The NFL Should Do More Than Just Take A Knee

Colin-Kaepernick-600x338

Colin Kaepernick (Photo: Kaepernick7.com)

When Colin Kaepernick began to protest during the national anthem at NFL games last year, he made his intent very clear. “I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color,” Kaepernick told NFL Media.

“To me, this is bigger than football,” he explained, “and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder.”

Kaepernick made the brave decision to do this mostly alone — and of course faced the backlash and took the heat on his own. That was until President Trump decided to attack black sports players who raised awareness about racial injustice.

At a campaign rally in Alabama, Trump called out NFL players that chose to take a knee or sit during the anthem. “Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, say, ‘Get that son of a b*tch off the field right now’?” Trump asked.

The following Sunday, a far greater number of NFL players stood up for those who protest inequity during the national anthem — and were joined, surprisingly, by many of the team owners Trump called out to.

While this was a good show of solidarity, it led some to wonder whether the NFL actually cares about black lives, or whether team owners were just looking to distance themselves from Trump’s problematic and divisive comments.

African-American males are only 6 percent of the United States population, but comprise nearly 70 percent of NFL players. It’s no wonder that issues around race are making their way into the NFL spotlight.

Black issues have never been a concern for NFL officials when it came to causes worthy of their monetary support. Instead, many NFL officials have donated millions to causes that were openly hostile to the Black Lives Matter movement — such as the Trump campaign.

CNN Money reports that “at least $ 7.75 million of the $ 106 million raised for Trump’s inaugural committee came from NFL owners and the league.” Several owners, many of whom supported Trump — and seven of whom had donated at least $ 1 million to him — released statements denouncing Trump’s comments.

Yet none have used their economic power to actually address the problem that brought the protest on in the first place.

Now would be a fine time to take the next step. While there are a number of ways the league can contribute to this movement, there’s one obvious way: supporting the Colin Kaepernick Foundation.

After Kaepernick began to raise awareness on the field, he put his money where his mouth is and created a foundation aimed at fighting oppression of all kinds globally, through education and social activism. Through this foundation, he made a pledge to “donate one million dollars plus all the proceeds of my jersey sales from the 2016 season to organizations working in oppressed communities.”

Imagine what could really transpire if NFL officials decided to make this same commitment.

We need to hold the NFL accountable, just as we do for other powerful American organizations. Taking a knee, banding arms, and releasing statements of support is easy compared to what the league can actually do to help fight racial injustice.

It’s time for the NFL to stand up for black lives and the rights of all Americans.

|||||||http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/IPS/latest/~3/bwiF42iuJ9o/

Corporate Allies in Washington Take Aim at CEO Pay Reform

CEO-pay-median-worker

(Photo: Fred Ho / Shutterstock)

It’s not easy defending America’s overpaid CEOs, but somebody’s gotta do it. At least that seems to be the sentiment of the corporate lobby groups, politicians, and regulators who make up what might be called Washington’s CEO Pay Apologists Club.

Lately, this bunch has been on quite a tear. House Republicans’ health-care law will eliminate an Obamacare tax penalty on excessive compensation among insurance executives. Their Wall Street reform plan, scheduled for a vote this week, nixes several Dodd-Frank executive-pay reforms, including a ban on risk-inducing Wall Street bonuses and a regulation requiring publicly held corporations to report their CEO-worker pay gap.

These assaults take a certain amount of political courage at a time when corporate CEOs are making even President Donald Trump look like Mr. Popularity. In a March 2017 Harris poll, Americans gave corporate chieftains a favorability rating of only 24 percent, about half the share who approve of Trump’s job performance.

Even a majority of self-identified Republicans favor a fixed ceiling on CEO pay. Of course, none of the modest Obama-era reforms now on the chopping block went anywhere near that far. But that hasn’t dampened GOP hostility toward them.

Read the full article on The American Prospect.

 

|||||||http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/IPS/latest/~3/RPEMFIqZFps/

The World Won’t Wait for the U.S. to Take Climate Action


In pulling out of the Paris Accord, Trump is putting his own interests and the interests of his fellow billionaires first, IPS associate fellow Daphne Wysham told the Real News Network, noting his many investments in oil and gas projects.

“As a result, we are squandering what little trust and reputation and international standing we have with the international community,” she said.

Trump is also working to pull the U.S. out of the Green Climate Fund, which acknowledges that the world’s largest polluters, including the U.S., are responsible for the shifts in the climate. The GCF is designed so that developed countries provide funds to developing countries to help them meet their Climate Accord goals.

