Opinion | Hong Kong and the Future of Freedom – By Bret Stephens – The New York Times

Bret Stephens

By Bret Stephens

Opinion Columnist

Protesters faced off against the police in Hong Kong on Wednesday.CreditDale De La Rey/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

“Imagine if in 2018 the Trump administration had proposed legislation that would allow the government, on nearly any pretext, to detain, try and imprison Americans accused of wrongdoing at secretive black sites scattered across the country.

Imagine, further, that 43 million Americans had risen in protest, only to be met by tear gas and rubber bullets while Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan rushed the bill through a pliant Congress. Finally, imagine that there was no effective judiciary ready to stop the bill and uphold the Constitution.

That, approximately, is what’s happening this week in Hong Kong.

An estimated one million people — nearly one in seven city residents — have taken to the streets to protest legislation that would allow local officials to arrest and extradite to the mainland any person accused of one of 37 types of crime. Political offenses are, in theory, excluded from the list, but nobody is fooled: Contriving criminal charges against political opponents is child’s play for Beijing, which can then make its victims disappear indefinitely until they are brought to heel.

In 2015, mainland authorities abducted five Hong Kong booksellersknown for selling politically sensitive titles and held them in solitary confinement for months until they pleaded guilty to various offenses. In 2017 Chinese billionaire Xiao Jianhua was abducted by Chinese authorities from the Four Seasons in Hong Kong. He hasn’t been seen publicly since, while his company is being stripped of its holdings.”

Warning of ‘Pig Zero’: One Drugmaker’s Push to Sell More Antibiotics – The New York Times

“Facing a surge in drug-resistant infections, the World Health Organization issued a plea to farmers two years ago: “Stop using antibiotics in healthy animals.”

But at last year’s big swine industry trade show, the World Pork Expo in Des Moines, one of the largest manufacturers of drugs for livestock was pushing the opposite message.

“Don’t wait for Pig Zero,” warned a poster featuring a giant picture of a pig peeking through an enormous blue zero, at a booth run by the drugmaker Elanco.

The company’s Pig Zero brochures encouraged farmers to give antibiotics to every pig in their herds rather than waiting to treat a disease outbreak caused by an unknown Patient Zero. It was an appealing pitch for industrial farms, where crowded, germ-prone conditions have led to increasing reliance on drug interventions. The pamphlets also detailed how feeding pigs a daily regimen of two antibiotics would make them fatter and, as any farmer understands, a heavier pig is a more profitable pig.

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David Lindsay: Excellent article, thank you.
Here is my favorite comment so far:
Ron From Chicago
Chicago

This is a HUGE problem. We will soon be exiting the antibiotic age, and will be back to the same place humans have been most of our existence-completely at the mercy and randomness of not catching a bacterial infection. We have developed one of the most remarkable life-saving advances in human history-antibiotic drugs, and through greed and recklessness have squandered this advantage. Our children will look back on this and curse our collective actions.

2 Replies124 Recommended

Opinion | Let’s Ditch Mitch – By Gail Collins – The New York Times

Gail Collins

By Gail Collins

Opinion Columnist

O.K., throwing this one at you without warning: What’s your opinion of Mitch McConnell?

A) Spawn of Satan.

B) Sort of pitiful, what with having Donald Trump on his back.

C) Can we talk about how he looks like a turtle?

Definitely not the last one. It’s true that many Americans think of McConnell as turtle-like, due to his lack of anything resembling a chin.

But this is wrong on two counts. First, you shouldn’t tackle people you disagree with by making fun of their looks.

Second, it gives turtles a bad name. Turtles are great for the environment and everybody likes them. They sing to their children. You are never going to see a turtle killing gun control legislation.

Mitch, on the other hand, has a longstanding alliance with the National Rifle Association, which has shown its affection to the tune of about $1.3 million in support. Anything the N.R.A. dislikes never gets the chance to come up for a Senate vote. Reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act is moldering away in a corner because the N.R.A. doesn’t want authorities taking guns away from domestic abusers.

It’s been another terrible year of mass shooting violence. One simple, very popular response would be to improve the background checks for gun purchases. It would at least show our elected officials care about the crisis.

Such a bill passed the House of Representatives and went to the Senate where it’s, um, laying around somewhere. “There’s a whole bunch of Republican support, but he won’t let it move to the floor,” said minority leader Chuck Schumer.

This goes on a lot. McConnell, who has near total control over what comes up for a vote, sits on things he doesn’t like until they smother. Farewell, immigration reform, Paycheck Fairness Act, legislation protecting Americans with pre-existing conditions, lowering prescription drug prices, protecting election security, restoring net neutrality.”

David Lindsay:  Thank you Gail Collins for a good piece. Also good comments. Here is one I found useful but daunting.

