An open thread and occasional daily notes to myself; feel free to eavesdrop, join in or start a conversation, or drop a relevant link in the comments. Updated throughout the day.
Thomas Piketty: We must rethink globalization, or Trumpism will prevail – Le Monde via The Guardian
Let it be said at once: Trump’s victory is primarily due to the explosion in economic and geographic inequality in the United States over several decades and the inability of successive governments to deal with this.
Both the Clinton and the Obama administrations frequently went along with the market liberalization launched under Reagan and both Bush presidencies. At times they even outdid them: the financial and commercial deregulation carried out under Clinton is an example. What sealed the deal, though, was the suspicion that the Democrats were too close to Wall Street – and the inability of the Democratic media elite to learn the lessons from the Sanders vote.
The main lesson for Europe and the world is clear: as a matter of urgency, globalization must be fundamentally re-oriented. The main challenges of our times are the rise in inequality and global warming. We must therefore implement international treaties enabling us to respond to these challenges and to promote a model for fair and sustainable development.
Agreements of a new type can, if necessary, include measures aimed at facilitating these exchanges. But the question of liberalizing trade should no longer be the main focus. Trade must once again become a means in the service of higher ends. It never should have become anything other than that.
- Trump must address conflicts of interest – Richard W. Painter for CNN
I’ve been thinking a lot about this over the past week, real transparency, as a topic supporters and non-supporters could and should get behind. Nobody, even the truest believers, should want the country’s first billionaire president in a position where he can enrich himself, his family and his business holdings. Painter was the chief White House ethics lawyer for George W. Bush from 2005 to 2007.
Most of the incoming administration’s potential conflicts of interest stem from Trump’s own multibillion-dollar real estate empire. He could sell these holdings, or put them in one or more holding companies and then sell shares in those companies for cash. (Wall Street investment bankers would be more than happy to help him with this.) He could then invest the sale proceeds in conflict-free assets such as mutual funds and treasury bonds, or put the proceeds in a blind trust.
But he apparently does not want to do that. He says that he instead will turn management of these companies over to his adult children during the time he is President, presumably while he continues to own them. Yet that simply will not work from a conflict of interest vantage point — every time his administration does anything that appears to help one of these businesses, Trump will be accused of enriching himself at the expense of the public.
Perhaps the most important conflict is not what Trump owns, but what he and his businesses owe. The Trump real estate empire and others like it thrive on borrowed money. Easy money would likely be the rule for bank lenders seeking to appease a powerful president, and he could reciprocate by loosely regulating the banks. (He has already talked of repealing all or part of the 2010 Dodd-Frank banking reform law.)
And there there are the foreign policy implications for countries where he has business holdings.
- Could Donald Trump Kill the EPA? Probably Not, but He Could Cripple It – Inside Climate News
Government agencies like the EPA are established by law, and killing them requires the support of Congress. But Trump can attack some of the Obama administration’s signature rules, scaling back the agency’s reach and reshaping its mission. The new president could also try to expand the executive branch’s role in the rulemaking process and a Republican Congress will likely continue shrinking the already stressed agency’s budget.
“You can’t eliminate the agency,” Michael Gerrard, director of the Sabin Center for Climate Change at the Columbia Law School, said. “But you can starve and cripple it.”
Trump’s choice to lead his EPA transition team, Myron Ebell, is a prominent climate change denier and director of the Center for Energy and Environment at the anti-regulatory Competitive Enterprise Institute. Ebell worked on policy for the tobacco industry before moving on to oppose environmental regulations and sow doubt on climate science. And while some in the green world think Trump may end up changing his mind about the appointment, crafting an EPA transition team hints that he’s backed off his call to do away with the agency. Either way, Ebell is certain to help shape Trump’s policies, from climate science to clean water rules, and influence his appointments.
Black Lives Matter
Jeronimo Yanez, the police officer who fatally shot Philando Castile, the black man whose final moments were streamed live on Facebook last summer, was charged with second-degree manslaughter.
In outlining the case against Officer Jeronimo Yanez, prosecutors described a traffic stop on July 6 that spiraled out of control when Officer Yanez overreacted to the presence of Mr. Castile’s lawfully carried gun and shot him despite pleas that he was not reaching for the weapon.
“No reasonable officer — knowing, seeing and hearing what Officer Yanez did at the time — would have used deadly force under these circumstances,” the Ramsey County attorney, John J. Choi, said. Officer Yanez, who will appear in court on Friday, was also charged with two felony counts of intentional discharge of a dangerous weapon.
Queens-based photographer Kris Graves has spent the past three years photographing black men and women from all manner of backgrounds as they would want themselves to be pictured, in lighting and poses of their choosing, a series of portraits collected under the title The Testament Project. Here, over the course of eight days, he has traveled across the country in search of eight black, male subjects who will never sit in his studio—he has set out to document the physical spaces where, one by one, their lives ended.
A clip from a short documentary, “Annapurna III – Unclimbed”, which follows alpinists David Lama, Hansjorg Auer and Alex Blumel on their attempt to reach the summit of the 7,555m (24,787 ft) peak via its southeast ridge — a route that’s yet to be conquered. Spectacular and dizzying, 90 seconds of escape and solitude we all need today.
More on the attempt is here. Coming soon to an outdoor filmfest near you.
At top, today’s Pic du Jour, the site’s 1,049th straight, was snapped at a memorial on the site where 12-year-old Tamir Rice was fatally shot by a police officer in Cleveland, Ohio, on 22 November 2014. More of my images taken at the Cleveland memorial and at a demonstration a month after the shooting.