Urgent message of UN-HABITAT’s new Cities and Climate Change – E_Hot_Cities.pdf

“Hot Cities: battle-ground for Climate CHangeWorld’s cities responsible for up to 70 per cent of harmful greenhouse gases while occupying just 2 per cent of its landUrban centres have become the real battle-ground in the fight against climate change and cities will neglect their role in responding to this crisis at their peril. Not just their own peril but that of the world. This is the tough and urgent message of UN-HABITAT’s new Cities and Climate Change: global report on Human settlements 2011.

According to the report, the world’s cities are responsible for up to 70 per cent of harmful greenhouse gases while occupying just 2 per cent of its land. What goes on in cities, and how they manage their impact on the environment, lies at the core of the problem. It is the combination of urbanization’s fast pace and the demand for development that poses the major threat.“Cities are responsible for the majority of our harmful greenhouse gases. But they are also places where the greatest efficiencies can be made. This makes it imperative that we understand the form and content of urbanization so that we can reduce our footprint,” said Joan Clos Executive Director of UN-HABITAT. “Understanding the contribution of cities to climate change will help us intervene at the local level. With better urban planning and greater citizen participation we can make our hot cities cool again.” ”

Source: E_Hot_Cities.pdf

Cities and States Lead on Climate Change – By Jeff Biggers – The New York Times

“IOWA CITY — THE wind turbines that rise out of the cornfields here reminded me on a recent drive of one postelection truth, even in the red state of Iowa.As President-elect Donald J. Trump considers whether to break the United States commitment to the Paris climate accord, the rise of clean energy across the heartland is already too well entrenched to be reversed.

By 2020, thanks to MidAmerican Energy’s planned $3.6 billion addition to its enormous wind turbine operations, 85 percent of its Iowa customers will be electrified by clean energy. Meanwhile, Moxie Solar, named the fastest-growing local business by The Corridor Business Journal of Iowa, is installing solar panels on my house, and is part of a solar industry that now employs 200,000 nationwide.

Doomsday scenarios about the climate have abounded in the aftermath of the November election. But responsibility for effectively reining in carbon emissions also rests with business, and with the nation’s cities and states. Those are the battlegrounds. Worldwide, cities produce as much as 70 percent of greenhouse gas emissions.”

Source: Cities and States Lead on Climate Change – The New York Times

David Lindsay Hamden, CT Pending Approval

Great piece, about good works. I feel pessimistic quite often. The real culprit is population growth. The earth just went from 1 to 7.5 billion humans in the last 100 years, and is scheduled to go to 13 billion in the next century or so. The graphs of population growth and carbon dioxide increase are almost identical.
Is Trump going to initiate a tax on CO2, carbon dioxide emissions? Maybe we will have to do it on a state by state level. In the long term, the problem is self healing. The sea levels will rise, there will be billions of climate change refugees, and the wars and massacres will reduce our numbers, as in the past, exacerbated by the decline in water and food. Like a giant algae bloom, the explosive growth of the human population will cause the extermination of our species, and thousands of others species as well. Everyday, I wonder, why is population growth still a mostly taboo subject for world leaders and the press?
David blogs at InconvenientNews.wordpress.com.

Bruce Rozenblit

is a trusted commenter Kansas City, MO 2 hours ago

Agree 100%. The cities are moving forward. The economics of solar and wind are driving their growth. Even Kansas supports wind power and is a major producer. There is money to be made in energy.

The farmers are beginning to realize that. Corn is booming because of ethanol requirements. Ethanol is barely an energy gainer if at all. Corn sucks the water out of the land, much more than wheat does. The land is drying up from drought. Instead of growing corn, farmers can grow solar. They can rent the land or get a piece of the profits. Ditto for wind.

Individuals can change their behavior and drive electric cars. By 2020 we will have many affordable choices with good range. In the mean time, I bought an electric bike and love it. If its dry, over 40 and less than 7 miles away, I use my bike. It averages a bit over 20 mph with light pedaling.

The autonomous vehicle will make light rail obsolete. Light rail cost $100 million per mile. Cities could buy autonomous vans that seat 6 or 8 people and have them programmed to pick people up and transport them, like a serial taxi, constantly picking up and dropping off, keeping the van full. No more bus stops. If they cost $100K, a city could buy 1000 of them for the cost of one mile of light rail. Imagine thousands of them moving everyone everywhere, constantly in motion. Just order and pay for it with your phone.

Individuals can make this happen. Vote people. Vote with your dollar.