“The U.S. is responsible for 30 percent of the carbon dioxide emissions that are causing significant climate changes,” Wysham explained. “For the U.S. to acknowledge that it created a good share of this problem, but to decide to put itself first and turn its back on countries that are currently suffering extreme weather conditions, is morally and ethically bankrupt.”

While Trump’s announcement is a blow to the reputation of the U.S. on climate change,  it does not undo the work U.S. climate activists have been pushing towards, Wysham said.

“The solution has always been at the local level,” Wysham explained. “State and local officials have a lot of power and they’re showing it out here in the Pacific Northwest.”

Portland currently has a target for 100 percent renewable electricity by 2035, with activists trying to push that even faster, Wysham explained. The city also has an ordinance for no new fossil fuel export infrastructure. She said that elected officials in both the West and East coast are eager to follow Portland’s lead.

Wysham also explained that the global community will continue to push towards a cleaner energy transition, “whether it’s the European Union joining up with China and pushing forward with plans to address the needs of the Green Development Bank for developing countries, or countries around the world that are moving forward with their plans to pursue renewable energy.”

“The global community is going to push forward regardless of what the U.S. does,” Wysham said. “It is no longer an option to sit around and wait for the one country that has over and over again attempted to disrupt meaningful climate action.”

Watch the full interview on the Real News Network.

|||||||http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/IPS/latest/~3/8oM5-j40Q7c/

Who Will Take America’s Place in Asia?

donald-trump-xi-jinping-first-lady

(Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

Asia has been the future for more than a generation.

When Americans try to glimpse what’s to come, images of the Pacific Rim flood the imagination. For movie audiences in 1982, the rain-soaked Los Angeles of Blade Runner looked like downtown Tokyo. By 2014, the City of Angels in the Spike Jonze film Her had more of a Shanghai vibe. This upcoming October, with the release of Blade Runner 2049, Los Angeles will likely resemble Seoul.

Off-screen as well, Asia has been almost as good as a time machine. When I was coming of age, it was the place to go for anyone hankering for the next big thing. After college, a number of my classmates traveled to Japan to strike gold teaching English. Today, recent grads are more likely to visit the big cities of South Korea and China, or head further south to Singapore and Malaysia. They all come back, as I did in 2001 after three years in Asia, with stories of the future: bullet trains, otherworldly urban landscapes, the latest electronic gizmos.

So, it’s not surprising that when foreign policy elites think about what will replace a U.S. superpower in relative decline — speculation that has grown more feverish in the Trump era — they, too, look East. But no longer to Japan, which is passé, or South Korea, which has also perhaps peaked. Instead, they tremble before China, which has already surpassed the United States in gross economic output, while steadily enhancing its military capabilities. It seems like the only country remotely capable of challenging the United States as the world’s sole superpower.

The anxiety of declining U.S. influence became so intense during the Obama years that the notion of a Group of Two (G2) gained considerable currency: if we can’t beat ‘em, went the thinking at the time, then maybe we should join ‘em. However seriously intended such a proposal to co-rule the world with China might have been, the Obama administration never followed up beyond agreements on climate change and bilateral investment.

Ambitious and impatient, Beijing decided to strike out on its own. It has unveiled a twenty-first-century, industrial-strength version of the post-World War II Marshall Plan with which the U.S. once put a devastated Europe back on its feet.  China’s vision, however, focuses on the building up of all the countries on its periphery and some even further afield, as it tries to draw the whole Eurasian continent into its sphere of influence. Although it’s expected to provide an estimated $ 1 trillion to more than 60 countries, this “One Belt, One Road” plan is anything but a charity mission. It will direct a major influx of resources to Chinese construction companies, bring minerals and energy to Chinese factories, and promise a better potential return on investment than U.S. treasury bonds. Some infrastructure projects will also allay security concerns, like the energy pipelines to be built through Myanmar that will bypass the watery bottleneck of the Malacca Straits where a determined adversary could potentially shut off 80% of Beijing’s oil imports.

The victory of Donald Trump in the 2016 elections has only deepened anxiety over China’s ascendance among Washington’s policymakers and pundits. During his campaign, Trump frightened both the neocons and more conventional militarists with his talk of avoiding military entanglements overseas. As president, he has pledged to boost military spending but seems to have no idea of how to use all the Pentagon’s new toys other than to bomb the stuffing out of the militants of the Islamic State.

