Inside Kim Kardashian’s Prison-Reform Machine – By Elizabeth A. Harris – The New York Times

“Kim Kardashian West breezed into a steakhouse in Washington, D.C., last month, wearing a bright white outfit with a giant fabric flower on the lapel. Technically, it was a pantsuit, but tighter and more fabulous than its Beltway cousins.

Inside the restaurant, Charlie Palmer, with its plate-glass windows overlooking the dome of the United States Capitol Building, her sizable entourage roamed around an area with a dozen tables. At the center of one, preset with plates of tuna tartar and salad to share, Kardashian West took a seat with two lawyers and three women who had been released from federal prison just two weeks before. They did their best to pretend the “Keeping Up With the Kardashians” camera crew wasn’t floating a boom mic above their appetizers.

At a nearby table sat goody bags from the White House, packed with MAGA hats and signed commutation papers. That morning, Kardashian West had accompanied her guests there so President Trump could meet the women whose sentences he reduced and convince him to let other people out of prison, too.

She posted about each of the three women on Twitter that day: Crystal Munoz, whom she said was sentenced to 20 years for conspiracy to possess and distribute marijuana, and gave birth to her second daughter while wearing shackles. Judith Negron, who got 35 years for conspiracy to commit health care fraud, her first offense. And Tynice Hall, who spent almost 14 years in prison on drug conspiracy charges after her boyfriend used her house for his drug activities.”

David Lindsay Jr.
Hamden, CT | NYT Comment:
Fascinating and important article. Thank you Elizabeth A. Harris. I couldn’t believe I was paying attention to Kim Kardashian West, but she has decided to embrace one of my favorite causes, and I’ve done far less now than she has towards important sentencing reform.
My only pause was a reference to Fonda and Harry Belafonte, that sonded like a small, crass, unnecessary slight to Jane Fonda. Or did you mean her brother or father? In my humble opinion, KKW can’t yet hold a candle to the talented and service dedicated Jane Fonda. If you think I am crazy, take at a look at Jane Fonda’s academy award winning  film, Coming Home, or tune in to her most recent work to fight against  climate changine green house gases.
But it looks like KKW is growing in some wonderful ways.

Opinion | The Coronavirus and the Conservative Mind – by Ross Douthat – The New York Times

“. . . . . .    In his novel “Foucault’s Pendulum,” a sendup of crackpot esotericism that anticipated “The Da Vinci Code” years before its publication, Umberto Eco captured this spirit by describing the way that self-conscious seekers after hermetic wisdom and gnostic mysteries approached the rise of Christianity:

… someone had just arrived and declared himself the Son of God, the Son of God made flesh, to redeem the sins of the world. Was that a run-of-the-mill mystery? And he promised salvation to all: you only had to love your neighbor. Was that a trivial secret? And he bequeathed the idea that whoever uttered the right words at the right time could turn a chunk of bread and a half-glass of wine into the body and blood of the Son of God, and be nourished by it. Was that a paltry riddle?

… And yet they, who now had salvation within their grasp — do-it-yourself salvation — turned deaf ears. Is that all there is to it? How trite. And they kept on scouring the Mediterranean in their boats, looking for a lost knowledge of which those thirty-denarii dogmas were but the superficial veil, the parable for the poor in spirit, the allusive hieroglyph, the wink of the eye at the pneumatics. The mystery of the Trinity? Too simple: there had to be more to it.

This is where the pandemic-minimizing sort of conservative has ended up. They are confronted with a world crisis tailor-made for an anti-globalization, anti-deep-state worldview — a crisis in which China lit the fuse, the World Health Organization ran interference for Beijing, the American public health bureaucracy botched its one essential job, pious anti-racism inhibited an early public-health response, and outsourcing and offshoring left our economy exposed.

And their response? Too simple: Just a feint, a false flag, another deep state plot or power grab, another hoax to take down Trump. It can’t be real unless Hillary Clinton is somehow at the bottom of it.”

David Lindsay Jr.
Hamden, CT | NYT comment:
In the beginning Ross Douthat basically lost me, but by the time he quoted Umberto Ecco, he had me eating out of the palm of his hand. My lady and I had been joking about how we could run rings around the first half of the essay, which lacked citations or hypertexts, and we quit reading it together. Then I read the second half, and had to call her back. Douthat was like Houdini, he revealed his main point with an almost perverted brilliance that only he, in the NYT crowd, is capable of or interessted in. My hat is off to Douthat.

