German Candidates Fail to Find Footing in Flood Response – The New York Times

BERLIN — Floods have had a way of reshaping German politics.

“Helmut Schmidt made a name for himself responding to deadly floods in Hamburg in 1962, and went on to become chancellor in the 1970s. Images of Gerhard Schröder wading through muddy water along the Elbe River in 2002 are credited with helping him win another term.

The floods that ravaged Germany last week — more severe than any in centuries — are already doing their work in this election year. But the striking thing they have revealed, political analysts say, is that none of the major candidates has been able to demonstrate the level of leadership in a crisis the public has grown accustomed to under Chancellor Angela Merkel.”

David Lindsay Jr.
Hamden, CT | NYT Comment:
It is my hope that this flooding disaster prompts the German leadership and people to rethink their complete exit from nuclear energy as a short term bridge to a completely sustainable and circular economy. Bill Gates and associates have a new nuclear technology, that can not melt down or explode, and runs on old nuclear waste. There are about 20 new nuclear power designs, all much safer than the technology of 50 years ago. There is a growing number of scientist who think that we can’t make a transition fast enough without some new technology, and these new nuclear power plant designs are worth exploring and probably worth developing. We at least have to test them out.
David Lindsay Jr is the author of “the Tay Son Rebellion” about 18th century Vietnam, and blogs at InconvenientNews.Net.

Europe Rolls Out Ambitious Climate Change Plan, but Obstacles Loom – The New York Times

“BRUSSELS — Europe on Wednesday laid out an ambitious blueprint for a sharply decarbonized future over the next nine years, marking the start of what promises to be a difficult and bruising two-year negotiation among industry, 27 countries and the European Parliament.

The political importance of the effort, pushed by the European Commission, the E.U.’s bureaucracy, is without doubt. It puts Brussels in the forefront of the world’s efforts to decarbonize and reach the goal of a carbon-neutral economy by 2050. To force the issue, Brussels has committed to reducing its emissions of greenhouse gases 55 percent by 2030 compared with 1990 levels.

Although the European Union produces only about 8 percent of current global carbon emissions, its cumulative emissions since the start of the industrial age are among the world’s highest. It also sees itself as an important regulatory power for the world and hopes to set an example, invent new technologies that it can sell and provide new global standards that can lead to a carbon-neutral economy.”

David Lindsay: I hope this succeeds. The comments are interesting, and here is my favorite so far:

Austin Ouellette

Denver, CO 52m ago

Let’s talk about the myth of “cheap” fossil fuels. Human beings need to eat food. Food is grown on an industrial scale on farms. Farms suffer massive losses from climate change, as floods become more destructive, and rainfalls become more sporadic and unpredictable. To protect themselves from the liability of those losses, farms buy crop insurance. Crop insurance, and the crops themselves, are HEAVILY subsidized by governments all around the world. We are talking billions and billions of dollars JUST in the USA alone. Go read the Farm Bill. It is a massive nearly $1/2 Trillion government spending program. Almost 10% of the total cost is crop insurance. That’s $38.52 Billion. And that’s just the United States. That’s just one of the costs that taxpayers are liable for, which does not show up on the receipt at the gas station. Let’s talk healthcare. It’s well documented fact that air pollution is getting worse, and as a result, there has been a massive increase in chronic respiratory disease across all age groups, but especially children. These cases are especially prominent in communities which allow natural gas flaring with no setbacks. Treatment for chronic respiratory disease increases healthcare costs. Again, you don’t see “sick kids” on the receipt at the pump. Those are just two examples. There are thousands of others. Fossil fuels are NOT cheap. Megawatt for megawatt, take away all the subsidies and truly account for all costs, fossil fuels are WAY more expensive.

2 Replies17 Recommended

Opinion | Northern Ireland Is Coming to an End – The New York Times

Ms. McKay is an Irish journalist who writes extensively about the politics and culture of Northern Ireland.

“BELFAST, Northern Ireland — It was meant to be a year of celebration.

But Northern Ireland, created in 1921 when Britain carved six counties out of Ireland’s northeast, is not enjoying its centenary. Its most ardent upholders, the unionists who believe that the place they call “our wee country” is and must forever remain an intrinsic part of the United Kingdom, are in utter disarray. Their largest party has ousted two leaders within a matter of weeks, while an angry minority has taken to the streets waving flags and threatening violence. And the British government, in resolving Brexit, placed a new border in the Irish Sea.