Nor does Trump care a whit about the soft power the United States has traditionally used to cultivate international support. For instance, Washington had long promoted international financial institutions and free trade agreements, but Trump has railed against the “false song of globalism.” China, meanwhile, is positioning itself to become the new overlord of global capitalism, even going so far as to set up a parallel international financial system to realize its vision. The Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), which began operations in January 2016 without the support of the United States or the European Union, will function like the World Bank in providing financing for China’s various building projects abroad. Whereas Beijing controls less than 5% of the votes at the World Bank, it commands 28% of the shares in the AIIB. Although still a small operation compared to China’s commercial banks, it will be quite capable of scaling up if the opportunity arises.

The contrast between Beijing and Washington has become even sharper around climate change. Trump’s denial of global warming — he once labeled it a Chinese “hoax” — has whetted the Beijing leadership’s appetite for global influence. As one of its top climate change negotiators said shortly after Trump won the November election, “China’s influence and voice are likely to increase in global climate governance, which will then spill over into other areas of global governance and increase China’s global standing, power, and leadership.”

All of this is part of a larger trend of power flowing from West to East. In 2010, North America and Western Europe were responsible for 40% of the global gross national product. By 2050, that share, the Economist Intelligence Unit estimates, will fall to 21%, with Asia’s share rising to a commanding 48.1%.

But don’t rush out to begin that crash course in Mandarin and exchange your dollars for yuan quite yet. The showdown between Beijing and Washington is unlikely to play out exactly as the Chinese hope and Americans fear.

The Decline of the United States

On a visit to Beijing in October 2016, in the presence of the Chinese leadership, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte declared, “America has lost now. I’ve realigned myself in your ideological flow.” He went on to imagine a new axis of Russia, China, and the Philippines arrayed against the arrogance of American power.

Talk about shockers. The Philippines has traditionally been a cornerstone of U.S. influence in Asia, a place for Washington to station troops, dock ships, and, in the post-9/11 era, send military advisors to help suppress a Muslim insurgency. Moreover, Manila had gone toe to toe with Beijing over disputed islands in the South China Sea, even submitting its case to an international tribunal for arbitration. But that was before Duterte became president in May 2016 and labeled President Obama, who took a dim view of Duterte’s gruesome record of extrajudicial killings, a “son of a whore.”

The apparent defection of the Philippines was the coup de grâce for one of the Obama administration’s most heralded foreign policy efforts aimed at staving off American decline. In October 2011, just before the Arab Spring broke out, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton authored an article in Foreign Policy laying out what would become known as the “Pacific pivot.” The United States, at the time, was fitfully trying to extricate itself from wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Thanks to imports from Mexico and Canada, as well as investments in shale fracking and sustainable energy, Washington was no longer quite so dependent on Middle Eastern oil. The Obama administration felt that it might finally put the failures of the Bush years behind it and turn to new horizons.

The Pacific pivot should have been called the Willie Sutton policy. When Sutton was asked why he robbed banks, he replied, “That’s where the money is.” So, too, with Asia. It contains four of the top 11 economies in the world: China’s, Japan’s, India’s, and South Korea’s. With the United States focused on losing bets in Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, and Yemen, China has been cornering this rich Asian market. By now, it has become the leading trading partner for South Korea, Japan, Australia, and virtually all of Southeast Asia.

To recapture its edge in the region, the Obama administration promoted a free trade compact known as the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP). U.S. negotiators managed to achieve the near impossible by getting a dozen disparate countries on the same page while leaving China out of the picture. But Congress proved, at best, lukewarm on the deal. And sentiment among the American public ran even colder — so cold, in fact, that one of its chief architects, Hillary Clinton, fearing that the trade agreement might take her presidential bid down in flames, came out against it in 2016. Withdrawing from the TPP would, of course, be one of Donald Trump’s first acts as president.

The United States, in fact, faces more than just an economic challenge in Asia. Washington had long considered the Pacific to be an “American lake.” It currently has 375,000 military and civilian personnel stationed within the Pacific Command’s ambit and devotes roughly half its naval capacity to Pacific waters. It maintains treaty alliances with Japan, South Korea, and the Philippines, as well as dozens of military bases in the region. But China, after more than a decade of double-digit increases in military spending, has begun pushing back against American pretensions to be the only Pacific power around. It has developed new weapons to deny the U.S. military access to its coastal waters and has come to excel at cyberwarfare, vacuuming up huge amounts of confidential data by hacking into U.S. government agencies. Meanwhile, in the world of spy versus spy, China has managed to plug leaks on its end by jailing or killing more than a dozen U.S. intelligence assets.

