“Atop a long-dormant volcano in northern Nevada, workers are preparing to start blasting and digging out a giant pit that will serve as the first new large-scale lithium mine in the United States in more than a decade — a new domestic supply of an essential ingredient in electric car batteries and renewable energy.
The mine, constructed on leased federal lands, could help address the near total reliance by the United States on foreign sources of lithium.
But the project, known as Lithium Americas, has drawn protests from members of a Native American tribe, ranchers and environmental groups because it is expected to use billions of gallons of precious ground water, potentially contaminating some of it for 300 years, while leaving behind a giant mound of waste.
“Blowing up a mountain isn’t green, no matter how much marketing spin people put on it,” said Max Wilbert, who has been living in a tent on the proposed mine site while twolawsuits seeking to block the project wend their way through federal courts. . . . “
“In the coming days, a patent will finally be issued on a five-year-old invention, a feat of molecular engineering that is at the heart of at least five major Covid-19 vaccines. And the United States government will control that patent.
The new patent presents an opportunity — and some argue the last best chance — to exact leverage over the drug companies producing the vaccines and pressure them to expand access to less affluent countries.
The question is whether the government will do anything at all.
The rapid development of Covid-19 vaccines, achieved at record speed and financed by massive public funding in the United States, the European Union and Britain, represents a great triumph of the pandemic. Governments partnered with drugmakers, pouring in billions of dollars to procure raw materials, finance clinical trials and retrofit factories. Billions more were committed to buy the finished product.
David Lindsay: This is a tough problem, and I quake at trying to master all the issues. My gut tells me that the United States should have included standard language from the Gates Foundation, keeping some rights to all of its patents and any research and product that came of its 8 billion dollar investment in rapid vaccine development. Tne drug companies should be allowed large paybacks, for a limited time and amount, and then be by contract, limited to what the Government sees as fair and responsible for taking care of the international pandemic, since Americans are not safe until we do so. Since the Trump administration did not include any such language in its contracts, it gets messy, but we do have the War Production Act, which gives the government great powers in what is determined to be a national emergency.
“President Biden’s early success in getting Americans vaccinated, pushing out stimulus checks and generally calming the surface of American life has been a blessing for the country. But it’s also lulled many into thinking that Donald Trump’s Big Lie that the election was stolen, which propelled the Capitol insurrection on Jan. 6, would surely fade away and everything would return to normal. It hasn’t.
We are not OK. America’s democracy is still in real danger. In fact, we are closer to a political civil war — more than at any other time in our modern history. Today’s seeming political calm is actually resting on a false bottom that we’re at risk of crashing through at any moment.
Because, instead of Trump’s Big Lie fading away, just the opposite is happening — first slowly and now quickly.
Under Trump’s command and control from Mar-a-Largo, and with the complicity of most of his party’s leaders, that Big Lie — that the greatest election in our history, when more Republicans and Democrats voted than ever before, in the midst of a pandemic, must have been rigged because Trump lost — has metastasized. It’s being embraced by a solid majority of elected Republicans and ordinary party members — local, state and national.”
“. . . There is simply nothing more dangerous for a two-party democracy than to have one party declare that no election where it loses is legitimate, and, therefore, if it loses it will just lie about the results and change the rules.
That’s exactly what’s playing out now. And the more one G.O.P. lawmaker after another signs on to Trump’s Big Lie, the more it gives the party license at the state level to promote voter suppression laws that ensure that it cannot lose ever again. . . . .”
How Does the U.S. Approach to the Environment Look From Abroad?Video by Chai Dingari, Adam Westbrook and Brendan Miller
“The United States has a schizophrenic relationship with the environment.
It boasts a spectacular system of more than 400 national park sites; a robust environmental lobby; and strong federal environmental law, including the landmark Endangered Species Act, which is credited with saving the bald eagle and the grizzly bear from extinction.
Yet it also harbors a dark side, including an insatiable appetite for fossil fuels; a longstanding romance with behemoth, gas-guzzling vehicles; and perhaps the highest per capita generation of plastic waste in the world.
For the video (below), we collated data and other information about America’s posture on the environment and presented them to people from other countries that, in some ways, have made the United States, the wealthiest country in the world, seem like an environmental laggard.”
Opinion | ‘Climate Change Is Not a Subjective Thing.’ How Does the U.S. Approach to the Environment Look From Abroad
“As the valedictorian of her Dallas high school, Melinda Gates delivered a graduation speech that included a quote attributed to Ralph Waldo Emerson. “To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived,” she told her classmates, “this is to have succeeded.”