The Lost Month: How a Failure to Test Blinded the U.S. to Covid-19 – The New York Times

“WASHINGTON — Early on, the dozen federal officials charged with defending America against the coronavirus gathered day after day in the White House Situation Room, consumed by crises. They grappled with how to evacuate the United States consulate in Wuhan, China, ban Chinese travelers and extract Americans from the Diamond Princess and other cruise ships.

The members of the coronavirus task force typically devoted only five or 10 minutes, often at the end of contentious meetings, to talk about testing, several participants recalled. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, its leaders assured the others, had developed a diagnostic model that would be rolled out quickly as a first step.

But as the deadly virus spread from China with ferocity across the United States between late January and early March, large-scale testing of people who might have been infected did not happen — because of technical flaws, regulatory hurdles, business-as-usual bureaucracies and lack of leadership at multiple levels, according to interviews with more than 50 current and former public health officials, administration officials, senior scientists and company executives.

The result was a lost month, when the world’s richest country — armed with some of the most highly trained scientists and infectious disease specialists — squandered its best chance of containing the virus’s spread. Instead, Americans were left largely blind to the scale of a looming public health catastrophe.”

“. . . . The C.D.C. gave little thought to adopting the test being used by the W.H.O. The C.D.C.’s test was working in its own lab — still processing samples from states — which gave agency officials confidence. Dr. Anne Schuchat, the agency’s principal deputy director, would later say that the C.D.C. did not think “we needed somebody else’s test.”

And the German-designed W.H.O. test had not been through the American regulatory approval process, which would take time.”

“. . .  Even though researchers around the country quickly began creating tests that could diagnose Covid-19, many said they were hindered by the F.D.A.’s approval process. The new tests sat unused at labs around the country.

Stanford was one of them. Researchers at the world-renowned university had a working test by February, based on protocols published by the W.H.O. The organization had already delivered more than 250,000 of the German-designed tests to 70 laboratories around the world, and doctors at the Stanford lab wanted to be prepared for a pandemic.

“Even if it didn’t come, it would be better to be ready than not to be ready,” said Dr. Benjamin Pinsky, the lab’s medical director.

But in the face of what he called “relatively tight” rules at the F.D.A., Dr. Pinsky and his colleagues decided against even trying to win permission. The Stanford clinical lab would not begin testing coronavirus samples until early March, when Dr. Hahn finally relaxed the rules.”

David Lindsay Jr.
Hamden, CT | NYT comment:
Thank you NYT: Michael D. Shear, Abby Goodnough, Sheila Kaplan, Sheri Fink, Katie Thomas and Noah Weiland. I have been frustrated, because I wanted this story to be front and center as the lead report in every day’s paper for the last month.
I cerainly hope you willl expand this story, and retell it. And do a similar deep dive into the shortate of Personal Protective Equipment and ventilators.
Trump is a genius at manipating your headlines. His lousy noise about quaratining NY, NJ and CT masterfully bumped this story from the lead story on line. Please learn to put Trump’s ugly noises below your real news stories.

Opinion | Watching ‘Hillary’ in the Wake of Elizabeth Warren’s Exit – By Jill Filipovic – The New York Times

By 

Contributing Opinion Writer

Credit…Josh Haner/The New York Times

“At the very end of “Hillary,” an intimate and revealing four-part Hulu documentary series that tracks Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign, Mandy Grunwald, the campaign’s communications adviser, sums up Mrs. Clinton’s career: “As long as she has been in public life there have been these ups and downs. ‘Be our champion, go away.’ ‘Be our path-breaker, go away.’”

Mrs. Clinton may be the woman at whom Americans have most regularly hurled these whiplash-inducing demands, but she is far from the only one who was told she had to mold herself into what the public (or a boss, or a partner, or a parent) said they wanted, only to wind up rejected and scorned for her efforts. In the wake of Senator Elizabeth Warren’s exit from the presidential race — the last of several smart, qualified Democratic women with any reasonable chance of clinching the 2020 nomination — “Hillary” feels both raw and resonant. It’s an unusually authentic portrayal of someone so often accused of being inauthentic.

And yet before she even says it onscreen, the tenor of Ms. Grunwald’s comment reverberates through the series, indicting all of us and suggesting we may have learned all the wrong lessons from 2016.

