Our Political Crisis…the task before the rational part of this nation

Owing to America’s disproportionate military, financial, and technological power, the breakdown of rational politics in the United States is the most dangerous fact for the world today. And while President Donald Trump’s recent election defeat is a necessary step toward restoring sanity to American politics, it is only the first of many that will be required to stop the downward slide of the US and convince the rest of the world that the country no longer poses a threat to itself or others.

There are two urgent challenges facing America and the world in the wake of the US election. First, President-elect Joe Biden must take on the long uphill struggle to restore some measure of domestic political stability. Second, other regions of the world should forge their own paths of global cooperation, rather than waiting in vain for the US to return to global leadership.

Jeffrey Sachs rocks! He is a high-order player in the world of economics and politics. Which means creeps like Trump hate him. Most Trump followers, of course, have no idea who he is or what he has to say.

Green stimulus can repair global economy — and climate

Projects which cut greenhouse gas emissions as well as stimulating economic growth deliver higher returns on government spending, in the short term and in the longer term, than conventional stimulus spending, the study from Oxford University found.

Many of the projects that could create new jobs in the UK are “shovel-ready”, compliant with social distancing requirements and could be started quickly, said Cameron Hepburn…lead author of the study.

He cited energy efficiency programmes to insulate the UK’s draughty housing stock, the building of electric vehicle charging networks, redesigning roads for more cycling, flood protection and planting trees. “These all need large-scale deployment, offer low to moderate skilled work and will have benefits in terms of climate change as well as boosting the economy,” he said.

Problems and solutions in the UK and USA are similar enough that I imagine it wouldn’t take more tweaking than deciding which side of the road to drive on. Worth examining further. Expressed thoughtfully, could be a decent add to November election issues.

Playing sounds of healthy coral reefs may lure fish back to damaged areas

Tim Gordon, Univ. of Exeter

❝ Dead patches on Australia’s Great Barrier Reef could be revived by playing the ambient sounds of a healthy reef via loudspeakers to lure in young fish.

These fish help to clean the reef and make room in which new corals can grow, beginning the process of ecosystem recovery…

❝…researchers found that twice as many fish arrived at — and stayed near — the dead patches where the loudspeakers were operating than those where no sound was playing. ‘Fish are crucial for coral reefs to function as healthy ecosystems,’ said Marine biologist Tim Gordon.

‘Boosting fish populations in this way could help to kick-start natural recovery processes, counteracting the damage we’re seeing on many coral reefs around the world.’

Interesting, positive…RTFA for details and let’s hope it works to reverse the damage our species has done.

Fixing our National Parks = 100,000+ New Jobs

Number of jobs per state

A Pew-commissioned analysis by the Cadmus Group, a consulting company, found that addressing the National Park Service’s $11.6 billion maintenance backlog would create or support nearly 110,000 infrastructure-related jobs. This number, based on fiscal year 2017 NPS data, is a reminder of the powerful economic impact of national parks…

If NPS’ deferred maintenance was fully funded, communities could see construction workers repairing roads and trails, preservation experts restoring deteriorating historic sites, and engineers overhauling outdated sewer, water, and electrical systems that can threaten safety and the environment.

RTFA. Reflect that the Republican Party – which has adopted the fake president – will try their best not only to oppose maintaining and repairing our national parks, they will go along with Trump and try to shut them down and turn the land over to drilling rigs and coal mines.

Infrastructure, roads, bridges, airports — all suck, all need repair

Michigan fixes road the way they fix water supplies

❝ The U.S. Department of Transportation estimates that the nation’s highways and bridges face an $808.2 billion backlog of investment spending, including $479.1 billion in critically needed repairs. More than two-thirds of the nation’s roads and nearly 143,000 bridges are classified in “dire need” of repair or upgrades. U.S. ports are clogged and need dredging to improve the flow of goods; railroad tracks need modernizing; airport communications technology needs updating and expansion; and urban mass transit is old and inadequate. As president, Trump wants to rebuild America’s core…

If you think the whole of these needs or a significant portion will produce a campfire singalong between elite Democrats, Progressive Democrats, Opportunist Democrats, Teapublicans, Trumpublicans, Hoover Republicans, elite Republicans — I might offer you a deal on one of those bridges. In Brooklyn.

