Democrats seek Green New Deal to address climate change
By MATTHEW DALY
Thursday, February 7
WASHINGTON (AP) — Democrats launched a sweeping plan Thursday to transform the U.S. economy to combat climate change and create thousands of jobs in renewable energy, signaling its likely elevation as a central campaign issue in 2020 despite President Donald Trump’s failure to mention climate change in his State of the Union address.
At least six senators running for president or considering White House bids backed the Green New Deal put forth by freshman Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York and veteran Sen. Ed Markey of Massachusetts. The nonbinding resolution calls for a “10-year national mobilization” on the scale of the original New Deal to shift the economy away from fossil fuels such as oil and coal and replace them with renewable energy sources such as wind and solar power. It sets a goal to meet “100 percent of the power demand in the United States through clean, renewable and zero-emission energy sources,” including nuclear power.
“Our energy future will not be found in the dark of a mine but in the light of the sun,” Markey said at a Capitol news conference.
The plan goes far beyond energy to urge national health care coverage and job guarantees, as well as high-quality education and affordable housing. The resolution urges elimination of fossil fuels pollution and greenhouse gas emissions “as much as technologically feasible” in a range of economic sectors and calls for “upgrading all existing buildings in the United States” to be energy-efficient.
Markey predicted more Democrats would sign on as the plan gets better known and said some Republicans may back it. More than 80 percent of registered voters supported the concept of a Green New Deal in a December poll by Yale and George Mason universities.
“This is now a voting issue across the country,” Markey said. “The green generation has risen up and they are saying they want this issue solved” as one of the top two or three issues in the 2020 election. A coalition of labor, economic justice, racial justice, indigenous, and environmental organizations immediately announced their support.
While setting lofty goals, the plan does not explicitly call for eliminating the use of fossil fuels such as oil and natural gas, a nod to pragmatism that may disappoint some of Ocasio-Cortez’s strongest backers.
Even so, the Green New Deal is more ambitious than the Clean Power Plan proposed by former President Barack Obama to impose emissions limits on coal-fired power plants. Trump, who has expressed doubts about climate change, scrapped Obama’s plan as a job killer.
While Democrats did not specify a price tag, some Republicans predict it would cost in the trillions of dollars. GOP lawmakers denounced the plan as a radical proposal that would drive the economy off a cliff and lead to a huge tax increase.
“The Green New Deal is a raw deal for the American taxpayer,” said Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee.
Barrasso called the plan “a socialist manifesto that lays out a laundry list of government giveaways, including guaranteed food, housing, college and economic security even for those who refuse to work.”
Ocasio-Cortez said the plan’s scope was its strength, saying “small, incremental policy solutions are not enough” to repel climate change, which she called an “existential threat” to the planet. Far from overreach, the plan addresses a sense of growing frustration by young people and others who “don’t feel we’re being ambitious enough” to address a potentially cataclysmic danger, she said.
With a whiff of presidential politics and a rock-star freshman in attendance, Democrats drew an unusually large crowd for the Green New Deal unveiling. The outdoor event was attended by more journalists and activists than lawmakers. It was a notable gathering for a proposal that is not a bill, but only guidance for any legislation on climate change Congress develops.
The measure is supported by at least six senators with their eyes on the White House: Cory Booker of New Jersey, Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, Kamala Harris of California, Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota.
None of the six attended the news conference, and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said hours earlier she hadn’t read the proposal. Pelosi did not explicitly endorse it, but welcomed “the enthusiasm” of its backers.
“I welcome the Green New Deal and any other proposals” to address climate change, Pelosi said, adding that she also wants to hear from a new House committee on climate change. Pelosi said the panel will “spearhead Democrats’ work” on climate issues.
Ocasio-Cortez said Pelosi invited her to join the climate panel but she declined, saying she wants to focus on the Green New Deal and other committee assignments.
The resolution introduced Thursday marks the first legislative language attached to the Green New Deal, a concept that until now has been loosely defined as a call for action to head off catastrophic climate change and create jobs.