Denise
Louisville
Times Pick

I live in the same area of town as Mitch- the Highlands of Louisville, one of the most liberal neighborhoods in Kentucky. You can only imagine how painful it is to stand behind him at the local deli or in Kroger, knowing how responsible he is for this very real threat to our democracy. For all those who believe that removing him from power is simply a matter of telling Kentuckians that he hurts us more than helps us – oh how naive you are! His willingness to allow the movement against abortion rights to progress through his manipulation of the judicial system is enough for most KY voters to back him yet again. The real problem lies within the Senate. How is it that only the number of years one has served can give one man from such a small state as KY so much power? This debacle of McConnell reveals yet another weakness in our democracy. A man who can cater to singular interests of a small portion of society can retain his seat for decades. He doesn’t even acknowledge the letters, calls and emails those who disagree with him send. He doesn’t need us. His power is entrenched and Republicans at large know it. McConnell can be as deceitful, manipulative and hateful as they need because he faces no consequences. The system of designating power must change.

13 Replies1691 Recommended
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David Lindsay: It is an irony that if we let the right overturn Roe V Wade, McConnell would probably lose his grip on the Kentucky electorate, and all the other great things McConnell is preventing could become the law of the land, or at least get a vote.
Are other option, is to make sure the Democrats take back the Senate, which removes McConnell from his leadership role.

‘Why Are So Many of Our Girls Dying?’ Canada Grapples With Violence Against Indigenous Women – The New York Times

WINNIPEG — In the 24 hours before the disappearance of Tina Fontaine, a 15-year-old from the Sagkeeng First Nation in Canada, she was seen by provincial child welfare workers, police officers and health care professionals.

Then she was found dead, dumped in Manitoba’s Red River, and wrapped in a plastic bag and duvet weighed down with 25 pounds of rocks.

“Canada and the system failed Tina at every step,” Thelma Favel, the great-aunt who raised her, said on a recent day from her small home in Powerview, a sleepy town on Lake Winnipeg near the reserve of the Sagkeeng First Nation. “Why are so many of our girls dying?”

Opinion | Democrats- Do Your Damned Duty! – by Charles Blow – The New York Times

David Lindsay:
I wish it were so easy, and simple, but I fear it isn’t.
David Leonhardt and Bret Stephens have both argued that impeachment right away would give Trump the foil he needs to play the victim card over and over. He would then be exonnerated by the Senate. It would give him a boost before the 2020 election.
Here is a comment, I was able to endorse:
Ron Cohen
Ron Cohen
Waltham, MA3h ago
Times Pick
As others have pointed out, time favors the Democrats, not Trump. He wants impeachment now, so he can be exonerated by the Senate before the 2020 campaign begins.

He doesn’t want the drip, drip, drip of further revelations during the campaign, which surely will accelerate once impeachment proceedings have begun.

There’s nothing in the Constitution that REQUIRES Congress to impeach—now, or ever. Those who argue that Congress has a “Constitutional responsibility,” or “duty,” to impeach are wrong. There is no such thing. Whether to impeach is a political decision, and it has always been regarded as such. Congress is free to leave the judgment to the voters if it feels that is a less divisive and more certain means of redress.

And that is exactly what will happen if impeachment proceedings are delayed until next year, when the campaign is under way. The final verdict will be made by the voters—by then more fully engaged and informed—who may well “convict” via the ballot box. There’s no certainty they will do so, but it is certain the Senate will not. Once Trump is out of office, of course, his immunity to prosecution will be gone.

17 Replies213 Recommended

Opinion |  Donald and the Deadly Deniers – by Paul Krugman – The New York Times

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/10/15/opinion/trump-climate-change-deniers-republican.html

“Climate change is a hoax.

Climate change is happening, but it’s not man-made.

Climate change is man-made, but doing anything about it would destroy jobs and kill economic growth.

These are the stages of climate denial. Or maybe it’s wrong to call them stages, since the deniers never really give up an argument, no matter how thoroughly it has been refuted by evidence. They’re better described as cockroach ideas — false claims you may think you’ve gotten rid of, but keep coming back.

Anyway, the Trump administration and its allies — put on the defensive by yet another deadly climate change-enhanced hurricane and an ominous United Nations report — have been making all of these bad arguments over the past few days. I’d say it was a shocking spectacle, except that it’s hard to get shocked these days. But it was a reminder that we’re now ruled by people who are willing to endanger civilization for the sake of political expediency, not to mention increased profits for their fossil-fuel friends.

About those cockroaches: Details aside, the very multiplicity of climate-denial arguments — the deniers’ story keeps changing, but the bottom line that we should do nothing remains the same — is a sign that the opponents of climate action are arguing in bad faith. They aren’t seriously trying to engage with the reality of climate change or the economics of reduced emissions; their goal is to keep polluters free to pollute as long as possible, and they’ll grab onto anything serving that goal.”

