first_imgHomeOpinionColumnsEarth Talk – Stop the madness Sep. 16, 2019 at 6:00 amColumnsEarthEarth TalkFeaturedNewsEarth Talk – Stop the madnessGuest Author2 years agoamazonenvironmentfireslash and burnPhoto by NASA Dear EarthTalk: What are the ramifications of these horrendous fires taking place now in the Amazon Rainforest? What can be done to stop the madness? — Jane W., Waterbury, CTFire isn’t new to the Amazon rainforest of South America, but it has certainly reached epic proportions this year. Some 26,000 different fires are now burning continuously throughout the region. Many of these blazes have been set intentionally by ranchers and farmers trying to (illegally) clear and use more and more land for raising cattle and crops.These so-called “slash-and-burn” tactics reduce wildlife habitat and biodiversity accordingly while releasing massive amounts of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, only adding to our climate woes. Meanwhile, indigenous groups who depend on the rainforest for subsistence teeter on the brink of survival in the face of shrinking habitat.Unfortunately, putting out most of these existing fires isn’t feasible; they’ll have to run their course. Environmentalists agree what we can do is prevent more land from burning in the future as one way of protecting the intact tropical rainforest that remains throughout the Amazon.But how? For starters, by working on the ground in partnership with local indigenous communities on making their forests sustainable through tourism and responsible use without resorting to clearing/burning the land. One of the leaders in this new breed of rainforest activism is Niyanta Spelman and her group Rainforest Partnership, which currently has four different projects underway with the Achuar, Chipaota and Colibri indigenous communities of Peru and the Sani Isla community of Ecuador.“When managed sustainably, ecotourism in the rainforest can help protect biodiverse ecosystems, provide reliable income to forest communities, and educate travelers about the importance of conservation,” says Spelman, who launched Rainforest Partnership in 2007 and has built it into one of the most impactful groups working in the region.Meanwhile, other groups are focusing on converting farmers and ranchers over to more sustainable crops and practices. “Although the fires were set to clear space to occupy the land, a lot of the area is not used productively or is used mainly for land speculation,” reports the Nature Conservancy, another leading non-profit working on the ground in the Amazon and elsewhere to protect tropical rainforests. “There is already a considerable amount of land in the Amazon to increase production of food without deforestation.” The Nature Conservancy sees smarter use of land across the Amazon that’s already been converted to agriculture as one key way to stem the tide of rainforest loss and ultimately global warming.As for what people can do, being more thoughtful about the foods we eat is a big step in the right direction. That hamburger meat you are eating might well come from cattle on a burned-over pasture in a former slice of the Amazon rainforest. That’ll give you pause when you are thinking about what to put in the shopping cart at the grocery store and what to order off of a restaurant menu. The shocking truth is that 80 percent of tropical rainforest destruction across the Amazon is fueled by beef production. So eating a more plant-based diet is a great way to help protect what’s left of the world’s tropical rainforests.EarthTalk® is produced by Roddy Scheer & Doug Moss for the 501(c)3 nonprofit EarthTalk. See more at To donate, visit Send questions to: [email protected] :amazonenvironmentfireslash and burnshare on Facebookshare on Twitteradd a commentUCLA alumna Mary Osako appointed vice chancellorCity Hall to encourage replacing gas appliances with electric alternativesYou Might Also LikeFeaturedNewsBobadilla rejects Santa Monica City Manager positionMatthew Hall7 hours agoColumnsOpinionYour Column HereBring Back Library ServicesGuest Author13 hours agoFeaturedNewsProtesting parents and Snapchat remain in disagreement over child protection policiesClara Harter18 hours agoFeaturedNewsDowntown grocery to become mixed use developmenteditor18 hours agoNewsBruised but unbowed, meme stock investors are back for moreAssociated Press18 hours agoNewsWedding boom is on in the US as vendors scramble to keep upAssociated Press18 hours agolast_img read more