Answering critics who call the plan unrealistic, Ocasio-Cortez said that when President John F. Kennedy wanted to go to the moon by the end of the 1960s, “people said it was impossible.” She compared the plan to Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal and Lyndon B. Johnson’s Great Society.
While focusing on renewable energy, Ocasio-Cortez said the plan would include existing nuclear power plants but block new nuclear plants. Nuclear power does not emit greenhouse gases, which contribute to global warming.
Asked how the plan would be paid for, Ocasio-Cortez said it would be “the same way we paid for the original New Deal, World War II, the bank bailouts, tax cuts for the rich and decades of war — with public money appropriated by Congress.”
She called the plan an “investment” that would produce more than it costs in new infrastructure, jobs and avoided health care costs.
Associated Press writers Laurie Kellman and Elana Schor contributed to this story.
What is the Great Commission and why is it so controversial?
February 8, 2019
Author: Mathew Schmalz, Associate Professor of Religion, College of the Holy Cross
Disclosure statement: Mathew Schmalz does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organization that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.
Partners: College of the Holy Cross provides funding as a member of The Conversation US.
A majority of church-going American Christians are unfamiliar with the term, the “Great Commission,” a recent survey found.
Even among those familiar with it, 25 percent recognized the phrase but could not explain what it was. Only 17 percent were familiar with the phrase and its meaning.
So what exactly is the Great Commission? And why is it a controversial idea for some?
A Christian obligation
Briefly, the Great Commission is a concept that has been used to support the missionary activities of many Christian denominations.
The Great Commission refers to several passages in the Gospel of Matthew, where Jesus Christ urges his apostles to make “disciples of all the nations” and “baptize” them.
The word “disciple,” which is “mathetes” in Greek, literally means “pupil” but also “follower,” as in “follower of Jesus.”
“Baptize” refers to the Christian practice of using water to remove the “original sin,” an inherent fault that Christians believe marks all human beings at birth. Baptism is an important sign of entrance into the Christian faith.
The Great Commission, therefore, is usually interpreted to mean spreading the Christian message and converting others to Christianity.
The Gospel of Matthew does not specifically use such a term. In fact, the phrase “Great Commission” does not appear until late in Christian history. Some scholars argue that it was coined by Baron Justinian von Welz, a 17th-century Lutheran nobleman, who argued that the words in Matthew 28 meant that all Christians were required to spread the faith, not just Jesus’ closest disciples.
Von Welz proposed a missionary organization called the Jesus-Loving Society to spread Protestant Christianity throughout the world. It is thought that the term “Great Commission,” or certainly the basic concept, was central to von Welz’s argument for bringing Christianity to foreign lands.
Two centuries later, the Englishman Hudson Taylor is believed to have used the idea of the Great Commission to justify Christian missionary efforts, particularly the China Inland Mission that he founded in 1866. Taylor’s mission attempted to bring Christianity to China’s inland provinces. This was dangerous work and 79 China Inland missionaries were killed later, in what is referred to as the Boxer Rebellion.
Hudson is often cited by Protestant missionaries, in the quote: “The Great Commission is not an option to be considered, but it is a command to be obeyed.” There does not appear to actual evidence, however, that he actually spoke these words.
A controversial idea
Christian missionary activities predate the use of the term “Great Commission.” The Apostle Paul was influential in establishing Christian churches throughout the Mediterranean after the death of Jesus.
Much later, Catholic religious orders, such as the Society of Jesus, attempted to spread Christianity throughout the world, usually with the help of powerful nations such as Portugal and Spain.
The Great Commission certainly motivated Protestant efforts to convert nations and peoples in Africa and Asia in the 19th century. It also fueled more recent efforts by evangelical Christians to “missionize” Catholic Latin America. Indeed, Latin America would not have become so Catholic without indigenous peoples being dominated by European imperialism and colonialism.
Missionary efforts sometimes served economic interests relating to trade and resources as well religious ones. Additionally, converting conquered peoples was a powerful way of extending political control.
Converting others to Christianity raises a fundamental question about whether religious diversity is a reality to be celebrated or an obstacle to be overcome. Given the complex history of missionary activity, the meaning of the Great Commission will continue to be a subject of debate as Christianity confronts a rapidly changing world.