It’s harsh reward for what Northern Ireland’s first prime minister, James Craig, called “the most loyal part of Great Britain.” But the Protestant statelet is not what it was. Well on its way to having a Catholic majority, the country’s once dominant political force — unionism — now finds itself out of step with the community that traditionally gave it uncritical support. And for all his talk of the territorial integrity of the United Kingdom, Prime Minister Boris Johnson has made clear his government would cheerfully ditch this last little fragment of Britain’s empire if it continues to complicate Brexit.

The writing is on the wall. While the process by which Ireland could become unified is complicated and fraught, one thing seems certain: There isn’t going to be a second centenary for Northern Ireland. It might not even last another decade.” . . .

A Wave of the Hand Sets Off Spain-Morocco Migrant Fight – The New York Times

Nicholas Casey and 

“CEUTA, Spain — Daouda Faye, a 25-year-old migrant from Senegal, was elated when he heard that Moroccan border guards had suddenly started waving in undocumented migrants across the border to Ceuta, a fenced-off Spanish enclave on the North African coast.

“‘Come on in, boys,’” the guards told him and others as they reached the border on May 17, Mr. Faye said.

And in they went — by the thousands.

Normally, Morocco tightly controls the fenced borders around Ceuta, a six-mile-long peninsula on Morocco’s northern coast that Spain has governed since the 1600s. But now its military was allowing migrants into this toehold of Europe. Over the next two days, as many as 12,000 people flowed over the border to Ceuta in hopes of reaching mainland Spain, engulfing the city of 80,000.   . . . “

David Lindsay: Here is a comment a strongly recommended.

WWill. NYCNYC 1h ago

This world is so overpopulated by humans we are on the edge of disaster. If Europe doesn’t very quickly help Africa get is human population growth under control no army in the world will keep back the waves of immigrants. There are literally billions waiting to come and no fence is high enough or strong enough. Of course this will all spark dangerous right wing populism across the European continent. There are way too many humans on this planet. Way, way too many humans fighting over fewer and fewer resources. And climate change will exacerbate the trend to ever more migration and violence. Governments in Africa, the Middle East and Central America often see excess human population as a bargaining chip with the rest of the world: Excess human population is being weaponized. We need to get very serious about population control right now. In a few years it will be too late. And we need to set strict limits on immigration. Right now emigration is used as a safety valve for overpopulated countries that will eventually destabilize the receiver nations. (See Europe 2015, and that was NOTHING compared what’s to come!)

24 Recommended

Judy Batalion | The Nazi-Fighting Women of the Jewish Resistance – The New York Times

Dr. Batalion is the author of the forthcoming “The Light of Days: The Untold Story of Women Resistance Fighters in Hitler’s Ghettos,” from which this essay is adapted.

“In 1943, Niuta Teitelbaum strolled into a Gestapo apartment on Chmielna Street in central Warsaw and faced three Nazis. A 24-year-old Jewish woman who had studied history at Warsaw University, Niuta was likely now dressed in her characteristic guise as a Polish farm girl with a kerchief tied around her braided blond hair.

She blushed, smiled meekly and then pulled out a gun and shot each one. Two were killed, one wounded. Niuta, however, wasn’t satisfied. She found a physician’s coat, entered the hospital where the injured man was being treated, and killed both the Nazi and the police officer who had been guarding him.

“Little Wanda With the Braids,” as she was nicknamed on every Gestapo most-wanted list, was one of many young Jewish women who, with supreme cunning and daring, fought the Nazis in Poland. And yet, as I discovered over several years of research on these resistors, their stories have largely been overlooked in the broader history of Jewish resistance in World War II.” . . .

The AstraZeneca Vaccine: Should You Be Concerned? – (NO says) The New York Times

“. . .  Based on that data, about 1,000 to 2,000 blood clots occur in the U.S. population every day, according to Dr. Stephan Moll, a hematologist and professor of medicine at the University of North Carolina.

“The United States has 253 million adults,” Dr. Moll said. “So, if every day 2.3 million people in the United States get Covid-vaccinated, that means about 1 percent of the adult population gets vaccinated every day.”

Calculating further, he said, roughly 1 percent of the 1,000 to 2,000 daily blood clots — 10 to 20 a day — would occur in the vaccinated patients just as part of the normal background rates, not related to the vaccine.

“Only if epidemiological data show that that rate is higher, would one start to wonder about a causative relationship,” Dr. Moll said.’

