This Fjord Shows Even Small Populations Create Giant Microfiber Pollution – The New York Times

“Svalbard, a Norwegian archipelago chilling halfway between the Nordic country and the North Pole, is known as much for its rugged beauty as its remoteness. From the village of Longyearbyen, visitors and roughly 2,400 residents can appreciate the stark terrain around the fjord known as Adventfjorden.

But the beauty of this Arctic inlet conceals messier, microscopic secrets.

“People see this nice, clean, white landscape,” said Claudia Halsband, a marine ecologist in Tromso, Norway, “but that’s only part of the story.”

The fjord has a sizable problem with subtle trash — namely microfibers, a squiggly subset of microplastics that slough off synthetic fabrics. Microfibers are turning up everywhere, and among researchers, there’s growing recognition that sewage is helping to spread them, said Peter S. Ross, an ocean pollution scientist who has studied the plastic fouling the Arctic. While the precise impact of microfibers building up in ecosystems remains a topic of debate, tiny Longyearbyen expels an extraordinary amount of them in its sewage: A new study shows that the village of thousands emits roughly as many as all the microplastics emitted by a wastewater treatment plant near Vancouver that serves around 1.3 million people.”

Anna Sauerbrey | Angela Merkel Is Leaving. It’s Time. – The New York Times

Ms. Sauerbrey is a German journalist who writes regularly about Germany’s politics, society and culture.

BERLIN — In central Berlin, a giant billboard shows a pair of hands, arranged in the shape of a diamond, in front of a female torso dressed in a green jacket. “Tschüss Mutti,” the billboard reads. “Bye, bye, Mommy.”

Even without a face, Germans know who’s being depicted. The diamond, the colorful jacket and the word “Mutti” are iconic, just like Angela Merkel herself.

After 16 years, Germany is saying “Tschüss” to its longtime chancellor. Across the country, the departure of Ms. Merkel has brought out affectionate nostalgia, tinged with a drop of irony. Yet there’s also fatigue, verging on irritation, a twitchy restlessness to see her off and start afresh. As with most farewells, feelings are mixed.

Sylvie Kauffmann | Why France Is Angry About the U.S.’s Submarine Deal – The New York Times

Ms. Kauffmann, the editorial director of Le Monde, writes extensively about European and international politics.

“PARIS — Make no mistake. This is a crisis, not a spat.

The new partnership announced last week between the United States, Britain and Australia, in which Australia would be endowed with nuclear-powered submarines, has left the French angry and in shock. And not just because of the loss of their own deal, signed in 2016, to provide Australia with submarines.

French officials say they have been stonewalled and duped by close allies, who negotiated behind their backs. The sense of betrayal is so acute that President Emmanuel Macron has uncharacteristically opted to keep silent on the issue, delegating the expression of a very public rage to his otherwise quiet foreign minister, Jean-Yves Le Drian. Asked on public television whether President Biden’s behavior was reminiscent of his predecessor’s, Mr. Le Drian replied, “Without the tweets.” “

What if Highways Were Electric? Germany Is Testing the Idea. – The New York Times

“OBER-RAMSTADT, Germany — On a highway south of Frankfurt recently, Thomas Schmieder maneuvered his Scania tractor-trailer and its load of house paint into the far right lane. Then he flicked a switch you won’t find on most truck dashboards.

Outside the cab a contraption started to unfold from the roof, looking like a clothes-drying rack with an upside-down sled welded to the top. As Mr. Schmieder continued driving, a video display showed the metal skids rising up and pushing gently against wires running overhead.

The cab became very quiet as the diesel engine cut out and electric motors took over. The truck was still a truck, but now it was powered like many trains or street cars.

There’s a debate over how to make the trucking industry free of emissions, and whether batteries or hydrogen fuel cells are the best way to fire up electric motors in big vehicles. Mr. Schmieder was part of a test of a third alternative: a system that feeds electricity to trucks as they drive, using wires strung above the roadway and a pantograph mounted on the cab.”

David Lindsay Jr.
Hamden, CT | NYT Comment:
This seems like a weirdly ugly idea, but in a terrific direction. I would, in my shameful ignorance, visualize electric trains and monorails that get their electricity from the track, if that is possible. Could it possibly be flood proof? But trucks would have containers just like on ships, that already exists, and put their container on the electric train system, and another truck would pick it up at the other end of the train line system. It could be slower than regular highway speeds, and allow for locals as well as expresses, like the wonderful Paris subway system, only it would be an above ground system, and take up at least half of the current highways that we have now, for individual cars and trucks. This system could move people as well as cargo, and would be all electric. Where would you get all that electricity in the next 50 to 100 years? Probably from the 20 or so new designs for nuclear energy, such as the one designed by the Bill Gates team. These new plants are smaller, and cannot explode or melt down. The Gates version, runs on spent nuclear fuel, so it besides theoretically being safe, will reduce our nuclear waste storage issue.

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.