As “Hillary” thoroughly documents, the voting public demanded Mrs. Clinton conform, and then complained about her insincerity when she did. She spent decades tarred as a radical feminist, her attempt (and Republican-induced failure) to establish universal health care taken as a demonstration that she was far too left-wing. After some time spent licking her wounds and performing the role of the party-hosting agreeable first lady, she set about creating the groundbreaking Children’s Health Insurance Program. By the time the center-left caught up with her two decades later, she was cast as an establishment moderate.”

David Lindsay Jr.
Hamden, CT | NYT Comment:
I enjoyed this fine oe-ed by Jill Filipovic, while respectfully disagreeing somewhere. I was and remain an unrequited Hillary Clinton fan. I separate from the new hand wringing about Elizatbeth Warren for two reasons. First, for a dozen reasons, we lost with Hillary Clinton, who was one of the most prepared and talented people to ever run for president. So, with Trump so dangerous, and the existential threat of climate change hanging over those of us who study the science in horror, this is absolutely not the year to take a chance on another female candidate for president.
The second reason is trivial compared with this main reason, but it is that Warren moved so far left, she appeared out of step with the majority of American voters. As David Leonhardt writes brilliantly in today’s NYT, she prefered being right all the time rather than winning. Even if Warren had move to the center, I would not have supported her in 2020, because we can not affford to lose the next election, due to global warming.

The Original Long Islanders Fight to Save Their Land From a Rising Sea – By Somini Sengupta and Shola Lawal – The New York Times

By Somini Sengupta and 

“SHINNECOCK NATION, Southampton, N.Y. — A maritime people who once spanned a large swath of the eastern Long Island shore, the Shinnecock Indians have been hemmed into a 1.5-square-mile patch of land on the edge of a brackish bay. Now, because of climate change, they’re battling to hold on to what they have left.

Rising seas are threatening to eat away at the Shinnecock lands. But the tribe is using everything at its disposal to calm the waves and restore a long, slim beach at the edge of Shinnecock Bay: dredged sand, sea grasses, beach grasses, boulders, oyster shells.

It’s a forever battle. Climate change is swelling and heating the world’s oceans at an accelerating pace. Inevitably, the Shinnecock will have to bring more sand to replenish what the rising tide keeps washing away. More grass will have to be planted. This spring, Shavonne Smith, director of the tribe’s environmental department, wants to expand the oyster reef designed to dissipate the energy of the waves.

“We have an inherent responsibility to protect the homeland,” Ms. Smith said on a recent Monday morning walk along the shore. “It’s not the type of thing where you can work against nature. You work with it.” “

David Lindsay:

Thank you Somini Sengupta and Shola Lawal for a lovely article. The Shinnecock Indians are using nature to fight the rising sea in eastern Long Island, which is important. However, overpopulation and pollution caused by humans are root causes of global warming and the rising sea, according to about 99% of credentialed climatologists. Edward O Wilson of Harvard has written that some scientists think that the right population for the planet is perhaps 4 billion, or approximately half of the 7.6 billion we are at now.

I am currently reading “A Distant Mirror,” by Barbara Tuchman, about Europe in the 14th century, and how it dealt with the Bubonic Plagues that wiped out roughly half of Europe’s population. The doctors then said it was caused by the position of the planets. Most common people were sure it was God’s punishment for unpardonable sins—like Noah’s flood. No one suspected it was a tiny thing called a virus, carried by the rats and fleas which were part of every day life.

The coronavirus COVID-19 is a reminder that God, or nature, works in mysterious ways. It is a tragic irony, that such modern plagues might help mitigate the onset of global warming and the sixth great extinction of species. We have only decades, not centuries, to reduce our carbon dioxide and green house gas footprint to zero, or see the wrath of God again, as in 1348.

If you are a Franciscan Christian, or an environmentalist of any persuasion, that believes in the sanctity of all forms of life, and values non-human species, you have to be torn, when the plague comes knocking at your door. As you and some of your loved ones die a wretched death, you can temper your despair. The silver lining is that it might, possibly be for a greater good.

Opinion | Elizabeth Warren Has Hit Democrats’ Presidential Glass Ceiling – By Michelle Cottle – The New York Times

By 

Ms. Cottle is a member of the editorial board.

Credit…Damon Winter/The New York Times

“Talk about a head-spinner. Just a few days ago, Joe Biden’s candidacy was being prepped for burial, while Bernie Sanders’s revolution was considered unstoppable. But after the Biden blowout in South Carolina, Super Tuesday voters decided to shake things up.

