December 15th, 2018

“Global heating is technically more correct (than “global warming”) because we are talking about changes in the energy balance of the planet. The risks are compounding all the time. It stands to reason that the sooner we can take action, the quicker we can rein them in.”
—Richard Betts, University of Exeter

There has not been a flake of snow so far this winter here in New York City on Saturday, the fifteenth of December.  Forty years ago, we would have had several feet of snow by this time and the city would have made a sort of path along the sidewalks, piling the snow up on either side higher than my head.  We walked along unable to see anything but the walls of snow until we got to the intersection where the snow had been cleared away enough for us to cross the street.  I can attest to “global heating” here in this city.

The article referenced above from the Common Dreams website gives a very good account of the distressing state of affairs. It mentions the “suicidally slow pace at which world leaders are working to confront the crisis that—if immediate and bold action is not taken—threatens to render the planet uninhabitable for future generations.”

That article ends with this: “the “Extinction Rebellion movement—which is demanding that governments reduce carbon emissions to net zero by 2025—has spread to 35 countries in just six months.”

Emissions spewing into the atmosphere

The United States is not among those countries and the article reports that the Trump administration here in the United States is actually attempting to increase production of fossil fuels!  This is very frightening.

It is encouraging to see in the article that “people around the world are mobilizing around ambitions solutions like a Green New Deal, which is rapidly gaining support in the U.S. Congress.”   Let us hope that the United States does adopt and implement such a program.


October 24th, 2018

Image result for mit university


American young people in huge numbers are burdened for the rest of their lives with student debt, currently more than $1.5 trillion dollars. Not surprisingly, a majority of young people in this country back free college tuition and medicare for all.

I have never understood why the US does not provide virtually free education to all as most of the European countries do. I was fortunate to receive much of my education in France where there was a very small fee per semester and much financial support for living expenses available to qualified students during their years of university study. I had no student debt there to burden my early career as so many American students do.

It is not at all obvious to me how we can change things here in the United States. If I knew how, I would be working to make education available with only very small registration fees for all students.


September 13th, 2018

I have just read that crime is a problem in Tennessee; Memphis has been called the fourth most dangerous city in the country and has the highest rate of violent crime in the state, followed by Athens and Dickson.

My family lives in Dickson.  They do not mention violent crime, but there may well be a lot of it in parts of the city that they do not frequent.  I am going to contact my sister and see if she has some insights into this issue.


September 9th, 2018

Image result for images of NYC

Just back from a walk up Central Park West and back down Broadway–one of my favorite walks.  As I got to Broadway, a tour bus passed by blaring Frank Sinatra’s New York, New York: “If you can make it there, you’ll make it anywhere…”

I have never subscribed to the truth of that statement, but I love Sinatra’s version of the song and was delighted to hear it and see that bus full of people enjoying New York.


June 2nd, 2018

Related image

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The passage below is from Common Dreams, article by Jake Johnson, Friday, June 1, 2018:

“While the U.S. is home to ‘over 25 percent of the world’s 2,208 billionaires’, such wealth stands in ‘shocking contrast with the conditions in which vast numbers of its citizens live,’ the report observes. ‘About 40 million live in poverty, 18.5 million in extreme poverty, and 5.3 million live in Third World conditions of absolute poverty. Its citizens live shorter and sicker lives compared to those living in all other rich democracies, eradicable tropical diseases are increasingly prevalent, and it has the world’s highest incarceration rate.’

“Acknowledging that inequality in the U.S. has been rising rapidly for around five decades, the report argues that the Trump administration’s policies—particularly its $1.5 trillion in tax cuts to the rich and large corporations—’seem deliberately designed to remove basic protections from the poorest, punish those who are not in employment, and make even basic healthcare into a privilege to be earned rather than a right of citizenship.’

“As for solutions to the soaring income and wealth inequality in the U.S. that have produced what Alston calls a ‘land of stark contrasts,’ the U.N. report spotlights several broad suggestions—from a job guarantee to criminal justice reform to universal healthcare—but concludes that inequality will continue to soar without sufficient ‘political will’ to reverse it.

“‘At the end of the day… particularly in a rich country like the United States, the persistence of extreme poverty is a political choice made by those in power,’ the report observes. ‘With political will, it could readily be eliminated.'”


May 22nd, 2018


From:  Truthdig, 21 May, 2018

By: Chris Hedges

The Trump administration did not rise, prima facie, like Venus on a half shell from the sea. Donald Trump is the result of a long process of political, cultural and social decay. He is a product of our failed democracy. The longer we perpetuate the fiction that we live in a functioning democracy, that Trump and the political mutations around him are somehow an aberrant deviation that can be vanquished in the next election, the more we will hurtle toward tyranny. The problem is not Trump. It is a political system, dominated by corporate power and the mandarins of the two major political parties, in which we don’t count. We will wrest back political control by dismantling the corporate state, and this means massive and sustained civil disobedience, like that demonstrated by teachers around the country this year. If we do not stand up we will enter a new dark age.

