Daily Archives: June 11, 2022

1620: A Critical Response to the 1619 Project. Peter W. Wood

When and where was America founded? Was it in Virginia in 1619, when a pirate ship landed a group of captive Africans at Jamestown? So asserted the New York Times in August 2019 when it announced its 1619 Project. The Times set out to transform history by tracing American institutions, culture, and prosperity to that pirate ship and the exploitation of African Americans that followed. A controversy erupted, with historians pushing back against what they say is a false narrative conjured out of racial grievance.

This book sums up what the critics have said and argues that the proper starting point for the American story is 1620, with the signing of the Mayflower Compact aboard ship before the Pilgrims set foot in the Massachusetts wilderness. A nation as complex as ours, of course, has many starting points, most notably the Declaration of Independence in 1776. But the quintessential ideas of American self-government and ordered liberty grew from the deliberate actions of the Mayflower immigrants in 1620.

Schools across the country have already adopted the Times’ radical revision of history as part of their curricula. The stakes are high. Should children be taught that our nation is a four-hundred-year-old system of racist oppression? Or should they learn that what has always made America exceptional is our pursuit of liberty and justice for all?


“Peter Wood’s pushback against the 1619 Project is at once sharp, illuminating, entertaining, and profound. More than a powerful exposé of the 1619 Project’s mendacity, Wood’s 1620 explains why so many Americans have succumbed to this exercise in manipulation¬—and shows the way to fight back.” —Stanley Kurtz, senior fellow, Ethics and Public Policy Center
“Via Peter Wood, the ‘civil body politic’ of the Mayflower Compact reasserts itself in the national conversation. 1620 is a dispassionate, clear reminder that the best in America’s past is still America’s best future.” —Amity Shlaes, chair, Calvin Coolidge Presidential Foundation

“With elegant precision Peter Wood dismantles the edifice ostentatiously called a ‘reframing’ of American history, the 1619 Project. He deftly exposes the jumble of lies, half-lies, logical fallacies, bad history, and bad faith of a project motivated by greed and hatred of America. For anyone who cares about history, education, truth, and the United States of America, 1620 is essential reading.” —Mary Grabar, resident fellow, Alexander Hamilton Institute for the Study of Western Civilization

“Peter Wood’s 1620 claims the prize as the most comprehensive response to the ill-fated 1619 Project. In a thorough review of the text, Wood accounts for every argument for and against. He appropriately honors the Project’s intention to pursue a mission of redress, while nevertheless pinpointing its consistent resort to misrepresentation that cannot be dismissed as merely different interpretation. Wood identifies the heart of the matter: Surely there are ways to incorporate a forthright treat¬ment of slavery, racism, and the black experience into the story of America’s rise as a free, self-governing, cre¬ative, and prosperous nation. The key to doing that is to put the pursuit of the ideals of liberty and justice at the center of the story. The 1619 Project failed in that for the sufficient reason that its purpose was cultural shakedown, not cultural affirmation. That is made plain in this necessary work.” —William Allen, emeritus dean and professor, Michigan State University

“Peter Wood’s survey of the landscape of scholarly criticism has provided a valuable service, both in assessing the heated historical debates around the 1619 Project and by offering readers an accessible roadmap with which to navigate its many controversies. Unfortunately the New York Times has thus far conspicuously avoided the most salient criticisms of its work. This helpful guide masterfully curates the scholarly scrutiny that the newspaper evaded and ignored, equipping the reader to approach the 1619 Project with a discerning eye for evidence-based history.” —Phillip W. Magness, senior research fellow, American Institute for Economic Research

“Those of us who remain attached to the principles of the Founding need to read 1620: A Critical Response to the 1619 Project with both care and gratitude. For Peter Wood, like a highly trained commando, has advanced to the front lines to clear away the dangerous rubbish put forth by the 1619 Project. With critical skill and in clear prose, he has opened multiple avenues of assault on a misguided enterprise that in trying to rewrite history deserves to end up on its ash-heap.” —Robert Paquette, president, The Alexander Hamilton Institute, emeritus professor of history, Hamilton College

“The 400th anniversary of the first landing of enslaved Africans at Jamestown could have been a great and unifying moment for America. It could have reinforced the assertion of African American scholar W.E.B. DuBois that “before the Pilgrims landed we were here,” meaning that people of African descent have always been a part of American history, and helped all Americans to see that their climb toward equality and dignity is a vital strand of that history. But instead the New York Times’ 1619 Project took its bearings from the opposite view: that there has never been a place for African Americans in that larger American history, because racism was embedded in the American DNA at the beginning. Such a view is both historically false and morally corrosive, as Peter Wood demonstrates in this superb, well-researched, fair-minded, and surprisingly elegant book. Anyone who cares about these matters will need to read it. All Americans ought to.” —Wilfred McClay, Blankenship Chair in the History of Liberty, University of Oklahoma

About the Author

Peter W. Wood is president of the National Association of Scholars. A former professor of anthropology and college provost, he is the author of several books about American culture, including Diversity: The Invention of a Concept (2003) and A Bee in the Mouth: Anger in America Now (2007). He is editor-in-chief of the journal Academic Questions and a widely published essayist. In 2019, he received the Jeane Kirkpatrick Prize for contributions to academic freedom.