Decades later and billions of dollars wealthier, Ms. Gates says the quote is still ringing in her ears. “That’s been my definition of success since high school,” she said. “So if I have an extra dollar, or a thousand dollars, or a million dollars, or in my case, which is absurd, a billion dollars to plow back into making the world better for other people, that’s what I’m going to do.” “
Back in 1996, I ran Derric Computer, and was helping a customer with his home office. He complained that he had to buy and use Microsoft Windows, because he despised Bill Gates, who was the richest man in the country, and had never given a cent to charity. We verbaly pissed on Bill Gates together, and it was a bonding experience. However, Bill has rehabilitated himself. We had no idea how strong a philanthopist he would become, in partnership with his wife, Melinda French Gates. Their story is exemplary, and I’m saddened to hear of their divorce. I am confident that their partnership in philanthropy will continue unabated.
“The New Deal was mostly for men. The great public works projects that endure in public memory employed men. Labor protections enacted between 1934 and 1939 excluded domestic workers, restaurant workers, retail clerks and others in jobs with large female work forces. New safety nets for the unemployed, for the disabled and for older Americans were similarly tailored for men, who were supposed to provide for everyone else.
Equally telling are the kinds of help the government did not provide. Unlike other industrial nations that unfurled safety nets in the same decades, America’s new laws did not require employers to offer paid family leave or paid sick leave. There was no attempt to provide or subsidize child care. At the time, relatively few mothers worked outside the home, and policymakers did not think they should. One irony in the efforts of later generations to force welfare recipients to find jobs is that the program, launched as part of the New Deal, was intended to make it possible for single mothers to stay home.
’Tis the season for comparing the new administration’s plans to the New Deal, but in one important respect, President Biden is seeking to chart a different course.
To paraphrase Lin-Manuel Miranda, Mr. Biden is proposing to include women in the sequel.
A big chunk of the money in the administration’s twin spending bills, the American Jobs Plan and the American Families Plan, is aimed at helping people better balance paid work and family obligations. The Biden administration has emphasized that child care subsidies will benefit children and that senior care subsidies will benefit seniors. It has emphasized that freeing caregivers to take paying jobs will benefit the economy. In other words, it has described these policies in terms of their benefits to others. What has not been emphasized sufficiently is the benefit to women, who bear most of the responsibility for providing care. . . . “
“Like many progressives, I like the Biden administration’s plan to invest in infrastructure, but really love its plans to invest more in people. There’s a good case for doing more to improve physical assets like roads, water supplies and broadband networks. There’s an overwhelming case for doing more to help families with children.
To Republican politicians, however, the opposite is true. G.O.P. opposition to President Biden’s infrastructure plans has felt low-energy, mainly involving word games about the meaning of “infrastructure” and tired repetition of old slogans about big government and job-killing tax hikes. Attacks on the family plan have, though, been truly venomous; Republicans seem really upset about proposals to spend more on child care and education.
Which is not to say that the arguments they’ve been making are honest.
How do we know that we should be spending more on families? There is, it turns out, a lot of evidence that there are big returns to helping children and their parents — stronger evidence, if truth be told, than there is for high returns to improved physical infrastructure.
For example, researchers have looked into the long-term effects of the food stamp program, which was rolled out gradually across the country in the 1960s and 1970s. Children who had early access to food stamps, the Washington Center for Equitable Growth concluded, “grew up to be better educated and have healthier, longer and more productive lives.” Researchers have found similar effects for children whose families received access to the earned-income tax credit and Medicaid.
“Years ago, Alexis Tsipras, the party leader of Greece’s Coalition of the Radical Left, surprised me with a question. “Here in the United States,” the soon-to-be prime minister asked me over breakfast in New York, “why do you not have this phenomenon of passing money under the table?”
The subject was health care. Greece has a public health care system that, in theory, guarantees its citizens access to necessary medical care.
Practice, however, is another matter. Patients in Greek public hospitals, Tsipras explained, would first have to slip a doctor “an envelope with a certain amount of money” before they could expect to get treatment. The government, he added, underpaid its doctors and then looked the other way as they topped up their income with bribes.
Take a close look at any country or locality in which the government offers allegedly free or highly subsidized goods and you’ll usually discover that there’s a catch.