David Lindsay:  Based on the article above, this analyst thinks that the European countries that are freezing the AstraZeneca vaccine rollout during careful review, is not following the science. They are acting emotionally, and possibly moved my anti British sentiment that is currently popular. It makes no sense to stop a vaccine because of 3 or 6 case of blood clotting and death, if those numbers are below the expected average for the population at large, which scientist report is the case here. While the article would be improved with hard data of the expected average blood clot numbers in Europe, the US numbers are helpful, since the population of all of Europe is comparable to the US population. If I remember, it is slightly larger.

By Maeve Higgins | Joe Biden, the Irishman – The New York Times

Ms. Higgins is a contributing opinion writer who regularly writes about immigration and life in New York City.

Credit…Paul Faith/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

“In November, a BBC reporter shouted a question at President-elect Joe Biden. He responded, “The BBC? I’m Irish” before flashing a huge smile and disappearing through a doorway. The clip went viral and Ireland went wild.

President Biden’s Irishness is important to him: He likes to quote Seamus Heaney and W.B. Yeats, and borrowed James Joyce’s words as he bid farewell to Delaware the night before his inauguration. An Irish violinist played Irish hymns at the mass before the event. Back in the old country, people are keen to claim him, too. His ancestral family are mini-celebrities there — his third cousin, a plumber named Joe Blewitt, emblazoned his work van with the words “Joe Biden for the White House, Joe Blewitt for your house.” Frankly, the whole thing is adorable. What I want to know is, how deep does it go?” . . .

It’s gratifying to see, certainly. But what my Irishness leads me to is the old Ireland, the truly dark and terrifying place that Mr. Biden’s forefathers fled from. Who is their equivalent now? And can the president see them for what they are and act accordingly?

The parallels between Ireland in the 1800s, when Mr. Biden’s forefathers left, and, say, Syria or South Sudan today are horribly apt. The Syrian people, brave and revolutionary, simply needed a fair system of government and, later, a safe place to recover and restart their lives. But Americans have looked away. The South Sudanese, reeling from brutal colonization, continue to struggle through ethnic division and civil war. Surely too in Juba, South Sudan’s capital, there are poets and musicians who dream of the rhyme of hope and history, if only we stopped to listen.

The early signs are promising. During his campaign, Mr. Biden promised to lift the cap on refugee admissions from 15,000 to 125,000. But so much more is needed from America — just as it was in the 19th century, when roughly one in two people born in Ireland emigrated. Patrick Blewitt, Mr. Biden’s great-great grandfather, left a famine-stricken land in 1850, becoming one of the 1.8 million Irish people to arrive in America between 1845 and 1855. His parents and siblings soon followed. Another million Irish people did not make it, staying behind to die of starvation or sickness.” . . .

Lovely piece by Maeve Higgins.  She would have us taken as many refugees as is possible without delineation. I can’t agree with her.  Biden is doing enough, to allow in 125,000 a year. Part of taking care of the planet, is reducing population growth. We need to stop illegal immigration, allow for guest workers after amending the constitutional amendment that makes their children all citizens, and work towards a generous Marshall like plan to help our neighbors to the south curb their population growth, and rebuild their economies, and in some places, their governments. Legalizing all addictive drugs, would help reduce the negative effects of the $50 Billion a year illegal drug trade, that destabilizes governments, while empowering drug gangs.

Regarding Syria and the middle east, we can return to strengthening our allies, if there are any left, after Trump betrayed them, and let the Turks, the Russians, and the  Bashar al-Assad regime slaughter them. 

By Toby Levy | The Holocaust Stole My Youth. Covid-19 Is Stealing My Last Years – The New York Times

Ms. Levy is a retired accountant and a volunteer docent for the Museum of Jewish Heritage.

Credit…Desiree Rios for The New York Times

“These days, I’m a little bored.

The boardwalk is my lifesaver. I’m two blocks from the boardwalk. I can walk to Coney Island if I want to. I go alone. I have some friends here. We used to play canasta once a week. But when Covid arrived, my daughter insisted, “You can’t sit in one room!” So I talk on the phone. I read. The grandkids call in by Zoom. I also do a little bit of Zoom lecturing for the Museum of Jewish Heritage.

I keep very busy, and it helps me a lot. I am trying not to give up. But what is getting me down is that I am losing a year. And this bothers me terribly. I’m 87 years old, and I lost almost a full year.

I’m doing everything I can to stay connected, to make an impact. So even now, amid Covid, I tell my story to schools and to audiences the museum organizes for me, by Zoom.

Here’s what I say: I was born in 1933 in a small town called Chodorow, now Khodoriv, about 30 minutes by car from Lvov, now Lviv, in what was then Poland and is now Ukraine. We lived in the center of town in my grandfather’s house. The Russians occupied the town from 1939 to 1941, then the Germans from 1941 to 1944. My father was well liked in town by Jews and non-Jews. One day in early 1942, one of the guys came to him and said, “Moshe, it’s going to be a big killing. Better find a hiding place.” So my father built a place to hide in the cellar. My grandfather didn’t want to go. He was shot in the kitchen; we heard it.”

