How Mandela & ANC Shifted Economic Views

The mood in South Africa has turned solemn after Tuesday’s memorial for the late president and anti-apartheid leader, Nelson Mandela. Mandela will lie in state through Friday in an open coffin in the capital of Pretoria. His body is on view in the exact spot where he was sworn in as the country’s first black and democratically elected president 19 years ago. South African police say the line of people waiting to pay their respects stretched nearly four miles long, reminding many of the lines on election day in 1994. Earlier Wednesday, a motorcade transported Mandela’s coffin from a military hospital to be displayed, passing the courthouse where he was sentenced to life in prison.

in common with so many people close to him, as well as those who were far off, whether South Africans or internationally, profound sadness. Of course, he was 95 and ill for some time, so I can’t say it came as a surprise. In fact, we were prepared for this. But whenever death strikes, it seems to come like a thief in the night, and you’re shocked, and you’re torn up.

But actually, given the life he had led and the tremendous example of that extraordinary life of struggle, of being involved in a collective leadership all his life, of facing the death penalty, of all those years in prison, and then surmounting that and coming to a reconciliation with his enemies in terms of being able to acquire political power and set the country on the course of democracy, to have been close to him throughout all that obviously leaves a deep, deep pain and an extraordinary gap in one’s life.

But like a father—and I’m not using that term in a superficial way—when we say he was a father to us all, it was like the passing of one’s father, because this was a leader in the best sense of the world, a leader who led by example and led from the front, and could also lead from behind in terms of the way a shepherd makes sure the sheep a

— source

Nullius in verba

The Radical Possibilities of Restorative Justice

Mass Incarceration, Violence & the Radical Possibilities of Restorative Justice

criminal justice reform and the fight to end mass incarceration. Criminal justice reform has gained momentum in recent years, with 2020 Democratic presidential candidates vowing to take on the issue, and a number of states across the country tackling everything from cash bail to sentencing reform. But these efforts have focused almost entirely on nonviolent and drug offenses, while sidestepping a problem at the core of what Michelle Alexander calls “America’s addiction to incarceration”: violence. A staggering 2.2 million people are locked up in America’s sprawling prison system, and more than half of those currently confined in state prisons have been convicted of violent crime.

In order to cut the prison population in half and transform criminal justice in this country, our next guest argues that reformers must reckon with violent crime and come up with radically new ways to address it. Danielle Sered lays out a path for this transformation in her new unflinching book titled Until We Reckon. Sered has spent nearly a decade working directly with people who have committed violent acts and survivors of violence as the executive director of Common Justice, a Brooklyn-based organization that offers alternatives to incarceration for people charged with violent felonies. Her experience anchors her book as she calls for a complete overhaul of the way we’ve been taught to think about crime, punishment and justice. She also challenges the notion that prisons keep us safe, revealing instead how incarceration perpetuates the very violence it’s meant to curb.

— source | Mar 14, 2019

Nullius in verba

What is selective breeding?

One of the earliest forms of biotechnology is responsible for many of the plants and animals that we know today.

Selective breeding, also known as artificial selection, is a process used by humans to develop new organisms with desirable characteristics. Breeders select two parents that have beneficial phenotypic traits to reproduce, yielding offspring with those desired traits. Selective breeding can be used to produce tastier fruits and vegetables, crops with greater resistance to pests, and larger animals that can be used for meat. The term “artificial selection” was coined by Charles Darwin in his famous work on evolution, On the Origin of Species, but the practice itself predates Darwin by thousands of years. As some of the earliest forms of biotechnology, both plant and animal breeding have been common practice since the birth of civilization.

