Daily Archives: May 7, 2020

Supermoon rises on world starting to emerge from pandemic lockdowns


Published on May 7, 2020

The last “supermoon” of 2020 rose in the night sky on Thursday over a world beginning to re-emerge after weeks of coronavirus-related lockdowns.

UN chief Global Appeal to Address and Counter COVID-19 Related Hate Speech

United Nations

Published on May 7, 2020

António Guterres (United Nations Secretary-General) Global Appeal to Address and Counter COVID-19 Related Hate Speech COVID-19 does not care who we are, where we live, what we believe or about any other distinction. We need every ounce of solidarity to tackle it together. Yet the pandemic continues to unleash a tsunami of hate and xenophobia, scapegoating and scare-mongering. Anti-foreigner sentiment has surged online and in the streets. Anti-Semitic conspiracy theories have spread, and COVID-19-related anti-Muslim attacks have occurred. Migrants and refugees have been vilified as a source of the virus — and then denied access to medical treatment. With older persons among the most vulnerable, contemptible memes have emerged suggesting they are also the most expendable. And journalists, whistleblowers, health professionals, aid workers and human rights defenders are being targeted simply for doing their jobs. We must act now to strengthen the immunity of our societies against the virus of hate. That’s why I’m appealing today for an all-out effort to end hate speech globally. I call on political leaders to show solidarity with all members of their societies and build and reinforce social cohesion. I call on educational institutions to focus on digital literacy at a time when billions of young people are online – and when extremists are seeking to prey on captive and potentially despairing audiences. I call on the media, especially social media companies, to do much more to flag and, in line with international human rights law, remove racist, misogynist and other harmful content. I call on civil society to strengthen outreach to vulnerable people, and religious actors to serve as models of mutual respect. And I ask everyone, everywhere, to stand up against hate, treat each other with dignity and take every opportunity to spread kindness. Last year, I launched the United Nations Strategy and Plan of Action on Hate Speech to enhance United Nations efforts against this scourge. As we combat this pandemic, we have a duty to protect people, end stigma and prevent violence. Let’s defeat hate speech – and COVID-19 – together

Trump Muzzles Dr. Fauci & Fox News Goes All-In on Reopening | The Common Good with Robert Reich

Robert Reich

In this episode of The Common Good, former Labor Secretary Robert Reich discusses Fox News’ new strategy to push for reopening the economy at all costs; Tucker Carlson’s dangerous lies that social distancing and quarantining don’t prevent the spread of coronavirus; Trump ousting the vaccine director who filed a whistleblower complaint alleging coronavirus warnings were ignored; states pushing ahead with reopening despite the White House’s new internal projections of 3,000 deaths per day by June; Trump’s determination to keep the public in the dark by blocking Dr. Anthony Fauci from testifying in front of the House and firing the Health and Human Services Inspector General for detailing shortages of testing and protective gear, and what needs to be in the next stimulus bill.

Inequality Media Civic Action with Robert Reich is a digital media organization aimed at debunking right-wing lies, educating the public about inequality and imbalance of power, and breaking down solutions to the economic and structural issues plaguing our country. We provide a platform for you to learn, share your ideas, and, hopefully, mobilize your communities to make change for the common good.

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We release explainer videos every Tuesday and episodes of The Common Good every Thursday.

The Danger of Disinformation Campaigns During a Pandemic | Amanpour and Company

Amanpour and Company

May 5, 2020

Alongside coronavirus comes another epidemic: disinformation. A huge row is brewing as the Trump administration blames China for unleashing the virus upon the world, with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo saying this weekend there’s “enormous evidence” that coronavirus came from a Chinese lab– a conclusion that does not match the findings of America’s own intelligence agencies. In March, a Chinese government official made his own accusations of culpability, accusing the U.S. military of possibly being behind the virus’s spread. Alex Stamos was formerly the chief of security at Facebook and is now Director of the Stanford Internet Observatory at University. He joins Hari Sreenivasan to talk about the dangers of disinformation campaigns. Originally aired on May 4, 2020.

Impacts of Sea Level Rise on Coastal Virginia


May 7, 2020
The real world impacts of sea level rise can been seen in costal communities, like the Hampton Roads area in Virginia. Learn how the City of Norfolk and the Virginia Institute of Marine Science (VIMS) use NASA data to help forecast future impacts.

What’s Mine Is Mine and What’s Yours Is Mine – BillMoyers.com

Trump completely misunderstands his authority as president – A lawyer’s perspective

By James D. Zirin | April 29, 2020

We are in the midst of a public health crisis unlike any other we have faced in our lifetime, and President Trump has been all over the lot in how to approach the problem. On March 13, he said: “I don’t take responsibility at all.” On April 13, a month later, he declared: “I have the ultimate authority” to order states to relax social distancing to combat the coronavirus outbreak and reopen their economies. He went on to claim his authority in this regard was “total.” He warned that governors who refuse would face political consequences.

Asked what provision of the Constitution gives him the power to open or close state economies, Trump said: “Numerous provisions. We’ll give you a legal brief if you want.” Most lawyers would have difficulty writing such a brief or finding the “numerous provisions” the president was unable to elaborate.