Opinion | Earth- Wind and Liars – by Paul Krugman – The New York Times

“. . .  In the long run, these tactics probably won’t stop the transition to renewable energy, and even the villains of this story probably realize that. Their goal is, instead, to slow things down, so they can extract as much profit as possible from their existing investments.

Unfortunately, this really is a case of “in the long run we are all dead.” Every year that we delay the clean-energy transition will sicken or kill thousands while increasing the risk of climate catastrophe.

The point is that Trump and company aren’t just trying to move us backward on social issues; they’re also trying to block technological progress. And the price of their obstructionism will be high.”

Iran Finally Let Her See Her Husband. He Was Dead. – The New York Times

“. . .  In his free time, Mr. Seyed Emami, a youthful 64 when he died, led an influential private environmental organization, the Persian Wildlife Heritage Foundation, founded in 2008 by Morad Tahbaz, an Iranian-American entrepreneur. With his Canadian passport, gotten as many Canadian-Iranians had in the 1980s and 1990s, he could have lived in Canada. But he chose to stay in Iran and work for change here.

In his classes and through the foundation, he urged his fellow Iranians to work within the system to build the country they desired, despite setbacks they might experience. But lately some authorities clearly found his work at the foundation, which had continued for nearly nine years, suspicious.

As part of its preservation of endangered species, the foundation had set up camera traps to track rare animals like the Persian leopard in the wild. Those cameras, as well as the foundation’s frequent invitations to foreign experts, would figure in the spying charges.”

Opinion | When a Traffic Ticket Costs $13,000 – The New York Times

By Emily Reina Dindial and Ronald J. Lampard

Ms. Dindial is lawyer for the A.C.L.U. Mr. Lampard is a lawyer for the American Legislative Exchange Council.

A motorist waiting as a police officer writes a citation.CreditStan Lim/Digital First Media — The Press-Enterprise, via Getty Images

For most people living in America, transportation is central to daily life. About 83 percent of Americans report that they regularly drive a car multiple times a week. Yet millions of drivers across the country have had their licenses suspended — taking away their ability to drive to work, school, the grocery store or the doctor — essentially because they are poor.

In 2014, Leah Jackson was ticketed for obstructing traffic in Ostego, Minn., after turning left at a red light. That kind of thing happens to many people. But, as Ms. Jackson explained to state lawmakers in 2018 testimony, she had just started a new job and hadn’t yet received a paycheck, so she couldn’t pay the $135 fine right away.

A few months later, she was pulled over, told her driver’s license was suspended for an unpaid ticket and cited for driving with a suspended license — a new $200 ticket. Her job responsibilities as a retail store manager required her to make bank runs and other deliveries, so she kept driving in order to keep her job. In less than a month, she received two more tickets for driving with a suspended license. After accounting for the additional tickets and the resulting increase in her monthly insurance premiums, her debt from the initial infraction spiraled into more than $13,000 over four and a half years.

The criminal justice system too often produces a self-perpetuating cycle, particularly for the poorest people, who can’t pay fines or hire lawyers to make charges go away. In 39 states, you can lose your driving privileges if you’re unable to pay a court fine or fee, for things as minor as a traffic violation. But a bipartisan effort is growing to end the fundamentally unjust practice of wealth-based suspensions.

Opinion | The Fake Nancy Pelosi Video Hijacked Our Attention. Just as Intended. – The New York Times

Charlie Warzel

By Charlie Warzel

Mr. Warzel is an Opinion writer at large.

CreditJoel Saget/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

“Last week, a series of manipulated videos — subtly slowed down and then pitch-corrected to make it appear as if the House speaker, Nancy Pelosi, was drunk or incapacitated — were published across Facebook and other social networks, including YouTube and Twitter.

The swift spread of agitation propaganda and the creep of hyperpartisanship across social media isn’t a bug, it is a feature.

The videos were viewed millions of times. They were shared by the president’s personal lawyer, Rudolph W. Giuliani (the tweet was later deleted) as well as dozens of supporters in the pro-Trump media. The president didn’t share the agitprop, but he did bang out a tweetquestioning the speaker’s well-being.

Mainstream media outlets, in an effort to debunk the viral clips, linked to the video or reposted portions of it themselves, side-by-side with the un-doctored footage of the House speaker. YouTube removed the video, but only after it amassed thousands of views. Twitter and Facebook did not remove the video (Facebook eventually added “fact check” links to the clips). Journalists and pundits debated the social networks’ decisions to leave the video up, while others lamented the rise of political misinformation, filter bubbles, the future of “deepfake” videos and the internet’s penchant to warp reality.”