The Case for Mitt Romney – by Frank bruni – The New York Times

“…….If Trump taps Romney, he’ll be sending a powerful message to an anxious world that he’s not hostage to the darkest parts of his character. He needs to project that as much as we need to see it.Granted, Romney’s résumé isn’t the most logical for the job. He has spent most of his life as a businessman, and his lone public office was governor of Massachusetts.

But not all our secretaries of state were steeped in foreign affairs from an early point, like Madeleine Albright and Condoleezza Rice. Many had backgrounds principally devoted to other concerns. That was true of James Baker, who held the post under the first President Bush, and of Hillary Clinton, though she traveled the world as first lady and served on the Senate Armed Services Committee.”

Source: The Case for Mitt Romney – The New York Times

David Lindsay Hamden, CT Pending Approval

Frank Bruni, Great column. Points taken.
As to the comments after the op-ed, I’ve never read a weaker bunch. What Frank understands, and most of the commenters I read do not, is that Trump learns a lot from the people he talks to. It is critical for the nation, that he include some clear headed centrists in his cabinet.

If Trump were interested in getting re-elected in four years, he would ask Bernie Sanders or Hillary Clinton or John McCain or John Kasich to join the cabinet. That would be surprising, but it was the play of Abraham Lincoln.

Facebook Shouldn’t Fact-Check – The New York Times

“We finally got a grudging mea culpa from Mark Zuckerberg: an admission that fake news is a significant problem that his social network must help solve.But as a journalist who has been covering the inner workings of the technology industry for more than a decade, I find the calls for Facebook to accept broad responsibility for fact-checking the news, including by hiring editors and reporters, deeply unsettling.

What those demanding that Facebook accept “responsibility” for becoming the dominant news aggregator of our time seem to be overlooking is that there’s a big difference between the editorial power that individual news organizations wield and that which Facebook could. Such editorial power in Facebook’s hands would be unprecedented and dangerous.”

Source: Facebook Shouldn’t Fact-Check – The New York Times

Couldn’t disagree more. Here are some articulate responese:

HeyNorris Paris, France 8 hours ago

” “I’m not comfortable trusting the truth to one gatekeeper that has a mission and a fiduciary duty to increase advertising revenue…”

Nor am I, yet that pretty much describes every modern media company, the NYTimes included. For the past 18 months, the insanity that was the Trump campaign was covered endlessly, breathlessly, and sloppily, because nothing spells click bait like Donald J. Trump.

I would agree with your argument if Facebook and other social media platforms weren’t considered a source of news by 62% of Americans, according to Pew.

We are seeing the result of what happens when the gatekeepers are dismissed and totally unfiltered information is circulated in voters’ echo-chamber social media circles, i.e. that a demonstrably unfit-for-the-presidency crazy person will soon inhabit the Oval Office.

Like it or not, Facebook is now a major news source; why shouldn’t they be any less responsible for the “news” on their platform than, say, Reuters? To say they aren’t responsible for what users post on the behemoth they’ve created is like saying a porn platform shouldn’t be held responsible for child pornography posted to its site.

For journalists like you to let Facebook off the hook is to further doom journalism (and truth) to further obscurity. I don’t trust Facebook to determine what is true either, but I would much prefer they at least try instead of letting truth die a slow and painful death.

Reply 193Recommended

Buzzramjet Solvang, CA 8 hours ago

Yes FB should absolutely do fact checking and ban lying sites. In the last year I have read so many sites with out and out lies as to be mindboggling.
We are not talking opinion pieces but rather sites who do lies for no reason than to make clickbait money from the gullible right wing who slaver over these sites that feed their hate and anger. Several sites have already admitted making up stories knowing the right wing will devour them and pass them on. These things have consequences and the biggest is the one the conservatives just put into our White House. A man of low morals, no integrity, who has nothing but disdain for the Constitution, is a serial liar, racist, bigot and incredibly ignorant. One site tried to get lies about Trump spread but found liberals are not easily taken in by such antics.
Thanks to places like FB, the lies helping to make a major part of America hate Hillary, were mainstreamed. Even so called reputable news organizations would jump on them if it meant ratings.
So yes FB should police sites who propagate these lies, half truths and character assassination on a scale unheard of in modern history.
FB is a private corporation with their own rules in order to post and one of them should be the truth. You cannot claim hamburger will cure cancer so neither should any site on FB say Hillary stole 6 billion dollars from State or sold uranium to Russia for 100 million paid to the Clinton Foundation to name a few lies.
These lies divide America.

Reply 146 Recommended “

A Wrenching Choice for Alaska Towns in the Path of Climate Change – The New York Times

“…..Laid out on a narrow spit of sand between the Tagoomenik River and the Bering Sea, the village of 250 or so people is facing an imminent threat from increased flooding and erosion, signs of a changing climate.