first_imgCritics charge that sanctions are ineffectual, hurt innocent civilians and undercut the business interests of countries imposing the measures.The US Treasury Department’s efforts since 2005 to use financial tools to pressure North Korea and Iran generated considerable skepticism, particularly in Europe. But the results to date suggest that ‘smart sanctions’, meaning targeted financial measures work if used strategically and coupled with outreach to global financial institutions. Executive Order 13,382 empowered the US Treasury Department to take enforcement action against proliferators of weapons of mass destruction, which it duly did against Iran and North Korea in June 2005. In all, 15 Iranian and ten North Korean entities have been designated under this order. Among them were Iran’s state-owned Bank Sepah, which provided financial services to the ballistic missile programme. The treasury also cut off Iran’s Bank Saderat from the US financial system for its role in financing terrorists and used Section 311 of the Patriot Act against the Macau-based Banco Delta Asia, identifying the bank as a “primary money-laundering concern” for facilitating North Korea’s illicit activity. The results have been promising. Many non-US financial institutions and companies reduced or terminated commercial ties with Iran and early last year the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development raised its risk-rating for Iran. Months later the Iranian oil minister had to acknowledge that Iran was having trouble financing oil projects. Of these financial measures, the action against the Banco Delta Asia had the most dramatic impact. Macau’s subsequent freezing of nearly €19 million in BDA accounts clearly rattled the North Koreans. It became a major sticking point in the six-party talks, with North Korea refusing to return to the table until the money was returned. North Korea’s anxiety was understandable: by late 2006 some two-dozen financial institutions around the world were reported to have reduced or cut their ties with North Korea. The targeted financial measures employed by the treasury in recent years have several advantages over traditional sanctions. First, they can narrowly target entities or individuals specifically engaged in dangerous or illicit activity. Second, they are designed to be regime-hostile and people-friendly – causing economic harm to the entities designated, but not the civilian population. Third, by using them in a graduated fashion, numerous opportunities are given to the target countries to alter their behaviour before further measures are imposed. This strategy of targeting illicit conduct rather than countries is gradually winning support. The UN Security Council’s recent resolutions on Iran, for example, reinforced the treasury’s efforts by listing many of the same entities it had designated and obliging member states to freeze their assets. The measured approach has also played well with European financial institutions, a number of which have taken action well beyond their legal obligations. Targeted financial measures have proved to be an effective middle ground between diplomacy and military action, giving leverage in cases where none seemed possible and may represent the international community’s best chance to change decision-making in Tehran and Pyongyang.Michael Jacobson is a senior fellow in the Stein Programme in terrorism, intelligence and policy at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. He was formerly a senior adviser in the US Treasury’s office of terrorism and financial intelligence.last_img read more

first_imgThe Socialists’ poor showing was partly due to the underwhelming performance of its candidate Hamon, the unpopularity of President Hollande, the charismatic campaign led by the fiery far-leftist Jean-Luc Mélenchon and tactical voting for Macron by voters determined to keep Le Pen out of the Élysée. But more worryingly for the left — in a plight that would be familiar to American Democrats — is how working-class voters have deserted it en masse. Swathes of eastern and northern France that used to vote Socialist or Communist have now switched to the National Front and a majority of workers nationally plumped for Le Pen Sunday.The traditional French right is in crisis, too. The Republican Party was widely tipped to win the presidency at the start of the year but then shot itself in the foot by first choosing hardline former premier Francois Fillon in favor of the more popular centrist Alain Juppé and then failing to replace its candidate when it was alleged he had created ‘fake jobs’ for his wife and kids. The fact that the Fillon only narrowly pipped the far-left candidate was particularly humiliating for a party that has governed France for much of the post-war era.Russia’s Vladimir Putin, who backed Le Pen, and Trump, who expressed support for her last month, may not be delighted with Macron’s win but EU chiefs in Brussels could hardly contain their excitement Sunday. “Congratulations to the French people for choosing Liberty, Equality and Fraternity over tyranny of ‘fake news’” tweeted European Council President Donald Tusk minutes after the result was announced. Guy Verhofstadt, leader of the Liberal grouping in the European Parliament, added: “Everyone is looking to France now to take the lead in a New Deal for Europe.”It is little wonder Macron is the darling of Brussels. At a time when voters in many countries are turning their backs on the EU project—a June survey showed that only 38 percent of French had a positive view of the Union — Macron is one of the few leaders in Europe who enthusiastically supports further integration. He waved the EU flag during campaign rallies and walked on stage to celebrate his victory in Paris Sunday to the strains of Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy,” the EU anthem.A Le Pen victory would have been fatal for the fragile European Union. But Macron’s win