Brexit’s Silver Lining for Europe – The New York Times

“PARIS — It is done at last. On Jan. 1, with the Brexit transition period over, Britain will no longer be part of the European Union’s single market and customs union. The departure will be ordered, thanks to a last-minute deal running to more than 1,200 pages, but still painful to both sides. A great loss will be consummated.

Loss for the European Union of one of its biggest member states, a major economy, a robust military and the tradition, albeit faltering, of British liberalism at a time when Hungary and Poland have veered toward nationalism.

Loss for Britain of diplomatic heft in a world of renewed great power rivalry; of some future economic growth; of clarity over European access for its big financial services industry; and of countless opportunities to study, live, work and dream across the continent.

The national cry of “take back control” that fired the Brexit vote in an outburst of anti-immigrant fervor and random grievances withered into four and a half years of painful negotiation pitting a minnow against a mammoth. Posturing encountered reality. The British economy is less than one-fifth the size of the bloc’s. President Trump is leaving office, and with him goes any hope of a rapid offsetting British-American trade agreement.

“Brexit is an act of mutual weakening,” Michel Barnier, the chief European Union negotiator, told the French daily Le Figaro.

But the weakening is uneven. Britain is closer to fracture. The possibility has increased that Scotland and Northern Ireland will opt to leave the United Kingdom and, by different means, rejoin the European Union. The bloc, by contrast, has in some ways been galvanized by the trauma of Brexit. It has overcome longstanding obstacles, lifted its ambitions and reignited the Franco-German motor of closer union.

“Brexit i not good news for anyone, but it has unquestionably contributed to a reconsolidation of Europe, which demonstrated its unity throughout the negotiations,” François Delattre, the secretary-general of the French foreign ministry, said.

The European Union — prodded by Brexit, facing the coronavirus pandemic, and confronting the hostility of Mr. Trump — has done things previously unimaginable. It has taken steps in a quasi-federal direction that Britain always opposed.

Germany abandoned a tenacious policy of austerity. The federalization of European debt, long taboo for the Germans, became possible. The European Union can now borrow as a government does — a step toward sovereign stature and a means to finance the $918 billion pandemic recovery fund that a British presence would probably have blocked.

“Brexit made Angela Merkel willing to abandon positions that had been sacred,” said Karl Kaiser, a former head of the German Council on Foreign Relations. “There has long been a debate about widening or deepening the European Union. Well, it has deepened.” . . .

David Lindsay Jr.
Hamden, CT

Thank you Roger Cohen, your reporting is like Visa and Mastercard, priceless. I am thinking of a second story to organize. Was Brexit possibly the brainchild or Vladimir Putin of Russia, or did the Russians really help push the Brexit vote into victory? It appears that the only real winner of Brexit, is Russia. I read that the largest google search the UK after the historic and tragic vote was, “What is Brexit?” Is it true that the cheapest and least professional newspapers, especially Rupert Murdoch’s, pushed the Brexit division along, in a publishing war, for who could sell the most scandal mongering tabloids, and did the main stream papers make the mistake of competing with some of their own junk. What a colossal mess. It has been a fabulous four years for Putin. Maybe Time Magazine missed a beat this week, when they named Biden and Harris as Person of the Year, when the big winner of 2020 was Vladimir Putin.

David Lindsay Jr. is the author of “The Tay Son Rebellion, Historical Fiction of Eighteenth Century Vietnam” and blogs about the environment at TheTaySonRebellion.com and InconvenientNews.wordpress.com.

A German Terrorist Suspect With a Refugee Disguise: The Tale of Franco A. – The New York Times

“OFFENBACH, Germany — At the height of Europe’s migrant crisis, a bearded man in sweatpants walked into a police station. His pockets were empty except for an old cellphone and a few foreign coins.

In broken English, he presented himself as a Syrian refugee. He said he had crossed half the continent by foot and lost his papers along the way. The officers photographed and fingerprinted him. Over the next year, he would get shelter and an asylum hearing, and would qualify for monthly benefits.

His name, he offered, was David Benjamin.

In reality, he was a lieutenant in the German Army. He had darkened his face and hands with his mother’s makeup and applied shoe shine to his beard. Instead of walking across Europe, he had walked 10 minutes from his childhood home in the western city of Offenbach.”