Perhaps the earliest example of selective breeding is the domestic dog (Canis familiaris). It is unknown exactly when and where dogs were first domesticated, but humans have been breeding dogs for at least 14,000 years. Scientists believe that the domestic dog evolved from the wild gray wolf (Canis lupus), and through artificial selection, humans were able to create hundreds of different dog breeds. As people domesticated and bred dogs, they favored specific traits, like size or intelligence, for certain tasks, such as hunting, shepherding, or companionship. As a result, many dog breeds vastly differ in appearance, a unique phenomenon in the animal world, as different breeds of a single species generally resemble each other. The Chihuahua and the Dalmatian, for instance, are both

— source | Max Carol

Nullius in verba

This Weird Galaxy Is 99.99 Percent Dark Matter

This dark galaxy, named Dragonfly 44, was first detected in 2015, through the use of the Dragonfly Telephoto Array in New Mexico. With a combination of eight telephoto lenses and cameras, the array is designed to look at objects in space that aren’t bright enough to see with other telescopes. While it’s as big as the Milky Way, it only emits about 1 percent as much light.

Dragonfly 44: a galaxy that big couldn’t possibly hold itself together with so few stars. There wouldn’t be enough gravity, and the stars would drift apart. They suspected that dark matter was responsible for holding the galaxy together, and this particular galaxy seemed like it contained a ton of it, so they set out to determine exactly how much.

— source | 2016

Nullius in verba

Big Oil Loses Big in a Day of Game-Changing Climate News

Yesterday, lawyers in the Netherlands won a historic court case against the Royal Dutch Shell oil company that carries the most profound implications for defusing the climate emergency. The court ordered Shell to bring its global operations in line with the Paris Agreement goal of limiting temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius; this will require Shell to reduce both its own and its customers’ greenhouse gas emissions by 45 percent from 2019 levels by 2030.

Together with shareholder revolts demanding stronger climate action by ExxonMobil and Chevron, the Dutch court ruling made May 26 one of the biggest days of climate news in years. Following last week’s landmark International Energy Agency report declaring all new fossil fuel development must stop for the

— source | Mark Hertsgaard | May 27, 2021

Nullius in verba

Global warming already responsible for one in three heat-related deaths

Between 1991 and 2018, more than a third of all deaths in which heat played a role were attributable to human-induced global warming, according to a new article in Nature Climate Change. Overall, the estimates show that 37% of all heat-related deaths in the recent summer periods were attributable to the warming of the planet due to anthropogenic activities. So far, the average global temperature has only increased by about 1°C, which is a fraction of what we could face if emissions continue to grow unchecked. Global warming is affecting our health in several ways, from direct impacts linked to wildfires and extreme weather, to changes in the spread of vector-borne diseases, among others. Perhaps most strikingly is the increase in mortality and morbidity associated with heat. Scenarios of future climate conditions predict a substantial rise in average temperatures, with extreme events such as heatwaves leading to future increases in the related health burden. In the UK, 35% of heat-related deaths could be attributed to human-induced climate change.

— source London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine | May 31, 2021

Nullius in verba

Calls Grow to Remove NY Governor

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo is facing mounting calls from fellow Democrats and progressive organizations to resign or be impeached over sexual harassment allegations and his cover-up of thousands of COVID-19 deaths in New York nursing homes. New York Attorney General Letitia James has launched an investigation after three women — two former aides and a woman who met Cuomo at a friend’s wedding reception — accused Cuomo of sexual harassment. “Credible accusations of sexual harassment made by these courageous women coming forward show a clear pattern of Cuomo’s abuse of power,” says New York Assemblymember Ron Kim, who is calling for Cuomo’s resignation

New York Attorney General Letitia James accused Cuomo of drastically undercounting the number of COVID deaths in New York nursing homes by as much as 50%, forcing the Cuomo administration to admit the true death toll to be nearly 15,000. The FBI and U.S. attorney in Brooklyn are now probing the cover-up. He’s also being accused of secretly giving nursing homes legal immunity.

