Corker Told the Truth About Trump. Now He Should Act on It. – by Michelle Goldberg – NYT

“Over the past few months, the country has been in a foul sort of trance. Among people who work in politics, Republicans as well as Democrats, it is conventional wisdom that President Trump is staggeringly ill-informed, erratic, reckless and dishonest. (He also might be compromised by a hostile foreign power.) But it’s also conventional wisdom that with few exceptions, Republicans in Congress are not going to stand up to him. America’s nuclear arsenal is in the hands of a senescent Twitter troll, but those with political power have refused to treat this fact as a national emergency. Thus, even though a majority of Americans consider the president unfit for office, a fatalistic sense of stasis has set in.Credit Senator Bob Corker, Republican of Tennessee, for momentarily snapping us out of it. On Sunday evening, after a Twitter feud with Trump, Corker gave an interview to The New York Times in which he said publicly what Republican officeholders usually say only privately. Trump, Corker told the reporters Jonathan Martin and Mark Landler, is treating the presidency like “a reality show” and could be setting the nation “on the path to World War III.” Corker has previously said that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Secretary of Defense James Mattis and Chief of Staff John Kelly “help separate our country from chaos.” On Sunday, he identified the agent of that chaos. “I know for a fact that every single day at the White House, it’s a situation of trying to contain him,” Corker said of Trump.”

Bravo.

Here is my favorite comment:

CheistineMcM is a trusted commenter Massachusetts 6 hours ago

“The Congress holds the ultimate power for war,” Jerry Taylor, president of the Niskanen Center, a libertarian think tank, told me. “Though they have more or less delegated that power away to the executive branch, they can take it back.”

Wow. We’ve come light years in just three days once one Senator decided to tell it like it is: the Emperor has no clothes.

While handcuffing his nuclear power will enrage Trump, I hope this can get debated and passed with urgency given what’s at stake–because time really is running out.

I also thank you, Michelle, for pointing out that were our politics not so fractured, Trump could be impeached on the basis of the emoluments clause alone. Were a Democratic president self-dealing in the brazen manner Trump is, you can be pretty sure that person would be long gone.

GOP cowardice or not, our caged animal president, prone to rages and crazy talk, could (and should) be removed by the 25th amendment as unfit for office. But since even that’s impossible, let’s settle by isolating him from unilateral use of the codes.

Our nation is on edge: most of us believe we have a nut-job as president supported by a passionate but gullible base not known for intellectual curiosity. Bob Corker’s truth to power interview has snapped the rest of us out of our national torpor–we want solutions now.

Hopefully Corker’s awakening can spread to his colleagues before it’s too late.

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Be Strategic- Not Impulsive- on North Korea – Thomas Friedman – NYT

“Bader, who has served multiple administrations in diplomatic and policy jobs related to China and is now a private consultant, begins by asking the best question any American strategist could ask when thinking about how to deter a nuclear-armed foe: What would George Kennan do?

Kennan was the architect of America’s successful containment of the Soviet Union, which had tens of thousands of nuclear missiles aimed at us for roughly half a century.

Kennan, argues Bader, would grasp that “while some situations may be unacceptable, they do not lend themselves to short-term fixes. The North Korean challenge is one of them.” ”

David Lindsay Hamden, CT Pending Approval at NYT comments.

Great column Thomas Friedman. I loved your proposal. “What should the American proposal say? It should tell the North Koreans, says Bader, that in return for their complete denuclearization and dismantling of their missile program, we would establish full diplomatic relations; end the economic embargo and sanctions; and provide economic assistance, investment and a peace treaty to replace the 64-year-old armistice agreement.”

In response to Susan Rice’s excellent op-ed, I wrote: ” I read a good idea by a commentator at the NYT who suggested, the US should woo North Korea into a de-escalation. We could, for example. offer to pull our military forces out of South Korea in exchange for their giving up their nuclear weapons program. It would be useful if talks could start, aimed at giving both countries what they want or need. I add to the commentators idea, it might be necessary to let the North Koreans keep the nuclear weapons that they have. This might be acceptable, if we could get them to allow verification that they stop all further development. I continue to be depressed by most of the discussion. It is arrogant for the US to think that it has to be in charge of North Korea, when they are China’s neighbor and vassal state. We should remind ourselves continually, that this part of the world is not our backyard, but China’s.”

I’m not sure Your approach is better, Mr. Friedman, but your right, we should laugh at every missile launch as pathetic and stupid.