The Democratic Party, which helped build our system of inverted totalitarianism, is once again held up by many on the left as the savior. Yet the party steadfastly refuses to address the social inequality that led to the election of Trump and the insurgency by Bernie Sanders. It is deaf, dumb and blind to the very real economic suffering that plagues over half the country. It will not fight to pay workers a living wage. It will not defy the pharmaceutical and insurance industries to provide Medicare for all. It will not curb the voracious appetite of the military that is disemboweling the country and promoting the prosecution of futile and costly foreign wars. It will not restore our lost civil liberties, including the right to privacy, freedom from government surveillance, and due process. It will not get corporate and dark money out of politics. It will not demilitarize our police and reform a prison system that has 25 percent of the world’s prisoners although the United States has only 5 percent of the world’s population. It plays to the margins, especially in election seasons, refusing to address substantive political and social problems and instead focusing on narrow cultural issues like gay rights, abortion and gun control in our peculiar species of anti-politics.

This is a doomed tactic, but one that is understandable. The leadership of the party, the Clintons, Nancy Pelosi, Chuck Schumer, Tom Perez, are creations of corporate America. In an open and democratic political process, one not dominated by party elites and corporate money, these people would not hold political power. They know this. They would rather implode the entire system than give up their positions of privilege. And that, I fear, is what will happen. The idea that the Democratic Party is in any way a bulwark against despotism defies the last three decades of its political activity. It is the guarantor of despotism.

Trump has tapped into the hatred that huge segments of the American public have for a political and economic system that has betrayed them. He may be inept, degenerate, dishonest and a narcissist, but he adeptly ridicules the system they despise. His cruel and demeaning taunts directed at government agencies, laws and the established elites resonate with people for whom these agencies, laws and elites have become hostile forces. And for many who see no shift in the political landscape to alleviate their suffering, Trump’s cruelty and invective are at least cathartic.

Trump, like all despots, has no ethical core. He chooses his allies and appointees based on their personal loyalty and fawning obsequiousness to him. He will sell anyone out. He is corrupt, amassing money for himself—he made $40 million from his Washington, D.C., hotel alone last year—and his corporate allies. He is dismantling government institutions that once provided some regulation and oversight. He is an enemy of the open society. This makes him dangerous. His turbocharged assault on the last vestiges of democratic institutions and norms means there will soon be nothing, even in name, to protect us from corporate totalitarianism.

But the warnings from the architects of our failed democracy against creeping fascism, Madeleine Albright among them, are risible. They show how disconnected the elites have become from the zeitgeist. None of these elites have credibility. They built the edifice of lies, deceit and corporate pillage that made Trump possible. And the more Trump demeans these elites, and the more they cry out like Cassandras, the more he salvages his disastrous presidency and enables the kleptocrats pillaging the country as it swiftly disintegrates.

The press is one of the principal pillars of Trump’s despotism. It chatters endlessly like 17th-century courtiers at the court of Versailles about the foibles of the monarch while the peasants lack bread. It drones on and on and on about empty topics such as Russian meddling and a payoff to a porn actress that have nothing to do with the daily hell that, for many, defines life in America. It refuses to critique or investigate the abuses by corporate power, which has destroyed our democracy and economy and orchestrated the largest transfer of wealth upward in American history. The corporate press is a decayed relic that, in exchange for money and access, committed cultural suicide. And when Trump attacks it over “fake news,” he expresses, once again, the deep hatred of all those the press ignores. The press worships the idol of Mammon as slavishly as Trump does. It loves the reality-show presidency. The press, especially the cable news shows, keeps the lights on and the cameras rolling so viewers will be glued to a 21st-century version of “The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari.” It is good for ratings. It is good for profits. But it accelerates the decline.

We must invest our energy in building parallel, popular institutions to protect ourselves and to pit power against power. These parallel institutions, including unions, community development organizations, local currencies, alternative political parties and food cooperatives, will have to be constructed town by town. The elites in a time of distress will retreat to their gated compounds and leave us to fend for ourselves. Basic services, from garbage collection to public transportation, food distribution and health care, will collapse. Massive unemployment and underemployment, triggering social unrest, will be dealt with not through government job creation but the brutality of militarized police and a complete suspension of civil liberties. Critics of the system, already pushed to the margins, will be silenced and attacked as enemies of the state. The last vestiges of labor unions will be targeted for abolition, a process that will soon be accelerated given the expected ruling in a case before the Supreme Court that will cripple the ability of public-sector unions to represent workers. The dollar will stop being the world’s reserve currency, causing a steep devaluation. Banks will close. Global warming will extract heavier and heavier costs, especially on the coastal populations, farming and the infrastructure, costs that the depleted state will be unable to address. The corporate press, like the ruling elites, will go from burlesque to absurdism, its rhetoric so patently fictitious it will, as in all totalitarian states, be unmoored from reality. The media outlets will all sound as fatuous as Trump. And, to quote W.H. Auden, “the little children will die in the streets.”

