember that no one wants to be a refugee.

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-Opinion | Let Prisoners Vote – By Aubrey MenarndtThe New York Times

By Aubrey Menarndt

Ms. Menarndt is an international elections monitor.

Preparing in April for voting by prisoners in North Macedonia’s presidential election.CreditMichael Forster Rothbart

 

“As the Democratic candidates debate whether current and former prisoners should be allowed to vote, it’s worth recalling that many other countries make it easy for incarcerated people to do it.

I’ve represented the United States throughout the world as an international elections monitor, visiting polling stations, talking to elections officials and helping international teams assess whether elections are free and fair.

The United States is an outlier. Its suppression of voting rights for more than 6.1 million people with current or former felony convictions violates human rights and weakens our democracy.

I wish our lawmakers who wrongly approve of this could see what I’ve seen — especially the Florida Republicans who just passed a billundercutting a constitutional amendment restoring the franchise for people with former felony convictions.

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Opinion | Macron Puts Germany on Trial – By Sylvie Kauffmann – The New York Times

Sylvie Kauffmann

By Sylvie Kauffmann

Ms. Kauffmann is the editorial director of Le Monde.

Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany and President Emmanuel Macron of France last month in Berlin, where he criticized German policies in unusually blunt terms.CreditAbdulhamid Hosbas/Anadolu Agency, via Getty Images

“PARIS — Two days after he took office as France’s president, Emmanuel Macron flew to Berlin. It was May 16, 2017, and France and Germany needed a reset. Joined at the hip, the two nations cannot make Europe work if they don’t work together. Mr. Macron had been elected to transform France, and he was convinced that real change in his country would happen only through better European integration.

Hope was in the air as the young, ambitious but untested French president met Angela Merkel, the stern three-term German chancellor. Ms. Merkel quoted the German poet Hermann Hesse: “A magic dwells in each beginning.” Ever the realist, however, she cautiously added, “Charm lasts only if there are results.”

Two years on, the results are nowhere to be seen and the charm has given way to exasperation. When Ms. Merkel and Mr. Macron met on the sidelines of a Berlin summit on the western Balkans, on April 29, their talk was kept to a strict minimum — 15 minutes. Asked at a news conference about the French-German relationship four days earlier, Mr. Macron answered in unusually blunt terms. He openly admitted for the first time that France disagreed with Germany on Brexit strategy, energy policy, climate change, trade negotiations with the United States — and the list could have been longer. Though he chose to stop there, he vowed to voice his differences firmly for the sake, he said, of “fruitful confrontations.”

Mr. Macron went on to suggest that “the German growth model has perhaps run its course.” In his view, Germany, having made belt-tightening reforms that were right for its own economy, had fully benefited from the imbalances created within the eurozone; especially hard hit were the Southern economies like Spain, Greece and Italy, for which austerity was bitter and destabilizing. These imbalances have worsened, Mr. Macron pointed out, and they now “run counter to the social project” he supports.”

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Extinction threatens one million species because of humans’ warns UN report – CNN

(CNN)One million of the planet’s eight million species are threatened with extinction by humans, scientists warned Monday in what is described as the most comprehensive assessment of global nature loss ever.

Their landmark report paints a bleak picture of a planet ravaged by an ever-growing human population, whose insatiable consumption is destroying the natural world.
The global rate of species extinction “is already tens to hundreds of times higher than it has been, on average, over the last 10 million years,” according to the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES), a UN committee, whose report was written by 145 experts from 50 countries.

Source: Extinction threatens one million species because of humans’ warns UN report – CNN

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Opinion | The Difference Between Happiness and Joy – By David Brooks – The New York Times

David Brooks

By David Brooks

Opinion Columnist

An Arizona State University student prepared for graduation on Monday.CreditDeanna Dent/Arizona State University
“On Monday I was honored to speak to the graduating students at Arizona State University. It was an intimidating occasion. A.S.U. is the most innovative university in the world. Plus, there were 35,000 people in the football stadium.

Anybody speaking to college students these days is aware of how hard it is to be a young adult today, with rising rates of depression, other mental health issues, even suicide.

So while these talks are usually occasions to talk about professional life, my goal was to get them thinking about the future of their emotional lives, which is really going to be at the center of everything.

There are two kinds of emotion present at any graduation ceremony. For the graduating students there is happiness. They’ve achieved something. They’ve worked hard and are moving closer to their goals.”

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Watching ‘Our Planet,’ Where the Predator Is Us – The New York Times

“One of the hallmarks of a past generation’s nature documentaries was the animal-in-peril scene: the cub hunted by the jungle cat, the fledgling teetering at the edge of its nest.

It was like the terror of a thrill-park ride, one that usually came with the implicit knowledge of safeguards and constraints. In the end, the adorable creature would survive. This was the compact. The animal that you liked would be O.K. After all, this was TV.

