Daily Archives: December 13, 2021

Ottawa setting aside $40 billion for Indigenous child welfare compensation, reforms

13 Dec 2021
The federal government is setting aside approximately $40 billion in its fall economic update to cover the costs of compensation for Indigenous families harmed in the child-welfare system and fund reforms over the next five years.

“A Bigger Picture”: Ugandan Activist Vanessa Nakate on Bringing New Voices to the Climate Fight

13 Dec 2021
We go to Kampala, Uganda, to speak to climate activist Vanessa Nakate on the occasion of her first book being published, “A Bigger Picture: My Fight to Bring a New African Voice to the Climate Crisis.” In an extended interview, she describes the challenges of being a young Ugandan woman from a continent that contributes less than 4% of the world’s carbon emissions yet suffers the worst consequences of the climate crisis and is often ignored by the Global North. “There won’t be climate justice if specific groups of people are being left behind,” says Nakate, founder of the Africa-based Rise Up Movement. “We are facing the same storm, but we are definitely in different boats.”

“This Isn’t a Natural Disaster”: Climate Scientist Michael Mann on Deadly To rnadoes in 8 States

13 Dec 2021
At least 100 people are feared dead after 30 deadly tornadoes devastated towns in eight states, from Kentucky to Arkansas, in a supercell thunderstorm that raged more than 200 miles, leaving behind scenes some compared to a war zone. President Biden has declared a major federal disaster and called for an investigation into the role climate change played in the storms. We speak to climate scientist Michael Mann about the role of climate change in the storms and climate denialism among Republican leaders. “Make no mistake, we have been seeing an increase in these massive tornado outbreaks that can be attributed to the warming of the planet,” says Mann, director of the Earth System Science Center at Penn State University.

The political divide in the United States has become irreconcilable, study says | Salon.com

The U.S. is at dangerous “level of polarization,” political scientists warn

By Nicole Karlis, Published December 8, 2021 3:00PM (EST)

Politics in the United States have become an increasingly polarized affair for decades, driven largely by the right moving further to the right. Observation of political polarization is not merely anecdotal; studies repeatedly bear this out.

Now, some researchers say the partisan rift in the United States has become so extreme that the country may be at a point of no return.

According to a theoretical model’s findings published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the pandemic failing to unite the country, despite political differences, is a signal that the U.S. is at a disconcerting tipping point.

“We see this very disturbing pattern in which a shock brings people a little bit closer initially . . . but if polarization is too extreme, eventually the effects of a shared fate are swamped by the existing divisions and people become divided even on the shock issue,” said network scientist Boleslaw Szymanski, a professor of computer science and director of the Army Research Laboratory Network Science and Technology Center at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. “If we reach that point, we cannot unite even in the face of war, climate change, pandemics, or other challenges to the survival of our society.”

…(read more).

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Polarization and tipping points | PNAS


Our study was motivated by a highly disturbing puzzle. Confronted with a deadly global pandemic that threatened not only massive loss of life but also the collapse of our medical system and economy, why were we unable to put partisan divisions aside and unite in a common cause, similar to the national mobilization in the Great Depression and the Second World War? We used a computational model to search for an answer in the phase transitions of political polarization. The model reveals asymmetric hysteresis trajectories with tipping points that are hard to predict and that make polarization extremely difficult to reverse once the level exceeds a critical value.


Research has documented increasing partisan division and extremist positions that are more pronounced among political elites than among voters. Attention has now begun to focus on how polarization might be attenuated. We use a general model of opinion change to see if the self-reinforcing dynamics of influence and homophily may be characterized by tipping points that make reversibility problematic. The model applies to a legislative body or other small, densely connected organization, but does not assume country-specific institutional arrangements that would obscure the identification of fundamental regularities in the phase transitions. Agents in the model have initially random locations in a multidimensional issue space consisting of membership in one of two equal-sized parties and positions on 10 issues. Agents then update their issue positions by moving closer to nearby neighbors and farther from those with whom they disagree, depending on the agents’ tolerance of disagreement and strength of party identification compared to their ideological commitment to the issues. We conducted computational experiments in which we manipulated agents’ tolerance for disagreement and strength of party identification. Importantly, we also introduced exogenous shocks corresponding to events that create a shared interest against a common threat (e.g., a global pandemic). Phase diagrams of political polarization reveal difficult-to-predict transitions that can be irreversible due to asymmetric hysteresis trajectories. We conclude that future empirical research needs to pay much closer attention to the identification of tipping points and the effectiveness of possible countermeasures.

…(read more).