Even before the ascension of Donald Trump, the Pentagon’s effort to pivot eastward had come up short. For all its overwhelming military edge, Washington has increasingly found itself unable to dictate outcomes through force anywhere in the Greater Middle East. The rise of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, the resurgence of the Taliban in Afghanistan, and turmoil in Yemen and Libya have all continued to bedevil the U.S. military.

In the meantime, the Obama administration made some token rearrangements of its forces in the Pacific, sold some high-tech weaponry to its allies in the region, and threw some brush-back pitches at Beijing. But in the end, as with so many of Obama’s initiatives, the Pacific pivot proved largely aspirational.  The U.S. never really pivoted out of the Greater Middle East.

As a presidential candidate, Trump was content to bluster about Chinese threats, even as he also threatened to withdraw the U.S. nuclear umbrella from both Tokyo and Seoul. He demanded that U.S. allies pony up more money for American help and protection, while offering no new ways of anchoring the United States in the Pacific.

Now in the Oval Office, Trump has sent mixed signals. He’s repaired relations with Chinese leader Xi Jinping, but he’s also been pushing a major rise in the Pentagon budget. And what country would be the target of those additional tens of billions of dollars in military spending? The U.S. Navy certainly doesn’t need a 350-ship force to counter the Islamic State. Trump has welcomed the election of South Korea’s new president, Moon Jae-in, but also insists that he wants to renegotiate “bad” trade and security deals with South Korea. He has tried to bully North Korea, but has also held out the possibility of meeting personally with that “pretty smart cookie,” Kim Jong-un.

Thanks to his erratic pronouncements, even though it’s early in Trump’s term, American influence in the region is already dropping as inexorably as the president’s approval ratings at home. Add to this mix a president who only wants big wins but doesn’t see the likelihood of that happening in Asia and you have the definition of decline.

That decline has, in recent years, often been calculated in terms of approaching horizons: when North Korean missiles can reach the West Coast; when China’s military spending pulls closer to the Pentagon’s; when Japan and South Korea, like the Philippines, begin to reconsider their allegiances. Now, in the Trump era, add one more item to the list: when Asia faces an incompetent, corrupt, and self-defeating administration in Washington.

The way seems clear enough for China, the strongest country in Asia, to fill the potential vacuum.  But, as they say, the best-laid plans oft do go astray.

The Weakness of Asia

Japan is the incredible shrinking country. Between 2010 and 2015, the population of America’s most steadfast ally in the Pacific dropped by a million people to just over 127 million. As a result of a strikingly low fertility rate and negligible immigration, there could, according to official projections, be only 85-95 million Japanese by 2050. By 2135, after living in a fossilized society, the last Japanese, at the age of 118, could breathe his or her final breath. This worst-case scenario, as spelled out by former trade negotiator Clyde Prestowitz in his recent book Japan Restored, is perhaps far-fetched, but Japan is nevertheless on a path toward what looks like national seppuku: ritual suicide by attrition.

Ah, well, that’s Japan, you might think. It’s been in a fiscal funk since its economic bubble burst back in 1990. But the rise, stagnation, and shrinkage of that country remains a cautionary tale for all the other lands that have followed its path of export-led and state-facilitated growth.

After all, South Korea has entered its own period of diminished economic expectations, with anemic growth, widening inequality, and pervasive corporate corruption. Young South Koreans, facing the prospect of unemployment or poorly compensated contract labor, refer to their country as “Hell Choson,” a play on the Choson dynasty that ruled from 1392 to 1897. Taiwan, another member of the “flying geese of industrialization” responsible for Asia’s tremendous economic growth, faces a strikingly similar set of problems, according to economist Frank Hsiao, including “low and stagnating wage rates, increasing income inequality, the hollowing out of domestic industries, and languishing exports.”

Some of the shine is even wearing off China’s economic miracle. The days of annual double-digit growth in its gross national product are long past.  Officials are happy now if they can cite growth figures closer to 7% (and even those are believed to be overstated). The Chinese labor force has been contracting since 2012. Strikes and labor protests increased dramatically in 2016, while unrest continues in China’s westernmost provinces of Xinjiang and Tibet. The government’s official anti-corruption campaign, despite netting some highly placed individuals, has only driven the corrupt into more discrete forms of graft.

