The president delivers his single most accomplished rhetorical performance-

— The choice of grace as the unifying theme, which by the standards of political speeches qualifies as a stroke of genius.

The president delivers his single most accomplished rhetorical performance, and it’s one you should watch rather than read.

Affordable Housing, Racial Isolation – The New York Times

“A Supreme Court ruling last week forcefully reminded state and local governments that the Fair Housing Act of 1968 forbids them from spending federal housing money in ways that perpetuate segregation. Communities across the country have been doing exactly that for decades.

Instead of building subsidized housing in racially integrated areas that offer minority citizens access to jobs and good schools, local governments have often deepened racial isolation by placing such housing in existing ghettos.”

via Affordable Housing, Racial Isolation – The New York Times.

Why not get those heart-stopping trans fats off the shelves now? NYTIMES.COM|BY MARK BITTMAN

Mark Bittman: The good news is that — finally — the Food and Drug Administration is banning food containing trans fats, although really only sort of, and really only after overwhelming evidence (and more than one lawsuit) made their dangers impossible to ignore. And in typical pro-industry fashion, the F.D.A. is not only allowing companies three years to get trans fats out of most foods, but will consider manufacturers’ petitions to keep them in.”

Why not get those heart-stopping trans fats off the shelves now?

Joseph Heath in NYT: Pope Francis’ Climate Error

Joseph Heath: “I find nothing objectionable about the pope’s moralizing tone and language of “sin.” But his skepticism about market-based solutions to climate change is rooted in a misunderstanding. A market-based approach to controlling greenhouse-gas emissions — through carbon taxes or tradable emissions permits — does, in fact, reflect moral conviction. The pope gets carried away condemning the “efficiency-driven paradigm of technocracy,” overlooking the fact that efficiency, in this context, is a moral principle.

The central idea in all of these programs — from the Emissions Trading System in Europe to the carbon tax adopted in the Canadian province of British Columbia — is to put a price on carbon, so that all businesses and consumers are held accountable and charged for the environmental consequences of their actions.”

To control emissions, a carbon market is best.|By Joseph Heath

Coral Davenport at NYT: Championing Environment, Francis Takes Aim at Global Capitalism

Coral Davenport: “Jim Yong Kim, the president of the World Bank, praised the document. “Today’s release of Pope Francis’ first encyclical should serve as a stark reminder to all of us of the intrinsic link between climate change and poverty,” he said.”

I first read of Jim Yong Kim in Tracy Kidder’s Mountains Beyond Mountains, the story of Paul Farmer. From Wikipedia: “A global health leader, he was formerly the Chair of the Department of Global Health and Social Medicine at Harvard Medical School, and a co-founder and executive director of Partners In Health before serving as the President of Dartmouth College from 2009 to 2012, becoming the first Asian American president of an Ivy League institution.”

It is clear to this writer that the great value of Pope Francis’s Encyclical is to highlight its strengths, while clarifying its weaknesses. His call to arms, for everyone to get involved, and not leave this problem to the unregulated market, is terrific.

The encyclical by Pope Francis could give both sides in the global warming debate ammunition over how to address climate change.|By Coral Davenport

Saint Nich: “It should be a scandal that lead (mostly from old paint) still poisons 535,000 children in the United States from ages 1 to 5

My fast from the NYT is over, traveling in Europe, and now I’m back to supporting the writing of Saint Nich:
“It should be a scandal that lead (mostly from old paint) still poisons 535,000 children in the United States from ages 1 to 5, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Disproportionately affecting poor children, it robs them of mental abilities and is associated with disruptive behavior and crime in adulthood. If this were afflicting wealthy kids, there would be a national outcry.”

This year’s win-a-trip journey starts with a stop in Baltimore to look at some of the challenges presented by poverty here at home.|By Nicholas Kristof

Writers at the NYT delve into the Encyclical of Pope Francis and analyze key paragraphs.

Writers at the NYT delve into the Encyclical of Pope Francis and analyze key paragraphs. This is important reading for environmentalist. I was particularly interested in one section: Paragraph 50
“Instead of resolving the problems of the poor and thinking of how the world can be different, some can only propose a reduction in the birth rate. At times, developing countries face forms of international pressure which make economic assistance contingent on certain policies of ‘reproductive health.’ Yet ‘while it is true that an unequal distribution of the population and of available resources creates obstacles to development and a sustainable use of the environment, it must nonetheless be recognized that demographic growth is fully compatible with an integral and shared development.’ To blame population growth instead of extreme and selective consumerism on the part of some, is one way of refusing to face the issues.”
Justin Gillis:
Some demographers will undoubtedly argue that in this passage, it is the pope who is refusing to face the issues. Many experts regard rapid population growth as damaging to the local environment and to the lives of people in poor countries. It is also true, however, that the linkage between high population growth and global warming is often overstated. The two areas of the world that continue to have high growth, sub-Saharan Africa and southern Asia, are also impoverished areas with low emissions of greenhouse gases.

Pope Francis is issuing an encyclical focusing on an issue of grand scope, the care of the planet. And though he sees the poor as most affected by the economic and political systems underlying the crisis, his 184-page document is an urgent call to…|By LAURIE GOODSTEIN

NYT: Pope Francis, in Sweeping Encyclical, Calls for Swift Action on Climate Change

What a great piece of good news to greet us this morning. Thank you Pope Francis.
I’m back from three weeks in France, Italy, Croatia and Bosnia, with Kathleen Schomaker and Catherine Lindsay. I plan to post my journal to LindsayonVietnam (and the World) as soon as it is finished.

He blamed environmental destruction on apathy, the reckless pursuit of profits, excessive faith in technology and political shortsightedness.|By JIM YARDLEY