Happy (Forced) Mother’s Day!

[NB: check the byline, thanks. /~Rayne]

Hope all of the mothers in our community are having a restful Sunday, whether mothers in fact or mothers of invention.

Not wishing a happy day to this senator, however.

Remember this GOP senator’s freakish fundie-speak rebuttal to President Biden’s State of the Union? She’s back with an attempt to move this country ever closer to Gilead of The Handmaid’s Tale.

She and 13 co-sponsors — Sen. Rubio (R-FL), Sen. Cramer (R-ND), Sen. Daines (R-MT), Sen. Grassley (R-IA), Sen. Hyde-Smith (R-MS), Sen. Marshall (R-KS), Sen. Moran (R-KS), Sen. Ricketts (R-NE), Sen. Rounds (R-SD), Sen. Schmitt (R-MO), Sen. Tillis (R-NC), Sen. Wicker (R-MS), and Sen. Lankford (R-OK) — submitted S.4296, the “More Opportunities for Moms to Succeed Act,” a.k.a. the “MOMS Act” this past week.

As Salon and the Guardian reported, the bill creates a database which allows the federal government to track persons who use a government-developed and hosted website, “pregnancy.gov,” while seeking information and resources related to pregnancy.

The bill may initially look innocuous to those who aren’t familiar with how websites work, but one doesn’t have to read very deeply to see this is horrifying:

11 “(a) WEBSITE. — Not later than 1 year after the date
12 of enactment of this section, the Secretary shall publish
13 a public website entitled ‘pregnancy.gov’. The Secretary
14 may not delegate implementation or administration of the
15 website below the level of the Office of the Secretary. The
16 website shall include the following:
17 “(1) A clearinghouse of relevant resources
18 available for pregnant and postpartum women, and
19 women parenting young children.

[page] 3
1 “(2) A series of questions through which a user
2 is able to generate a list of relevant resources of in-
3 terest within the user’s zip code.
4 “(3) A means to direct the user to identify
5 whether to list the relevant resources of interest that
6 are available online or within 1, 5, 10, 50, and 100
7 miles of the user.
8 “(4) A mechanism for users to take an assess-
9 ment through the website and provide consent to use
10 the user’s contact information, which the Secretary
11 may use to conduct outreach via phone or email to
12 follow up with users on additional resources that
13 would be helpful for the users to review.

The server on which the website is hosted would capture the user’s IP address. That’s normal for all web servers. Because we don’t have a national standard curriculum for computers and networks, the average American will not understand they shed this information whenever they visit any website.

If the prospective user then seeks any resource near them, they may not only validate their physical location but pregnancy or postpartum status.

Someone from Health and Human Services could follow up with them — *shudder* — although the bill gives a weak nod to consent.

If they speak other than English — think asylum seekers here — their ethnic/national identity might be deduced by this bit on page 5 of the bill:

4 Secretary shall ensure that the website provides the widest
5 possible access to services for families who speak lan-
6 guages other than English.

Worse, all this data will be reported to Congress:

8 “(1) IN GENERAL.— Not later than 180 days
9 after the date on which the website is established
10 under this section, the Secretary shall submit to
11 Congress a report on—
12 “(A) the traffic of the website;
13 “(B) user feedback on the accessibility and
14 helpfulness of the website in tailoring to the
15 user’s needs;
16 “(C) insights on gaps in relevant resources
17 with respect to services for pregnant and
18 postpartum women, or women parenting young
19 children;
20 “(D) suggestions on how to improve user
21 experience and accessibility based on user feed-
22 back and missing resources that would be help-
23 ful to include in future updates; and

[page] 6
1 “(E) certification that no prohibited enti-
2 ties are listed as a relevant resource or are in
3 receipt of a grant under subsection (b)(3).
4 “(2) CONFIDENTIALITY.— The report under
5 paragraph (1) shall not include any personal identi-
6 fying information regarding individuals who have
7 used the website.

The confidentiality requirement is a fucking joke. Once this data is released to Congress, it’d be far too easy to hunt down the users. It’s yet another opportunity to breach users’ privacy, just like every other website and application for any purpose.

There’s nothing helpful about this at all. It’s a means to allow the federal government directly into women’s uteruses across the country, not exactly small government.

This also blows away the idea of states’ rights when it comes to regulating reproductive rights, though the states are supposed to provide the contact information of approved Gilead resources to be offered through this national website. If states want to offer pregnancy or postpartum resources they can do that through state health departments. They don’t need the feds harvesting this data in a central repository.

The really aggravating part about this bill? The creation of yet more federal and state government bureaucracy intended to get deep into mothers’ and prospective mothers’ crotches, while a non-governmental solution has existed for years with federal support through block grants, eventually suppressed by far-right anti-reproductive rights lawmakers and the orange hellbeast.

Maybe you’ve even heard of it before — it’s a national nonprofit called Planned Parenthood.

~ ~ ~

Comment Operations Note

You may have noticed a change in the comments system this week. After many complaints about comments being unreadable after fourth or fifth reply to a reply to a comment especially on mobile devices, the maximum width of threaded nested comments has been set to four.

In other words, this is what will be permitted as seen on a desktop:

A fifth reply to the fourth comment in this thread will not see a Reply button.

If you wish to leave a reply to that fourth comment, preface the comment with the user’s name and date/time of the comment to which you wish to reply. You can also pick up the link to that comment by right-clicking on the date/time and then pasting into the preface of your reply. Example:

Rayne (edit)

Reply to Legonaut, May 3, 2024 at 6:11 pm

Nice or Noise?

Not an actual reply in that thread, just an example of how to leave a fifth-wide comment and what it will look like.

Will it slow your comments down? Sorry, yes, it may, but if you really feel compelled to share a comment this is a trade-off for readability. What good is your comment if it can’t be read by a substantial portion of the EW community?

I should also add here that wordy comments lacking concision have also helped force this change. You know who you are; think more about your audience here because even at four wide, some comments will still be challenging on mobile devices. Under the previous setting, those overlong comments acted like a Denial of Service to other readers.

There will be more changes to comments in the near future, though a couple tweaks to the righthand sidebar will happen first. Watch for them.

~ ~ ~

Treat this as an open thread.

Three Things: Goodbye, Good, Buy? Good – Bye!

[NB: check the byline, thanks. /~Rayne]

Given the quantity of news today worth discussing but not necessarily worth an entire dedicated post, I’m going to pull together three topics under this umbrella.

Consider this an open thread.