  • Publisher‏ : ‎ Encounter Books (November 17, 2020)
  • Language‏ : ‎ English
  • Hardcover‏ : ‎ 272 pages
  • ISBN-10‏ : ‎ 1641771240
  • ISBN-13‏ : ‎ 978-1641771245
  • Reading age ‏ : ‎ 18 years and up
  • Item Weight ‏ : ‎ 1 pounds
  • Dimensions‏ : ‎ 5.5 x 1 x 8.75 inches

Factory farming is turning this beautiful British river into an open sewer | George Monbiot | The Guardian

George Monbiot – Fri 10 Jun 2022 07.00 EDT

The Wye is being killed by toxic industrial chicken factories along its banks. Such disasters are happening all over the UK

BBC WorldService – Interview with George Monbiot Newshour 10 June 2022

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The longer this goes on, the deeper the mystery becomes. It’s as if the public authorities had set out to destroy an entire region’s economy. Last year, a group of us tried to raise the profile of an astonishing scandal: the impending collapse of one of the most treasured and “protected” rivers in Europe, the Wye, which flows through Wales and England. We showed how chicken factories in the catchment are turning this beautiful river and its tributaries into open sewers.

The two county councils through which the river mostly flows, Powys and Herefordshire, have between them granted planning permission for giant steel barns (factories, in reality) that contain an estimated 20m birds. Many were approved on the grounds that they would probably have no significant environmental impact. Amazingly, at no point was the cumulative impact considered: every decision was taken as if in isolation.

When a giant processing plant that could handle a million chickens a week was opened in Herefordshire, the council must have known that 90 new chicken factories would need to be built nearby to supply it. Chickens cannot be moved far, or they die in transit. Yet no planning guidance was issued, and chicken units weren’t mentioned in the county development plan. So when farmers applied to build them, the council had few legal means of stopping them. A paper in the journal Land Use Policy claimed that “delaying tactics from Conservative politicians” had allowed the new chicken units to get planning permission “before the policy void might be filled”.

The manure from this vast flock is spread by the farmers on their fields, but the grass and soil cannot absorb the nutrients it contains. The surplus ends up in the river. The result is devastating: our mapping for the documentary Rivercide suggests it has killed 90% to 97% of the river’s water crowfoot (Ranunculus) beds. Crowfoot, like mangroves in tropical seas, anchors the entire ecosystem. Any remaining life is threatened by repeated blooms (population explosions) of single-celled algae, fed by the extra nutrients in the water.

Disasters like this are happening all over the country. But between 2013 and 2019 the number of water quality samples taken by the Environment Agency fell by 45%. It reminds me of Donald Trump’s attempt to stop Covid testing at the height of the pandemic. There’s no online access to the Environment Agency’s national register of pollution sources: instead, as one lawyer acting for a rivers charity found out, you must visit the agency’s office in Lichfield, where it’s stored, exclusively, on an ancient desktop computer. The computer freezes when you try to open it. There’s no way of downloading the documents, and the printer attached to it doesn’t work.

The chicken factories are extremely lucrative. The biggest are believed to generate profits of £1m a year. This might help to explain the intimidation and vandalism reported to me by some of the local people who object to them. One tells me, “It’s getting so bad now I’m worried someone’s going to get firebombed or shot.”

While chicken farmers have sought to blame the pollution on other sources, a major study published last month traced the sources of phosphate, the most important of the minerals killing the river. Of the 6,500 tonnes of phosphate brought into the catchment every year, over 5,000 tonnes arrives in livestock feed, almost 80% of which is for chickens. Most of it is excreted. As a result, 3,000 tonnes more phosphate than plants can absorb is dumped in the Wye catchment every year.

The factories are justified in the name of jobs. But, while the jobs in poultry are paltry and the pay is chickenfeed, they’re killing the local economy. The Wye is the focal point for tourism in the region: canoeing, angling, swimming and camping support pubs, restaurants, hotels, shops and many other businesses. But at peak season, in high summer, the river stinks. If you swim in it, your skin, when you emerge, feels slimy. Who wants to play in a sewer?