Did Donald Jr. Break the Law? – By NORMAN L. EISEN and RICHARD W. PAINTER – NYT

“The revelation that Donald Trump Jr. enthusiastically accepted an offer to meet with an individual described as a “Russian government attorney” bringing “official documents and information” to help the Trump campaign and injure the Clinton campaign is a bombshell.It raises a host of potential criminal and other legal violations for Donald Jr. and others involved, including his brother-in-law Jared Kushner; Paul Manafort, the campaign chairman at the time; and perhaps the president himself. These new facts are a critical inflection point in the Trump-Russia matter. But they should not be exaggerated: The investigation has much further to go before Donald Jr.’s liability, or that of others, can be finally assessed.”

Trump Is Wimping Out on Trade – by Paul Krugman – NYT

“During the campaign, Donald Trump talked loudly and often about how he was going to renegotiate America’s “horrible trade deals,” bringing back millions of good jobs. So far, however, nothing has happened. Not only is Trumpist trade policy — Trumptrade? — nowhere to be seen in practice; there isn’t even any indication of what it will involve.

So on Friday the White House scheduled a ceremony in which Mr. Trump would sign two new executive orders on trade. The goal, presumably, was to counteract the growing impression that his bombast on trade was sound and fury signifying nothing.

Unfortunately, the executive orders in question were, to use the technical term, nothingburgers. One called for a report on the causes of the trade deficit; wait, they’re just starting to study the issue? The other addressed some minor issues of tariff collection, and its content apparently duplicated an act President Obama already signed last year.”

David Lindsay Hamden, CT Pending Approval

Dear Paul Krugman,
Thank you for another delightful, insightful op-ed piece. We are concerned that you and the NYT called it “Trump is Wimping Out on Trade.” We don’t want you to so enrage the overgrown adolescent that he reverts to really dump moves on trade just to get back at his critics. We think you should have titled this piece, Trump is Manning up on Trade. (see Frank Bruni)

Hopefully, he will man up, and support the TPP, perhaps with a few changes,
a few, major, complicated “nothingburgers.”

‘That Food Saved My Life’ and Trump Wants to Cut It Off – Nicholas Kristof – NYT

“The U.S. contributes less than one-fifth of 1 percent of our national income to foreign aid, about half the proportion of other donor countries on average.

Humanitarian aid is one of the world’s great success stories, for the number of people living in extreme poverty has dropped by half since 1990, and more than 120 million children’s lives have been saved in that period.”

A Concerned Citizen’s Plea to America’s Business Leaders – by Tom Friedman – NYT

“. . . And while we’re talking dangerous, why are there record numbers of migrants flooding out of sub-Saharan Africa, the Mideast and Central America, trying to get into Europe and America? Two big reasons are droughts and population explosions. And what do Trump and Bannon propose? Ignoring climate change and halting U.S. government help with family planning in the developing world.”

Tremendous op-ed by Tom Friedman. Comments are also good, but nowhere near as clear as Friedman. Here is one comment I found additive to the Friedman essay.

Look Ahead is a trusted commenter WA 3 hours ago

“The US share of global GDP has fallen from 27% following WWII to 15% in 2016, measured by purchasing power parity. The combined share of Western Europe and the US has dropped from over 50% to under 30%. Demographics will continue the downward trend. The future, especially for US based multinationals, frankly lies in making stuff for the 85%.

You can’t produce goods and services for most of the 85% without accelerating automation, increasing supply chain efficiency or lower wages, in that order.

I know alot of people imagine factories in China to be dark and dismal sweatshops. But some of the most highly automated factories in the world are in, you guessed it, China, because that’s where the capital investment is.

Manufacturing is actually a much smaller part of the economy than retailing and distribution, which is being transformed at lightning speed by on-line shopping and highly efficient supply chains.

Nothing Trump wants to do will change this direction, no walls, no immigrant bans, no for-profit diploma mills funded by taxpayers. And a rising dollar is just growing foreign investment.

Good luck with Trumponomics.”

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Bannon Versus Trump – by David Brooks – The New York Times

Inconvenient News Worldwide

“It’s becoming clear that for the next few years American foreign policy will be shaped by the struggle among Republican regulars, populist ethno-nationalists and the forces of perpetual chaos unleashed by Donald Trump’s attention span.

The Republican regulars build their grand strategies upon the post-World War II international order — the American-led alliances, norms and organizations that bind democracies and preserve global peace. The regulars seek to preserve and extend this order, and see Vladimir Putin as a wolf who tears away at it.”

Bravo David Brooks. I knew you could rehabilitate yourself. The top comments so far all miss the big point, that this column in brilliant. Brooks writes: “I’m personally betting the foreign policy apparatus, including the secretaries of state and defense, will grind down the populists around Trump. Frictions will explode within the insanely confusing lines of authority in the White House. ” The rest of his…

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India’s Air-Conditioning and Climate Change Quandary – by Michael Greenstone – The New York Times

“Air-conditioning is not just a luxury. It’s a critical adaptation tool in a warming world, with the ability to save lives.It also warms the world.Which is why the structure of the recent landmark agreement reached in Kigali, Rwanda, on limiting hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) used in, among other things, air-conditioners and refrigerators is so important. The agreement accounts for the trade-offs that the world, especially today’s poorest countries, must make in confronting climate change while improving people’s lives.

