from the world's big
Dear CNN: Trump's Plan to Ban Muslim Travel Isn't 'Worthy of Debate'
You know you’ve gone off the deep end when the human incarnation of Darth Vader says your proposal “goes against everything we stand for and believe in.”
You know you’ve gone off the deep end when the human incarnation of Darth Vader says your proposal “goes against everything we stand for and believe in.” But that is exactly how former Vice President Dick Cheney assessed Donald Trump’s latest and most disturbing idea to prohibit all Muslims from entering the United States “until we can figure out what the hell is going on here.” It’s an utterly awful, despicable and un-American idea — so bad, in fact, that I’m having trouble coming up with adjectives that don’t understate the inanity. The news contains just one silver lining: the fact that every other candidate for president, everyone from Bernie Sanders to Ted Cruz, rushed in to condemn it.
But watching CNN at 8:00 pm on Monday night, the news station did its best to hack away at that delicate silver lining and leave behind a tattered mess. Anderson Cooper, like most cable TV news hosts, trades on a head-to-head (or a head-to-head-to-head) format in which people on different sides of a contentious issue have it out on air. It’s an exciting approach, often with yelling and much pathos, and very occasionally it can even be enlightening. It’s also a format that might make sense when the issue is, say, gun control or what to make of the downing of the Russian jet by the Turks.
Cooper’s show, AC360, doesn’t feature debates about anything and everything. It isn’t a forum for questions like whether slavery might actually have been a good idea, or if women really deserve the right to vote. He doesn’t invite skinheads on his show to defend neo-Nazi views. (“Aren’t you painting with too broad a brush,” he might ask, “in saying that all Jews are subhuman scoundrels?”) No: Not every question gets debated because there are questions that should not be debated. And the proposal to discriminate against every one of the world’s 1.6 billion Muslims by banning them from entering the country as an appropriate response to two radical Muslims who committed an atrocity is one of those questions that should not be debated.
Yet there was Anderson Cooper, quietly aghast at Trump’s comments but determined to be fair-minded. So he reacted to the news of Trump’s gobsmacking proposal by asking a few people to come on to debate it. He had one very sober journalist, Maggie Haberman of The New York Times; Jeffrey Lord, identified only as a “Trump supporter”; and Van Jones, a CNN commentator. With a mixture of fascinating understatement and an apparent unfamiliarity with the explicit strictures of the 1st and 5th amendments that speak directly to her point, Haberman began by quietly asserting that there may be some “constitutional problems” with Trump’s idea. Lord then stepped in to defend the indefensible: Trump is just echoing President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s call for labeling Italian nationals “enemy aliens” during World War II. We’re in a war, he said, and we need to act the part.
Thank goodness for Jones, who barely held back his impatience and incredulity when he added his voice to the “debate.” After Haberman’s pusillanimity and Lord’s hearkening back to the good old days of 1940s-style government-sponsored racism, it was refreshing to finally hear someone give the Trump plan the skewering it deserved.
But before the commercial break, Cooper exacerbated his journalistic sin of giving equal time to even the worst of ideas by declaring the exchange “a very important discussion” and giving Lord another 10 or so minutes of prime time to expound his views on a leading cable news station. A “very important discussion” would have focused on the tactics of Trump’s stunt, or the specific constitutional and legal obstacles to implementing it. AC360 could have inquired into how Trump’s racist blather would play abroad, or what implications it might have for the texture of the presidential race. It is a mistake, however, to portray as a “very important discussion” a debate on the merits of a plan that is completely devoid of merit — and antithetical to America's founding principles.
Steven V. Mazie is Professor of Political Studies at Bard High School Early College-Manhattan and Supreme Court correspondent for The Economist. He holds an A.B. in Government from Harvard College and a Ph.D. in Political Science from the University of Michigan. He is author, most recently, of American Justice 2015: The Dramatic Tenth Term of the Roberts Court.
Image credit: shutterstock.com
Follow Steven Mazie on Twitter: @stevenmazie
Ever since we've had the technology, we've looked to the stars in search of alien life. It's assumed that we're looking because we want to find other life in the universe, but what if we're looking to make sure there isn't any?
Here's an equation, and a rather distressing one at that: N = R* × fP × ne × f1 × fi × fc × L. It's the Drake equation, and it describes the number of alien civilizations in our galaxy with whom we might be able to communicate. Its terms correspond to values such as the fraction of stars with planets, the fraction of planets on which life could emerge, the fraction of planets that can support intelligent life, and so on. Using conservative estimates, the minimum result of this equation is 20. There ought to be 20 intelligent alien civilizations in the Milky Way that we can contact and who can contact us. But there aren't any.
Frequent shopping for single items adds to our carbon footprint.
- A new study shows e-commerce sites like Amazon leave larger greenhouse gas footprints than retail stores.
- Ordering online from retail stores has an even smaller footprint than going to the store yourself.
- Greening efforts by major e-commerce sites won't curb wasteful consumer habits. Consolidating online orders can make a difference.
A pile of recycled cardboard sits on the ground at Recology's Recycle Central on January 4, 2018 in San Francisco, California.
Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images<p>A large part of the reason is speed. In a competitive market, pure players use the equation, <em>speed + convenience</em>, to drive adoption. This is especially relevant to the "last mile" GHG footprint: the distance between the distribution center and the consumer.</p><p>Interestingly, the smallest GHG footprint occurs when you order directly from a physical store—even smaller than going there yourself. Pure players, such as Amazon, are the greatest offenders. Variables like geographic location matter; the team looked at shopping in the UK, the US, China, and the Netherlands. </p><p>Sadegh Shahmohammadi, a PhD student at the Netherlands' Radboud University and corresponding author of the paper, <a href="https://www.cnn.com/2020/02/26/tech/greenhouse-gas-emissions-retail/index.html" target="_blank">says</a> the above "pattern holds true in countries where people mostly drive. It really depends on the country and consumer behavior there."</p><p>The researchers write that this year-and-a-half long study pushes back on previous research that claims online shopping to be better in terms of GHG footprints.</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"They have, however, compared the GHG emissions per shopping event and did not consider the link between the retail channels and the basket size, which leads to a different conclusion than that of the current study."</p><p>Online retail is where convenience trumps environment: people tend to order one item at a time when shopping on pure player sites, whereas they stock up on multiple items when visiting a store. Consumers will sometimes order a number of separate items over the course of a week rather than making one trip to purchase everything they need. </p><p>While greening efforts by online retailers are important, until a shift in consumer attitude changes, the current carbon footprint will be a hard obstacle to overcome. Amazon is trying to have it both ways—carbon-free and convenience addicted—and the math isn't adding up. If you need to order things, do it online, but try to consolidate your purchases as much as possible.</p><p>--</p><p><em>Stay in touch with Derek on <a href="http://www.twitter.com/derekberes" target="_blank">Twitter</a>, <a href="https://www.facebook.com/DerekBeresdotcom" target="_blank">Facebook</a> and <a href="https://derekberes.substack.com/" target="_blank">Substack</a>. His next book is</em> "<em>Hero's Dose: The Case For Psychedelics in Ritual and Therapy."</em></p>
Chronic irregular sleep in children was associated with psychotic experiences in adolescence, according to a recent study out of the University of Birmingham's School of Psychology.