This is a long pattern of toxic behavior that we all know that exists in places like Albany. And at the helm of it all is a person at the top who normalizes verbal abuse against women. Case in point, even his top aide have called some of my closest progressive young women colleagues in this Legislature “F—n’ idiots,” on record, in The New York Times, when they called him out for having fundraisers with the budget director in the room. These are the type of verbal abuse that he helped normalize, because at the very top, you know, he does it himself in those closed rooms. He cracks jokes. He sexually harasses. He preys on people, and he abuses his power all the time. And that’s why he has an orbit of staff members that reflects his values every single day in his administration. And they all need to be held accountable.

— source | Mar 03, 2021

Nullius in verba

100th anniversary of the 1921 Tulsa race massacre

President Biden traveled to Tulsa, Oklahoma, to mark the 100th anniversary of the 1921 Tulsa race massacre, one of the single greatest acts of racist terrorism in U.S. history. Over a span of 18 hours, a white mob burned down what was known as “Black Wall Street,” the thriving Black neighborhood of Greenwood in Tulsa, and killed an estimated 300 African Americans. Duke University professor William Darity says it’s “very impressive” that a sitting U.S. president highlighted the Tulsa race massacre and its lingering effects, but he says he’s skeptical that Biden’s economic proposals do enough to close the racial wealth gap. “We need something much more potent and much more substantial,” Darity says. “If we were going to bring the share of Black wealth into consistency with the share of the Black population, it would require an expenditure of at least $11 trillion.”

let me start by saying that we need to be aware of how large the gap is in wealth between Blacks and whites in the United States. The average Black household has a net worth that is $840,000 less than the average white household. A corresponding fact that’s associated with this condition is the Black population of the United States that is descended from persons who were enslaved here is about 12% of the nation’s overall population, but that’s a community that possesses less than 2% of the nation’s wealth. And so, if we were going to bring the share of Black wealth into consistency with the share of the Black population, it would require an expenditure of at least $11 trillion. And so, as a consequence, when we think about any set of policies or any individual policy that is alleged to close the racial wealth gap, we’ve got to ask whether or not it’s going to bring us any way close towards eliminating an $11 trillion deficit. And I’d like to argue that what the president proposed yesterday will do very little in terms of getting us there.

Let me talk specifically about the homeownership emphasis of the policies that he proposed. And I certainly am highly enthusiastic about the idea of eliminating discrimination in home appraisals, but homeownership in and of itself is not something that can be augmented sufficiently to erase the racial wealth difference. I think we have a tendency to overestimate the significance of homeownership alone as a component of an individual’s total array of assets. If we look at the

— source | Jun 02, 2021

Nullius in verba

Blair’s support for Sharon and the Zionist project

Tony Blair’s heroic peacemaking is not as it seems. Take the Middle East. When Blair welcomed Yasser Arafat to Downing Street following 11 September, it was widely reported that Britain was backing justice for the Palestinians.

Editorialists drew a favourable comparison with the bellicose Bush administration. Indeed, the promotion of Blair as the steadying influence on Washington has been the main theme of Downing Street spin during the “war on terrorism”. The falsehood of his moderation is exemplified by his betrayal of the Palestinians.

The meeting with Arafat was no more than a public relations exercise designed to placate the Arab world. It served to disguise Blair’s support for the Zionist project and his role as Ariel Sharon’s closest ally in Europe. Little of this has been reported in the mainstream media.

Shortly after his election in 1997, Blair shamelessly appointed a friend, Michael Levy, a wealthy Jewish businessman who had fundraised for new Labour, as his “special envoy” in the Middle East, having first made him Lord Levy. This former chairman of the Jewish Appeal Board and former board member of the Jewish Agency, who has both a business and a house in Israel and had a son working for the Israeli justice minister, was the man assigned by Britain’s prime minister to negotiate impartially with Palestinians and Israelis.

Under Blair, British support for Israeli repression has accelerated. Last year alone, the government approved 91 arms export licences to Israel, in categories

— source | john pilger | 14 Jan 2002

Nullius in verba