Opinion | When MAGA Fantasy Meets Rust Belt Reality – by Paul Krugman – The New York Times

By Paul Krugman,   Opinion Columnist, Nov. 29, 2018,          837
Image: Union workers concerned about jobs interrupted President Trump at a rally in Ohio in early November.
Credit:  David Maxwell/EPA, via Shutterstock

“Let’s face it: Make America Great Again was a brilliant political slogan. Why? Because it could mean different things to different people.

For many supporters of Donald Trump, MAGA was basically a promise to return to the good old days of raw racism and sexism. And Trump is delivering on that promise.

But for at least some Trump voters, it was a promise to restore the kind of economy we had 40 or 50 years ago — an economy that still offered lots of manly jobs in manufacturing and mining. Unfortunately for those who trusted Mr. Art of the Deal, Trump never had any idea how to deliver on that promise. And even if he had a clue about policymaking, he couldn’t have changed the long-term trajectory of our economy, which is moving steadily away from making physical stuff and toward providing services.

As a result, Trump, who cares above all about image, is now getting headlines that make a mockery of his campaign posturing — headlines about closing auto plants and lost jobs. Now, autos are a special case; overall manufacturing employment is still rising, although not especially fast. But relative to his grand promises, what’s happening is an embarrassing bust.

Why was the vision of revived manufacturing nonsense? Talking about what Donald Trump doesn’t know is, of course, a vast task, since his ignorance is both broad and deep. But he seems to have misunderstood three specific things about manufacturing.

First, he believes that trade deficits are the reason we’ve shifted away from manufacturing. But they aren’t.

To be fair, those deficits have played some role in shrinking U.S. industrial employment. If we could eliminate our current trade imbalance, we’d probably have around 20 percent more workers in the manufacturing sector than we actually do. But that would reverse only a small part of manufacturing’s relative decline, from more than a quarter of the work force in 1970 to less than 10 percent now.

Indeed, even countries that run huge trade surpluses, like Germany, have seen big declines in manufacturing as a share of employment. Trade just isn’t the main story. What’s happening instead is that as overall spending grows, an increasing share goes to services, not goods. Consumption of manufactured goods keeps rising, but technological progress lets us produce those goods with ever fewer workers; so the economy shifts toward services.”

Opinion | Donald Trump’s Dimming Prospects – By Thomas B. Edsall – The New York Times

By Thomas B. Edsall
Mr. Edsall contributes a weekly column from Washington, D.C. on politics, demographics and inequality.,  Nov. 29, 2018, 301


Supporters of Kyrsten Sinema, the Democratic Senate candidate in Arizona, await election results in Phoenix on Nov. 6. Ms. Sinema won.
Credit
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

“Now that the midterm elections have been digested — and looked at up, down and sideways — some patterns that might dim President Trump’s re-election prospects have begun to emerge.

Catalist, a for-profit data firm founded in 2006 by the Democratic campaign strategists Harold Ickes and Laura Quinn, has become a go-to source of voter and donor information for liberal and progressive organizations.

During and after the 2018 elections, the firm conducted a study of the electorate to determine favorable and unfavorable developments important to its clients.

Catalist found that between 2014 and 2018 white voters aged 18 to 44 shifted sharply in favor of the Democrats. In 2014, whites 18 to 29 supported Democrat candidates by one percentage point; in 2018, these young white voters backed Democrats by 26 points, a substantial 25-point swing.”

Microsoft Is Worth as Much as Apple. How Did That Happen? – The New York Times

“But the more enduring and important answer is that Microsoft has become a case study of how a once-dominant company can build on its strengths and avoid being a prisoner of its past. It has fully embraced cloud computing, abandoned an errant foray into smartphones and returned to its roots as mainly a supplier of technology to business customers.

That strategy was outlined by Satya Nadella shortly after he became chief executive in 2014. Since then, Microsoft’s stock price has nearly tripled.

It bet big on the cloud and won . . .

One of the data centers that power Microsoft’s lucrative cloud computing services.
Credit    Richard Duvall
Microsoft’s path to cloud computing — processing, storage and software delivered as a service over the internet from remote data centers — was lengthy and sometimes halting.”

Why Thunderstorms and Lightning are good for the garden. » My Productive Backyard » Learn to Grow your Own Food at Home

“Thunderstorms result in lightning and although lightning is associated with extreme weather, as long as nobody gets hit or a fire isn’t started, lightning is advantageous for the garden.

Have you ever wondered why the garden looks so green after a thunderstorm?
It is because the chemistry happening in the air above us.