As the results came rolling in, from east to west, political anchors delivered a breathless play-by-play of how Mr. Biden and Mr. Sanders were divvying up the map and turning this into a two-man race. Their remaining major rivals, Elizabeth Warren and Michael Bloomberg, registered as little more than afterthoughts. Ms. Warren came in third in her home state of Massachusetts, behind both Biden and Sanders.

And so, after all the tumult, the Democratic race has come down to this: Two straight white septuagenarian men fighting over the soul of the party — whatever that turns out to be.

Let us state that Mr. Biden and Mr. Sanders have many fine qualities. Either would make a better president than the unstable man-child currently degrading the office. That said, for the party of progress, youth and diversity, a final face-off between two lifelong politicians born during World War II leaves much to be desired. And it says something depressing about the challenges women candidates still confront in their quest to shatter the presidential glass ceiling.”

David Lindsay Jr.
Hamden, CT | NYT Comment:
I was and remain a huge Hillary Clinton fan and supporter. This piece does not impress me, to be polite. Gender roles are important, but not the only, or the top issues. Michelle Cottle writes: “Amy Klobuchar . . . noted that a woman with his résumé — a 38-year-old former mayor of the fourth-largest city in Indiana — would never be taken seriously.” I thought this was an example of why Klobushar wasn’t presidential material at this point. One of the old saws I’ve picked up is that congress people mostly talk, while mayors and governors execute and manage. There is enough truth in the idea, to suggest that mayors might have proved more than congress people, by way of managing detail, crisis, and working under fire. Nicholas Kristof wrote a long NYT article about the scandal in California of keeping a black teenager on death row, when half a dozen experts argued he had been framed and railroaded. Who was responsible, Kamala Harris for one, who was the Attorney General, and found it impolitic to admit a huge mistake, in fact, criminal behavior, by prosecutors and sheriffs.

The Gates Foundation has developed a cleaner, safer nuclear power plant and reactor – by David Lindsay Jr – InconvenientNews.Net

Yesterday was a wonderful day full of good news for environmentalists. And I’m not thinking about Pete Buttigieg or Amy Klobushar, but of Bill and Melinda Gates. Someone at a recent  CT League of Conservation Voters meeting recently suggested to Kathleen Schomaker that she watch the new Netflix documentary, “Inside Bill’s Brain: Decoding Bill Gates,” directed by Davis Guggenheim, who won an Academy award for “An Inconvenient Truth.”

There are three episodes, each about an hour. Part One, while describing Bill Gate’s blessed childhood in Seattle, bounces up to the work of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. The short segments on the foundation, tell the story of it improving  sewage conditions in third world countries, especially by starting an international competition to invent a new toilet: a stand alone, recomposting toilet. The foundation also developed a new power plant that runs on fecal waste, creates electricity, and produces clean potable water. I have posted three reviews of the series at my blog, and one of them said that the reporting was full of technical “wonky” details on revolutionary toilet ideas!

Episode Two covered Bill’s high school years and getting to Microsoft, and how the Gates Foundation set about to eradicate polio from the planet. They were nearly successful in some of the worst places for polio in the world, like Nigeria, until the rise of Boko Haran. The terrorists started killing the vaccinators, and polio hasn’t been eradicated in Boko Haran territory.

But it is part three than got us wildly excited. The personal details of Bill and Melinda’s courtship and marriage, and the anti-trust cases against Microsoft were informative, but the big news was the third project of the Gates Foundation—developing a cleaner, safer nuclear power plant and reactor. A team of teams led by Bill came up with a new and radically different nuclear reactor design that they are quite confident will not be able to have a meltdown during even a missile strike. It will not run as hot, or need water for cooling, and it will run on nuclear waste–used and depleted uranium–so it will not create much more waste, and will give a use to all the nuclear waste dumps in the world today and use the waste up. If it works, it is a game changer. They decided the best place to build the first one was in China, since the Chinese were still actively building nuclear power plants, but when Trump came to office, he began tariffs and cancelled the carefully arranged partnership. The episode ended without more info. We just know that the Gates Foundation still has to build and test their first prototype somewhere, to see if the simulations in their labs and on their computers are accurate.

Opinion | Trump Uses Kids Sold Into Sex Slavery to Score Political Points – By Nicholas Kristof – The New York Times

By 

Opinion Columnist

Credit…T.J. Kirkpatrick for The New York Times

“Few people on earth are so exploited as children trafficked into the sex trade. And now they are being exploited again, by President Trump.