Consider this: While 87 percent of households in the United States have air-conditioning, only 5 percent of those in India do. Any agreement to limit HFCs across the board would greatly reduce opportunities for people in poorer countries to have access to air-conditioners.To deal with these disparities, the Kigali agreement created three tracks of countries. The richest countries, like the United States, are on the swiftest track, freezing the production and consumption of HFCs by 2018 and bringing HFC levels to 15 percent of 2012 levels by 2036.Much of the rest of the world is taking a middle road, freezing HFC use by 2024 and reducing it to 20 percent of 2021 levels by 2045.

And a small group of the hottest countries, like India, have agreed to an even slower path of reductions, freezing HFC use by 2028 and reducing it to about 15 percent of 2025 levels by 2047. Rich countries, as well as a group of philanthropists, will also provide $80 million to middle-track countries as incentives to attempt tougher goals.

The system illustrates that, at its core, cutting greenhouse gas pollution requires countries to assume upfront costs today in exchange for smaller climate damage in the future.But there is no universal answer for how to balance these costs. Countries’ choices will reflect their current and future wealth; current and future climate; and other factors, including societal values. The track system allows for those differences and may well be a model for future climate deals.”

Source: India’s Air-Conditioning and Climate Change Quandary – The New York Times

Here is a comment I can second:

Al Trease Ketchum Idaho 22 hours ago

“The nyts has printed many articles, especially in the last several years, detailing the agreements that bho has signed that purport to be addressing climate change. There’s only one problem. There is not the slightest evidence that green house gases are being lowered by these agreements, or that even the rate of rise is slowing. Because, of course, they’re not. In fact they continue to go up at an accelerated rate. The reasons are many, but chief among them is the fact that none of the agreements address the prime cause of global warming, human population growth, combined with our lifestyle. China maybe the biggest emitter of GH gasses, but on a per capita basis we (the u.s.) are still number one. As our population, driven almost exclusively by immigrants and their offspring, surges to over 500 million in the next half century, the empty suits can wear out a thousand pens signing agreements, but nothing will get better until we face facts. And the fact is, without addressing human population growth, nothing will be saved or get better.”

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Resettling China’s ‘Ecological Migrants’ – The New York Times

“MIAOMIAO LAKE VILLAGE, China — Ankle-deep sand blocked the door of their new home. Pushing bicycles through the yard was like wading in a bog. The “lake” part of Miaomiao Lake Village turned out to be nothing but a tiny oasis more than a mile from the cookie-cutter rows of small concrete-block houses.

Ma Shiliang, a village doctor whose family was among some 7,000 Hui Muslims whom the Chinese government had brought to this place from their water-scarce lands in the country’s northwest, said officials promised “we would get rich.” Instead, these people who once herded sheep and goats over expansive hills now feel like penned-in animals, listless and uncertain of their future.“If we had known what it was like, we wouldn’t have moved here,” said Dr. Ma, 41, who, three years on, has been unable to get a job practicing medicine in Miaomiao Lake Village or to find other reliable work.”

Source: Resettling China’s ‘Ecological Migrants’ – The New York Times

Living in China’s Expanding Deserts – The New York Times

“In the Tengger Desert, China — This desert, called the Tengger, lies on the southern edge of the massive Gobi Desert, not far from major cities like Beijing. The Tengger is growing.For years, China’s deserts spread at an annual rate of more than 1,300 square miles. Many villages have been lost. Climate change and human activities have accelerated desertification. China says government efforts to relocate residents, plant trees and limit herding have slowed or reversed desert growth in some areas. But the usefulness of those policies is debated by scientists, and deserts are expanding in critical regions.

Nearly 20 percent of China is desert, and drought across the northern region is getting worse. One recent estimate said China had 21,000 square miles more desert than what existed in 1975 — about the size of Croatia. As the Tengger expands, it is merging with two other deserts to form a vast sea of sand that could become uninhabitable.”

Source: Living in China’s Expanding Deserts – The New York Times

The pictures and video are first rate, beautiful, but haunting. This is a magnificent piece of bad news.

I have been moved by study to support negative population growth, because we are in the Anthropocene, and the Sixth Extinction, which is the accelerated lost of biodiversity on the planet. There are good arguments for this position in Dan Brown’s latest thriller, Inferno, which is a good read, and about to hit theaters in the US.