France’s subsidized day care is, by all accounts, fantastic for working parents who get their children into it. Except there’s a perpetual shortage of slots. In Sweden, a raft of laws protects tenants from excessively high rent. Except wait times for apartments can be as long as 20 years. In Britain, the National Health Service is a source of pride. Except that, even before the pandemic, one in six patients faced wait times of more than 18 weeks for routine treatment. . . . “
David Lindsay Jr.Hamden, CT | NYT comment:
I feel a bit sorry for Bret Stephens and Ross Douthat, and other modern, young, conservatives. They deserve pitty for their bubbleheadedness. Or hardheadedness? Stephen’s attacks on France, especially for its high unemployment, contrasts with Paul Kruman last week, who reported that France has more woman working than the US does. One reason, is that they have state supported childcare. Their suicide rate is lower, and their life expectancy is higher. et cetera. I humbly suspect that the elephant in the room is that the real conservatives are more like myself, ardent climate hawks, deeply concernced about the environment. We recognize that income inequality has hurt the poor and gutted out the middle class. These young men are so bright and articulate, you suspect that they might accidentally wake up, and realize that the woke conservatives are now the right wing of the Democratic party. The Republicans turning to Trumpism, and no nothingism, white supremacy and anti-science and anti-democracy positions, left us little choice.
“A contributing Opinion writer based in Nashville who covers flora, fauna, politics and culture in the American South.
Mother’s Day is still nearly a week away, but there are buds on the antique rambling rose that my mother rooted for me from her grandmother’s rose, and it will be in full bloom by Sunday, as it always is on Mother’s Day. My husband will make brunch. Our adult children will come over, and we’ll bring my husband’s 92-year-old father over, too, because he lives for family gatherings and has felt the loss of them more acutely than any of us. We’re all vaccinated now, but we won’t soon forget how it feels to be kept apart.
Mother’s Day has always cast a shadow of sadness for me, even before the pandemic turned every day into a memento mori. My paternal grandmother died before I was born, when Dad was only 24. He always threw himself into making Mother’s Day brunch a special event for Mom — and for her mother and grandmother — but he never stopped mourning his own mother, the one for whom I am named.
So I learned early on what a loaded holiday this can be. It’s terrible for those who mourn a mother now gone, and also for those whose mothers were just not equipped to nurture a child. It’s terrible for women who desperately wanted to be mothers but couldn’t be, and also for women who didn’t want to be mothers but are too often vilified for that perfectly reasonable choice. It’s beyond terrible for women who have lost a child.
I have family and friends who struggle on Mother’s Day for all these reasons. I think of them when I think, as I inevitably do on this day in May, of how much I miss my mother. The world has enough suffering in it without inventing a holiday that causes so much pain, and I would gladly eradicate it from the calendar if I could.
But painful as it can be, Mother’s Day also reminds me of how wondrously motherhood unites me with so much of the animal kingdom. My youngest child outgrew being a hip baby 20 years ago, but I have to stop myself from reaching out for a crying infant in the checkout line, and I swear I feel the urge to protect the hatchlings in my nest box as deeply as their mother does. We are partners in this enterprise of bringing baby bluebirds into the world, she and I, no matter that she doesn’t know it.
The need to protect and nurture young is a biological imperative shared by a surprising array of creatures. Ambivalence about the holiday notwithstanding, I will gladly play every cute-animal video and click through every cute-animal slide show that crops up on the internet at this time of year. Who could resist the lioness purring as she licks her cub’s belly, or a fox carrying her kit to safety by the scruff of its neck, or a giant-taloned hawk carefully nudging her curious eyas back beneath the safety of her breast?
And as difficult as it is to stand witness to another’s grieving, it comforts me to be reminded of the universality of grief, to remember that we are not alone in our suffering, or in where we look for solace. I think of Rosamund Young’s delightful memoir, “The Secret Life of Cows,” and her story of the grieving young mother who sought her own mother for comfort, from three fields away, after the stillbirth of her calf. I think of the orca carrying her dead calf for 17 days, across a thousand miles of ocean, because she could not bear to let the baby go. (Last fall she gave birth again, this time to an apparently healthy calf.) . . . . “
DL: Thank you Margaret Renkl. There are also 189 comments, many of which are extraordinary.
” . . . In “The Sum of Us: What Racism Costs Everyone and How We Can Prosper Together,” Heather McGhee detailed how support for public goods collapsed among white people once Black people had access to them. This very much includes relief for parents and children.
“The fear of lazy Black mothers who would reproduce without working goes really deep in this country,” McGhee told me. It’s hard to imagine how a proposal for automatic cash payments to families could have gone anywhere during decades of moral panic about Black mothers luxuriating on the dole.
But universal day care programs that would help women work didn’t go anywhere either. In 1971, Congress passed a bill that would have created a national network of high-quality, sliding-scale child care centers, akin to those that exist in many European countries. Urged on by Patrick Buchanan, Richard Nixon vetoed it, writing that it would “commit the vast moral authority of the national government to the side of communal approaches to child rearing over against the family‐centered approach.” . . . . “