Obama sends transportation bill to Congress

The Obama administration…sent a bill to Congress that aims to cover an expected shortage in money to spend on America’s bridges, roads and transit systems, but Republican opposition could prevent its passage.

Wow…there’s a fracking surprise!

Funding for the four-year, $302 billion legislation would come partly from ending certain tax breaks for businesses, a provision opposed by many Republicans. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said the administration would be open to other ideas to raise the money…

The Highway Trust Fund traditionally has been bankrolled by taxes on gasoline and diesel, but with fuel use stagnant the fund is not bringing in enough revenue to cover infrastructure needs. It is projected to run out of money as soon as August…

Congress has all but ruled out raising the 18.4-cents-a-gallon tax on gasoline and the 24.4-cents-a-gallon levy on diesel, which is the main source of funding for the trust fund.

Democrats understand those are regressive taxes that mostly harm working families. Republicans are just worried about the Trucking Lobby.

Foxx said some states are already canceling or delaying transportation projects “because of the uncertainty at the federal level.”

The administration’s proposal would address the trust fund’s looming shortfall and provide an additional $87 billion to pay for a backlog of repairs such as structurally deficient bridges and aging transit systems.

A report last week by the American Road and Transportation Builders Association estimated that roughly one in 10 U.S. bridges, more than 63,000, is in urgent need of repair. Many are part of the interstate highway system.

Folks like me have been beating our heads against the wall of corporate defense the Republican Party and Blue Dog Democrats have built around Congress. Bad enough they spend every waking hour fighting to prevent the most wealthy in this land from coughing up a fair share of the cost of running this country [on their behalf]. But, even tax breaks that are starting to expire are considered sacred by the cows who milk us.

Getting ready for hell and high water — climate adaptation science

Changes are already happening to Earth’s climate due to the burning of fossil fuels, deforestation and large-scale agriculture. As changes get more pronounced, people everywhere will have to adjust. In this week’s issue of the journal Science, an international group of researchers urge the development of science needed to manage climate risks and capitalize on unexpected opportunities…

“Adapting to an evolving climate is going to be required in every sector of society, in every region of the globe. We need to get going, to provide integrated science if we are going to meet the challenge,” said senior scientist Richard Moss of the Department of Energy’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. “In this article, we describe the foundations for this research and suggest measures to establish it.”

“The need to adapt and adjust is going to be global,” said Moss. “We need a flexible, integrated approach that merges theoretical and problem-oriented sciences around four general challenges.”

The four challenges are:

Understanding what information is needed to make decisions about adapting to climate change

Identifying vulnerabilities in society, the economy and the environment

Improving forecasts and climate models in ways that can address specific problems

Providing technology, management, and policy options for adapting

As an example of how practical and basic research can work together, Moss described work in the U.S. involving water utilities, university scientists, and private firms to pilot use of climate models and water utility modeling to design resilient water systems.

“This research is motivated by a practical challenge, ensuring reliable water supplies. Among the scientific advances that will be required is better integration of weather and climate models to improve decadal climate information to help people plan,” Moss said.

“Traditionally we think that what society needs is better predictions. But at this workshop, all of us – climate and social scientists alike – recognized the need to consider how decisions get implemented and that climate is only one of many factors that will determine how people will adapt,” he said.

Sounds like some folks realize that Congress is about as capable as the folks who designed the lifeboats for the Titanic. We may as well get to work figuring out survival alternatives since the gremlins in charge ain’t capable of rescuing anyone including themselves.

Stocks rally on decision to rebuild, repair, expand infrastructure to aid commerce – oh wait, that’s China not the United States!

The redesigned Hangzhou South railway station

China approved plans to build 1,254 miles of roads, spurring the biggest stock- market rally in almost eight months on signs the government is stepping up stimulus efforts to revive economic growth.

The government also backed nine sewage-treatment plants, five port and warehouse projects, and two waterway upgrades, according to statements on the website of the National Development and Reform Commission yesterday…

The Shanghai Composite Index closed 3.7 percent higher, led by construction stocks, on speculation infrastructure spending will help bolster growth that’s cooled to the slowest pace in three years. The announcements came a day after approvals for subway projects in 18 cities, an earlier rise in the railway- building budget and increases in land supplies in cities including Guangzhou, Hangzhou, Beijing and Shanghai.