Trump’s position raised some conservative eyebrows. Traditionally, Democrats have favored a strong central government, while Republicans, fearing socialization and the abuse inherent in a centralized infrastructure, have favored states’ rights. As Ronald Reagan put it, the “government is not the solution to our problem, government is the problem.”

On April 16, Trump switched positions and said not he, but the governors would “call the shots,” even though he claimed, as reported in The Hill, that he had the authority to “overrule” them.

Finally, in an April 17 tweet, he undercut the

Democratic governors of Michigan, Minnesota and Virginia, by issuing a clarion call to anti-lockdown citizens, in many cases suspiciously organized by pro-Trump conservative activists, to “liberate” their states; and, in the case of Virginia with a reference to the Second Amendment, even by force of arms. These statements implicate a violation of Title 18, U.S.C. § 2385, which criminalizes conduct that advocates and advises the overthrow of a state government by force and violence. Conservative undermining of what the governors are trying to do to save lives and end the spread is exemplified by the demand of firebrand Republican Congressman Jim Jordan of Ohio that governors continuing the lockdown should be “investigated.” Indeed, Attorney General William Barr, who thinks Americans should not be “hiding under their bed,” has threatened legal action against the governors for civil rights violations, stating that stay at home orders are “disturbingly close to house arrest.” Well, as Shakespeare said, “the devil can cite scripture for his purpose.”

Trump understandably, like most Americans, wants to re-open the country as soon as possible. But his priorities may be more about November 2020. If he gets his way to the exclusion of everything else there will be needless loss of life. Even with this in mind, it is sheer lunacy to prevent the governors from doing the very job he asked them to do. He has unduly politicized the issue of authority. By deferring to the governors, he can opportunistically blame them if they open too early, and there is more spread, more deaths, and more lockdown. But, if the governors succeed, he can cast himself in an election year as the “recovery president,” whose May 1 program for “Opening Up America again” (sound familiar?) turned out to be a great success or, to use one of his favorite adjectives, “perfect.” Governors are split in their approach to reopening with the cleavage largely along party lines. Republican governors are swiftly moving to reopen key sectors; Democrats are moving more slowly. States and cities may have different rules — a reflection of how many new cases are on the ground, as well as demographic and political fault lines.

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Big Oil’s Reign is Finally Weakening | Bill McKibben

On some long-distant day when some as-yet-unborn historian sits down to write the story of climate change—the story of the greatest crisis humans ever faced—it’s possible that they’ll choose an anecdote from this past week as a way into the story. Amid the coronavirus pandemic, it understandably didn’t get much notice, but JPMorgan Chase announced on Friday that Lee Raymond will no longer serve as the lead independent director of the world’s largest lender to the fossil-fuel industry.

I’ve told the backstory at much greater length here, but, briefly: Raymond was a key Exxon executive from the nineteen-eighties onward—the years when the company was one of the most profitable in the world. (If you want a full account, read Steve Coll’s majestic “Private Empire.”) Those were also the years when Exxon’s scientists discovered—before it was publicly an issue—that climate change was real and dangerous, and when Exxon’s executives decided to join with others in the industry to cover up that truth. Raymond gave the single most audacious speech of the era, telling a World Petroleum Congress audience in 1997, on the eve of the Kyoto climate talks, that the planet was cooling, and that it made no difference if we acted then or waited a quarter century.

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Bill McKibben and Elizabeth Kolbert on the Coronavirus Pandemic and the Environment | The New Yorker


With David Remnick

April 20, 2020
Bill McKibben and Elizabeth Kolbert join David Remnick to talk about the twin crises of our time: the coronavirus pandemic and the climate emergency. What can one teach us about the other? During the COVID-19

crisis, the Trump Administration has loosened auto-emissions standards and proposed easing the controls on mercury released by power plants, among other actions. With protesters no longer able to gather, construction on the controversial Keystone Pipeline has resumed. Still, McKibben and Kolbert believe that the pandemic could remind the public to take scientific facts more seriously and even change our values for the better. “When we get out of detention,” McKibben says, “I hope that it will be a reminder to us of how much social distancing we’ve been doing already these last few decades,” by focussing on technology and the virtual world. In the pleasure of human contact, he hopes, “We might begin to replace some of the consumption that drives every environmental challenge we face.”


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Stephen Greenblatt reads from The Swerve at the 2011 National Book Award Finalists Reading

National Book Foundation
Dec 1, 2011

Stephen Greenblatt, The Swerve: How the World Became Modern (W. W. Norton & Company) November 15, 2011, The New School University, NYC. Part of the 2011 National Book Awards Week celebration. Featuring intro by writer Tiphanie Yanique. nationalbook.org/nba2011.html

‘The Swerve’: When an Ancient Text Reaches Out & Touches Us

PBS NewsHour

May 25, 2012

In his new book, “The Swerve: How the World Became Modern,” author Stephen Greenblatt unearths the tale of a book collector whose discovery of poet Lucretius’ “On the Nature of Things” helped change the direction of human thought. Jeffrey Brown and Greenblatt discuss the book and its many cross-generational messages.