Category: Big Picture

‘Public Pressure Works’: Postal Service To Boost Electric Vehicle Purchases After Backlash

KENNY STANCIL – Pressure from progressive advocacy groups and lawmakers bore fruit on Wednesday, July 20, when the U.S. Postal Service announced that it would be making 40% of its new delivery vehicles electric, up from Postmaster General Louis DeJoy’s initial plan to electrify just 10% of the mail agency’s aging fleet.

We Are Witnesses to the Best and the Worst of Human Aspirations

WINSLOW MYERS – We can look upward and outward from the echo-chamber of despair, greed, fear, and cynicism that mark our era. We can dare to set new planetary goals—feeding all the hungry, finding homes and work for refugees, demonstrating the advantages of representational government, and deploying the technologies of wind, solar, and battery to move beyond fossil fuels. The scientists that pulled off the Webb have provided the most powerful possible example of setting a high goal and then learning how to work together to achieve it.

French Nuclear Power Crisis Frustrates Europe’s Push to Quit Russian Energy

LIZ ALDERMAN – Outages at EDF, Europe’s biggest electricity exporter, have sent France’s nuclear power output tumbling to its lowest level in nearly 30 years, pushing French electric bills to record highs just as the war in Ukraine is stoking broader inflation. Instead of pumping vast amounts of electricity to Britain, Italy and other European countries pivoting from Russian oil, France faces the unsettling prospect of initiating rolling blackouts this winter and having to import power.

Offshore Wind Installations Surged Threefold Last Year

MARIA GALLUCCI – Offshore wind power is surging around the world as countries adopt ambitious clean energy policies and as wind equipment costs decline. That growth is expected to explode over the next decade, even as the industry faces supply-chain snags and other headwinds. Those are the main takeaways from two new reports charting the recent progress and future trajectory of global offshore wind development.

3 Oil Companies Pull Out of Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge

OLIVIA ROSANE – Three oil companies have canceled their leases in Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. “These exits clearly demonstrate that international companies recognize what we have known all along: drilling in the Arctic Refuge is not worth the economic risk and liability that results from development on sacred lands without the consent of Indigenous Peoples,” the Gwich’in Steering Committee said in a statement. 

Making “Impregnators” Pay Their Fair Share

ROB OKUN – Long before a leaked Supreme Court draft opinion revealed that by summer Roe v. Wade will likely be overturned, only pregnant people bore the burden of pregnancy—not just physically, but also financially. “Impregnators” have always had the choice to walk away. Sure, they could be on the hook for child support after birth, but what if they could be held responsible for their actions before—from the moment of conception—just as the pregnant person is?

The Energy and Food Crisis Is Far Worse Than Most Americans Realize

RICHARD HEINBERG – Crises make incumbent politicians look bad. But denying or politicizing problems that result from our own prior mistakes just makes those problems worse. Here’s some free advice for policy makers and members of the Fourth Estate: take the long view, even if it’s scary. And tell the truth, even if it means losing an election or Twitter followers.

Why Latin America Needs a New World Order

MARCO FERNANDES – Humanity faces urgent challenges, such as inequality, hunger, the climate crisis, and the threat of new pandemics. To overcome them, regional alliances in the Global South must be able to institute a new multipolarity in global politics. But the usual suspects may have other plans for humanity.

Why Won’t Europe Call for an End to This War?

BOAVENTURA DE SOUSA SANTOS – When armed conflicts take place in Africa or in the Middle East, Europe’s leaders are the first to call for a cessation of hostilities and to declare the urgent need for peace negotiations. Why is it then that when a war occurs in Europe, the drums of war beat incessantly, and not a single leader calls for them to be silenced and for the voice of peace to be heard?

Intelligence Professionals Warn Biden Against Ukraine War’s Existential Dangers

VETERAN INTELLIGENCE PROFESSIONALS FOR SANITY (VIPS) – Mainstream media have marinated the minds of most Americans in a witches’ brew of misleading information on Ukraine – and on the exceedingly high stakes of the war. On the chance you are not getting the kind of “untreated” intelligence President Truman hoped for by restructuring intelligence, we offer below a 12-point factsheet. Some of us were intelligence analysts during the Cuban missile crisis and see a direct parallel in Ukraine. As to VIPs’ credibility, our record since Jan. 2003 – whether on Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, or Russia – speaks for itself.

Tax Day and the Fate of the Earth

PETER BERGEL and MICHAEL CARRIGAN – Once again we are all paying our federal income taxes this month. We do this as “the price of civilization” – to pay for the services we value and rely upon – disaster relief, help during the pandemic, wildfire protection, food security, a host of others and… nuclear weapons?