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Scientists Find Disturbing Outcome To America’s Political Divide

Thom Hartmann Program– Dec 9, 2021

Scientists have come to a very disturbing conclusion about the political divide in America.

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Crossroads Africa: African Engagement in the Making of Early Modernity. An International Conference (I Tatti | The Harvard University Center for Italian Renaissance Studies)

I-Tati-Africa-confCrossroads Africa is a two-day conference that will bring together art historians and curators, archaeologists, and historians of political institutions, economics, and the slave trade, interested in crossing historiographical and geographical frontiers to explore how Africans played active roles in shaping global histories (c. 1300-1700) and creating transnational spaces that continue to inform the circulation of people, goods, and ideas today. The conference builds on an exploratory seminar organized by Suzanne Blier (Harvard University), Alina Payne (I Tatti), and Gerhard Wolf (KHI-Florenz) at I Tatti in January 2017, which sought to address the deep and broad relationship between Africa and its continental neighbors, Europe and Asia, from the medieval through the early modern periods.

Focusing on a set of related geographies—West Africa, its Atlantic archipelagos, Ethiopia, and the Italian peninsula—papers will explore: the exchange of materials (including ivory, coral, glass beads, textiles, and metalwork); the role of museums in prompting and disseminating new scholarship and promoting wider public appreciation of historical African material and expressive culture; circulation of knowledge and technologies; enslavement and the formation of creolized communities and cultures; representation and perception of kingship, sovereignty, and territorial power.

Crossroads Africa is part of an initiative intended to stimulate and support increased scholarship on cultural exchange with and within the African continent during the early globalization of trade relationships by creating and promoting opportunities for institutional and collegial cross-disciplinary collaboration, particularly between scholars working in African regions and those in European and American institutions.

View the Conference Program

Organized by Ingrid Greenfield (Postdoctoral Fellow, I Tatti) and Carlo Taviani (Research Associate, I Tatti)


Abidemi Babatunde Babalola (Cambridge University, UK)

Herman L. Bennett (CUNY Graduate Center)

Kathleen Bickford Berzock (Block Museum of Art, Northwestern University)

Gerard Chouin (College of William and Mary)

António Correia e Silva (Universidade Cabo Verde)

Cécile Fromont (Yale University)

Sarah Guérin (University of Pennsylvania)

Shamil Jeppie (University of Cape Town)

Verena Krebs (Ruhr-Universität Bochum)

Kate Lowe (Queen Mary University of London)

Vera-Simone Schulz (Kunsthistorisches Institut in Florenz)

David Wheat (Michigan State University)

Kristen Windmuller-Luna (Brooklyn Museum and Princeton University Art Museum)

Roberto Zaugg (Universität Bern)


ALINA PAYNE (I Tatti / Harvard University)
Welcome and Introduction

CHAIR: ALINA PAYNE (I Tatti / Harvard University)

VERENA KREBS (Ruhr-Universität Bochum)
Exotic Others: Flemish Panel Paintings, Madre della Consolazione Icons, and Limoges Painted Enamels at the Late Medieval Ethiopian Royal Court

ROBERTO ZAUGG (Universität Bern)
The Riches of Olokun: Routes of Red Coral from the Central Mediterranean to Atlantic Africa

HERMAN L. BENNETT (Cuny Graduate Center) Prelude to The Prince: African Sovereign Power
in the Fifteenth Century


(Cambridge University)
“Pacheco’s Bead!”: Glass Beads, Atlantic Trade, and Local Agency in the Bight of Benin

(College of William & Mary)
Glass Beads and Copper Alloys in the Gulf of Guinea, 14th-17th c.: Networks, Innovation, and Change in Early Atlantic Africa

CHAIR: KATE LOWE (Queen Mary University of London)

SARAH GUÉRIN (University of Pennsylvania) Medieval Ivory, Material Translations
KRISTEN WINDMULLER-LUNA (Brooklyn Museum & Princeton University Art Museum)
The Robes of the Virgin Mary: Global Textile Networks in Ethiopian Christian Painting

CHAIR: FRANCESCO GUIDI BRUSCOLI (Università degli Studi di Firenze)

(Universidade de Cabo Verde)
From Continental Africa to the Cape Verde Islands: Enslavement and Creolization as Sociological Processes

DAVID WHEAT (Michigan State University) A Genoese-Iberian Slaving Voyage to São Tomé and the Spanish Caribbean, 1526-1527

(Yale University)
Material Encounters in Early Modern Atlantic Africa


CHAIR: AVINOAM SHALEM (Columbia University)