Andrew Taylor: And the opposite, right there in the same book: “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you travel across sea and land to make a single proselyte, and when he becomes a proselyte, you make him twice as much a child of hell as yourselves.”
Religious cherry picking yet again. All of these ancient made-up stories are so looooooooong that they have every kind of example, and it’s opposite, both present in the fabulation. Thus, each era and generation can cherry pick the passage which most supports their most recently focused bigotry.
Right next to the stupid invented bit about man not lying with man are other stupid bits about not growing crops in the same field and wearing cloth made of different fibers. And how many times do we see krischans protesting satellite-managed crop lines, and how many times do we see krischans protesting jeans-wearers? These sins are just as hell-fired as any other!
Thousands of children abused in Pennsylvania
Thousands of children abused in New York
Thousands of children abused in Germany
Thousands of children abused in Australia
Tens of Thousands of children abused in Ireland
And the Australian Royal Commission into Institutional Abuses of Children shows there literally isn’t one single religion that hasn’t done this.
Like slavery, religion must be overcome by those who value innocent childhoods for humanity. Oh, who was it who kept slavery running for so long? That would be the religions, again, all the religions.
Religions say it’s ok to trade human lives, rape children, and take all the community’s money and pay no tax. Religions need to be told “it’s no longer OK to be religious anymore. And take your hands off that child, sicko”
Here’s the buy-bull on slaves: “You may purchase male or female slaves from among the foreigners who live among you. You may also purchase the children of such resident foreigners, including those who have been born in your land. You may treat them as your property, passing them on to your children as a permanent inheritance. You may treat your slaves like this, but the people of Israel, your relatives, must never be treated this way. Leviticus 25:44-46 NLT. Slaves, obey your earthly masters with deep respect and fear. Serve them sincerely as you would serve Christ. Ephesians 6:5 NLT”
Here’s some more ridiculousness:
Do not wear clothing woven of two kinds of material. Leviticus 19:19. Ye shall not round the corners of your heads. Leviticus 19:27. When a woman has a discharge, if her discharge in her body is blood, she shall continue in her menstrual impurity for seven days; and whoever touches her shall be unclean until evening. Everything also on which she lies during her menstrual impurity shall be unclean, and everything on which she sits shall be unclean. Leviticus 15: 19-20. When men fight with one another, and the wife of the one draws near to rescue her husband from the hand of him who is beating him, and puts out her hand and seizes him by the private parts, then you shall cut off her hand. Deuteronomy 25:11-12. Now therefore, kill every male among the little ones, and kill every woman who has known man intimately. But all the girls who have not known man intimately, spare for yourselves. Numbers 31:17-18. He [Josiah] executed the priests of the pagan shrines on their own altars, and he burned human bones on the altars to desecrate them… . He did this in obedience to all the laws written in the scroll that Hilkiah the priest had found in the LORD’s Temple. Never before had there been a king like Josiah, who turned to the LORD with all his heart and soul and strength, obeying all the laws of Moses. And there has never been a king like him since. 2 Kings 23:20-25 NLT. No one whose “balls” are crushed or whose “appendage” is cut off shall be admitted to the assembly of the LORD. Deuteronomy 23:1 NRSV. Whosoever … hath any blemish, let him not approach to offer the bread of his God. For whatsoever man he be that hath a blemish, he shall not approach: a blind man, or a lame, or he that hath a flat nose, or any thing superfluous, Or a man that is brokenfooted, or brokenhanded, Or crookbackt, or a dwarf, or that hath a blemish in his eye, or be scurvy, or scabbed, or hath his stones broken … He shall not go in unto the vail, nor come nigh unto the altar, because he hath a blemish; that he profane not my sanctuaries. Leviticus 21:17-23 KJV.
These group activities need to be eradicated from present culture and referred to in history books the same way as all the other genocides.
Tracks in rocks tell us where ancient animals roamed in southern Africa
February 7, 2019
Author: Charles Helm, Research Associate, African Centre for Coastal Palaeoscience, Nelson Mandela University
Disclosure statement: Charles Helm does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organization that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.