~ 3 ~

Goodbye – Mitch McConnell will step down as Senate minority leader, three years ahead of his retirement from the Senate.

I didn’t see this coming today, but then it probably should have been expected given the bullshit going on with the federal budget negotiations.

Hapless House Leader Mike Johnson has screwed up the negotiations in a whole bunch of ways, allowing the GOP’s vulnerabilities to be exposed each time a new sticking point surfaces to halt progress.

This past week, as one example, it was a poison pill amendment to halt prescriptions of abortion drugs like Plan B for dispensing through pharmacies and by mail. Oh, we can work with that – just look at what happened in Kansas post-Dobbs, when voters turned out in August 2022 to defeat a GOP effort to pass a state constitutional amendment banning abortion.

Not to mention the hassle of an evidence-free impeachment by the House of Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas which the Senate must now consider for conviction and removal. Way to make GOP senators look both absurd and racist at the same time thanks to Johnson’s leadership in the House.

McConnell says the recent death of his wife’s family member reminded him of his mortality, which encouraged him to step down and take a seat in the back.

I think at 82 years of age, in iffy health, McConnell simply doesn’t want to have to sweep up after the rogue elephants in his party any longer.

~ 2 ~

Good, buy? – President Biden signed an executive order prohibiting the sale of Americans’ personal data to politically-adversarial countries like China and Russia.

This is an important measure which Congress should take up and write into legislation so that future expansions of privacy protections can be added as amendments.

It’s bothered me that so much personal data is freely available – your driver’s license or state ID and your property taxes are just a couple examples of data anyone can locate and use without any real friction like fees or documented requests kept on file.

But pair that data with purchasing habits acquired by data brokers and the accrued data is highly weaponizable.

It’s not a little thing for persons who are politically active, or even prone to exercising their First Amendment right of free speech.

The Department of Justice has deterred at least four assassination plots targeting persons in the U.S., stopping them before someone died as ordered by a foreign government. Imagine how easy it is to find a target and profile them to make the assassination fast and easy using personal data acquired from data brokers for mere pennies. No more assigning teams of personnel for surveillance – just buy the data, hack a few local area internet-connected cameras, and dispatch a killer.

Or send a drone, like Trump did to Iran’s General Soleimani, likely breaking norms against such assassinations.

Knowing that personal data is less likely to be acquired by hostile foreign governments might make some Americans more comfortable with making purchases which might create data sold by brokers.

Or, maybe not.

~ 1 ~

Good – Bye! – Trump could only post a $100 million bond today against the $454 million he owes in the E. Jean Carroll defamation NY state business fraud case.

It’s a pretty solid indication he’s broke. It should be a familiar feeling because he’s declared six business bankruptcies before.

Heck, given that many bankruptcies under his belt, this one he should be able to file on his own in his sleep. Maybe he’ll be able to save on attorneys’ fees by doing much of the work himself.

~ 0 ~

Bonus: Michigan’s primary results = so many bad hot takes.

I mentioned this in the wee hours this morning on Mastodon; the first take I saw in Washington Post missed a critical point about the way Michigan’s primaries are conducted, and how that affects the poll results.

RayneToday @[email protected]

There’s a critical problem with this analysis of the Michigan primary results: there are crossover voters who voted for Nikki Haley who will vote for Biden in November. The “uncommitted” vote may actually be a smaller percentage of total Democratic voters because of this practice of crossing over during the primary.

Unlike neighboring Ohio, voters aren’t locked into a party and can cross back in November. See 2000 primary when McCain won the Michigan primary. https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2024/02/27/4-takeaways-michigan-primary/

Feb 28, 2024, 01:14

Union members are encouraged to do this though it may depend on circumstances surrounding the candidates.

The percentage of Democratic votes are not as they appear; there will have been Democratic voters who threw behind Nikki Haley, making Trump’s win margin look smaller than it is, while also making the “uncommitted” Democratic vote numbers appear larger as a percentage of the total vote.

I am absolutely certain this took place; I was asked by Democratic voters who planned to crossover which not-Trump GOP candidate would optimize this approach.

Of course in my opinion the best fuck-you to Trump is voting for a woman of color.

With regard to the “uncommitted” vote, what should be noted is where the most votes occurred in highest concentrations. Dearborn, where the largest number of Muslim and Arab-heritage voters live in Michigan, would obviously be expected as the location of the largest number of “uncommitted” votes.

For large news outlets to trumpet as a headline the protest vote sent a message is rather misleading, especially when most of these outlets couldn’t be bothered to report on the crossover vote.

Again, this is an open thread.

Boeing 737 MAX 9: The Comment Heard Around The World

[NB: check the byline, thanks. /~Rayne]

If I had any doubts this last week whether I should post about Boeing’s quality problems, a comment posted in Leeham News on January 16 convinced me the topic needs more attention. I had goosebumps several times as I read it.

Kudos to Leeham News for maintaining a comment section; it’s not easy but it’s clearly needed.

I’m not screenshotting the entire comment, only enough to convince you this is something worth reading and understanding amid a sea of layoffs and a surge of AI implementation across nearly every industry. Imagine as you read it how this could be made worse by fewer well-educated personnel and less communication between humans.

Before you scroll further, read the article which spawned the comment:

“Unplanned” removal, installation inspection procedure at Boeing

This story was published ten days after Alaska Air’s flight 1282  departed Portland OR’s PDX airport for California only to lose a door minutes later. The Boeing 737 MAX 9 safely returned to PDX roughly 20 minutes after takeoff.

The original comment both parts 1 and 2 can be found directly below the article — use keyword “throwawayboeing” to find them using Ctrl-F in your browser as many more comments have appeared since the article was first published.

If Leeham News should crash from high traffic volume or a possible attack, you can find parts 1 and 2 along with the article at the Internet Archive (keep in mind the earliest archived versions of the article may not have the comments beneath them):


An observer in my social media feed whose name I didn’t record noted that every little problem Boeing planes experience is now news. United Airlines discovering loose bolts on Boeing 737 aircraft reported only days after the Alaska Air door failure would and should have made the news; Alaska Air has also found more problems with bolts since then.

Google Trends suggests there’s some truth to the claim every Boeing problem is now news:

How many of the increased mentions are well-deserved snark is hard to say:

Well-deserved if dark. So dark. Mentions of new resources like Is My Plane A 737 MAX may also magnify Boeing’s problems in the media, but if there wasn’t a safety problem tools like this wouldn’t be seen as necessary.