With its proximity to the Arctic, Alaska is warming about twice as fast as the rest of the United States and the state is heading for the warmest year on record. The government has identified at least 31 Alaskan towns and cities at imminent risk of destruction, with Shaktoolik ranking among the top four. Some villages, climate change experts predict, will be uninhabitable by 2050, their residents joining a flow of climate refugees around the globe, in Bolivia, China, Niger and other countries.”

Source: A Wrenching Choice for Alaska Towns in the Path of Climate Change – The New York Times

Why Corruption Matters – by Paul Krugman – The New York Times

“Remember all the news reports suggesting, without evidence, that the Clinton Foundation’s fund-raising created conflicts of interest? Well, now the man who benefited from all that innuendo is on his way to the White House. And he’s already giving us an object lesson in what real conflicts of interest look like, as authoritarian governments around the world shower favors on his business empire.

Of course, Donald Trump could be rejecting these favors and separating himself and his family from his hotels and so on. But he isn’t. In fact, he’s openly using his position to drum up business. And his early appointments suggest that he won’t be the only player using political power to build personal wealth. Self-dealing will be the norm throughout this administration. America has just entered an era of unprecedented corruption at the top.”

Source: Why Corruption Matters – The New York Times

Here is one of my favorite comments: Alexander Bain Los Angeles 10 hours ago

“The biggest pots of money available for Trump to raid are Medicare and Social Security. Expect terrible initiatives in both areas, driven by Trump and associates who will make tons of money off vouchers, privatization, etc. This is how Putin got rich, and Trump is clearly an admirer of Putin’s methods.”

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I wonder if Steve Bannon will stop Trump from doing terrible things like sell the Baltics, and public assets, to increase his already fat wallet.

Combative, Populist Steve Bannon Found His Man in Donald Trump -by Scott Shane – The New York Times

Important reading by Scott Shane to understand the election. Apparently, Bannon isn’t a racist, but perfectly willing to enlists the racists in his revolution.

“When Julia Jones arrived at her office in Santa Monica at 8 a.m. — by Hollywood screenwriter standards, the crack of dawn — she found Stephen K. Bannon already at his desk, which was cluttered with takeout coffees. They were co-writers on a Ronald Reagan documentary, but Mr. Bannon had pretty much taken it over. He had been at work for hours, he told her, writing feverishly about his political hero.

Today, with Donald J. Trump, whose election Mr. Bannon helped engineer, on the threshold of power, the 2004 film “In the Face of Evil” has a prophetic ring. Its trailer has an over-the-top, apocalyptic feel: lurid footage of bombs dropping on cities alternating with grainy clips of Reagan speeches, as a choir provides a soaring soundtrack. The message: Only one man was up to the challenge posed by looming domestic and global threats.

“A man with a vision,” the trailer says. “An outsider, a radical with extreme views.” ”

Source: Combative, Populist Steve Bannon Found His Man in Donald Trump – The New York Times

Chasing Abortion Rights Across the State Line – by Linda Greenhouse – The New York Times

“……Lloyd Gaines was a graduate of Lincoln University, Missouri’s state university for black students, who were excluded from the University of Missouri. He wanted to become a lawyer, but Lincoln University had no law school. He applied to the University of Missouri’s law school, for which his academic record qualified him, but his race did not. His application was rejected, and he was advised to apply for the scholarship that a state law made available to black students forced to leave the state in order to pursue their educational goals. In the language of the statute, university officials “shall have the authority to arrange for the attendance of negro residents of the state of Missouri at the university of any adjacent state to take any course or to study any subjects provided for at the state university of Missouri, and which are not taught at the Lincoln university, and to pay the reasonable tuition fees for such attendance.”

Mr. Gaines declined the offer. Represented by Charles Hamilton Houston, a pioneering lawyer for the N.A.A.C.P., he went to court. He lost in the Missouri Supreme Court, which noted that he could attend law school with full tuition paid and with only minor inconvenience at the state law schools of Kansas, Nebraska, Iowa or Illinois, all of which accepted black students.

“We think that these matters are beside the point,” Chief Justice Charles Evans Hughes wrote for the United States Supreme Court, overturning the state court’s ruling. “The basic consideration is not as to what sort of opportunities other states provide, or whether they are as good as those in Missouri, but as to what opportunities Missouri itself furnishes to white students and denies to Negroes solely upon the ground of color.” The chief justice went on to say that each state was “responsible for its own laws establishing the rights and duties of persons within its borders,” and that “it is an obligation the burden of which cannot be cast by one state upon another, and no state can be excused from performance by what another state may do or fail to do.” ”

…….. .