They are clearly stepping up the infrastructure-investment push to help boost confidence and revive growth,” said Zhang Zhiwei, Hong Kong-based chief China economist at Nomura Holdings Inc. Premier Wen Jiabao’s policy stance is shifting “to a more proactive and significant easing…”

“China’s central government finally took real actions to arrest the worsening slowdown,” Bank of America Corp. economist Lu Ting said in a note. “Adding home supply and improving urban infrastructure are the two best ways to contain home prices, speed up urbanization and increase social welfare…”

The approvals on Sept. 5 for a total of 25 new subway and inter-city rail projects are worth more than $126 billion, or 1.7 percent of 2011 gross domestic product, according to HSBC. The spending will run from the second half of the year to 2018, it said…

The NDRC backing may accelerate metro-rail developments, most of which were already in local governments’ plans, Citigroup analysts Jenny Zhen and Paul Gong said in a note to clients yesterday.

“This sentiment is positive for the whole railway- construction and equipment sector,” they said…

If you’re interested in the global economy, one of the funniest things you can do is watch Asian Squawk Box on CNBC-World with Bernie Lo. Bernie’s a dyed-in-the-wool Republican and a Baptist to boot. He tries very hard to ask leading question of Asian old hands – to paint China as a failing economy envious of American accomplishments.

I watched him the other night as he tried to press one of the lifers for a typical Wall Street 2-3 month outlook on structural economic changes in China. He got the usual sigh, followed by – you have to learn that China’s economic planners, the government as a whole ignores what the stock market is doing in its various up-and-down joyride. They look to what will achieve the greatest improvement over a 2 to 5 year period. They want to ensure the fullest employment and growth in the nation’s economy – not just a bump that satisfies daytraders and short-term profiteers.

Meanwhile, we sit here in the GOUSA and get to watch alternating panic and euphoria from Biz TV talking heads and politicians who are most expert at blaming someone else – anyone will do – instead of Congressional corporate pimps who are most accomplished at sitting on their hands when they’re not busy picking our pockets.

Dome of our nation’s capitol Is threatened by cracks and crackpots!

To the myriad indignities suffered by Congress, including stagnant legislation, partisan warfare and popularity on a par with petty criminals, add this: the Capitol’s roof is leaking, and there is no money to fix it…

The dome has 1,300 known cracks and breaks. Water that has seeped in over the years has caused rusting on the ornamentation and staining on the interior of the Rotunda, just feet below the fresco “The Apotheosis of Washington,” which is painted on the Rotunda’s canopy.

Like most of what the federal government is on the hook to fix — highways, bridges and airports — the dome is imperiled both by tough economic times and by a politically polarized Congress. While Senate appropriators have voted to repair the dome, which has not undergone major renovations for 50 years, their House counterparts say there is not money right now. In that way, the dome is a metaphor for the nation’s decaying infrastructure.

“The dome needs comprehensive rehabilitation,” said Stephen T. Ayers, the architect of the Capitol, whose office oversees the building’s physical state. “It’s a public safety issue.”

The skirt of the dome — the section around the base of the original sandstone foundation — was fixed up recently at a cost of about $20 million, but an additional $61 million is needed to repair and restore the rest of the structure’s exterior…

“This is not a ‘bridge to nowhere’ we’re talking about here,” said Senator Charles E. Schumer of New York, the leader of the Senate Rules Committee, which oversees the architect’s office. “This is basic upkeep to the United States Capitol building. There is a time and place to debate spending levels and the proper role of the federal government, but when your house has a leaky roof, you pay to fix the roof.”

It’s easiest for everyone to malign Congress as a whole. But, everyone – including Republicans, including the nuttiest of the Kool Aid Party – knows who is wholly responsible for getting absolutely nothing accomplished since the 2010 elections. The Tea Party pantywaist populists and Republican Party honchos who think they’re being the best beancounters in the world by putting a halt to any task Congress may attempt.

Saying they’re saving money doesn’t make it so. Saying they have a constitutional mandate doesn’t make it so. Saying they’re following the will of the people – on the basis of a not-so-unusual mid-term election – never makes it so. And since most of this crowd haven’t learned to lie as skillfully as the leftover Republican Party bosses – they rely on blaming everyone but the people who say “NO” to everything.

Including fixing the roof.