Partners: Nelson Mandela University provides support as an endorsing partner of The Conversation AFRICA.
At first glance, they look like nothing more interesting than rocks. But to our research team, these two rocks – situated just 420 metres apart on a rugged, remote portion of South Africa’s Cape south coast – are fascinating and important pieces of ancient history.
The rocks are described in a paper based on research that’s part of a decade-long multi-disciplinary study along a 350km stretch of this particular coastline. It’s been rewarding work. We’ve identified more than 130 sites containing trackways made by vertebrates during the Pleistocene era, dating back to between 36 000 and 140 000 years ago.
We’ve also found 40 hominin tracks on the ceiling and side walls of a coastal cave. These may represent the first known example of humans jogging.
Now we can add Roberts Rock and Megafauna Rock to the list. They contain trackways and tracks made by elephant, rhino and antelope, as well as by long-extinct buffalo and horse species, that all roamed the area hundreds of thousands of years ago.
Tracksites like these are scientifically important. They can be thought of as a movie that can tell stories about prehistoric humans as well as animal behaviour, and how many species were in a place at a particular point in time. They also have heritage and aesthetic value. These rocks, and similar finds, are a reminder that it’s important to regularly survey and document southern Africa’s coastlines. Fossils and trackways can be recorded through cast replicas and detailed photographs. This will allow more people to “read the rocks” and decipher our past.
The rocks that sparked our latest paper lie to the east of a small town in South Africa called Still Bay. The first rock was initially described in 2008; we later named it Roberts Rock in honour of Dr David Roberts, who discovered it.
Its 5 metre x 3.5 metre surface contained spectacular elephant trackways – the first to be reported from southern Africa. Over time we monitored its slow but steady demise. First it split in two, exposing many more tracks. By 2016 it had slumped into the sea, and was destroyed by wave action.
The second rock, measuring 5 metres x 5 metres x 2.5 metres, was arguably even more significant. In addition to numerous elephant tracks it contained probable single tracks of the extinct giant Cape horse (Equus capensis) and the extinct long-horned buffalo (Syncerus antiquus). We also identified a single track that was probably made by a rhinoceros.
These four animals were all members of the megafauna – large creatures – that lived during the Pleistocene. Finding their tracks on a single rock was a surprise, and we named it Megafauna Rock.
The long-horned buffalo and giant Cape horse both went extinct between 10 000 and 12 000 years ago. At the time of discovery, these were the first probable rhinoceros and giant Cape horse tracks that had been identified. We have subsequently found further such sites. The long-horned buffalo track, meanwhile, confirmed our findings from another site in our study area: the tracks of this species are distinctive, usually being wider than they are long.
Both rocks contained tracks on multiple layers. This suggests repeated use of an area over time, and possibly that the rocks were close to a water source. Using the results from dated samples from sites nearby, we’ve inferred that most of the tracks in this area are between 116 000 and 128 000 years old.
These rocks are just two highlights in an area that’s remarkably rich in trace fossils, and which preserves some of the activities of the Pleistocene fauna in exquisite detail. All this provides a glimpse of Pleistocene dune life and suggests an area teeming with large mammals.
Another important element to this research is that the tracks along this coastline were made at the margin of the Palaeo-Agulhas Plain, which was alternately exposed and covered by the ocean during multiple Pleistocene sea level changes. When exposed, this plain, which at times was up to 100 km wide, could have provided an east-west migration corridor that supported large numbers of mammals. So, our studies can help to shed light on the climate and environmental conditions during the Pleistocene.
A vanishing heritage
One of the realities we’ve had to come to terms with, working on these coastal bluffs, is that the tracksites we find are ephemeral and unstable. High tides and storm surges batter the bluffs; many fragile sites are destroyed through erosion, while new ones appear.
An even larger rock has become exposed close to where Roberts Rock once stood. It contains multiple layers of elephant tracks, bird tracks, golden mole burrow traces and invertebrate traces – but it too is inexorably sliding down the unstable slope into the sea. There is little doubt that many other such sites have been exposed and destroyed without ever being witnessed or identified by humans.