Links, Notes, Bookmarks and Briefs for November 18, 2016
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.
Lo and Behold
That’s the title of Werner Herzog’s latest film, a documentary tackling the internet, artificial intelligence, robotics and the like. And how we as a species might involved because of it. More succinctly, it’s about dreamers and extremes.
Herzog always manages to clear my head simply by filling it with something entirely new. I needed that this week. If you cross paths with it, be sure to check it out.
The neoliberal era in the United States ended with a neofascist bang. The political triumph of Donald Trump shattered the establishments in the Democratic and Republican parties – both wedded to the rule of Big Money and to the reign of meretricious politicians.
The Bush and Clinton dynasties were destroyed by the media-saturated lure of the pseudo-populist billionaire with narcissist sensibilities and ugly, fascist proclivities. The monumental election of Trump was a desperate and xenophobic cry of human hearts for a way out from under the devastation of a disintegrating neoliberal order – a nostalgic return to an imaginary past of greatness.
The age of Obama was the last gasp of neoliberalism. Despite some progressive words and symbolic gestures, Obama chose to ignore Wall Street crimes, reject bailouts for homeowners, oversee growing inequality and facilitate war crimes like US drones killing innocent civilians abroad.
Rightwing attacks on Obama – and Trump-inspired racist hatred of him – have made it nearly impossible to hear the progressive critiques of Obama. The president has been reluctant to target black suffering – be it in overcrowded prisons, decrepit schools or declining workplaces. Yet, despite that, we get celebrations of the neoliberal status quo couched in racial symbolism and personal legacy. Meanwhile, poor and working class citizens of all colors have continued to suffer in relative silence.
In all fairness, it’s not just Trump folk that pass around stuff without checking. Or even reading what they pass on. And we’re all a wee bit dumber for it. From the story:
“Honestly, people are definitely dumber. They just keep passing stuff around. Nobody fact-checks anything anymore — I mean, that’s how Trump got elected. He just said whatever he wanted, and people believed everything, and when the things he said turned out not to be true, people didn’t care because they’d already accepted it. It’s real scary. I’ve never seen anything like it.”
“My sites were picked up by Trump supporters all the time. I think Trump is in the White House because of me. His followers don’t fact-check anything — they’ll post everything, believe anything. His campaign manager posted my story about a protester getting paid $3,500 as fact. Like, I made that up. I posted a fake ad on Craigslist.”
Germany, seeking to reassert leadership on climate action and help build political momentum, spelled out its plan this week to effectively stop using fossil fuels and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by between 80 and 95 percent by mid-century.
As the world’s fourth-largest economy and a global leader in clean energy, Germany hoped to provide some optimism at the global climate talks in Marrakech, Morocco in the face of uncertainty over what the U.S. policies will be with Donald Trump as president.
“By 2050, the whole German economy will be fully renewable,” said Jochen Flasbarth, the state secretary for the Ministry of Environment.
The Klimaschutz 2050 plan envisions a carbon-neutral Germany by 2050, a longstanding target. But for the first time, it gets specific. The plan details how much each sector of the economy will reduce emissions to meet the intermediate goal of a 55 percent carbon reduction in the next 15 years. In previous climate plans, there were no goals for transportation and agriculture, but now all major polluters will have to pull their weight, German officials said.
The plan unveils a catalog of 97 measures, and while it does not explicitly say that burning of fossil fuels must end, its architects say the goals can’t be reached without phasing them out.
It’s “impossible to achieve 2050 neutrality if you still count on fossil fuel energy sources,” Flasbarth said.
In 2012, he posted on Twitter a couple of messages that asserted that climate change was a hoax that China had devised to secure an unfair trade advantage, presumably because the Obama administration was seeking to curb coal consumption in the United States.
“The concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive,” Mr. Trump wrote. That message has been reshared more than 104,000 times and “liked” nearly 66,000 times.
On Wednesday, a deputy foreign minister of China, Liu Zhenmin, told reporters at a climate conference in Marrakesh, Morocco, that starting from the 1980s, the administrations of Mr. Trump’s Republican predecessors — Presidents Ronald Reagan and George Bush — supported climate change negotiations under a United Nations panel.
That was apparently an important moment in China’s realization of the onset of climate change.
China’s lecturing the United States on the need to fight climate change is a reversal from the usual roles and a sign that, with the United States governed by Mr. Trump, China may have to take the leadership position in the global campaign.
Russia’s new law, which requires companies processing personal data on Russian citizens to store this data on local servers, came into force on Tuesday. It’s just the latest in a string of measures aimed at increasing government control over the Internet since President Vladimir Putin was re-elected in 2012.
Anna Shustikova, winner of the Royal Photographic Society’s under-30s Gold Award, is a documentary photographer and writer in Moscow, whose images of Russian weddings show a clash of tradition and modernity.