Since a judgment on nutrients by the European court of justice in 2018, Herefordshire has had to impose a planning moratorium in the catchments of the Wye and its tributary the Lugg. This means, in effect, no new houses, and no new restaurants or any other businesses that might release phosphate. But, while Herefordshire appears to have stopped granting new permissions for chicken factories, Powys, upstream, continues to dish them out.

The chair of Herefordshire’s nutrient management board says that four chickens produce as much phosphate as one person. If so, the new 90,000-bird factories that Powys county council approved in March will ensure that homes for 20,000 people, in a region desperately short of housing, cannot be built. When I asked Powys for an explanation, it told me that, while every application was determined on its merits, this decision “is subject to a legal challenge and it would not be appropriate to comment”.

If these chicken factories were classified as industry, rather than agriculture, they would never have been permitted. Farming enjoys remarkable exemptions from planning, environment and tax laws. And that’s how the government wants it to remain. Parliament’s environmental audit committee recommended that planning rules should presume against new livestock factories in overloaded catchments. But last month the government rejected this proposal. No adequate reason was given.

To complete this extraordinary story, a crowdfunded case is soon to be heard at the court of appeal, brought by people in Herefordshire’s stunning Golden Valley, challenging the planning permission granted in 2020 for yet another giant livestock unit. The case hinges on the question of whether, for legal purposes, the River Dore, which flows through the valley, is a tributary of the Wye. No one disputes that the Dore is a tributary of the Wye. But Herefordshire county council has argued that, in law if not geography, the river does not belong to the catchment, so no assessment under the habitat regulations was needed before it approved the new unit.

The entire watershed now seems to be approaching its tipping point. Like a coral reef, which can withstand one or two, or perhaps a few, bleaching events, but collapses beyond a certain point, the Wye is on the brink. It’s not dying. It is being killed.

  • George Monbiot is a Guardian columnist

…(Read more).


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Regenesis: Feeding the World Without Devouring the Planet: George Monbiot

BBC Interview with George Monbiot
BC World Service, Newshour 10 June 2022

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“This remarkable book, staring curiously down at the soil beneath our feet, points us convincingly in one of the directions we must travel. I learned something on every page.” —Bill McKibben

For the first time since the Neolithic, we have the opportunity to transform not only our food system but our entire relationship to the living world.

Farming is the world’s greatest cause of environmental destruction – and the one we are least prepared to talk about. We criticise urban sprawl, but farming sprawls across thirty times as much land. We have ploughed, fenced and grazed great tracts of the planet, felling forests, killing wildlife, and poisoning rivers and oceans to feed ourselves. Yet millions still go hungry.

Now the food system itself is beginning to falter. But, as George Monbiot shows us in this brilliant, bracingly original new book, we can resolve the biggest of our dilemmas and feed the world without devouring the planet.

Regenesis is a breathtaking vision of a new future for food and for humanity. Drawing on astonishing advances in soil ecology, Monbiot reveals how our changing understanding of the world beneath our feet could allow us to grow more food with less farming. He meets the people who are unlocking these methods, from the fruit and vegetable grower revolutionising our understanding of fertility; through breeders of perennial grains, liberating the land from ploughs and poisons; to the scientists pioneering new ways to grow protein and fat. Together, they show how the tiniest life forms could help us make peace with the planet, restore its living systems, and replace the age of extinction with an age of regenesis.


A Sunday Times bestseller

Praise for Regenesis:

“George Monbiot is one of the most fearless and important voices in the global climate movement today” —Greta Thunberg, activist and author of No One is Too Small to Make a Difference

“Brilliant, mesmerizing, vital … a whole new way of thinking about our agriculture and our diets, our climate and our future” —David Wallace-Wells, New York Times bestselling author of The Uninhabitable Earth

“This remarkable book, staring curiously down at the soil beneath our feet, points us convincingly in one of the directions we must travel. I learned something on every page” —Bill McKibben, author of Falter and The End of Nature

“A world-making, world-changing book… It rings and sings throughout with Monbiot’s extraordinary combination of passion, generosity and justice” —Robert Macfarlane, New York Times bestselling author of Underland

“Regenesis is a lively and deeply researched enquiry that confronts our dilemmas head on…. Transformation is urgently needed and this book shows how it is possible” —Merlin Sheldrake, internationally bestselling author of Entangled Life

“Monbiot shatters the shibboleths of farming and shows that the thin layer on which all terrestrial ecosystems stand is alive with organisms as diverse, fascinating and mysterious as any found above ground” —David Suzuki, founder of The David Suzuki Foundation

“This is an important book and a gripping read” —Henry Dimbleby, co-founder of Leon Restaurants and the Sustainable Restaurant Association