“The Gaines case is not well known today outside of Missouri, where the state university has a scholarship in his name and 10 years ago awarded him a posthumous honorary degree. But it has been rediscovered in the recent litigation over state restrictions on abortion. Two years ago, a federal district judge in Alabama, Myron Thompson, invoked the case in striking down the state’s requirement that doctors who perform abortions have admitting privileges at local hospitals.

Because most hospitals in Alabama refused to give admitting privileges to doctors who performed abortions, the requirement would have closed three of the state’s five abortion clinics. The state argued that women could go elsewhere. But “the state could identify no precedent for a court to consider conduct outside the political boundaries of a jurisdiction in order to justify the constitutionality of actions by that jurisdiction,” Judge Thompson wrote, citing the Gaines case.”

Source: Chasing Abortion Rights Across the State Line – The New York Times

Mothers in Prison – by Nicholas Kristof – The New York Times

“TULSA, Okla. — The women’s wing of the jail here exhales sadness. The inmates, wearing identical orange uniforms, ache as they undergo withdrawal from drugs, as they eye one another suspiciously, and as they while away the days stripped of freedom, dignity, privacy and, most painful of all, their children.

“She’s disappointed in me,” Janay Manning, 29, a drug offender shackled to a wall for an interview, said of her eldest daughter, a 13-year-old. And then she started crying, and we paused our interview.

Of all America’s various policy missteps in my lifetime, perhaps the most catastrophic was mass incarceration. It has had devastating consequences for families, and it costs the average American household $600 a year.

The United States has recently come to its senses and begun dialing back on the number of male prisoners. But we have continued to increase the number of women behind bars; two-thirds of women in state prisons are there for nonviolent offenses. America now incarcerates eight times as many women as in 1980, and only Thailand seems to imprison women at a higher rate.”

Source: Mothers in Prison – The New York Times

This is a magnificent piece by Nick Kristof. Read it and cry, and get involved in solutions.
One of my favorite comments:
Anires California 2 days ago

“There were so many strong points in this article, but perhaps my favorite was this:
“It’s time to change how we view addiction. Not as a moral failing but as a chronic illness.”

It’s easy to dismiss the women here and coldly say they got what they deserved. But a little compassion and understanding would really go a long way. It could have easily been me in prison had I not been blessed with a loving and economically stable family. As a society we should help them overcome the darkest moments of their life instead of making it impossible for them to become contributing members of society.

Thank you, for shedding light on this.”

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The Secret Agenda of a Facebook Quiz – by McKenzie Funk – The New York Times

More evidence that targeted dark, dishonest ads by the Trump social media team tilted the election in key states.

“No data point is very informative on its own, but profiling voters, says Cambridge Analytica, is like baking a cake. “It’s the sum of the ingredients,” its chief executive officer, Alexander Nix, told NBC News. Because the United States lacks European-style restrictions on second- or thirdhand use of our data, and because our freedom-of-information laws give data brokers broad access to the intimate records kept by local and state governments, our lives are open books even without social media or personality quizzes.

Ever since the advertising executive Lester Wunderman coined the term “direct marketing” in 1961, the ability to target specific consumers with ads — rather than blanketing the airwaves with mass appeals and hoping the right people will hear them — has been the marketer’s holy grail. What’s new is the efficiency with which individually tailored digital ads can be tested and matched to our personalities. Facebook is the microtargeter’s ultimate weapon.”


“While Hillary Clinton spent more than $140 million on television spots, old-media experts scoffed at Trump’s lack of old-media ad buys. Instead, his campaign pumped its money into digital, especially Facebook. One day in August, it flooded the social network with 100,000 ad variations, so-called A/B testing on a biblical scale, surely more ads than could easily be vetted by human eyes for compliance with Facebook’s “community standards.”

Perhaps out of necessity, the Trump team was embracing a new-media lesson: It didn’t have to build everything from scratch. Mark Zuckerberg and others had already built the infrastructure the campaign needed to reach voters directly. When “Trump TV” went live on Facebook before and after the second debate it raked in $9 million in donations in 120 minutes.

In the immediate wake of Mr. Trump’s surprise election, so many polls and experts were so wrong that it became fashionable to declare that big data was dead. But it isn’t, not when its most obvious avatar, Facebook, was so crucial to victory.

On Monday, after a similar announcement from Google, Facebook said it would no longer allow fake-news websites to show ads, on their own sites, from Facebook’s ad network — a half-step that neither blocks what appears on your newsfeed nor affects how advertisers can microtarget users on the social network. ”   ………

Source: The Secret Agenda of a Facebook Quiz – The New York Times