Zachary Karabell | China Is Not the Biggest Threat to the World Order. It’s Russia. – The New York Times

Mr. Karabell is the founder of the Progress Network and the author, most recently, of “Inside Money: Brown Brothers Harriman and the American Way of Power.”

“In a speech on Thursday, Secretary of State Antony Blinken revealed the long-awaited outlines of the Biden administration’s official posture toward China. Rather than Vladimir Putin’s Russia, Mr. Blinken said, it is China that represents the most potent and determined threat to the American-championed world order.

Only China, he continued, has “both the intent to reshape the international order” and the power to do so, he said. The United States will seek to rally coalitions of other nations to meet Beijing’s challenge.

The writing had been on the wall. Just days earlier, President Biden pledged to defend Taiwan if China moved to seize the democratically ruled island, he met with regional allies, and his administration proposed a new plan to counter China’s growing economic clout in Asia.

But the intensifying fixation on China’s potential to disrupt the world order shrinks space for cooperation with Beijing and distracts from the real threat in the world: Russia.”

Opinion | Should We Be Forced to See Exactly What an AR-15 Does to a 10-Year-Old? – The New York Times

Ms. Linfield is a journalism professor and the author of “The Cruel Radiance: Photography and Political Violence.”

I know that stoning people to death is barbaric. But I never understood just what it entails — the slow, cruel process by which a defenseless human being is degraded and destroyed — until I saw a series of photographs taken by Somali photojournalist Farah Abdi Warsameh, which depict the stoning execution of a man accused of adultery by the insurgent group Hizbul Islam. While some charge that viewing such pictures is voyeuristic, these images made me face the terror, the blood and the sheer cruelty of this practice — one that, astonishingly, has not yet been tossed into the dustbin of history.

From Sandy Hook to Uvalde, the Violent Images Never Seen – The New York Times

“WASHINGTON — After Lenny Pozner’s six-year-old son Noah died at Sandy Hook, he briefly contemplated showing the world the damage an AR-15-style rifle did to his child.

His first thought: “It would move some people, change some minds.”

His second: “Not my kid.”

Grief and anger over two horrific mass shootings in Texas and New York only ten days apart has stirred an old debate: Would disseminating graphic images of the results of gun violence jolt the nation’s gridlocked leadership into action?

From the abolition movement to Black Lives Matter, from the Holocaust to the Vietnam War to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, photographs and film have laid bare the human toll of racism, authoritarianism and ruinous foreign policy. They prompt public outcry and, sometimes, lead to change. But the potential use of these images to end official inertia after mass shootings presents new, wrenching considerations for victims’ families — many of whom adamantly reject such an idea.

“It is true that shocking photos of suffering occasionally do make an imprint,” said Bruce Shapiro, executive director of Columbia University’s Dart Center for Journalism and Trauma, citing the photographer Nick Ut’s famous photo of a naked Vietnamese girl fleeing a napalm attack in 1972.”

Massacres Test Whether Washington Can Move Beyond Paralysis on Gun Laws – The New York Times

Michael D. Shear

May 28, 2022

A makeshift memorial on Tuesday for the victims of the mass shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas. The reaction in Washington is a familiar combination of pain and paralysis.
Credit…Callaghan O’Hare for The New York Times
“WASHINGTON — Days after 19 children and two teachers were gunned down in Texas, politicians in Washington are tinkering around the edges of America’s gun laws.

A bipartisan group of senators is scheduled to hold virtual meetings early next week and has some proposals on the table: the expansion of background checks, legal changes to prevent the mentally ill and teenagers from getting guns, and new rules for gun trafficking.

Senator Christopher S. Murphy, Democrat of Connecticut and the leader of the effort, said he had not seen so much willingness to talk since 20 children were murdered at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., in 2012.

But the emerging details of the massacre at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, on Tuesday suggest that few of the proposals under discussion would have made much of a difference. The gunman did not have a criminal record that might have been caught by expanded background checks. There is no evidence that the gun had been part of a trafficking ring. And so far, there have not been reports of mental illness that might have triggered a so-called red flag law.”

David Lindsay:

I have an idea about something a video production team could do for gun safety.

Most folks are reeling from the news. Last Friday, May 17, an 18 year old male teenager walked into an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas and used his brand new AR 15 assault rifle to execute 19 4th graders and two teachers who were having a costume party on the last day of school. The NYT times piece below reports that over 1,500 people have been killed in America in over 270 mass shootings since 2009.

The U.S. Republican Senators have already communicated that though this was terrible and tragic, they will not consider serious reforms for gun safety, reforms explained in old and recent columns by Nicholas Kristof and many others.