KATHLEEN BICKFORD BERZOCK (Block Museum of Art, Northwestern University)
A World in a Fragment: Visualizing Trans-Saharan Exchange through Object-Based Comparisons in the Exhibition Caravans of Gold

Objects, Ornaments, and Mosques ‘like in Córdoba’ along the Swahili Coast: Transcultural Aesthetics and the Geopoetics of Coastal East Africa

SHAMIL JEPPIE (University of Cape Town)
Ahmad Baba and Timbuktu at a Crossroads

Final Roundtable
(Mediated by Ingrid Greenfield & Carlo Taviani)

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I Tatti – The Harvard University Center
for Italian Renaissance Studies
Via di Vincigliata 26, Florence, 50135
+39 055 603 251 info@itatti.harvard.edu


The Cantino World Map, 1502. Lusophone Africa and Brazil,

The Cantino World Map is named for Alberto Cantino, an Italian diplomatic agent in Lisbon who obtained it in 1502 for the Duke of Ferrara.

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Emissions Impossible Europe | IATP

Executive Summary

At a time when governments must dramatically reduce greenhouse gas emissions, global meat and dairy giants in Europe are increasing emissions by ramping up production and exports.

IATP has calculated the emissions of 35 of the largest meat and dairy corporations with headquarters in the European Union (EU) and Switzerland. Most are still not reporting their greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Of the 20 companies we examined in detail, only three have committed to reducing their overall emissions from livestock. None of the companies we examined have expressed an intention to reduce the number of livestock in their supply chains, where 90% of meat and dairy emissions originate.

In our Emissions Impossible series, we have examined the agricultural emissions of multinational livestock and dairy companies. In 2018, in a joint report with GRAIN, we showed the scale of those emissions, which rival those of Big Oil. In 2020, our Milking the Planet report exposed the continued rise of emissions from global dairy companies. In this latest iteration of the series, we focus on companies based in Europe. We show how — rather than reducing livestock emissions — Big Meat and Dairy are employing narratives and strategies that result in a green smokescreen over the industry’s contribution to climate change. This report explains why, instead, they must be held to account and contribute to urgently needed action to reduce emissions this decade.

Only 10 of the top 20 meat and dairy corporations have announced climate targets with a few declaring net-zero plans. However, these voluntary plans rely on a range of strategies to dress up their climate action. These include:

  • co-opting the narrative on regenerative and agro­ecological agriculture;
  • focus on reductions of emissions per kilo of meat or litre of milk (emissions intensity reductions), which are drowned out by the companies’ continued expansion of overall production;
  • development of and plans to use impermanent soil and grassland carbon offsets sold on carbon markets;
  • utilisation of unproven feed additives that claim to reduce methane; and last but not least,
  • government-led incentives that perversely valorise large-scale animal agriculture through the capture of methane for “biogas” from livestock manure (see Box 3).

Offsets and improvements in efficiency will mainly fall on farmer suppliers to pay for and implement, even though these corporations set the terms for production. Offsets rely on uncertain pledges to reduce emissions elsewhere, replacing actual cuts to emissions. The trends are clear: Big meat and dairy companies in the EU, Switzerland and the United Kingdom (U.K.) are moving in the wrong direction.

No European government holds these companies accountable for their supply chain emissions, even as agriculture emissions have risen in the last decade. As the EU prepares to launch a Carbon Farming Initiative as part of its carbon removal plans in the EU Green Deal and as it sets rules more broadly for climate and agriculture, governments must require Big Meat and Dairy to commit to a reduction in their absolute emissions.

The EU must not certify the use of impermanent and unreliable carbon offset schemes, which enable corporate polluters to delay climate action and hide their emissions.

…(read more).


Woldemariam Discusses Ethiopian Civil War on “Lawfare Podcast” | The Frederi ck S. Pardee School of Global Studies

Woldemariam joined host Scott Anderson and Professor Hilary Matfess of the Josef Korbel School of International Studies at the University of Denver to discuss the origins of Ethiopia’s ongoing civil war, what it’s meant for civilians living there, and how it might shape the country’s future. In his comments, Woldemariam touched on Tigray, a region that has played a prominent role in the evolution of Ethiopia’s modern ethnofederalist state, as well as the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) and their influence on Ethiopian politics.

Michael Woldemariam is an associate professor of International Relations at Boston University’s Pardee School of Global Studies whose teaching and research interests are in African security studies, with a particular focus on armed conflict in the Horn of Africa. Woldemariam’s scholarly work has been published in the journals Nationalism and Ethnic Politics, Terrorism and Political Violence, Journal of Strategic Studies, and the Journal of Eastern African Studies. Read more here.

…(read more).