Daily Blog November 2019 – Updated daily

Vote set rules for public phase of impeachment inquiry, laying out plan that could produce televised hearings within two weeks

Pelosi bangs the gavel: House votes to endorse Trump impeachment inquiry

And so begins November with a formal beginning to see whether impeachment is a valid option for the most corrupt President in United States history. I’m book- marking this story as the first step in a month that is certainly going to be marked in American history as the battle for the republic. And so it goes…

136 thoughts on “Daily Blog November 2019 – Updated daily

  1. Why Trump Should Hate Thanksgiving

    After all, it celebrates the better angels of our nature.


    President Trump pardoned Butter the turkey on Tuesday.Credit…Drew Angerer/Getty Images

    So the imaginary “war on Christmas” wasn’t enough. Donald Trump and Fox News are now accusing progressives of waging a war on Thanksgiving, too, based on, well, nothing. But do Trump and his band of bigots even understand what Thanksgiving is about? If they did, they would hate this most American of holidays.

    After all, the Pilgrims were refugees fleeing persecution by the English monarchy, which at the time was still an autocratic regime. They were, in other words, exactly the kind of people Trump and company want to keep out.

    Furthermore, the traditional portrait of the first Thanksgiving is as a moment of racial tolerance and multiculturalism: European immigrants sharing a feast with Native Americans. That moment didn’t last: Much of New England’s native population was wiped out over the next few decades. And such an outcome may well have been inevitable. But we still celebrate the tale of a benign meeting of races and cultures.

    Thanksgiving became an official holiday thanks to an 1863 proclamation by Abraham Lincoln. This was only a few months after he signed the Emancipation Proclamation and just a few weeks before he would deliver the Gettysburg Address, in which he declared that America is a nation dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal. So Thanksgiving as we now celebrate it also commemorates the struggle to end slavery.

    Read more in a pdf of this article or go behind the paywall.


  2. Twitter chief Jack Dorsey announces plans to move to Africa

    Tech executive declared plan to move temporarily in 2020 following a month-long visit to entrepreneurs on the continent


    Jack Dorsey on Capitol Hill in Washington DC, on 5 September 2018. Photograph: José Luis Magaña/AP

    Twitter chief Jack Dorsey said this week that he plans to move to Africa for up to six months next year. The tech executive announced the planned move following a month-long trip visiting entrepreneurs on the continent.

    “Sad to be leaving the continent … for now. Africa will define the future (especially the bitcoin one!),” Dorsey tweeted from Addis Ababa on Wednesday. “Not sure where yet, but I’ll be living here for 3-6 months mid 2020. Grateful I was able to experience a small part.”

    Asked for comment, Twitter said in an email: “We’ve nothing to share beyond Jack’s initial tweet.”

    Twitter to clear out inactive accounts and free up usernames
    Read more

    Dorsey began traveling Africa on 8 November and visited Ethiopia, Ghana, Nigeria and South Africa, CNN reported.

    In Ethiopia, he listened to startup pitches. In Nigeria, he had meetings with entrepreneurs and Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, a Twitter board member who formerly worked as managing director of the World Bank.

    Finish the story at The Guardian.


  3. That Uplifting Tweet You Just Shared? A Russian Troll Sent It

    Here’s what Russia’s 2020 disinformation operations look like, according to two experts on social media and propaganda.


    Shutterstock (dolls)

    Internet trolls don’t troll. Not the professionals at least. Professional trolls don’t go on social media to antagonize liberals or belittle conservatives. They are not narrow minded, drunk or angry. They don’t lack basic English language skills. They certainly aren’t “somebody sitting on their bed that weighs 400 pounds,” as the president once put it. Your stereotypical trolls do exist on social media, but the amateurs aren’t a threat to Western democracy.
    Professional trolls, on the other hand, are the tip of the spear in the new digital, ideological battleground. To combat the threat they pose, we must first understand them — and take them seriously.
    On August 22, 2019, @IamTyraJackson received almost 290,000 likes on Twitter for a single tweet. Put in perspective, the typical tweet President Trump sends to his 67 million followers gets about 100,000 likes. That viral tweet by @IamTyraJackson was innocent: an uplifting pair of images of former pro football player Warrick Dunn and a description of his inspiring charity work building houses for single mothers. For an anonymous account that had only existed for only a few months, “Tyra” knew her audience well. Warrick’s former coach, Tony Dungy, retweeted it, as did the rapper and producer Chuck D. Hundreds of thousands of real users viewed Tyra’s tweet and connected with its message. For “Tyra,” however, inspiring messages like this were a tool for a very different purpose.