Meanwhile, it’s not only Japan that faces a demographic crisis. The fertility rates of both Taiwan (1.12) and South Korea (1.25) are even lower than Japan’s (1.41), while China’s (1.6) is only a bit higher. None of them is close to the replacement rate of 2.1. Approaching 2050, all four countries will have to dig deep to pay the retirement benefits and healthcare costs of all the industrious workers currently outperforming their counterparts elsewhere in the world. What was once called “Japan passing” — investors skipping that country in search of better opportunities elsewhere in the region — is already morphing into “China passing.” Financial flows are also going to be affected by the rising waters of climate change, which, later in the century, will threaten major cities like Tokyo, Shanghai, Hong Kong, and Singapore.

Predicting the coming supremacy of the East has been a veritable cottage industry in the West, and its stock is still rising as China’s One Belt, One Road venture, meant to tie the vast Eurasian continent together, goes head to head with Trump’s “my way or the highway.” The future, however, promises to be far messier than China or its boosters imagine. Demographics, corruption, and reduced economic growth — not to mention environmental degradation and the declining legitimacy of its ruling party’s ideology — are by no means the only problems that Beijing faces.

Asia’s New Nationalism

The United States once billed itself as the antidote to nationalism in Asia. After World War II, it established a permanent military presence across the region to prevent the resurgence of Japanese militarism. It portrayed itself as a neutral party, with no territorial ambitions. It restored the island of Okinawa to Japan in 1972. It refused to take sides in several island disputes in the region. In this way, its liberal internationalism squared off against the illiberal Communisms of China, North Korea, Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos.

Both these supranational ideologies, which flourished in the region during the Cold War, have entered hospice care in the twenty-first century. Communism has functionally disappeared from the region, replaced by nationalisms of varying degrees of intensity.  Xi Jinping’s China and Kim Jong-un’s North Korea are hardly the only places where nationalism has taken root.

In Japan, for instance, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is busy trying to rebuild the very militarism that the United States once professed to despise. A succession of U.S. administrations has aided and abetted this right-wing nationalist effort to dispense with the country’s post-World War II “peace constitution” and push the Japanese Self-Defense Forces onto the offensive.

Nationalist leaders, meanwhile, have assumed power throughout Southeast Asia: the murderous president of the Philippines, Rodrigo Duterte; the former military commander, now prime minister of Thailand, Prayuth Chan-ocha; and the corrupt Najib Razak, prime minister of Malaysia. Even more ominously, nationalism has taken hold in South Asia, particularly in India, which recently replaced Great Britain as the world’s sixth largest economy and where Prime Minister Narendra Modi has made Hindu exceptionalism the heart and soul of his ruling party.

One obvious result of this rising nationalism has been escalating arms imports across the region. According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, India became the world’s largest arms importer in 2012-2016. During that period, Southeast Asia’s arms imports rose by more than 6%, with Vietnam jumping to 10th place globally. In 2012, for the first time, Asia surpassed Europe in overall military spending.

Both the nationalist rhetoric and those weapons imports are certainly linked to regional perceptions of the waxing and waning of great powers. To reinforce their claims to the South China Sea and several other disputed territories, countries in the region feel the need to arm themselves in the face of a newly aggressive China and a perennially distracted United States.

At the moment, those two countries are cooperating in one key area: pouring money into the kind of military hardware that could someday lead to a catastrophic showdown.  This reality has led ever more foreign policy analysts to invoke the “Thucydides trap,” in which a rising power like Athens (read: China) takes on the hitherto dominant power Sparta (read: America) in a long, debilitating conflict like the Peloponnesian War (read: World War III).

But the conflicts in Asia may, in fact, shape up quite differently. Movements for greater self-determination are undercutting the reach of both the rising and the reigning superpower. Consider the contrasting examples of Myanmar and South Korea.

China is the largest investor in Myanmar, and at one time the two countries were as thick as thieves. But relations between them have grown tense. In 2011, the new civilian-led government in Myanmar stopped work on the Myitsone dam, one of a number of mega-projects financed by Beijing. “Plenty of Burmese blame China for helping to prop up the military junta,” writes journalist Tom Miller in his new book, China’s Asian Dream. Newly enfranchised, the Burmese have taken aim at projects like Myitsone, where 90% of the electricity generated would have gone to China. Myanmar’s leader Aung San Suu Kyi must now decide between permanently mothballing the dam, which would require paying back the $ 800 million owed Chinese financiers, or going forward with a deeply unpopular project she previously opposed.  