has given it a much-needed boost. The new president favors a permanent EU military headquarters and a separate parliament and government for the 19 countries that use the euro as their currency. With the UK on its way out of the bloc and a pro-EU candidate — either current chancellor Angela Merkel or Socialist challenger Martin Schulz — almost certain to win in Germany’s September poll, expect a big leap forward in EU integration under President Macron.The problem for Macron is that being feted in European capitals for his unflinching federalism will not earn him votes in France’s industrial and rural heartlands, where electors have little appetite for ceding more sovereignty to Brussels. On the contrary, handing greater powers to the EU — and liberalizing the economy further — will only bolster support for far-right and far-left parties implacably opposed to more free trade and more Europe. Or as Le Pen framed it when conceding defeat to her centrist challenger Sunday, the central division in French politics ahead of next month’s parliamentary elections is between “patriots and globalists.” From the start of his insurgent campaign, Macron positioned himself as the fresh-faced candidate of change over continuity. “We need to do away with this political class, which is all too often made of men over 50 who never had a proper job,” he said on the campaign trail, pledging that half his party’s candidates in next month’s parliamentary elections would be women or newcomers.In a country not renowned for its optimism, Macron also ran as the candidate of hope over fear, offering a relentlessly upbeat message of national reform and renewal to downbeat voters. No wonder Barack Obama — who campaigned on a similarly sunny platform in 2008 — urged French voters to back Macron. “He appeals to people’s hopes and not their fears,” the former president said in a last-minute endorsement.That was also an unmistakable broadside at Macron’s second-round opponent, the anti-immigrant nationalist Marine Le Pen, who based her campaign on fear of migrants, Muslims, terrorists, Brussels, Parisian elites, globalization and French identity being suffocated by a German-dominated EU. In a bad-tempered TV debate Tuesday, Macron accused his rival of being the “high priestess of fear” and drummed this message home in Sunday’s victory speech, telling cheering supporters: “We will not give in to fear, to division, to lies, to a love of decline or defeat.”Macron’s victory is further proof that the populist wave that was supposed to sweep through Europe after shock wins for the leave EU campaign in Britain in June and for Trump in November simply hasn’t happened. In December, Alexander van der Bellen, a pro-EU former leader of the Green Party, defeated his far-right challenger to become president of Austria. And in March the Netherlands’ ruling Liberal prime minister Mark Rutte trounced far-right rival Geert Wilders, who was widely expected to top the poll.But Macron’s political instincts shouldn’t be underestimated, either. His win offered a master class in how to defeat populists on both the far-left and far-right without compromising on principles or reverting to rabble-rousing demagoguery. It’s a playbook Democrats hoping to defeat Trump in 2020 would do well to remember — because it was once their own.Like Bill Clinton and former UK premier Tony Blair, Macron understood that most elections are won by occupying the political center not pandering to its extremes And here lies the rub for the new president — in polls French voters recognize their country needs to change. But when the country’s leaders try to enact those changes — whether reforming labor laws, farm subsidies, pensions or the education system — protesters hit the streets and the reforms are mothballed. Or as European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker once put it: “We all know what to do, we just don’t know how to get re-elected after we’ve done it.”Gareth Harding is the director of the Missouri School of Journalism’s Brussels Program. You can follow him on Twitter @garethharding. Also On POLITICO Emmanuel Macron won’t mean business as usual in Brussels By Maïa de La Baume and Quentin Ariès France 2017 Emmanuel Macron’s foreign policy doctrine(s) By Ben Judah After the shock of Brexit in June and the surprise victory of Donald Trump in November, France experienced a political earthquake of a different kind Sunday by electing a progressive, unabashedly pro-EU former banker as its next president by a two-to-one margin.At 39, Emmanuel Macron is the youngest president in France’s history, only founded his ‘En Marche’ movement a year ago, has no MPs in parliament and is the first French leader not to hail from one of the country’s traditional left or right parties. Though he served as an economy minister under the unpopular Socialist government, like Trump, Macron had never stood for election before launching his presidential bid and attained the highest post in the land by running as a political outsider unencumbered by the clunky machinery of mainstream parties. Wrapping himself in his own improbability on Sunday night, he told a flag-waving crowd in from of the Louvre museum in Paris: “Everyone said it