This is my idea. We try to bring together an existing gun safety group, such as Everytown for Gun Safety, to partner with a video production team to produce and distribute a short video advertisement, re-enacting or representing the slaughter of those 21 innocents, to be run against all senators who oppose serious and comprehensive gun safety legislation. Many groups, including the Lincoln Project, have shown that attack ads work. We might want to test different versions of the ad, like the graphic re-enactment, vs, one as a cartoon, vs one as a couple of suggestive drawings or paintings.  If the graphic re-enactment works best, we will help raise the money to run it. The NYT reports that 90% of Americans want more gun safety, and it is time to try to do whatever it takes.

The copy for the ad would try to mention a few big facts, such as, all the other rich counties in the world have stiffer laws and limit access, and enjoy almost no to very little gun violence.

Ask Obi-Wan Kenobi: It’s Time the Star Wars Prequels Finally Got Their Due – David Priest – CNET

David Priest headshot
David Priest

“I don’t like sand. It’s coarse and rough and … it gets everywhere.” It’s one of the most painful lines in Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones, and it’s only made worse by Anakin’s halting delivery and awkward hand-stroking of Padmé.

Sure, the prequels brought us Ewan McGregor as a young Obi-Wan Kenobi. But George Lucas made so many terrible creative decisions in that prequel trilogy that fans were excited when Disney tapped the rock-steady J.J. Abrams to lead a new series of Star Wars movies in 2015. Unlike George Lucas, Abrams can write dialogue that isn’t excruciating, and more importantly, he’s proved himself a gifted guide for large franchises with untapped potential (Mission: Impossible, Star Trek and Cloverfield). And yet…

When the new Disney Star Wars trilogy drew to a close with The Rise of Skywalker in 2019, I found myself genuinely longing for the days of the prequels. What I’m feeling isn’t nostalgia. And it isn’t ironic “love” for schlocky cinema that animates prequel-memeing Redditors, either.”

Source: Ask Obi-Wan Kenobi: It’s Time the Star Wars Prequels Finally Got Their Due

Cihan Tugal | Turkey Shows What NATO Really Is – The New York Times

Dr. Tugal is a professor of sociology at the University of California, Berkeley, who writes frequently on Turkey’s politics and society.

“In April, as the world was occupied with Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, a NATO member launched an attack on two of its neighboring territories. In a bombing campaign, Turkey targeted the camps of Kurdish militants in Iraq and Syria, inflicting damage on shelters, ammunition depots and bases.

The irony went largely unnoticed. That’s hardly a surprise: For a long time, the Western world has turned a blind eye to Turkey’s heavy-handed treatment of the Kurds. Across decades, the Turkish state has persecuted the Kurdish minority — about 18 percent of the population — with devastating zeal. Thousands have perished and around a million have been displaced in a campaign of severe internal repression. But Western nations, except for a brief spell when Kurdish resistance was holding back an ascendant Islamic State, have rarely seemed to care.

Turkey’s treatment of the Kurds is now center stage — but not because allies have woken up to the injustice of Kurds’ systematic oppression. Instead, it’s because Turkey is effectively threatening to block the admittance of Finland and Sweden to NATO unless they agree to crack down on Kurdish militants. For President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, seeing an opportunity to further cement his nationalist agenda, it’s a bold gambit. The tepid response from NATO allies so far suggests he might be successful.”

Nicholas Kristof | These Gun Reforms Could Save 15,000 Lives. We Can Achieve Them. – The New York Times

Mr. Kristof is a former Times Opinion columnist. He was a candidate for the Democratic nomination for governor of Oregon this year.

“Gun enthusiasts protest that now is the time for mourning, not politics, for national grief rather than polarizing debates about firearms.

But we’re tired of commemorating gun violence in America only with thoughts and prayers. We didn’t respond to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine simply with thoughts and prayers, or to the 9/11 attacks only with moments of silence, or to Pearl Harbor just with lowered flags and memorial services.

No, we resolved to act, even though these were hard challenges with no perfect solutions. Gun policy is likewise complicated and politically vexing, and we’re not going to make everyone safe. Still, experts suggest that over time we plausibly could reduce gun deaths by a third, or 15,000 lives saved annually, with a series of pragmatic limits on firearms and those who can get them.

Instead, we’re paralyzed in ways that threaten our democracy and our well-being. American children and teenagers are 57 percent more likely to die young compared with children and teenagers in other advanced countries, and guns are one important reason. One study found that Americans ages 15 to 19 are 82 times more likely to be shot dead than similarly aged teenagers in our peer countries.”