Commerce Committee chair Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Subcommittee on International Trade, Customs, and Global Competitiveness member Mark Warner (D-VA), and Commerce Committee ranking member Ted Cruz (R-TX) are scheduled to meet today with Boeing’s CEO Dave Calhoun about the aerospace manufacturer’s ongoing quality crisis.

Calhoun already met last week with the heads of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB). Seems rather late after the crazy stones Boeing manifested by asking on January 5 for its 737 MAX 7 to be exempted from safety rules to allow the aircraft to fly.

Let’s hope the FAA and NTSB are focused on the quality problems at Boeing and not on the source of the comment above until the comment’s veracity is called into question. The First Amendment should protect just this kind of speech from corporate suppression given the absolute risk all passengers take when boarding a Boeing aircraft.

You’ll note the image used on the front page for this post is a Boeing 737 — but it’s a military craft. Boeing is a federal contractor. If workers can’t safely blow the whistle on manufacturing quality problems with aircraft our defense personnel and our elected officials rely on, purchased with our taxpayer dollars, what good is the First Amendment?

~ ~ ~

What all of this has to do with labor is fairly clear in the original article published in Leeham News. I can’t add more to what’s been written.

But all of this could be worse in time depending on how Boeing addresses solutions in concert with cost controls.

One thing the public should know more about is the impact AI will have in manufacturing environments, especially ones in which both adherence to specifications and safety are tightly linked.

Four days after the Alaska Air Boeing 737 Max 9 lost its door mid-air, there was a report about a vulnerability found in Bosch brand cordless, handheld pneumatic torque wrenches which are used in the automotive industry. The wrenches are programmed to ensure nuts are tightened to specification and operate using Wi-Fi.

What are the chances that similar vulnerabilities may exist or be introduced into aerospace manufacturing, compounded by the increasing amounts of AI used in automation?

Let’s say a certain aerospace manufacturer gets its shit together and fixes its corporate culture and procedures so that all parts are tracked and all actions and omissions are likewise accounted for and documented as it builds aircraft.

What could happen if the no-longer-missing bolts are over- or under-tightened because of a vulnerability like the one in Bosch’s Rexroth’s NXA015S-36V-B wrenches?

It’s not enough to analyze and remedy existing quality and safety problems; future problems must be anticipated at the same time.

~ ~ ~

Since I began drafting this post this morning, The Seattle Times has reported on Boeing’s door problem, mentioning the comment left at Leeham News. You’ll want to follow up with this story as aerospace manufacturing is journalist Dominic Gates beat; he’s covered other similar stories like the ongoing Boeing 737 challenge.

In fact, if you read the comments at Leeham News you’ll see Gates as well.

Yet another example of why well-moderated news sites’ comments can be important.

This is NOT an open post. Please stay on topic in comments.

In Memoriam: Rosalynn Carter

[NB: check the byline, thanks. /~Rayne]

Former first lady Rosalynn Carter died this afternoon at age 96, two days after entering hospice. Her husband former president Jimmy Carter remains in hospice care where he has been since February this year.

Born in Plains, Georgia, Rosalynn came from a working class family. She was salutatorian of her high school graduating class and accepted at state public school Georgia Southwestern College. She left college when she married Jimmy which was typical for young women in 1946.

Carter differed from her predecessors Lady Bird Johnson, Pat Nixon, and Betty Ford; she’d sought not to be a typical First Lady. This may in part have been due to her southern working class upbringing, the changing times during which her husband was in the White House, and in part the continued role raising their fourth child Amy while her husband Jimmy was president. While her three older brothers were adults at the time, Amy was only nine when her father was inaugurated.

Rosalynn was a staunch advocate for mental health care during Jimmy’s governorship in Georgia. She remained one as First Lady, serving on the National Association of Mental Health’s board of directors.

While Jimmy was in the White House, the 1972 Equal Rights Amendment faced an initial 1979 deadline for ratification. Rosalynn supported the ERA; honored by the National Organization for Women, she spoke at the 1977 National Women’s Conference. Her advocacy included campaigning for Bob Graham, an ERA proponent who was elected as Florida’s governor in 1978 and eventually as Senator in 1986. She played a direct role in ratification by the 35th state, calling a fence-sitting Democratic Indiana state legislator to ask them to vote for the ERA.

Her humanitarian work didn’t end when her husband left office. Co-founding with Jimmy the Carter Center, her continued mental health care advocacy was folded in with other initiatives including disease prevention, conflict resolution, and advancing peace and democracy. In later years she worked alongside her husband on Habitat for Humanity projects.

The Carter Center published a press release this afternoon which included a statement by Rosalynn’s husband:

“Rosalynn was my equal partner in everything I ever accomplished,” President Carter said. “She gave me wise guidance and encouragement when I needed it. As long as Rosalynn was in the world, I always knew somebody loved and supported me.”

Rosalynn and Jimmy celebrated their 77th wedding anniversary earlier this year; she is survived by her spouse, their four children, 11 grandchildren and 14 great-grandchildren.

Three Things: GOP House Caucus in Chaos

[NB: check the byline, thanks. /~Rayne]

I admit I debated using a header photo from the archives taken on a circus fairway. Accurate depiction, yes?

And yet when I ran across this photo of a LEGO dump I chose it instead, in part because of the chaos, in part because of the minifig bodies strewn throughout — and in part because of the leopard lying in wait in pile.

Any time now someone in the GOP caucus will complain about the mess they’re making and how it makes the GOP look bad.

Insert Adrian Bott’s now-classic “I never thought leopards would eat MY face” meme.

~ 3 ~

I wish I’d noted the exact time I took this screenshot in Google News; I think it was about 4:00 p.m. ET:

Here’s another screenshot taken at 6:45 p.m.:

What a bunch of clowns. Especially this guy:

At 4:53 p.m., Sahil Kapur summarized the situation on the dead bird app by the numbers:

They threw McCarthy overboard when he had 210 votes in the House majority to be speaker. Then they picked Scalise, who had 113 votes. He withdrew. Now they nominate Jordan, with 124 votes. (The magic number to win is 217.)

Nancy Mace (SC-01) objected to Steve Scalise (LA-01) because of his David Duke remarks; apparently in the GOP it’s okay if you’re a closeted racist, just don’t admit it out loud.

Nobody knew who six-term representative Austin Scott (GA-08) was.

Quite literally, CNN published an article with this headline,
Who is Austin Scott, the Georgia Republican who lost the GOP speakership nomination?