The example of Myanmar is not unique. Sri Lanka has recently swung away from China and back toward India. Filipino President Duterte has recently edged back toward a United States led by Donald Trump, who has praised the Philippine leader’s drug war (despite its massive human rights violations). Vietnam is perennially suspicious of China’s geopolitical intentions, but anti-Chinese sentiment has also been building in LaosIndonesia, and Malaysia. One Belt, One Road might outstrip the Marshall Plan in size, but it lacks the underlying regional political solidarity that ensured the latter’s success.

And yet China is not alone in feeling a backlash in the region. In South Korea, for instance, a decade of conservative rule came to a crashing end with the impeachment of President Park Geun-hye on corruption charges, a hastily organized election, and the victory of progressive Moon Jae-in. The new South Korean leader is no firebrand, so don’t expect a dramatic break with Washington. South Korea has been subservient to the United States for too long to risk that any time soon. Moon has, however, promised to take another look at the missile defense system — the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) — that the United States worked so hard to deploy in South Korea before he took office. The new president also wants to mend fences with China, the country’s largest trading partner, and revive a more cooperative relationship with North Korea as well.

Meanwhile, in Japan, opposition from politicians, activists, and ordinary citizens in Okinawa has blocked a plan hammered out in Tokyo and Washington to close an old U.S. military base in the city of Futenma, only to build a replacement elsewhere on the island. Okinawa is where America houses a good deal of its Pacific firepower. The refusal of Okinawan inhabitants to support the construction of the new base has not only scrambled the Pacific plans of both Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton but given new legitimacy to the idea of withdrawing U.S. forces from Japan and South Korea to a secondary tier of islands like Guam.

The growing willingness of Asian countries to put their own interests above those of their putative patrons has also made it more difficult for the region to find common ground. “Asia is not remotely cohesive,” writes Jessica Mathews of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. “There is no ‘East’ comparable to the ‘West.’ Though the region is integrating economically, it is riven by active conflicts, bitter historical memories, and deep cultural divisions.”

Past as Prologue?

If liberal internationalism no longer appeals to U.S. allies in Asia — or, indeed, to the new leadership in Washington — it might be easy enough to assume that the future will be a replay of the past: the return to a Sinocentric universe that prevailed for 1,000 years or more in the region. Instead of local satraps loaded with gifts visiting an emperor in Beijing, the leaders of Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, and the Philippines will build dams and ports and pipelines with Chinese money and then repatriate much of the proceeds to that country.

As it happens, though, the intensification of nationalism in Asia has greatly complicated this picture and may leave leaders like Duterte playing Beijing off against Washington, or striking out on their own, or perhaps seeking help from India — or even Saudi Arabia, which has made a bid for greater influence among Muslim-majority countries like Indonesia and Malaysia.  If the rise of China has caused much anxiety in the West, so has the possibility that no country will become dominant in Asia in the wake of U.S. decline and that a new kind of chaos will descend on the region.

“The idea of a multipolar world, without dominant powers and guided solely by the rule of law, is theoretically attractive,“ Financial Times journalist Gideon Rachman writes in his recent book Easternization. But he adds, “I fear that just such a multipolar world is already emerging and proving to be unstable and dangerous: the ‘rules’ are very hard to enforce without a dominant power in the background.”

For years, Asia has contemplated an alternative to both Chinese and American hegemony. Following the example of the European Union, politicians and scholars have imagined a future of economic and political integration. But the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, and similar efforts continue to fall far short of the EU ideal (which itself looks increasingly shaky and fragmented).

In other words, despite all those dreams of Asia’s glittering future, it’s unlikely to resemble the peaceful prosperity of Europe, nor is it likely to see a continuation of U.S. hegemony or a repeat of the China-centered system of centuries past. It’s likely, however, to involve population decline, economic contraction, heightened nationalism, and rising waters — a future, in short, filled with troubles and dangers of every sort.

Although Washington still commands considerable power in the region, it could stand back, Trump-like, and just watch everything unravel. Or, alongside Beijing, it could make a serious investment in a new organization of security and economic cooperation, in which the United States and China would be equal partners, the region could have its collective say, and the new nationalism would be deprived of its major raison d’être.