There is one of those scenes in the second episode of “Our Planet,” the remarkable docu-series on Netflix. But now the compact is gone. A teeming colony of walruses is crammed at the edge of eighty-meter cliffs along the coast of Russia, where climate change has melted away the sea ice. Not evolved to navigating the precarious surfaces, one walrus falls, and another, and another, their massive bodies slamming onto the rocky beach.

They do not, most of them, get up and shake it off. Their broken bodies litter the shore. This is the resounding message of “Our Planet”: It will not, necessarily, be O.K. And humans — the unpictured but omnipresent part of “our” in “Our Planet” — are the reason.”

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Our Planet review – Attenborough’s first act as an eco-warrior | Television & radio | The Guardian

David Lindsay:  This March and April. Kathleen Schomaker and I performed our new Folk Concert: Climate Change and the Sixth Extinction, in three different house concerts, to share our work and get feedback.
   Our efforts at educating neighbors and friends were somewhat eclipsed by this eight show series about the environment, called, Our Planet, produced and served up by Netflix. I urge everyone to view these shows.
Here is a review from The Guardian.
Spectacular ... A dust storm blows over a colony of socotra cormorants endangering their chicks.

“It looks as spectacular as you would expect. Vast aerial sweeps across the Peruvian coast as millions of cormorants and boobies gather to feast on anchovies and breed, or across frozen tundra to watch herds of caribou head for the shelter of the forest in temperatures 40 degrees below freezing take your breath away. Then it catches in your throat, as you watch an orchid bee, in search of perfume to attract a mate, fall into a flower’s buckety petal and squeeze out of a tiny tunnel that deposits two sacks of pollen on its back; just as God, or a million years of evolutionary adjustments, intended. On every scale, it is amazing. You can only boggle at the endless precision of the natural world, and of the people who devote themselves to capturing its wonders.

This is Netflix’s first foray into nature programming – Our Planet, an eight-part, multimillion-dollar series, filmed by more than 600 crew members over four years in 50 countries and narrated by our very own David Attenborough. Produced largely by the team behind the BBC’s Planet Earth and Blue Planet, it looks very much like what they might have done next for Auntie if the Natural History Unit had given them their druthers (and Netflix’s budget). As with Planet Earth, it takes a different landscape every episode and fills the screen with incredible scenes. Lesser flamingos building mud mounds for their eggs and hatching thousands of chicks in unison. Eagles in combat in the air. Three of the 60 species of manakin birds doing their mating dances, each more jaw-droppingly complex than the last. The routine from the blue manakin – which involves four birds who practise beforehand, with a juvenile male standing in for the prospective lady – will have you revising your own sexual decision-making. You’ll not be charmed by a pint and a compliment again, I assure you.”

Source: Our Planet review – Attenborough’s first act as an eco-warrior | Television & radio | The Guardian

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Humans Are Speeding Extinction and Altering the Natural World at an ‘Unprecedented’ Pace – The New York Times

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WASHINGTON — Humans are transforming Earth’s natural landscapes so dramatically that as many as one million plant and animal species are now at risk of extinction, posing a dire threat to ecosystems that people all over the world depend on for their survival, a sweeping new United Nations assessment has concluded.

The 1,500-page report, compiled by hundreds of international experts and based on thousands of scientific studies, is the most exhaustive look yet at the decline in biodiversity across the globe and the dangers that creates for human civilization. A summary of its findings, which was approved by representatives from the United States and 131 other countries, was released Monday in Paris. The full report is set to be published this year.

Its conclusions are stark. In most major land habitats, from the savannas of Africa to the rain forests of South America, the average abundance of native plant and animal life has fallen by 20 percent or more, mainly over the past century. With the human population passing 7 billion, activities like farming, logging, poaching, fishing and mining are altering the natural world at a rate “unprecedented in human history.”

At the same time, a new threat has emerged: Global warming has become a major driver of wildlife decline, the assessment found, by shifting or shrinking the local climates that many mammals, birds, insects, fish and plants evolved to survive in. When combined with the other ways humans are damaging the environment, climate change is now pushing a growing number of species, such as the Bengal tiger, closer to extinction.

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Opinion | Imprisoned for Trying to Save His Son – By Nicholas Kristof – The New York Times

Nicholas Kristof

By Nicholas Kristof

Opinion Columnist

Prisoners in a gymnasium that has been converted to house inmates, at California Institution for Men in Chino, in 2011.CreditAnn Johansson/Corbis, via Getty Images

“America’s biggest mistake over the last half-century arguably had nothing to do with the war in Vietnam or Iraq, or with Watergate or Donald Trump. Rather, I’d say that it was mass incarceration, fueled by the war on drugs.

The United States used to have incarceration rates similar to those of Europe — and then, beginning in about 1970, we increased the number of people behind bars sevenfold. About as many Americans now have a criminal record as have a college degree. Mass incarceration shattered America’s family structure, magnified race gaps, left millions of people marginalized — and has been brutally unfair.”

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