Everybody knows who Jim Can’t Dress Himself Jordan (OH-04) is but too few want to vote for him or he’d have been a cinch in the first round. It’s doubtful he’d swear to the criteria which was put to Scalise: publicly acknowledge the outcome of the 2020 election which Biden won/Trump lost.

And of course there’s the inconvenient obstruction Jordan as House Speaker would pose, as Liz Cheney posted on the dead bird app at 11:55 a.m. today:

Jim Jordan was involved in Trump’s conspiracy to steal the election and seize power; he urged that Pence refuse to count lawful electoral votes. If Rs nominate Jordan to be Speaker, they will be abandoning the Constitution. They’ll lose the House majority and they’ll deserve to.

This isn’t governance but a goat rope.

~ 2 ~

The Democratic House caucus Democrats back House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (NY-08).

That’s it, that’s Thing 2.

Democrats NOT in disarray.

~ 1 ~

Passed on October 1, a continuing resolution extending the last federal budget runs through and expires on November 17 — just shy of five weeks from today.

The nonpartisan, non-profit Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget published a table document outlining the budget items which will expire without a new budget and in some cases, budget items which have already expired in spite of the continuing resolution.

Childcare aid and nutrition programs for children may be part of the expired line items.

The longer the GOP dicks around with picking a speaker, the less time they will have to negotiate a new budget.

The media should be hammering on this point but nope. The threat of hungry children and families struggling to work and ensure their children have care just aren’t clickbait.

~ 0 ~

Stay behind the barrels, keep your hands inside the compartment. This is an open thread.

Three Things: Fraud Trial Begins, Newsom’s Pick, Contingent Aid

[NB: check the byline, thanks. /~Rayne]

It’s going to be a rather busy Monday. Grab your poison of choice — second LARGE cup of joe underway here — and let’s get at it.

~ 3 ~

It’s rather sad this needed to be said yet again in reference to Donald Trump:

“No matter how much money you think you may have, no one is above the law,” James told reporters before entering the courtroom. “The law is both powerful and fragile. And today in court will prove our case.”

But the wretched former guy apparently needs it as the civil fraud trial opens today in New York.

The Trump campaign’s post-debate stunt leaving a bird cage outside fellow GOP candidate Nikki Haley’s hotel room likely encouraged the reminder, on top of Trump’s other egregious behavior including insults about New York AG Letitia James.

The stunt, which followed Trump’s insult on social media saying Haley had a bird brain, didn’t go over well abroad. India’s media took note of this trashy behavior unbecoming a former U.S. president and a current presidential candidate.

One can only wonder if Trump would be both stupid and arrogant enough to pull such a gag on AG James as a dig at the prosecutor.

~ 2 ~

California’s Gov. Gavin Newsom will appoint Laphonza Butler to fill the Senate seat in the wake of Dianne Feinstein’s death.

Butler’s appointment is a statement none of the other possible appointees could make. She’s been president of political action committee EMILY’s List since 2021; the organization’s mission has been to get more women elected to office.

Butler has also been a superdelegate for California during the 2016 election when she supported Hillary Clinton. Originally from Mississippi, Butler has worked as a union organizer, last with SEIU where she worked toward raising the minimum wage and taxing the wealthiest Californians.

In 2018 Butler left the SEIU to join a Democratic communications firm, SCRB (now Bearstar Strategies) where she worked on Kamala Harris’ campaign.

Butler is gay and married; she and her partner have a daughter.

So many boxes checked off by one appointment, so many marginalized and suppressed groups now represented. Worth reading Philip Bump’s graphic-laden piece in WaPo to understand what this means.

~ 1 ~

Americans know Congress passed a continuing resolution (CR) this weekend establishing a 45-day extension on the budget. Omitted from the extension was financial aid to Ukraine at a time when Ukraine is preparing ahead of winter warfare against aggressor Russia.

The failure to provide aid in spite of efforts by Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell, Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin is in part the result of ongoing influence operations by Russia targeting GOP members of Congress. Like Trump they have fallen prey to the idea that the US has no interest in Ukraine’s democratic sovereignty and that NATO and the EU likewise should play no role in rejecting Russia’s attack on Ukraine.

But the reasons why financial aid to Ukraine may not have passed with the CR isn’t solely due to hostile foreign influence. It’s also linked to ongoing corruption in Ukraine undermining the nation’s sovereignty while cannibalizing the resources needed to repel Russia and build back infrastructure destroyed by the last 19 months’ war.

Ukraine took a large move toward addressing corruption with its arrest of oligarch Ihor Kolomoyskyi on September 2. Kolomoyskyi, appointed Governor of Dnipropetrovsk Oblast in 2014 after the Euromaidan, had already been blacklisted and indicted by the U.S.

This arrest is only one step Ukraine must take. The Biden administration has continued to press the Zelenskyy administration for more measurable efforts on corruption. Without making more substantial headway, it would be difficult for Ukraine to join the EU let alone NATO. Ukraine can’t become a means to drain EU and NATO resources in peacetime.

Zelenskyy will have to make considerable progress over the next 45 days – for this reason alone the near-shutdown and CR have a beneficial effect since both the Biden’s State Department and Zelenskyy can point to a date toward which both will have to work on corruption together.

It’s all the more important that the U.S. at state and federal level also address domestic corruption. The U.S. can’t make a demand of other democracies to tackle corruption without setting an example.

All the more reason why we need to demonstrate and not merely say no person in this democracy is above the law.

~ 0 ~

This is an open thread.

Oligarchy Has Arrived. Congress Must Take Notice — and Act!

This is a guest post from our friend Bob Lord, who you may recall from previous guest posts. This was originally published a few days ago at Inequality.org – bmaz

The United States is experiencing a level of wealth inequality not seen since the original Gilded Age. This yawning gap between rich and poor has unfolded right out in the open, in full public view and with the support of both political parties.

A malignant class of modern robber barons has amassed unthinkably large fortunes. These wealthy have catastrophically impacted our politics. They have weaponized their wealth to co-opt, corrupt, and choke off representative democracy. They have purchased members of Congress and justices of the Supreme Court. They have manipulated their newfound political power to amass ever-larger fortunes.

The result? We can sum that up with a word usually associated with nations like Russia: oligarchy. Unless Congress takes action, inequality — and the instability inequality invariably produces — will only intensify.

The Patriotic Millionaires have been sounding out the alarm, over recent years, on inequality and oligarchy. More than most, our members — all men and women of substantial means — understand just how much wealth can buy. Wealth can even turn tax systems toxic.

In well-functioning democracies, tax systems serve as a firewall against undue wealth accumulation. By that yardstick, our contemporary U.S. tax system has failed spectacularly. Those of us in Patriotic Millionaires have witnessed that failure first-hand. Our nation’s current tax practices allow and even encourage obscene fortunes to metastasize while saddling working people with all the costs of that metastasizing. Years of this approach to taxation have hollowed out our middle class and our democracy.

Congress can change all that. Enter the OLIGARCH — Oppose Limitless Inequality Growth and Reverse Community Harms — Act. The architects of this legislation, led by Representatives Barbara Lee (CA-12) and Summer Lee (PA-12), have crafted a visionary approach to combat the existential threat to democracy we all now face. The OLIGARCH Act offers a powerful mechanism that can break the vicious cycle of unchecked wealth accumulation we now find ourselves trapped inside. That mechanism: a wealth tax tied directly to our level of inequality.

Enacting the OLIGARCH Act would create a dynamic tax structure that quickly responds to changes in our distribution of national wealth. The OLIGARCH Act’s elegantly straightforward solution builds upon a set of tax rates that escalate as a wealthy taxpayer’s wealth escalates:

  • A 2 percent annual tax on wealth between 1,000 and 10,000 times the median household wealth.
  • A 4 percent tax on wealth between 10,000 and 100,000 times the median household wealth.
  • A 6 percent tax on wealth between 100,000 and 1,000,000 times the median household wealth.
  • An 8 percent tax on wealth exceeding 1,000,000 times the median household wealth.

As inequality swells, in other words, the wealth tax would intensify, in the process acting as both a deterrent to wealth concentration and an antidote to it. As inequality recedes, our economic playing field would become more level. All of us would find ourselves better situated to flourish.

The OLIGARCH Act legislation also recognizes our fundamental need to counter tax evasion among the wealthiest households. By mandating a minimum 30 percent audit rate on ultra-rich households and instituting penalties for significant valuation understatements, the OLIGARCH Act would fortify our nation’s capacity to shut down tax manipulation and evasion.

We’ve reached a tipping point in our nation today. Extreme wealth is begetting extreme power, in turn begetting even more extreme wealth. The resulting stranglehold our richest hold over our democratic institutions has led to a government that caters to billionaires while working citizens struggle to make their voices heard. This imbalance doesn’t just weaken the integrity of our democracy. This imbalance emboldens extremist ideologies that thrive whenever masses of people become politically disillusioned.

We face a stark choice. Will we allow a handful of individuals to wield their wealth like a weapon against our nation’s bedrock principles? Or will we rise to the occasion, defend our democracy, and reaffirm our commitment to a society that offers real opportunity and disperses power — instead of letting that power concentrate among a fabulously wealthy few?

Those of us working with Patriotic Millionaires see the OLIGARCH Act as more than just a piece of legislation. We see it as a statement of purpose, a declaration that the American people will not stand idly by and watch the principles we hold dear erode away. We see the OLIGARCH Act as a call to action that asks each and every one of us to join the chorus demanding change. By urging our congressional representatives to co-sponsor and pass this transformative legislation, we pave the way for a future where democratic capitalism thrives, inequality recedes, and the American way of life endures.

Safeguarding our democracy, today more than ever, requires us to address the catastrophic — and rapidly growing — inequality that’s empowering a new aristocratic ruling class. To do anything less than challenge that class would leave our democratic institutions to the whims of America’s oligarchs. The stakes run that high.

Bob Lord, a veteran tax attorney and Institute for Policy Studies associate fellow, is currently serving as a senior advisor on tax policy for Patriotic Millionaires.

Hanging by Meta’s Threads

[NB: check the byline, thanks. /~Rayne]

If you are very much online in social media, you’ve likely heard the buzz about Threads – the new microblogging platform owned and operated by Facebook’s parent, Meta.

I’m not going to get into a detailed discussion of Threads versus its problematic competitor Twitter or ex-Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey’s problematic alternative, Bluesky Social. You’re perfectly capable of doing the homework on them and other competing microblogging platforms.

Of concern to me: how will Threads eventually interact with the open source federated universe (fediverse) of platforms including Mastodon. Threads is expected to federate eventually and allow easy sharing of communications and content between member platforms in the fediverse.

There has been so much conversation about this topic in Mastodon that I’ve had to filter it out. The discussion has been warranted, but the subject has been polarizing and frankly exhausting.

Some Mastodon users – mostly those who left Twitter and miss it badly – want this new Meta project to integrate seamlessly with Mastodon so that they can encourage former Facebook folks to come over to Mastodon. They’re missing much busier levels of activity in their timelines which was driven by algorithms at Twitter and as well at Facebook. And some simply can’t handle the increased complexity Mastodon poses, from choosing an instance to finding friends old and new, or building a feed.

Some Mastodon users – like me – don’t really care to federate with Meta’s users whether from Facebook or Instagram. In my case my primary concerns are data privacy and remaining ad free. While I feel fairly confident my experience within Mastodon won’t ever involve ads, I can’t say that will be the case once I make contact with someone in Threads just as looking at a tweet on Twitter will likely expose me to advertising. I simply do not want to give my attention without my advance consent to any business advertising in social media.

(Side note: look around here in emptywheel – see any ads? How’s that shape your experience here?)

Because of these concerns I’ve been looking for ways to limit exposure of personal data now that Meta has begun a soft launch of Threads over the last 24 hours.

~ ~ ~

Ahead of a formal launch, Eugen Rochko, Mastodon’s creator, published a statement about the way Threads and Mastodon are supposed to work. This statement was the result of meetings he had with Meta about the way Threads was expected to work once it joined the fediverse.

See https://blog.joinmastodon.org/2023/07/what-to-know-about-threads/

Note this paragraph in particular:

Will Meta get my data or be able to track me?

Mastodon does not broadcast private data like e-mail or IP address outside of the server your account is hosted on. Our software is built on the reasonable assumption that third party servers cannot be trusted. For example, we cache and reprocess images and videos for you to view, so that the originating server cannot get your IP address, browser name, or time of access. A server you are not signed up with and logged into cannot get your private data or track you across the web. What it can get are your public profile and public posts, which are publicly accessible.

There’s still a problem here, if you think back to what researcher Aleksandr Kogan could do with Facebook’s data harvested ~2014. The network of people around those whose data had been obtained could still be deduced.

If some users outside Meta have past usernames in Facebook/Instagram/WhatsApp which match; and/or if users have had previous long-term contacts with Meta users, and/or if data from Twitter or other social media platforms can also be acquired and correlated, it wouldn’t be difficult to build out the social network of Threads users who interface with Mastodon or other fediverse platform users.

This gets around the reason why Mastodon in particular has been resistant to integrating search across the fediverse. Search was intentionally limited during Mastodon’s development to prevent swarming and brigading attacks and other forms of harassment targeting individuals, particularly those identified in minority and/or protected classes.

Consider for example the case of a gay person who associates with other gay people who know each other locally but communicate using these tools. It won’t take that much effort especially with the aid of GPT AI to to create the means to identify entire networks of gay persons related one to several degrees apart. Once identified, it wouldn’t take much to begin brigading them if enough other hostile accounts have been established. One could even imagine the reverse identification process applied in order find persons who are violently anti-gay and likely to welcome opportunities to harass gays.

Imagine, too, how this could affect young women contacting others looking for reproductive health care information.

~ ~ ~

There is a temporary saving grace: Threads is not approved in the EU. Not yet.

The server which hosts my Mastodon account is located in the EU and therefore will not yet allow Threads users access through federation.

The same server’s administrator also polled users and asked if they wanted to allow Threads to federate with this server they voted it down.

So I guess I’m okay where I’m at for the moment.

There are fediverse servers out there which will never allow Threads to federate with them. I’ve seen a Mastodon server which has said it will never allow Meta applications to federate because it’s against their server’s terms of use to allow entities which enable genocide and crimes against humanity to do so.

Good for them.

And good for us: PressProgress editor Luke LeBrun collected the app privacy policies for Threads, Bluesky, Twitter and Mastodon for contrast and comparison:

Can’t imagine why I would have any concerns about Threads…ahem.

~ ~ ~

This is all fairly new and unfolding even as I write this. What the fediverse will look like once Threads makes full contact is anybody’s guess.

But there are several things we do know right now, with certainty:

– Meta has been and remains a publicly-held holding company for a collection of for-profit social media businesses. Its business model relies on selling ad space based on targeted markets, and selling data. This will not change short of a natural disaster like a meteor strike taking out all of Silicon Valley and the greater San Francisco area, and that may still not be enough to change the inevitable monetization of Threads and all the platform touches.

– Meta has been operating under a consent decree issued by the Federal Trade Commission since 2011 after violating users’ privacy; it violated that agreement resulting in a $5 billion fine which it has fought against paying. Meta’s track record on privacy is not good and includes the non-consensual collection of personal data by academic Aleksandr Kogan. The data was later used by Cambridge Analytica/SCL and may have been involved in influence operations during the 2016 election.

– The EU is light years ahead of the US when it comes to privacy regulations. California as a state comes closest to the EU in its privacy regulations but it shouldn’t matter which state we are in – our privacy concerns are the same across the country, and opt-in should be the standard, period. US state and federal lawmakers have been and will likely continue to be slow to take any effective action unless there is considerable pressure by the public to meet the EU’s efforts.

– Law enforcement in the US have purchased and used without a warrant personal data collected through users’ use of social media. There has been inadequate pressure by the public to make this stop and will put the health and safety of women and minority groups at risk.

Changing the direction in which this is headed requires engagement and action. By now you know the drill: contact your representatives in Congress and demand legislation to protect media users’ privacy. (Congressional switchboard: (202) 224-3121 or Resist.bot)

That’s no slip: no form of media on the internet should be immune from protecting its users’ privacy.

You should also contact your state’s attorney general and as well as your legislators and demand your state matches California’s Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) when it comes to privacy protections – at a minimum. Meeting the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) would be better yet.

Breathing Room: What Are You Growing?

[NB: check the byline, thanks. /~Rayne]

It’s been a while since I put up my last Breathing Room post; I probably should have put one up this past weekend.

~ ~ ~

I was too busy with my vegetable garden this weekend to put up a post, which got a late start here due to a late spring cold snap lasting a couple weeks.

I’m in what has been historically USDA plant zone 5a-5b. I’ve been on the cusp between them; some sensitive plants have behaved as if this is zone 4. This area’s average last frost is May 25, so a late cold snap including frost should have been anticipated.

Unfortunately, most of us in this area have not paid much attention to this historical data and have been increasingly used to planting our gardens a week or two earlier. Some of us were taken by surprise by spring weather which actually agreed with historical data.

This says something about the climate crisis’s slowly boiling frog. We didn’t even notice that we have been gradually becoming used to earlier and earlier planting seasons over the last couple decades.

I should have noted it personally and expected the volatility in temperatures, swinging from nearly 90F in early/mid-May to nearly freezing and frost at the end of May. Over the last several years I’ve noticed some plants I’ve bought for floral planters have survived our winters – and that’s never happened up until the last 4-5 years.

Every year I’ve spent money at the local greenhouse on vinca minor (often called periwinkle). In the last 20 years I’ve planted it, it’s escaped my pots as its vines trailed over and made contact with the border in which my flower pots sit. Each time it escaped the vines which suckered and started during the course of the summer didn’t survive to spring.

At least not until 4-5 years ago. One vinca sucker survived. I pulled it out of the bed, planted a pot as usual the next spring only to have the process repeat. Three years ago the vinca survived in more than one border bed.

This year I found it had not only survived but completely swamped a rock garden border bed out of sight of the house and had already begun blooming by the end of mid-May’s hot spell. I had to rip it all out by hand and I can’t be certain I got it all. (I don’t use glyphosate herbicides, ever.)

Now I’ve learned the hard way – literally on my knees, pulling out plants – vinca minor is an invasive species and I’m going to have to avoid using it or aggressively clean out flower beds at the end of the season, more so than I’ve done in the past.

I wonder what other formerly annual plants are now perennials in this zone because of climate change.

~ ~ ~

What I don’t know now is how the changing climate will affect my vegetable garden, and beyond that, crops grown in this state. If you’ve eaten a pickle on a sandwich from a fast food restaurant, chances are pretty doggone good you ate a Michigan-grown cucumber. The question of how the changing climate – and it IS changing – will affect our food is a real and serious question.

In practical terms it means for me I can plan on extended seasons. Not only has the start of the gardening season advanced by days and weeks, it has ended later and later on average.

First frost advisories I’d noted on my long-term calendar:

2019 — October 14

2020 — October 2 (didn’t actually get frost until 10/16)

2021 — October 23

2022 — October 2

A couple years ago I picked the season’s last zucchini on October 23. Since this area’s historical average first frost is September 25, I’d gained an entire month longer to harvest vegetables.