“Monbiot writes with all the imaginative sympathy of a great storyteller as well as the overarching understanding of a moral visionary. This is a fine and necessary book” —Philip Pullman, New York Times bestselling author of the His Dark Materials trilogy

“People from all walks of life should read this remarkable book. It is in my view one of the two or three most important books to appear this century” —Prof. Sir David King, former Chief Scientific Advisor to the UK Government

“Regenesis speaks to us like a poem … It offers a magnificent political economy of global food production and concludes with a hopeful vision of a techno-ethical equilibrium between Humanity and Nature. It must be read” —Yanis Varoufakis, author of Another Now

“Regenesis calls for nothing less than a revolution in the future of food – one that will literally transform the face of the Earth … This is Monbiot’s masterpiece” —Kate Raworth, author of Donut Economics

“Regenesis is rigorous and restive, but also witty, original and humane.” —Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, author of The River Cottage Cookbook

“Valuable… Extraordinary… I never cease to be surprised by the unexpected perspectives Monbiot brings to bear, leading me through problems I never envisaged and solutions I never imagined” —Brian Eno

“A fascinating and ultimately positive book … a harmonic vision of how changing our relationship to land use, farming and the food that we eat could transform our lives” —Thom Yorke

“A visionary, fearless, essential book” —Lucy Jones, author of The Big Ones and Losing Eden

“Inspiring and compelling … a transformative vision of a new food future with the potential to both restore nature and feed the world” —Caroline Lucas, MP and former leader of the Green Party of England and Wales

“A genuinely brilliant, inspirational book” —Sir Tim Smit, Founder of the Eden Project

“Monbiot has applied his razor sharp intellect, bountiful curiosity and love for the land to the complex and fundamental issue of what we eat” —Lily Cole, activist and author of Who Cares Wins

“Monbiot reaches for new ideas that might ignite the collective consciousness in a push to protect, rather than tragically destroy, the biosphere” —ANOHNI

“Essential reading… This deeply researched book provides a blueprint for the future” —Rosie Boycott, journalist and activist

“The writing, observation and devotion is infectiously compelling. The learning is deep and immense” —Mark Rylance, actor

“Regenesis gives us an inspiring vision of the future… Monbiot has combined his gifts as an investigator, interviewer and witty storyteller to create an exhilarating epic!” —Robert Newman

“This passionate, extraordinary book opens up a compelling and vital new dimension: food and the way the world farms” —Will Hutton, columnist for The Observer and author of The Writing on the Wall

About the Author

George Monbiot is an author, Guardian columnist and environmental campaigner. His best-selling books include Feral: Rewilding the Land, Sea and Human Life and Heat: How To Stop the Planet Burning; his latest is Out of the Wreckage: A New Politics for an Age of Crisis. George cowrote the concept album Breaking the Spell of Loneliness with musician Ewan McLennan, and has made a number of viral videos. One of them, adapted from his 2013 TED talk, How Wolves Change Rivers, has been viewed on YouTube over 40 million times. Another, on Natural Climate Solutions, which he co-presented with Greta Thunberg, has been watched over 60 million times.

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Penguin Books (August 2, 2022)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Paperback ‏ : ‎ 352 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 0143135961
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-0143135968
  • Item Weight ‏ : ‎ 8.2 ounces
  • Dimensions ‏ : ‎ 5.31 x 0.72 x 8 inches


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“Attempted Coup”: First Public Jan. 6 Hearing Puts Trump at Center of Plan to Overturn 2020 Election

Jun 10, 2022

The House committee investigating the January 6 insurrection held its first public hearing Thursday night, televised in primetime by all major networks except Fox News. We spend the hour featuring excerpts from the hearing, starting with Committee Chair Bennie Thompson’s opening statement, in which he argued January 6 was the “culmination of an attempted coup” by Donald Trump, comparing the insurrection to the ransacking of Washington, D.C., by British forces more than two centuries ago. #democracynow

“From Protesters … to Insurrectionists”: Jan. 6 Witness Describes Proud Boys’ Violence

Jun 10, 2022

The white supremacist Proud Boys group and the far-right, anti-government Oath Keepers militia played an instrumental role in planning for a violent insurrection on the Capitol, according to the January 6 House committee, which aired new testimony from witnesses and the groups’ leaders in its first public hearing Thursday night. British filmmaker Nick Quested was embedded with the Proud Boys and shared his footage with the committee. As the first of two live witnesses, he said he was “confused” when “a couple of hundred of Proud Boys were marching toward the Capitol.” #democracynow

Recalling Some of the Chapters from the Harvard DIVESTMENT Struggle…Part 3


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Courses offered online from the Harvard Extension School throughout the divestment controversy included: