We Fought for Our Democracy. Now Turkey Wants to Destroy It. – By NUJIN DERIK – NYT

“AFRIN, Syria — For more than a week, my home in northwestern Syria has been under a full-scale assault by the Turkish Army and thousands of Turkish-aligned Islamist jihadists.

Turkey’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, has been threatening this invasion for a very long time. The Turkish Army has been targeting our villages with mortars and artillery for many months now.

I and my fellow members of the Kurdish Women’s and People’s Protection Units, often known as the Y.P.J. and Y.P.G., have fought hard for years to keep the Islamic State out of this autonomous region of Syria known as Rojava. We endured Turkey’s barrages and avoided returning fire, even after civilian casualties, so as not to provide a pretext for this invasion.

But Mr. Erdogan has nevertheless unleashed airstrikes, tanks and troops on this area that was once a relative island of peace in this war-torn country.

One would imagine the international community and especially the United States, which has been more than happy to partner with us in the fight against the Islamic State, would firmly oppose such an unprovoked attack executed in the name of racial hatred — Mr. Erdogan has stated his intention to commit ethnic cleansing of Afrin’s Kurdish population, or, as he says, to give the region to its “real owners” — but instead, it has been greeted largely with silence, and therefore tacitly condoned.”

via We Fought for Our Democracy. Now Turkey Wants to Destroy It. – The New York Times

The US should protect our major ally in the region, who has done the bulk of our fighting.

In Mexico- Trump’s Bark Has Been Worse Than His Bite – by Ioan Grillo – NYT

But immigration patterns may also change independently of what Mr. Trump does. Mexican migration was decreasing even before Mr. Trump kicked off his campaign. The Pew Research Center estimated last April that the number of undocumented Mexicans living in the United States had dropped from 6.4 million in 2009 to 5.6 million in 2016.

Several factors, including changing demographics in Mexico, may have combined to cause this drop. The average number of children per family here has been decreasing sharply, which means there are fewer people in the work force and less pressure on parents to provide.

While the electrician, Mr. González, was one of eight siblings, he has only one child himself. He makes 250 pesos, or about $13, a day in Mexico, less than the $17 hourly wage he made painting houses on Long Island. But as we stare at the towering Popo volcano, he says he has no plans to return north. “I am my own boss here, I want to build my business,” he told me. “And this is a beautiful place to be.”

Ioan Grillo (@ioangrillo) is the author of “Gangster Warlords: Drug Dollars, Killing Fields and the New Politics of Latin America” and a contributing opinion writer.

via In Mexico, Trump’s Bark Has Been Worse Than His Bite – The New York Times

Ioan is Welsh and Rumanian version of Jobn, pronouced Yo-Anh.

The Gathering Threat to Abortion Rights – The New York Times

“People who care about basic American freedoms should be grateful to the Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell, for one thing: He has given liberals another good reason to flock to the polls in November.

Mr. McConnell is set to hold a procedural vote this week on a bill that would ban abortion at 20 weeks of pregnancy. The so-called Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, sponsored by Senator Lindsey Graham, a South Carolina Republican, is part of a long-term legislative effort by the anti-abortion movement to gut Roe v. Wade and severely curtail abortion access nationwide.Twenty-week abortion bans, enacted in more than a dozen states and struck down in two, violate the Supreme Court’s standard that abortion can be restricted only when a fetus is viable outside the womb. Many, including the one being considered by the Senate, are based on claims not supported by most scientists about when a fetus feels pain.”

The G.O.P.’s Doomsday-Machine Politics – by Paul Krugman – NYT

Krugman has a great piece until the end when he writes,
“Yet G.O.P. leaders seem to believe that they can bully Democrats by threatening to hurt millions of children — because Democrats care more about those children than they do. They also believe that if this tactic fails they can frame it as an exhibition of callousness by Democrats.

Democrats should just say no. These tactics cannot be allowed to succeed.

For once doomsday-machine politics becomes the norm, anything is fair game. Give us what we want, or we’ll cut off Medicare. Give us what we want, or we’ll destroy Social Security.

This has to stop. And now is the time to draw the line.”

David Lindsay: Paul Krugman, my favorite economist, has made an error. In his piece “The G.O.P.’s Doomsday-Machine Politics,” 1/19/18 NYT, he is suggesting that the Dems should have continuted to shut down the government, over DACA, and not accepted CHIP instead. How can Paul Krugman not see that that switches roles. Now it is the Democrates using Doomsday Machine politics, not the Republicans.

2018 Environmental Performance Index: Air quality top public health threat | YaleNews

“The 2018 Environmental Performance Index (EPI) finds that air quality is the leading environmental threat to public health. Now in its twentieth year, the biennial report is produced by researchers at Yale and Columbia Universities in collaboration with the World Economic Forum. The tenth EPI report ranks 180 countries on 24 performance indicators across 10 issue categories covering environmental health and ecosystem vitality. Switzerland leads the world in sustainability, followed by France, Denmark, Malta, and Sweden.Switzerland’s top ranking reflects strong performance across most issues, especially air quality and climate protection.

In general, high scorers exhibit long-standing commitments to protecting public health, preserving natural resources, and decoupling greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from economic activity.India and Bangladesh come in near the bottom of the rankings, with Burundi, Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Nepal rounding out the bottom five. Low scores on the EPI are indicative of the need for national sustainability efforts on a number of fronts, especially cleaning up air quality, protecting biodiversity, and reducing GHG emissions, said the researchers. Some of the lowest-ranking nations face broader challenges, such as civil unrest, but the low scores for others can be attributed to weak governance, they note.”

Source: 2018 Environmental Performance Index: Air quality top public health threat | YaleNews

Is the Business World All About Greed? – Nicholas Kristof – NYT

“But the business toolbox is too important to give up on. To me, the most interesting people in Davos aren’t the presidents or celebrities, but the social entrepreneurs — those using business tools to address social problems — and their work offers an inspiring window into what can be accomplished.

Christopher Mikkelsen works with two dozen companies, including cellphone operators and Facebook, to help refugees find lost members of their families. His organization, Refunite, once helped two Congolese sisters find each other after 16 years; they turned out to be living just a few miles apart in Nairobi.

Refunite is now helping more than one million refugees search for missing family members. It has already helped 40,000 of them connect, and Mikkelsen says this would never be possible if it were just an aid group rather than a hybrid piggybacking on business networks.

Sasha Kramer works in Haiti to address two fundamental problems: a lack of toilets and declining soil fertility. Her organization, SOIL, charges customers a few dollars a month to provide and service composting toilets that turn human waste into safe agricultural fertilizer. The cost is one-third of what a sewage system would cost to operate.”

via Is the Business World All About Greed? – The New York Times

Here is the top comment and my reply to it.

Joan

formerly NYC 16 hours ago NYT comment

The underlying premise of capitalism is making a profit. There is nothing inherently good or evil about that. The greed and exploitation come about when capitalism and competition are allowed to operate untrammeled. Not all companies will take advantage but many do.

What is needed are not different versions of the same thing (companies), but countervailing forces. This includes things like regulation, liability for products that harm people, labor laws that protect workers and mandate adequate leave and pay, and last but not least, real protection of the right to organize or join a union.

Reply to Joan by:

    David Lindsay Jr.

Hamden, CT

    Great op-ed by Nicholas Kristof. I recommended the comment by Joan, and then, upon study, unrecommeded it. Kristof wrote, “But the business toolbox is too important to give up on. To me, the most interesting people in Davos aren’t the presidents or celebrities, but the social entrepreneurs — those using business tools to address social problems — and their work offers an inspiring window into what can be accomplished.” This is the topic he addressed, not the other issues memtioned by Joan. Her implication that unions are a panacea is dubious. Unions are a godsend when workers are exploited and mistreated. Think Grapes of Wrath. But CT civil service unions have protections, salaries and benefits, that most of the public has never seen and could only get, if they could join the town, city or state government. Contracts we cam no longer afford, can not be undone in many cases. Towns are not allowed to declare bancruptcy, without hideous penalties and risk exposure, The brilliance of Kristof, is he writes well of a narrow topic, and he brings research and resources his his thesis, that social entrepreneurs can be part of the solution rather than the problem, if you identify the good ones correctly, which he then shows examples of. David Lindsay Jr. is the author of “The Tay Son Rebellion, Historical Fiction of Eighteenth-century Vietnam,” and blogs at The TaySonRebellion.com and InconvenientNews.wordpress.com

    Guns — When Trump Can’t Even Tweet – by Gail Collins – NYT

    “I don’t know if you heard, but this week a boy with a handgun killed two of his fellow students at a high school in Kentucky.“It is unbelievable that this would happen in a small, close-knit community like Marshall County,” said the governor, Matt Bevin.Actually, that part is completely believable. Given that another school shooting this week was in Italy, Tex., population under 2,000. And that two months ago, 25 people were shot to death while attending church in Sutherland Springs, Tex., population 362.

    It’s about guns, not population density. And it is a huge story. But I know, people, you have been beating your heads against the wall about this issue forever, and a certain numbness creeps in. “You had the worst mass shooting in the country in Las Vegas, followed by a really horrific event in a church. People just get worn out,” said Mark Kelly, who co-founded a gun-safety organization with his wife, then-Representative Gabby Giffords, after she was shot in the head while meeting with her constituents.

    Donald Trump — who yelled about “carnage” in big cities during his inauguration speech — has said not a word about the Kentucky shooting except to tweet his “thoughts and prayers.” (Even that, commenters noted, came nearly 24 hours after the prime minister of Canada sent his sympathies.) It is highly unlikely this lack of focus was due to weariness. “You’ve got to wonder,” Kelly said in a phone interview, whether the president would have had a more intense reaction if the news reports suggested “the shooter was of a different ethnicity.”

    Thank you Gail. There are many excellent, heart feld comments in the NYT Comments section. Here is the top comment, which I recommended:

    Linda

    is a trusted commenter Oklahoma 15 hours ago

    In the first 23 days of 2018 there were already 11 school shootings. There was also an anti-abortion march in Washington, DC, which Trump attended. Why not make buying guns as difficult as having an abortion? Each buyer should have to look at x-rays and MRIs of gunshot wounds and have to talk to someone whose loved one died of gunshot wounds. A doctor would have to explain gunshot wounds to the buyer and the buyer would have to wait 48 hours after talking to the doctor to buy a gun. There would only be one or two gun shops in each state making most gun buyers have to drive hundreds of miles for a purchase. And each buyer would have to walk through a screaming throng of people shouting and swearing at him or her.
    Yes, 60,000 Americans a year die from gunshots. Make it as hard to buy a gun as it is to get an abortion.

     

    How U.S. Tariffs Will Hurt America’s Solar Industry – By VARUN SIVARAM – NYT

    “President Trump’s decision to impose sweeping tariffs on imports of solar panels and components is the opening salvo of his America First campaign to protect domestic manufacturers from Chinese competition. The stakes are high: Solar is the world’s fastest-growing energy industry, attracting over $160 billion in investment in 2017.

    Yet these tariffs will do little to make American manufacturers competitive with dominant Chinese ones. Instead, they might actually discourage domestic investments in innovation, crucial to an American solar manufacturing revival. On top of this, the tariffs will cause collateral damage by slowing down the installation of solar panels in the United States, destroying more jobs than they create, and provoking trade disputes and retaliation.”

    via How U.S. Tariffs Will Hurt America’s Solar Industry – The New York Times

    Europe Is Back. And Rejecting Trumpism. – The New York Times

    “DAVOS, Switzerland — French President Emmanuel Macron laid claim to the mantle of leader of the free world on Wednesday, with an ambitious speech before a packed assembly at the World Economic Forum.

    He sought to place France at the center of a mission to revamp global capitalism while spreading its spoils more equitably, forging a mode of commerce centered on innovation, yet bearing protections for workers set back by change.

    Mr. Macron’s hourlong speech before the annual gathering of the world’s wealthy and powerful in the Swiss Alps came on the same day that German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni issued their own forceful speeches toward advancing European integration, while defending the notion of international cooperation.

    Collectively, they signaled that Europe — only a year ago dismissed as a crippled economic realm fraught with political recrimination — has regained force. Europe’s leaders left no doubt that they aim to channel their newfound economic strength toward advancing the project of European integration first launched in the middle of the last century, seen as an antidote to the brutalities of two world wars.” “

    via Europe Is Back. And Rejecting Trumpism. – The New York Times

    Yes. And here are the top two comments which I endorse:

    Wayne Logsdon

    Portland, Oregon 1 hour ago

    Indeed Macron and Merkel are right. Globalization and multi-lateral trade are here to stay as both can benefit all. Hopefully the rest of the world will rally around their proposals and they can lead the world toward a better economic model. Protectionism is not the way. We will do our best to catch up post Trump.

    tbs

    detroit 1 hour ago

    The reduction of U.S. influence, and up-ending of allies, is exactly what Vladimir wants. This is the treason of donny.

     

    As U.S. Trumpets ‘America First-’ Rest of the World Is Moving On – The New York Times

    WASHINGTON — President Trump is arriving at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, to explain his “America First” approach at a moment when the world is moving ahead with a trade agenda that no longer revolves around the United States. The world marked a turning point in global trade on Tuesday, when 11 countries agreed to join the Trans-Pacific Partnership, announcing they had finalized the pact and expected to sign a deal on March 8 in Chile. It was a remarkable moment for a beleaguered agreemen

    Source: As U.S. Trumpets ‘America First,’ Rest of the World Is Moving On – The New York Times

     

    David Lindsay:  Yes. Donald Trump, or Twitter Drumpf as I like to call him,  is damaging the US in world trade, and no where more than in Asia, with his pulling out of the Transpacific Parntership.

    Here is the top comment so far, I endorse:

    Bob Bascelli

    Seaford NY 1 hour ago

    “America First” is a tag line not unlike “Make America Great Again”. They both appeal to our base instincts and are effective in stirring our faux “American Pride”, but that’s as far as they go. Questions need to be asked. What do we want to be first and great at; healthcare, coal production, number of millionaires, people in poverty, a healthy economy, number of nuclear warheads, deaths by gun violence, having the most stuff, …..? Do we have to be great or can we get along being respected, fair, and truthful? First and great mean very different things to many different people. Can one be truly great when so many are left behind? Ask the questions. Give truthful answers. That would be great.