So what do I plant and when do I plant it if I can’t predict with any degree of reliability when I can begin to plant and when harvest will end?

Good question. All I know is that the late spring cold snap and the local population of vegetable gardeners colluded unintentionally to buy up ALL the zucchini plants by the time I could get to the greenhouse. Same for basil, all varieties, and some of the oregano varieties.

They left not a single Early Girl or Lunchbox tomato plant. Even the greenhouses don’t appear to be able to forecast market based on the climate or they would have had more of these perennial favorites available.

(Side note: Irritatingly, the seasoned gardeners knew to avoid the holiday rush on Memorial Day weekend, showing up on Tuesday morning instead, extending the holiday rush. A crowded greenhouse with poor ventilation is a COVID super spreader event in the making. Wear masks, people, COVID is still with us.)

Now I’ve had to buy seeds and start zucchinis, Early Girl tomatoes, and basil. The zucchinis will likely reach harvest since the varieties I’ve planted reach maturity in 45 days. The tomatoes I’m less certain of since they need closer to 60 days; it’s that last week and beyond which are always iffy for plants started late.

At least the seasonal forecast is for a warmer summer and winter with an El Niño cycle upon us, right?

If only climate change and the increasing variability of the jet stream didn’t muck with predictions based on the El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) cycle. This spring’s late cold spell did not match seasonal predictions of a warmer spring.

The Canadian wildfires will also mess with weather predictions. We had haze for weeks because of the fires in Quebec and Michigan, which may have led to some cooling.

NOAA-NWS says summer will be warmer than average here in the Midwest, which seems obvious given both an El Niño and climate change.

But given late May’s weird volatility and early June’s constant smoky haze, who knows for sure? NOAA-NWS hasn’t been able to say with specificity for years what impact the combination of the ENSO cycle and climate change will have on forecasts, either.

I’m going to hedge my bets and plan on a slightly longer, slightly drier season, but prepare to cover my plants in late August. In other words, the usual, but with more flexibility in my preparedness.

I’m also going plant some other greens indoors. I still can’t buy Napa cabbage locally, haven’t been able to do so for months now. This suggests growers in California are still having problems producing enough for the Midwest’s market. If El Nino means a wetter California, I’m going to have to grow my own.

What other truck farming crops are still affected by the excessive rainfall and snow pack this past winter-spring?

~ ~ ~

So what about you — what are you growing this season? And if you’re not a gardener, what changes are you noticing in your local vegetable market? How is the ENSO cycle and climate change affecting gardens and farming in your part of the world?

This is an open thread. Bring everything not on topic in other threads to this one.

Three Things: Colonialist Carrotage

[NB: check the byline, thanks. /~Rayne]

“What does colonialism have to do with carrots?” one might ask.

A lot — and an awful lot if you live in the U.S.

~ 3 ~

First, a bit of history which itself doesn’t have much to do with orange root vegetables.

130 years ago this past January there was a coup.

The last reigning monarch of the sovereign nation of Hawai’i was deposed by a bunch of white farmers – the guys who owned and operated sugar and pineapple farms on the islands, or the owners’ henchmen. They set up a provisional government composed of white guys who were the “Committee of Safety,” completely bypassing and ignoring the sentiments of the islands’ majority native Hawaiian population.

You’ll recall from your American History classes that a “Committee of Safety” was formed during the American Revolution as a shadow government. Groups later formed post-revolution with the same or similar names — a movement of vigilantism — but focused on protecting local white property owners’ interests.

Hawaiians had already been disenfranchised in 1887 when their king was forced to sign the “Bayonet Constitution” which removed much of his power while relegating Hawaiians and Asian residents to second-class non-voting status.

All because the Hawaiian islands were there and the sugar and pineapple producers wanted them.

That’s the rationalization. A bunch of brown people who had no army were stripped of their rights and their kingdom because white dudes wanted to farm there.

It didn’t help matters that the Hawaiian people had already been decimated by diseases the whites brought with them between Britain’s Captain Cook’s first foray into the islands in 1778 and the eventual annexation of Hawaii. As much as 85-90% of all Hawaiians died of communicable diseases like measles. There were too few Hawaiians remaining to fight off depredation by whites from the U.S. and Europe.

In 1993, then-president Bill Clinton signed a joint Apology Resolution Congress passed on the 100th anniversary of the coup, in which Congress said it “acknowledges that the overthrow of the Kingdom of Hawaiʻi occurred with the active participation of agents and citizens of the United States and further acknowledges that the Native Hawaiian people never directly relinquished to the United States their claims to their inherent sovereignty as a people over their national lands, either through the Kingdom of Hawaiʻi or through a plebiscite or referendum”.

None of that restores the sovereign nation of Hawai’i and makes it whole. It merely acknowledged the theft of an entire nation.

Am I a little chapped about this? Fuck yes, because my father’s family is Hawaiian and the land was stolen from them because the mainland U.S. wanted sugar and pineapples and the white dudes who stole it wanted a profit for little effort and didn’t give a damn about the nation of brown people who already existed on the islands. In contrast, Hawaiians like my family subsisted off the land and water.

They were merely collateral damage.

Happy fucking coup anniversary, white dudes from afar. You got what you wanted and more.

Hawaiians received nothing.

~ 2 ~

“But what does this have to do with carrots,” one might still be asking. “Is it the farmers?”

Yes, kind of — but it’s about the farmers’ attitudes.

Every single person who is not indigenous on this continent is on land which was already long occupied for thousands of years before whites arrived from Europe.

Much of this land is unceded territory, like the sovereign nation of Hawai’i. The rest may have been signed away in treaties, but get the fuck out about it being fair and equitable let alone fully informed and consensual, like the “Bayonet Constitution” King Kalākaua was forced to sign.

Here’s some 60 Dutch guilders, some alcohol, (sotto voce) some disease in exchange for the island of Manhattan. Fair trade, right? Such bullshit.

What’s even more bullshit is the argument some whites have used claiming indigenous people didn’t have a sense of ownership over the land. In a sense that’s true – many indigenous people felt or believed it was the other way around. They belonged to the land and to the forces of nature which made the land what it was, a holistic system.

This changes the concept of what a treaty entails, especially when both parties lack fluency in each other’s language and culture

(In Kalākaua’s case, there was no vagary; he was fluent in English and he knew if he didn’t sign the Bayonet Constitution the monarchy would be overthrown and the nation of Hawai’i would cease to exist.)

But who cared what those brown pagan savages thought? Even when they were converted to Christianity they were still brown and not perceived by whites as having legitimate rights to anything.