Without such a supranational vision that could bring the region together around the twin threats of climate change and economic inequality, one thing is essentially guaranteed.  The Asia to come won’t look shiny and new like some Hollywood movie. The future may not look like Asia at all, but more like Europe circa 1913, at the edge of conflict and cataclysm.

|||||||http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/IPS/latest/~3/2uSEJRtLOqQ/

State and Local Governments Can Take the Lead on Climate Policy

solar-panels-renewable-energy

(Photo: Philippe Roos / Flickr)

In March, the World Meteorological Organization released data on the state of the earth’s atmosphere in 2016. Last year, it found, was the hottest year since humanity started recording temperatures, continuing a trend of steadily rising mercury.

Inevitably, the rising temperatures led to record severe storms, floods, droughts, and wildfires, from the United States to Brazil to South Africa. Experts believe that the planet will become a much harder place to live if the temperature rise exceeds 1.5 degrees Celsius, and will start becoming unlivable if it crosses 2 degrees.

The vast majority of atmospheric scientists attribute these rising temperatures, of course, to emissions from fossil fuels, among other human activities. Yet completely without irony, the Trump administration chose the week after the release of the WMO data to completely roll back even the insufficiently ambitious steps taken by the prior administration to address this looming global disaster.

This is very bad news. But the good news is that there is much ordinary people can still do to ensure that the United States continues to cut back on carbon emissions.

For one thing, we can exert popular pressure on the administration to reverse course, as the tens of thousands of people gathering in late April for the People’s Climate March in Washington are doing, along with thousands more in sister marches worldwide. And we can use the courts to challenge aspects of the administration’s attack on sound environmental policy.

But we can also push a wide range of policy changes in our states and cities to proactively advance a just clean energy agenda, regardless of what’s going on at the federal level.

In fact, states are already being the adults in the room when it comes to taking bold steps to address carbon emissions. Let’s look at just one possible policy — expanding electricity generation from renewable sources, the subject of a report I recently authored for the Institute for Policy Studies.

Transitioning our fossil-fueled electric grid to renewables would reduce emissions more than if we took every single car in the U.S. off the road, so this is a huge deal.

One adult in the room is Oregon, which legislated that coal be completely phased out of its electricity supply by 2030, and that half its electricity come from renewables by 2040.

The legislation in Oregon also enabled the formation of shared solar projects. A shared solar project is an array of solar panels typically located on the roof of a large building such as a school or church, and collectively owned by community members who cannot install solar panels on their own roof, often because they are renters. To ensure economic inclusiveness, Oregon mandated that 10 percent of the capacity of these shared solar projects be set aside for low-income residents.

Given the disproportionate prevalence of poverty among people of color, this is also a step forward for racial justice. And the idea is spreading far beyond Oregon. Shared solar projects are enabled by legislation in 14 states and the District of Columbia.

Another adult is California, which not only provides dedicated funding to install solar panels on low-income homes, but also requires that the jobs and skills training in those solar jobs be made accessible to people from underserved communities.

The states displaying these signs of maturity don’t follow predictable political lines. The South Carolina Senate has passed a bill, for example, exempting homeowners with solar panels from paying property taxes on their panels.

Expanding renewable energy helps reduce carbon pollution and makes the energy system more just. It also creates lots of jobs. Energy Department data show that solar energy accounts for 43 percent of direct electricity generating jobs — the most of any one source, even though it represents only 2 percent of generating capacity.

Even after accounting for the coal mining and oil and gas drilling jobs created by fossil fueled electricity generation, solar remains the second largest employer in the sector, with 18 percent of jobs — still ahead of natural gas, which is the single largest source by generating capacity.

If solar can create this many jobs at 2 percent of capacity, imagine what a dynamic job creation engine it would be if we aggressively expanded it. Compared to that, Trump’s fantasy of bringing back coal — which accounts for less than half as many electricity generation jobs as solar, even though its generating capacity is more than 10 times as much — doesn’t even hold a candle.

Yes, states can be grown-ups, counteracting Trump’s perspective on climate change. But it doesn’t happen by magic. It’s going to take lots of local organizing. Environmentalists will have to join hands with anti-poverty groups, civil rights organizations, small businesses, workers, clergy, and other constituencies united in demanding a clean energy economy designed to benefit historically excluded populations and to create good jobs.