“My administration is putting unprecedented pressure on traffickers at home and abroad,” Trump declared at a White House meeting on trafficking last month. “My administration is fighting these monsters, persecuting and prosecuting them, and locking them away for a very, very long time. We’ve had a tremendous track record — the best track record in a long time.”

I’ve been reporting about human trafficking all over the world since the 1990s, so part of me is thrilled that a president is highlighting this issue. Ivanka Trump has made it a signature issue, and she organized the White House event. The president used the occasion to announce a new White House position to oversee antitrafficking efforts, and all this high-level attention could be very helpful.

Yet it’s increasingly clear that this is less about protecting children and more about exalting Trump, whose administration is actually prosecuting fewer traffickers and making it harder for some trafficking survivors to get help. As a result, major antitrafficking organizations boycotted the White House session.”

David Lindsay Jr.
Hamden, CT | NYT Comment:
Thank you Nicholas Kristof, and god bless you. You keep talking about topics that are unpopular. You continue to bring untouchables into the light.

 

 

I’m for the men in the middle – By David Lindsay, Jr. – InconvenientNews.Net

For the lasrt six months, and still today, my first candidate is Joe Biden. It is telling that Ross Douthat, one of the new right wing conservatives opinion writers at the NYT, has chosen to write the essay endorsing Joe Biden. Douthat ends his op-ed:

“You lose any immediate chance at sweeping change, in other words, but you gain some room for incrementalism that greater ideological ambition might foreclose.

“Finally, the strongest argument for Biden is nonideological: More than the other candidates, he offers the possibility of a calmer presidency, where politics fades a bit from the daily headlines, where the average American is less bombarded by social-media swarms and cable-news freakouts, where gridlock and polarization persist but their stakes feel modestly reduced.  I’ll be honest: It wouldn’t be good news for political columnists, but as a citizen it doesn’t sound that bad.”

But I am also excited about either Michael Bloomberg or Pete Buttigieg.  Any of these three men in the middle of the political spectrum, and on the right side of the Democratic Party,  are the most likely, according to the polls that I am aware of and have studied, to beat Donald Trump where it matters, in the swing states that tilt the electoral college. Biden and Bloomberg are certainly more likely to attract swing voters, conservative independents and disgruntled Republicans, than either Bernie Sanders or Elizabeeth Warren.  These concerns largely explain why Trump has been calling the Ukraine for investigations into Biden, while quietly supporting, along with Russia, Bernie Sanders.

While I should possibly consider Amy Klobushar in this group of moderates, I don’t think many voters in the mid-west and red states will vote for a female for president, and I am turned off by the story in the NYT of how she mistreated minorities and immigrants when a prosecutor, and she has not impressed the voters in the causcuses and primaries we have had to date.

The United States and the world face some daunting challenges, climate change and the sixth extinction, growing income inequality, voter suppression, hate-based populism, pollution and overpopulation, to name some big ones. With Donald Trump and the current Republican Party on the wrong side of each one of these major issues, the outcome of the next election takes on special importance.

 

Children Freeze to Death as Attack Prompts Largest Exodus of Syrian War – The New York Times

“REYHANLI, Turkey — The baby wasn’t moving. Her body had gone hot, then cold. Her father rushed her to a hospital, going on foot when he could not find a car, but it was too late.

At 18 months, Iman Leila had frozen to death.

In the half-finished concrete shell that had been home since they ran for their lives across northwest Syria, the Leila family had spent three weeks enduring nighttime temperatures that barely rose above 20.

“I dream about being warm,” Iman’s father, Ahmad Yassin Leila, said a few days later by phone. “I just want my children to feel warm. I don’t want to lose them to the cold. I don’t want anything except a house with windows that keeps out the cold and the wind.”

Ahmad Yassin Leila and his infant daughter Iman, who froze to death.

Syria’s uprising began in a flare of hope almost exactly nine years ago. Now, amid one of the worst humanitarian emergencies of the war, some of those who chanted for freedom and dignity in 2011 want only to ward off the winter cold.”

 

David Lindsay Jr.
Hamden, CT | NYT Comment:
There is misery, suffering, blood and death on Trump’s hands. When he stabbed the Kurds in the back, by removing our small force that protected them from airstrikes from Russian and the Syrian government, he unleashed this terror on them and on our other allies in the area, the Syrian rebels, who I think, were being protected also by the military prowess of the Kurds. I am disgusted, and embarassed by our current president, and his subservience to Putin ofRussia, Bashar Al Assad of Syria, and Recep Tayyip Erdoğan of Turkey.