David Lindsay Jr.
Hamden, CT | NYT Comment:
Thank you Nicholas Kristof, good to hear your thoughtful and clear voice. I am sorry the most recommended comments are so negative, or pessimistic.
I suggest that the NYT brings back the category, NYT Picks, but spruces it up a bit. Picks often pissed me off for various reasons. The Times might experiment with a new section, Picks by Mr A and Ms B. And you would be able to look up who they are, and what criterion they choose for choosing winners that day.
Or, in a limitless world, add two new categories, Picks in support of the journalist, and, Picks critical of the journalist. The argument for this effort, is to make the great experience even greater. The comments section of this paper is growing into an extraordinary and hyper valuable institution. Some old ass like myself, can read something, and not figure it out, or where I should stand on the issues. Diving into the comments makes many of us, a whole lot smarter. And grateful for the help in sorting though the chaff for the wheat.
David blogs at

The Rise and Fall of America’s Environmentalist Underground – Matthew Wolfe – The New York Times

“Late one summer evening in 2018, an American citizen named Joseph Mahmoud Dibee was sitting in José Martí International Airport in Havana, Cuba — trying, unsuccessfully, to sleep — when he was approached by three men. Dibee, a civil engineer, was in Havana on a layover. After a long business trip in Ecuador, he was heading home to Russia, where he lived with his wife and stepson. The men demanded his passport, then led him out of the terminal and into a waiting sedan. Dibee asked where they were going, but got no response. Sandwiched between his captors, he was driven miles through the night before finally arriving at what appeared to be a jail.

For the next three days, Dibee would claim in a subsequent court filing, he was imprisoned without explanation and, in effect, tortured. His small concrete cell was open to the elements; during the day, the cage baked. As Dibee, who was then 50, sweat through his clothes, the jail’s guards gave him little to drink. He soon became nauseated and began to repeatedly pass out. With no way of contacting his family, Dibee worried that, if he died, they would never learn what happened to him.

On his fourth day of confinement, weak from dehydration, Dibee was dragged to an air-conditioned trailer in another part of the facility. He was met by a middle-aged man in fatigues who identified himself as an officer in Cuba’s state intelligence service. Smiling, the officer held up a bottle of water.

“But first,” he said, “tell us about the fires.”

Several days later, on Aug. 9, 2018, Cuban authorities handed Dibee, in shackles, over to agents from the Federal Bureau of Investigation. To the F.B.I., Dibee’s arrest marked the end of a decade-long manhunt for one of the agency’s most wanted domestic terrorists. In 2006, Dibee was indicted on a charge of participation in a series of arsons carried out by a shadowy band of environmental activists known as the Earth Liberation Front. In the late 1990s, the ELF became notorious for setting fire to symbols of ecological destruction, including timber mills, an S.U.V. dealership and a ski resort. The group, which warned of imminent ecological catastrophe, was widely demonized. Its exploits were condemned by mainstream environmental groups, ridiculed by the media and inspired a furious crackdown from law enforcement.

Fleeing before he could be arrested, Dibee had spent years as a fugitive in Syria, Russia and Mexico, until he was picked up passing through Havana. After his interrogation by the Cuban authorities, the F.B.I. flew him in a Gulfstream jet to Portland, Ore., where he was arraigned for charges relating to his role in the attacks. This April, Dibee pleaded guilty to arson and conspiracy to commit arson.”

David Wallace-Wells | What Vaccine Apartheid Portends for the Climate Future – The New York Times

“. . . .  Last week Michael Bloomberg committed $242 million to accelerate the adoption of clean energy in 10 countries across the developing world. (The pledge was on top of his commitment of $500 million to buy and close American coal plants.) Mark Carney — a former head of the Bank of Canada and the Bank of England who has taken to describing a 25 percent cut to global G.D.P. as his “base case” expectation for warming — has mobilized companies managing $130 trillion in a corporate alliance for net-zero emissions. The Glasgow agreement urged countries to double their commitments to financing adaptation in the developing world by 2025.

This isn’t nothing. But while philanthropy and finance’s move toward climate action is not an illusion, forensic accounting tells a more nuanced story: Even the headline pledges (which include a fair amount of greenwashed money alongside directed real climate investment) amount to less than a third of the spending necessary to meet the Paris goals, according to the International Energy Agency (and, being largely profit-minded investment, almost entirely neglect the financial needs of those devastated by climate impacts today). This new ambition is real, in other words, and worth celebrating, to greater or lesser degrees.

But as with so much of the climate crisis, finally moving in the right direction, in fits and starts toward only a certain set of opportunities, is not the same as solving the problem whole or giving the world a path to anything we might want to call success. A doubling of adaptation finance, even if fulfilled, could mean as much as $60 billion annually, for instance; the U.N. Environmental Program estimates needs of as much as $300 billion.” . . . .

David Lindsay: Good essay, thank you. Sorry the comments section closed after just 79 comments. I have a fantasy of working as a stand up comic, and saying to the audience, The only problem with the  pandemic is that it didn’t kill nearly enough human beings. The ugly truth behind such gallows humor, is that scientists think the correct carrying capacity of humans on earth is probably about 4 billion, if we are going to not cause the sixth great extinction of species. Somehow,  Wallace-Wells missed the opportunity to connect these dots. Failures to save human lives is never a completely bad thing, when worring about the horrid effects on other species, or human overpopulation and all their garbage and pollution.