As you are probably aware, about 79% of our atmosphere is nitrogen, but not in a form that plants can absorb or take up. This is where lightning can make a difference. The energy created during a lightning event can convert atmospheric nitrogen and oxygen into nitric oxide (NO) which then oxides into nitrogen dioxide(NO2) then to nitric acid (HNO3) which is then deposited onto the earth’s surface in the ensuing rain, hail ( or snow in colder climates) and in a form that can be taken up by plant.

The garden looking very lush

So to simplify that statement.
Nitrogen in the atmosphere is not available for plants to absorb; the energy caused by lightning converts it into a form that can be absorbed by plants.”

Source: Why Thunderstorms and Lightning are good for the garden. » My Productive Backyard » Learn to Grow your Own Food at Home

The All-Women Sailing Crew Trying to Save the Ocean of Plastic – Condé Nast Traveler

“An ‘Ocean Armageddon’
We are facing what the head of the United Nations Environment Programme called an “ocean Armageddon” in 2017. Every year the world produces 320 million tons of plastic—our packaging, eyeglasses, sneakers, Q-Tips, and cell phones among them. Of that, 90 percent is never recycled. If this continues, by 2050 the plastic in the ocean will outweigh the fish.
At last, a global effort to combat the crisis is making headway. This October the European Parliament approved a sweeping ban of single-use plastics across the EU. Initiatives to reduce consumption are gaining momentum, from Kenya’s ban on plastic bags to California’s legislation against plastic straws. Two-hundred and fifty major brands including Coca-Cola, Kellogg’s, and Nestle have pledged to cut all plastic waste from their operations. And activists and innovators like The Ocean Cleanup are using technology to tackle the problem; its sea-cleaning contraption is already hard at work.
But the problem is greater than we can see. While plastic doesn’t biodegrade, it does break down through sunlight, wind, and the motion of the waves into tiny fragments, microplastics, now found as far as the snow of Antarctica. This doesn’t simply have an impact on sea life and coastal communities; there are implications for every single person on the planet. Especially women—which is where eXXpedition comes in.”

Source: The All-Women Sailing Crew Trying to Save the Ocean of Plastic – Condé Nast Traveler

Opinion | The Monopolization of America – by David Leonhardt – The New York Times

“The new corporate behemoths have been very good for their executives and largest shareholders — and bad for almost everyone else. Sooner or later, the companies tend to raise prices. They hold down wages, because where else are workers going to go? They use their resources to sway government policy. Many of our economic ills — like income stagnation and a decline in entrepreneurship — stem partly from corporate gigantism.

So what are we going to do about it? It’s time for another political movement, one that borrows from the Boston Tea Partiers, Jefferson, T.R. and the other defenders of the economic little guy.”

The American Casualties of Trump’s Trade War – By Guy Lawson – The New York Times

By Guy Lawson
Nov. 28, 2018

“Sam Cobb was surprised to see so many people lined up for a hearing at the International Trade Commission in Washington on the morning of Monday, Aug. 20. The chief executive of Real Wood Floors, Cobb was a veteran of such proceedings, which were usually sleepy affairs, populated by white-shoe attorneys fighting over arcane legal definitions. For this hearing, though, the line stretched out the door and onto the sidewalk along E Street, where the people waiting to get in were surrounded by a scrum of television cameramen. In the preceding weeks, the Trump administration had floated a proposal to place punitive import tariffs on $200 billion of Chinese goods, and the politics of global trade had suddenly burst into the headlines.

In the packed hearing room, Cobb listened as dozens of witnesses detailed how tariffs on Chinese-made bicycles and tires and fruit juice — and the reciprocal taxes that would inevitably be imposed on American exports to China in response — would lead to higher prices and lost jobs in the United States. This was part of a series of public hearings to address a proposed Section 301 tariff list, named after the provision of the Trade Act of 1974 that permits the United States to impose tariffs on other nations in response to unfair trade practices — in this case, the administration claimed, the Chinese theft of intellectual property. The proposed tariffs would hit businesses from virtually every industry, including many that had little to do with intellectual property.

For Cobb and the 247 employees of Real Wood’s affiliated companies, the stakes were high. Their business is exporting hardwood from the forests of southern Missouri to their partners in China, who mill it into veneer, laminate it to a plywood subsurface and finish it into designer flooring. The partners then ship the engineered hardwood back to Real Wood, which sells it to high-end builders from coast to coast — an ocean-spanning supply chain that nevertheless keeps costs down. The simple possibility of tariffs had killed virtually all the company’s orders for engineered hardwood from China. Real Wood was already paying an anti-dumping duty of as much as 25 percent on much of the flooring it imported from that country, a tariff that the International Trade Commission had levied on a number of Chinese flooring companies whose prices it deemed to be below market value. The Trump administration’s proposal called for an additional 10 percent tariff, with the threat of a further 15 percent in 2019, which Cobb claimed would force Real Wood to make large price increases and would hamstring the whole industry.”