That included land and water.

This has pervaded white American history, that the people who pre-existed here were somehow not worth full consideration as equals. The attitude remains today when we talk about water and water rights.

The parallel thread to the marginalization of Native Americans and Hawaiians is the premise that white development should not ever be impeded (including development for its client states). If it needs something to expand and maintain itself, even if it exceeds its resources, it should simply be accommodated by whomever has the resources it needs.

So it is with the west and water.

I’ve read tens of thousands of words this since January about water and the western U.S., and so very little of it is concerned with the rights of the people who were first here.

Where are their water rights in all of this demand for more water for agriculture?

What set me off on this was a comment responding to my last post about carrots in which it was suggested water for the west should come from the Midwest/eastern U.S.; it wasn’t the first time I’d heard such balderdash.

As if the Great Lakes region should simply give water because it has so much and the west needs it.

Oh, and the west will trade energy for it.

Like trading an island for 60 Dutch guilders. Or trading a nation for the bayonet removed from the throat.

No. Fuck no.

This is colonialism — its unending grasping nature to take what doesn’t belong to colonialists because they need it.

Like islands to grow sugar and pineapples, they want lakes to ensure their profits, I mean, carrots continue to grow.

Or their golf courses, or swimming pools, or their verdant fescue lawns in the middle of the desert.

Never mind the Great Lakes isn’t solely the property of the U.S., but a shared resource with its neighbor Canada.

Never mind there are First Nations Native Americans who also have water rights to the Great Lakes, who continue to rely on those lakes for their subsistence, and who may also subsist on the waters outside of Great Lakes but in other watersheds

No. Fuck no. The American west can knock off its colonialist attitude and grow up. Resources are finite, defining the limits of growth. Apply some of that vaunted American ingenuity and figure out how to make do with the resource budgets already available.

People are a lot easier to move than lakes full of water, by the way.

~ 1 ~

“Okay, carrots may be colonialist when they demand more water than available,” one might now be thinking.

Yes. But there’s more. Another issue which surface in comments on my last post was the lack of a comprehensive national water policy.

This is has been a problem for decades; it’s come up here in comments as far back as 2008, and the problem was ancient at that time.

It’s not just a national water policy we need, though. We need a global policy in no small part because of the climate crisis. Look at California as this season’s storms begin to ease; the fifth largest economy in the world has been rattled with an excess of fresh water it can’t use effectively, which has and will continue to pose threats to CA residents. California is not the only place which will face such challenges. Super Typhoon Nanmadol last year dumped rain under high winds for days across all of Japan; while a typhoon is a discrete event, the size and length of Nanmadol are not unlike the effects of multiple atmospheric river events hitting California inside one week. The super typhoon hit Japan a month after a previous typhoon; imagine had they both been extended-length super typhoons.

Indeed, this is what has already happened in the Philippines before Nanmadol with Hinnamor.

This year has already seen the longest ever typhoon; Freddy lasted more than five weeks. Imagine a single super storm inflicting rain for that long in the East Asian region.

Depending on the level of development and preparedness, fresh water may be a problem during and after these much larger more frequent storms – not to mention drought and wildfire.

In 2010 the Defense Department’s Quadrennial Defense Review Report included a section addressing climate change:

Crafting a Strategic Approach to Climate and Energy

Climate change and energy are two key issues that will play a significant role in shaping the future security environment. Although they produce distinct types of challenges, climate change, energy security, and economic stability are inextricably linked. The actions that the Department takes now can prepare us to respond effectively to these challenges in the near term and in the future.

Climate change will affect DoD in two broad ways. First, climate change will shape the operating environment, roles, and missions that we undertake. The U.S. Global Change Research Program, composed of 13 federal agencies, reported in 2009 that climate-related changes are already being observed in every region of the world, including the United States and its coastal waters. Among these physical changes are increases in heavy downpours, rising temperature and sea level, rapidly retreating glaciers, thawing permafrost, lengthening growing seasons, lengthening ice-free seasons in the oceans and on lakes and rivers, earlier snowmelt, and alterations in river flows.

Assessments conducted by the intelligence community indicate that climate change could have significant geopolitical impacts around the world, contributing to poverty, environmental degradation, and the further weakening of fragile governments. Climate change will contribute to food and water scarcity, will increase the spread of disease, and may spur or exacerbate mass migration.

While climate change alone does not cause conflict, it may act as an accelerant of instability or conflict, placing a burden to respond on civilian institutions and militaries around the world. In addition, extreme weather events may lead to increased demands for defense support to civil authorities for humanitarian assistance or disaster response both within the United States and overseas. In some nations, the military is the only institution with the capacity to respond to a large-scale natural disaster. Proactive engagement with these countries can help build their capability to respond to such events. Working closely with relevant U.S. departments and agencies, DoD has undertaken environmental security cooperative initiatives with foreign militaries that represent a nonthreatening way of building trust, sharing best practices on installations management and operations, and developing response capacity.

Water — whether potable fresh, rising oceans, changed waterways, ice or lack thereof — figured prominently in this assessment of growing climate threats.

The inaugural Quadrennial Diplomacy Report published by the State Department in 2010 likewise considered climate change an issue demanding consideration as State assessed diplomatic efforts needed to assure the U.S. remained secure.

The climate crisis isn’t confined to the U.S. alone, though; it’s a global challenge and in need of global response. We need not only a national water policy but a global water policy, and with it policies related to agriculture dependent upon water’s availability.

The price for failing to implement a global approach has long-term repercussions. Examples:

Ongoing conflict in Syria may have been kicked off before Arab Spring by long-term drought in the region;

• Violence and economic instability in Central America caused in part by drought and storms creates large numbers of asylum seekers and climate refugees heading north;

Sustained drought in Afghanistan damaging crops increases the chances poor farmers will be recruited by the Taliban.

Developing approaches to ensure adequate clean drinking water and irrigation of local crops at subsistence level could help reduce conflicts, but it will require more than spot agreements on a case-by-case basis to scale up the kind of systems needed as the climate crisis deepens, affecting more of the globe at the same time.

~ 0 ~

“But wait, what about the carrots and colonialism and conflict?” one might ask.

The largest producers of carrots are China (Asia), the United States (western hemisphere), Russia, Uzbekistan — and Ukraine.

The third largest producer of carrots attacked the fifth largest producer which happened to be a former satellite state.

That besieged state is the largest producer of carrots in Europe.

The colonialism is bad enough. Imagine if the colonial power damaged the former colony’s water supply, too.