    Finish the story at Rolling Stone.


    1. Students need to learn how trolls and bots stir up online divisions

      Critical thinking is not enough. Students must be taught dynamics of social media, say Darren Linvill and Patrick Warren


      Source: Getty

      The changing nature of media has always made it difficult to teach media literacy. Social media has complicated it further, with platforms appearing and disappearing frequently. But the challenges posed by disinformation necessitate a full re-evaluation of our approach.

      The Mueller report has made the work of Russia’s Internet Research Agency (IRA) well known. Funded by oligarch Yevgheny Prigozhin, known as “Putin’s Chef”, this government-linked organisation and its successors work to influence cultural and political conversations across the West. Using fake social media accounts, Russia engages in what is, in effect, guerrilla marketing, pushing conversations to extremes with the goal of dividing countries and weakening democratic institutions.

      Higher education is among its targets. We have spent the past two years building an understanding of Russian tactics and strategies, combing through millions of IRA posts. Russian disinformation is simultaneously more subtle, viral and seemingly organic than even the most educated social media user may assume; it is abundantly clear that we are ill prepared to combat it.
      **

      Recent research suggests that concerns about fake news on social media may be based on incorrect assumptions about its prevalence. A study in Science found that only 0.1 per cent of Twitter users were responsible for sharing 80 per cent of fake news posts during the 2016 presidential election. And a paper in Science Advances found similar results for Facebook. To the extent that fake news was a problem, it was largely confined to Baby Boomers: users over 65 were nearly seven times more likely than the youngest cohort of users to share fake news. Perhaps the teaching of digital literacy should be focused on retirement homes.

      Finish the story.


  4. This dark material: the black alchemy that can arrest carbon emissions

    Not only does biochar trap carbon when it is created, it is heating homes in Sweden and feeding cows in Lincolnshire


    Biochar is a form of charcoal produced when organic matter is heated at high temperatures with little or no oxygen. Photograph: Alamy

    It traps carbon in the ground for centuries, boosts plant growth, provides a sustainable heat source and could even reduce methane emissions from cows. Biochar may not be a silver bullet to combating the climate emergency, but it certainly ticks a lot of boxes.

    A form of charcoal created via a special chemical process, biochar is not much to look at, resembling the aftermath of a particularly good barbecue. But it is already heating homes in Stockholm, feeding cows in Lincolnshire, and nourishing trees near Loch Ness.

    “When you look at the range of benefits it has, it is quite phenomenal,” says Marc Redmile-Gordon, senior scientist for soil and climate change at the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS). “If we stop burning fossil fuels tomorrow, we’ll still have a lot of carbon dioxide removal to be doing, and this is one of the most effective ways we can achieve that.”

    Finish the story at The Guardian.


  5. Ken Cuccinelli walked into a bar. And Martin O’Malley lit into him.


    Former Maryland governor Martin O’Malley (D) (Charlie Neibergall/AP)

    A liberal ex-governor walks into a bar, followed by a conservative Trump administration official.

    Instead of a punchline, what followed, one witness said, was a “shame-invoking tirade” by Martin O’Malley, the former Democratic governor of Maryland, directed at Ken Cuccinelli II, the former Virginia attorney general who is acting deputy secretary of the Department of Homeland Security.
    The two political polar opposites crossed paths Wednesday night at the Dubliner, a Capitol Hill Irish pub popular on Thanksgiving Eve with Gonzaga College High School graduates. Both men attended the school, graduating five years apart in the 1980s.

    Siobhan Arnold, who was visiting from Philadelphia, had just met O’Malley at the bar when Cuccinelli walked in. Soon the two men were face-to-face, she said, with O’Malley excoriating Cuccinelli over the Trump administration’s immigration policies.

    O’Malley said “something about his [Cuccinelli’s] grandparents,” Arnold said in an interview. Cuccinelli said little if anything in reply, she added, quickly leaving the pub.

    Read more in a pdf of this article or go behind the paywall.


  6. Republicans tried to rig the vote in Michigan – but ‘political novices’ just defeated them

    After a Republican bragged about cramming ‘Dem garbage’ into certain districts, a grassroots campaign has given the power to redraw political maps to the people


    Katie Fahey started with a Facebook post. Photograph: Participant Media

    In 2016, Katie Fahey, a Michigan woman with no political experience, put up a Facebook post asking if anyone she knew wanted to do something about gerrymandering, a pervasive practice of lawmakers drawing district lines to benefit their own party.

    Michigan is one of the most gerrymandered states in the country. At that time, Republicans held majorities in the state legislature and congressional delegation, even though Democrats earned a significant share of the statewide vote, and the state is considered politically competitive. And the GOP lawmakers were not subtle: emails made public last year revealed a Republican aide bragging about cramming “Dem garbage” into certain Michigan districts in 2011, as they drew the current electoral boundaries.

    But Fahey’s post would create a movement that could provide a roadmap for making US elections fairer. Coordinating over Google Docs and fanning out across the state, her effort grew into a group called Voters Not Politicians that would eventually amend the Michigan constitution to strip redistricting power from lawmakers. This week, Voters Not Politicians succeeded in protecting the new reform from yet another attack from Republicans in the state – underscoring how deeply entrenched gerrymandering has become, and how hard it is to end.

    Finish the story at The Guardian.


  7. Arlo Guthrie Looks Back on 50 Years of ‘Alice’s Restaurant’

    Guthrie tells the real story behind his hilarious Thanksgiving Day classic


    Arlo Guthrie performing in Madison, Wisconsin on May 9th, 2013.
    Dan Harr

    On Thanksgiving 1965, Arlo Guthrie visited friend Alice Brock and her husband at their home, a church in Great Barrington, Massachusetts, and did them a favor by taking out their garbage. The dump was closed that day, so Guthrie and a friend dropped the garbage off a cliff where other locals had previously dropped trash. Guthrie was arrested the following day, and the mark on his record miraculously kept him out of Vietnam by making him ineligible for the draft.

    Guthrie recalled the incident in hilarious detail in 1967’s “Alice’s Restaurant,” which became his most beloved song and the subject of a 1969 movie. (The Old Trinity Church, where Alice lived, is now the Guthrie Center). It’s also become a Thanksgiving tradition, played nationwide on public radio every year. “To have what happened to me actually happen and not be a work of fiction still remains amazing,” Guthrie says. “It’s an amazing set of crazy circumstances that reminds me of an old Charlie Chaplin movie. It’s slapstick.” Guthrie, who very rarely plays the song live, kicks off an 18-month tour celebrating the event that inspired the song on January 21st in Daytona Beach, Florida. Here, Guthrie reflects on his unlikely classic.

    Finish the story at Rolling Stone.


  8. Can we have net zero emissions and still fly?

    With people taking more flights than ever and the air industry set to grow, can tech advances really help us achieve net zero?


    Illustration by James Melaugh.

    When you think about things that are quintessentially British, you probably would not immediately put “flying” into that category – but you should. We Brits don’t just like flying, we love it.

    Data from the International Air Transport Association (IATA) shows that more Britons flew abroad last year than any other nationality. Roughly one in every dozen air passengers was British. Britons took to the skies 126.2m times in 2018, beating Americans and Chinese people into second and third place. Needless to say, this comes at an environmental price.

    The UK aviation industry pumped 37m tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2) into the atmosphere last year alone. That’s about 4% of the 918m tonnes that the global aviation industry emitted in 2018. And it’s an upward trend. The aviation industry is currently growing at between 4% and 5% a year, at which rate passenger numbers will double every 15-20 years.

    “UK CO2 emissions from aviation have doubled over the last 20-25 years and are predicted to grow into the future,” says Tim Johnson, the director of the Aviation Environment Federation, an environmental campaigning organisation that represents communities who are affected by noise and emissions, primarily around UK airports.

    The problem this creates for the aviation industry is acute, especially since in June 2019, the UK government signed into law a commitment to make the UK a “net zero” greenhouse gas emitter by 2050. By “net zero” this means that any greenhouse gases that are still used will have to be offset in some way. Schemes include buying and preserving parts of the world’s rainforests or planting new trees somewhere in the world, or more radical technology to literally pull the CO2 out of the air.

    Currently, aviation is responsible for about 2.5% of the world’s CO2 emissions. That may seem a small percentage, but this share of the total could increase significantly with the expected growth of air travel and the drive to greener operations in other industries. Accordingly the industry is looking to technology and engineering to help make aircraft more environmentally friendly. At the forefront of this is the electric engine.


    The Airbus E-Fan X, a collaboration between Rolls-Royce and Airbus, is an electric hybrid test aircraft with one electric and three kerosine engines. The plan is to develop a 100-seater electric hybrid short-haul plane that could be operational in the 2030s. Photograph: Airbus S.A.S

    Finish the story at The Guardian.


  9. UN calls for push to cut greenhouse gas levels to avoid climate chaos

    Global emissions must fall by 7.6% a year for next decade to avoid crisis, report says


    * The plea to tackle emissions comes amid climate protests such as here in Hamburg, Germany, this month. Photograph: Action Press/Rex/Shutterstock*

    Countries must make an unprecedented effort to cut their levels of greenhouse gases in the next decade to avoid climate chaos, the UN has warned, as it emerged that emissions hit a new high last year.

    Carbon dioxide emissions in 2018, also accounting for deforestation, rose to more than 55 gigatonnes, and have risen on average by 1.5% a year for the past decade, according to the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) annual emissions gap report.

    Global emissions must fall by 7.6% every year from now until 2030 to stay within the 1.5C ceiling on temperature rises that scientists say is necessary to avoid disastrous consequences. The only time in recent history when emissions have fallen in any country at a similar rate came during the collapse of the Soviet Union. During the financial crisis and recession, emissions in the US and Japan fell briefly by about 6% but soon rebounded.

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    However, technologies such as renewable energy and electric vehicles are now available, and increasingly cheap, which could enable deep cuts in carbon without jeopardising economic growth.

    John Christensen of the Technical University of Denmark, a co-author of the report, told the Guardian the cuts in emissions now required were “unprecedented”.

    Postponing action could no longer be an option, said Inger Andersen, executive director of UNEP. “Our collective failure to act early and hard on climate change means we must now deliver deep cuts to emissions [of] over 7% each year, if we break it down evenly over the next decade. This shows that countries simply cannot wait.”

    Without such urgent action the world’s fate would be sealed within the next few years as carbon would rise to such a level as to make dangerous levels of warming inevitable, she said. “We need quick wins to reduce emissions as much as possible in 2020, then stronger [commitments under the Paris agreement] to kickstart the major transformations of economies and societies. We need to catch up on the years in which we procrastinated.”

    Finish the story at The Guardian .


  10. Walmart offers Thanksgiving workers measly discount in place of holiday pay

    * Staff at retail giant not entitled to time-and-a-half holiday pay
    * Walton family that owns Walmart worth more than $190bn


    A Walmart in Rosemead, California. Walmart has received criticism from workers, labor activists, and elected officials for paying workers low wages. Photograph: Frederic J Brown/AFP/Getty Images

    Thanksgiving and Black Friday mark the beginning of the festive season in the US, but Walmart workers are not feeling the cheer. The world’s largest retailer will not be offering staff extra pay for working some of the busiest days of the year. Instead they will be offered a discount to shop at their own store.

    Millions set for Thanksgiving disruption as storms sweep across US
    Read more

    More than 165 million people in the US are expected to shop between Thanksgiving and Cyber Monday, according to a National Retail Federation survey, the busiest shopping days of the year.

    Several large retailers including Barnes & Noble, Costco and Trader Joe’s have decided to close on Thanksgiving in recent years, arguing staff should have time with their family on the national holiday. But Walmart is one of several big-box retailers who are open on Thanksgiving Day and will start its Black Friday sale at 6pm.

    Walmart is also one of the few big companies that does not offer employees increased hourly wages for working shifts on a holiday. At Target and Amazon, workers are paid time and a half for each hour worked.

    “Walmart doesn’t offer holiday pay. They have a discount you have to work certain days to receive and one discount only lasts two days,” said a Walmart worker in Idaho who requested to remain anonymous for fear of retaliation. They are re scheduled to work full-time shifts on Thanksgiving Day and Black Friday this year.

    “No one is getting paid extra. You can’t get overtime unless it’s approved.”

    Finish the story at The Guardian.


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