As a foreign correspondent I covered collapsed societies, including the former Yugoslavia. It is impossible for any doomed population to grasp how fragile the decayed financial, social and political system is on the eve of implosion. All the harbingers of collapse are visible: crumbling infrastructure; chronic underemployment and unemployment; the indiscriminate use of lethal force by police; political paralysis and stagnation; an economy built on the scaffolding of debt; nihilistic mass shootings in schools, universities, workplaces, malls, concert venues and movie theaters; opioid overdoses that kill some 64,000 people a year; an epidemic of suicides; unsustainable military expansion; gambling as a desperate tool of economic development and government revenue; the capture of power by a tiny, corrupt clique; censorship; the physical diminishing of public institutions ranging from schools and libraries to courts and medical facilities; the incessant bombardment by electronic hallucinations to divert us from the depressing sight that has become America and keep us trapped in illusions. We suffer the usual pathologies of impending death. I would be happy to be wrong. But I have seen this before. I know the warning signs. All I can say is get ready.


May 18th, 2018

According to Matthew Kent, regulatory policy associate at advocacy group Public Citizen’s Congress Watch division, the document released by the Vatican “reflects the growing consensus that strong regulatory measures are the only way to ensure our financial system is guided by ethical principles aimed at advancing the common good.”

He continues: “Pope Francis is aware that rampant, unregulated greed in the markets lies at the heart of global economic inequity. His message is incredibly important and should resonate with all Americans, especially considering the abysmally low ethical standards in the current administration and the climate of hostility to strong public protections,” Kent added.

House Speaker Paul Ryan “dismissed Pope Francis’ understanding of capitalism because – in his words – “the guy is from Argentina”.


April 8th, 2018

Timothy Snyder

Yale historian Timothy Snyder, who studies fascist and communist regime change and totalitarian rule, published a book titled “On Tyranny: Twenty Lessons from the Twentieth Century,” that warns about the threats the US faces and offers lessons for resistance and survival. In an interview with Steven Rosenfeld of Alternet, Snyder considered how close Donald Trump is to following the path of tyrants from the last century. He answered a question about how long the US has to defend its democracy and how rapidly it is evolving toward fascism. Snyder is reported to have said about how long some European countries took to become Nazi states:

“Nazi Germany took about a year. Hungary took about two and a half years. Poland got rid of the top-level judiciary within a year. It’s a rough historical guess, but the point is because there is an outside limit, you therefore have to act now. … It’s hard for people to act when they feel like they have to break the law to do so. So it is important to get out in front before people face those psychological and legal barriers.

“Am I more worried now? I realize that was your question. No, I’m exactly as worried as I was before, in November. I think that the people who inhabit the White House inhabit a different ideological world in which they would like for the United States not to be the constitutional system that it now is. I was concerned about that in November. I’m concerned about it now. Nothing that has happened since has changed the way I see things.”


March 14th, 2018

NYC 'March For Our Lives' Takes To Manhattan's Streets March 24

New York City school children are protesting gun violence in schools.

I was just out walking up Central Park West and saw several groups of children with teachers on the street.  Many held signs and some groups were chanting.  Others were completely quiet.  All of the groups I saw were inspiring.

I join those children in demanding that there be no guns in New York City schools and that our children be protected from any and all kinds of violence.


March 14th, 2018

I just read an article on the Common Dreams website that compares the US health care system to those of other developed countries. I have personal experience of the French system that substantiates what the article reports.

It was my great good fortune to be in France when I suffered a colon perforation. I was hospitalized in the University Hospital of the city of Tours where I had two surgical procedures and was kept in the hospital for two months. The best doctor on the planet for that condition did the operations.

My sister came down from Brussels where she lived at the time; they fed her three meals a day for the duration.

The total cost for all of that was $6,000.00 That would have been the cost of a weekend in the hospital in Dallas where I lived at the time.

There was a whole team of doctors who cared for me, one of whom was a sort of “scribe”; he wrote all the reports and records. When I was released, he gave me a report for my doctor back here in the US. I translated it for my doctor when I got back, and his response was that he was “going to have to be a doctor” and reply. He did write a very fine response that reported on how I was.  I translated it into French. I sent both his original and my translation to the doctors in France.  Indeed, the US healthcare system is vastly inferior to the French one (and probably to most of the European systems, though I only have personal experience of the French one).

Here is the link to the article: https://www.commondreams.org/news/2018/03/13/profit-system-driving-health-costs-up-while-outcomes-remain-poor-study