Is Exxon Conning Its Investors?  The New York Times Editorial

By The Editorial Board

Nov. 25, 2018, 195
Credit
Antonio Sortino
Image
CreditCreditAntonio Sortino

“In August, a lawyer for Exxon Mobil told a state court in Manhattan that New York’s attorney general should either sue the company for misleading investors about the impact of climate change on its finances or drop the case. “They should put up or shut up,” the lawyer, Theodore Wells Jr., said of a tangled case that had dragged on for more than two years. The weary judge, Barry Ostrager, agreed. “This cannot go on interminably,” he said.

Put-up time has arrived. Late last month, Attorney General Barbara Underwood filed a fraud lawsuit against the company. Exxon responded with a 38-page brief basically denying everything. And Judge Ostrager has set a trial date for October of next year.

Much can happen between now and then. But the judge’s decision to allow the case to proceed could provide a rare teaching moment that allows the public to see a powerful company grappling with the kinds of choices that all legacy fossil fuel companies will surely face in a carbon-constrained world.

The case is not a rehash of the copiously documented charge that Exxon had for years subsidized climate change denialist groups even as its own scientists were acutely aware of the dangers of global warming. That charge is partly what inspired Ms. Underwood’s predecessor, Eric Schneiderman, to begin investigating the company in the first place. But Exxon has since agreed that climate change is a problem, supported the Paris agreement and invested in cleaner fuels. Nor does the suit hold the company responsible for climate change, unlike several cases against the fossil fuel industry brought by New York City and other localities seeking damages from the rise of sea levels and other consequences of a warming world. Most of these suits have been thrown out of court.”

Trump Administration’s Strategy on Climate: Try to Bury Its Own Scientific Report – By Coral Davenport – The New York Times

Coral Davenport
By Coral Davenport
Nov. 25, 2018, 472

“WASHINGTON — The Trump White House, which has defined itself by a willingness to dismiss scientific findings and propose its own facts, on Friday issued a scientific report that directly contradicts its own climate-change policies.

That sets the stage for a remarkable split-screen political reality in coming years. The administration is widely expected to discount or ignore the report’s detailed findings of the economic strain caused by climate change, even as it continues to cut environmental regulations, while opponents use it to mount legal attacks against the very administration that issued the report.

“This report will be used in court in significant ways,” said Richard L. Revesz, an expert in environmental law at New York University. “I can imagine a lawyer for the Trump administration being asked by a federal judge, ‘How can the federal government acknowledge the seriousness of the problem, and then set aside the rules that protect the American people from the problem?’ And they might squirm around coming up with an answer.”

The 1,656-page National Climate Assessment, which is required by Congress, is the most comprehensive scientific study to date detailing the effects of global warming on the United States economy, public health, coastlines and infrastructure. It describes in precise detail how the warming planet will wreak hundreds of billions of dollars of damage in coming decades.”

U.S. Climate Report Warns of Damaged Environment and Shrinking Economy – By Coral Davenport and Kendra Pierre-Louis – The New York Times

Coral DavenportKendra Pierre-Louis
By Coral Davenport and Kendra Pierre-Louis
Nov. 23, 2018 751

“WASHINGTON — A major scientific report issued by 13 federal agencies on Friday presents the starkest warnings to date of the consequences of climate change for the United States, predicting that if significant steps are not taken to rein in global warming, the damage will knock as much as 10 percent off the size of the American economy by century’s end.

The report, which was mandated by Congress and made public by the White House, is notable not only for the precision of its calculations and bluntness of its conclusions, but also because its findings are directly at odds with President Trump’s agenda of environmental deregulation, which he asserts will spur economic growth.

Mr. Trump has taken aggressive steps to allow more planet-warming pollution from vehicle tailpipes and power plant smokestacks, and has vowed to pull the United States out of the Paris Agreement, under which nearly every country in the world pledged to cut carbon emissions. Just this week, he mocked the science of climate change because of a cold snap in the Northeast, tweeting, “Whatever happened to Global Warming?”
But in direct language, the 1,656-page assessment lays out the devastating effects of a changing climate on the economy, health and environment, including record wildfires in California, crop failures in the Midwest and crumbling infrastructure in the South. Going forward, American exports and supply chains could be disrupted, agricultural yields could fall to 1980s levels by midcentury and fire season could spread to the Southeast, the report finds.”