Ukrainian Climate Activists Say They Don’t Want the US’s Fracked Gas Exports

CANDACE BERND – Climate activists living under the constant blare of air raid sirens in Ukraine say they don’t want the United States’ fracked gas exports, and don’t want frontline communities along the U.S. Gulf Coast living with the impacts of so-called liquefied natural gas (LNG) infrastructure to become sacrifice zones in their name. Instead, they say, they want a dramatic, wartime mobilization for a transition to clean energy.

The People of Yemen Suffer Atrocities, too

KATHY KELLY – Jan Egeland, the secretary general of the Norwegian Refugee Council, said, “The people of Yemen need the same level of support and solidarity that we’ve seen for the people of Ukraine. The crisis in Europe will dramatically impact Yemenis’ access to food and fuel, making an already dire situation even worse.”

San Jose Set to Become First U.S. City to Make Gun Owners Get Insurance

CHERI MOSSBURG and AMIR VERA – The San Jose, California, city council voted Tuesday night (January 25) to adopt a first-in-the-nation ordinance requiring most gun owners to pay a fee and carry liability insurance, measures aimed at reducing the risk of gun harm by incentivizing safer behavior and easing taxpayers of the financial burden of gun violence.

Four Former Heads of Nuclear Agencies: “Nuclear is not a Practicable Means to Combat Climate Change”

DR. GREG JACZKO, PROF. WOLFGANG RENNEBERG, DR. BERNARD LAPONCHE, DR. PAUL DORFMAN – Nuclear is neither clean, safe or smart; but a very complex technology with the potential to cause significant harm. Nuclear isn’t cheap, but extremely costly. Perhaps most importantly nuclear is just not part of any feasible strategy that could counter climate change. To make a relevant contribution to global power generation, up to more than ten thousand new reactors would be required, depending on reactor design.

Biden Restores Bears Ears and Grand Staircase–Escalante National Monuments

WES SILER – Today [Oct. 8, 2021], President Biden announced that he’s restoring the Bears Ears and Grand Staircase–Escalante National Monuments in Utah, as well as the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument in the Atlantic Ocean to the areas and protections that were in place before Donald Trump massively cut them. The move fulfills a campaign promise, protects sensitive historic sites and fragile ecosystems, preserves air and water quality for local communities, keeps coal and oil in the ground, and listens to the voice of Indigenous people on the eve of Indigenous People’s Day. 

NRC Conducting “Open Investigation” into Allegedly Counterfeit, Substandard US Reactor Parts, & Impossibility of Evacuating Seabrook – CounterPunch.org

JOHN LAFORGE – The Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s (NRC) Office of Inspector General (OIG) has confirmed that it is investigating allegations that counterfeit, substandard parts are currently being used in scores of nuclear reactors across the United States, and further that emergency responders in New Hampshire’s National Guard and the Massachusetts State Police have been gagged by orders not to reveal that it is impossible to conduct a safe evacuation of the Seabrook reactor during an emergency.

Meet the Biden Advisor Who Wants a Cold War with China

KOOHAN PAIK-MANDER – President Joe Biden called President Xi Jinping of China on September 9, 2021, to work toward rapprochement as tensions in the western Pacific had reached a fever pitch. The very next day, Biden’s call was undermined by inflammatory information provided on September 10 to the Financial Times by anonymous officials from his own administration. It drew immediate ire from Beijing.

How to Fight Microplastic Pollution with Magnets

ISABELLE GERRETSEN – Fionn Ferreira says he has encountered skepticism throughout his journey as a young inventor and hopes that inventions such as his will help change that attitude. And as his generation inherits problems created by those that came before them, the world is likely to need more imaginative solutions.

Montana Becomes First State To Pass Resolution Against Unconstitutional Wars

LIAM MCCOLLUM – The Montana state legislature overwhelmingly passed a bipartisan and unprecedented resolution Tuesday calling on the federal government to end endless wars. The resolution passed 95-3 in the House and 47-2 in the Senate. The resolution specifically urges President Joe Biden and the United States Congress to “end the endless war in Afghanistan,” repeal the 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force, resist sending U.S. troops into combat without a declaration of war from Congress or specific authorization to do so, and to “execute a prudent foreign policy.”

Playing Russian Roulette in the Ukraine

NATYLIE BALDWIN – There have been recent reports of intensified fighting near the line of contact in the Donbass area of eastern Ukraine between Kiev forces and Donbass rebels who are supported by Russia. The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) Special Monitoring Mission reported a rise in ceasefire violations at the end of the week before last from 89 to nearly 500. There are accusations back and forth of new attacks by Kiev forces on Donbass and a military buildup in Russia near the border with eastern Ukraine.