So after you march, find out what your state has already accomplished in this regard. If you see room for improvement, start organizing now!

|||||||http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/IPS/latest/~3/0jYXBhG6NVk/

Two Democrats take run at US House seat – Jackson Hole News&Guide


Jackson Hole News&Guide
Two Democrats take run at US House seat
Jackson Hole News&Guide
Ryan Greene's Democratic bid for U.S. Rep. Cynthia Lummis' vacated seat became more complicated as he visited Jackson for a campaign event Monday. Just hours before the event his former advisor, Charlie Hardy, a candidate in the 2014 U.S. Senate …

|||||||http://news.google.com/news/url?sa=t&fd=R&ct2=us&usg=AFQjCNEnVVusXr4PXaKZ6SX6Cfbsv15wOw&clid=c3a7d30bb8a4878e06b80cf16b898331&ei=OBFTV6DyDrSawAHw0qWwDw&url=http://www.jhnewsandguide.com/news/election/two-democrats-take-run-at-us-house-seat/article_c95676bb-7104-5d53-91cf-e93541c68100.html

Two Democrats take run at US House seat – Jackson Hole News&Guide

Two Democrats take run at US House seat
Jackson Hole News&Guide
Ryan Greene's Democratic bid for U.S. Rep. Cynthia Lummis' vacated seat became more complicated as he visited Jackson for a campaign event Monday. Just hours before the event his former advisor, Charlie Hardy, a candidate in the 2014 U.S. Senate …

|||||||http://news.google.com/news/url?sa=t&fd=R&ct2=us&usg=AFQjCNEnVVusXr4PXaKZ6SX6Cfbsv15wOw&clid=c3a7d30bb8a4878e06b80cf16b898331&ei=YdhJV6CPL4qIwgH9zbb4Cg&url=http://www.jhnewsandguide.com/news/election/two-democrats-take-run-at-us-house-seat/article_c95676bb-7104-5d53-91cf-e93541c68100.html

12 rare photos that take you inside an amazing salt mine hidden 2000 feet below Lake Erie – ScienceAlert

12 rare photos that take you inside an amazing salt mine hidden 2000 feet below Lake Erie
ScienceAlert
Since 1959, the Fairport Harbour Morton Salt Mine has been exclusively mining for rock salt, which is most commonly used to melt snow and ice on roads. The mine does not allow people other than workers to go underground, so when Morton Salt's parent …

|||||||http://news.google.com/news/url?sa=t&fd=R&ct2=us&usg=AFQjCNFsigjkEVHYbX_09eU-X-dxhiWylw&clid=c3a7d30bb8a4878e06b80cf16b898331&ei=pJ9AV6iQEqfEwQGat5eYBA&url=http://www.sciencealert.com/these-12-rare-photos-take-you-inside-an-amazing-salt-mine-hidden-2-000-feet-below-lake-erie

12 rare photos that take you inside an amazing salt mine hidden 2000 feet below Lake Erie – ScienceAlert


ScienceAlert
12 rare photos that take you inside an amazing salt mine hidden 2000 feet below Lake Erie
ScienceAlert
Since 1959, the Fairport Harbour Morton Salt Mine has been exclusively mining for rock salt, which is most commonly used to melt snow and ice on roads. The mine does not allow people other than workers to go underground, so when Morton Salt's parent …

|||||||http://news.google.com/news/url?sa=t&fd=R&ct2=us&usg=AFQjCNFsigjkEVHYbX_09eU-X-dxhiWylw&clid=c3a7d30bb8a4878e06b80cf16b898331&ei=YGc3V4j0EKyzwAGupJ3IBg&url=http://www.sciencealert.com/these-12-rare-photos-take-you-inside-an-amazing-salt-mine-hidden-2-000-feet-below-lake-erie

Central America Is As Violent As Ever. What Would it Take to Change? – Americas Quarterly


Americas Quarterly
Central America Is As Violent As Ever. What Would it Take to Change?
Americas Quarterly
Last year Elsa Ramos, a sociologist at the Technological University of San Salvador, surveyed 747 migrants who had been repatriated. Forty-two percent said they left home because of the threat of violence, compared to just 5 …. Beyond that, however

and more »

|||||||http://news.google.com/news/url?sa=t&fd=R&ct2=us&usg=AFQjCNHe4GHvpS7uADtVS2NwNvX9enBDPA&clid=c3a7d30bb8a4878e06b80cf16b898331&cid=52779082299772&ei=J9MMV-CYF5ONhAGTra7ACw&url=http://americasquarterly.org/content/central-america-violent-ever-what-would-it-take-change