was impossible. They didn’t know France.”So how did Macron pull off what British commentator Simon Nixon described as “without question the most remarkable feat of political entrepreneurialism of modern times”? And where does this leave his political rivals in France and allies in Europe?center_img As the campaign wore on, Le Pen’s carefully crafted image crumbled. While railing against corruption, nepotism and wealthy elites in Paris, the well-paid career politician found her party under investigation for pilfering European Parliament funds to pay for her staff. And despite attempts at projecting a softer image in the media, she came across as an unhinged conspiracy theorist in a head-to-head TV debate with Macron Tuesday, making unsubstantiated allegations against the judiciary for being biased and Macron for having a secret account in the Bahamas. Polls afterwards showed that Le Pen, who has been an elected politician for almost 20 years, was outgunned and outwitted by the calm but confident political novice Macron.With France facing sluggish growth and high unemployment, the EU mired in an economic and existential crisis post-Brexit, the most unpopular sitting president in modern history and tainted opponents on both right and left, Le Pen may never have a better chance at winning the presidency. But it is too early to write off the 48-year old political knuckle-duster. Should Macron fail, Le Pen and her party will surely be poised to benefit.The National Front has never won as many votes — 10.6 million — as Sunday. And the party has taken a giant step towards becoming part of France’s political mainstream by beating both the established parties of the right and left in the first round. A further sign of the party’s normalization is the reaction to its progression to the run-offs. When Jean-Marie Le Pen shocked the world by beating incumbent prime minister Lionel Jospin to make the second round of the presidential elections in 2002, 1.5 million French descended on the streets in protest. This time, Marine Le Pen’s advance was deemed so inevitable it was greeted by little more than a Gallic shrug.Macron’s victory may be a setback for Le Pen but it is a body blow for the traditional left and right parties that have dominated French politics since the Second World WarMacron’s victory may be a setback for Le Pen but it is a body blow for the traditional left and right parties that have dominated French politics since the Second World War. Sunday’s run-off between Le Pen and Macron marked the first time since the foundation of the Fifth Republic in 1958 that a candidate from the Socialists or the Republicans failed to make the second round.The Socialists, in particular, are a spent political force after their candidate Benoît Hamon only managed to win 6 percent in the first round — a quarter the vote of the National Front and its allies. If moderate socialists side with Macron in the upcoming parliamentary elections, the ruling party of outgoing president François Hollande may split permanently into more centrist and leftist factions. Either way it is set to receive a drubbing in the June 11 and 18 elections, with polls showing its seats are likely to be slashed from 295 to between 28 and 43. Like Bill Clinton and former UK premier Tony Blair, Macron understood that most elections are won by occupying the political center not pandering to its extremes, by appealing to progressive patriotism rather than aggressive nationalism and by having the courage to tell blunt truths to voters when necessary.Instead of promising the impossible — like Le Pen with her pledge to lower the retirement age while reducing taxes — Macron made no attempt to sugar-coat unpalatable truths. When both Le Pen and Macron descended on a Whirlpool factory to address striking workers on the same day last month, Le Pen lambasted “uncontrolled globalization” and promised to save the tumble-dryer makers’ jobs. Macron, on the other hand, waded into the group of jeering workers and bluntly told them he was not there to make “airy promises” and there was little chance of saving their jobs.France has the most centrally controlled economy in the 35-country club of Western states, the OECD, with government spending accounting for 57 percent of GDP in 2015. Its people also have a greater disdain for capitalism than any other rich country, according to one poll. Yet voters have just catapulted into the Élysée presidential palace a former Rothschild investment banker who has pledged to radically reduce the cost of hiring employees, slash public expenditure and cut corporate taxes by a quarter. Unlike Trump and most of his presidential rivals, Macron is also staunchly in favor of free trade. Speaking to Whirlpool factory workers, he said: “When she [Le Pen] tells you the solution is to turn back globalization, to close borders, she is lying.”Impressive as Macron’s victory was, he will find it far harder to govern. The last two presidents of France — Nicolas Sarkozy and current incumbent François Hollande — also took office promising to reduce the country’s stubbornly high unemployment rate by boosting growth and reforming rigid labor laws. Both failed. The challenge for Macron will be steering his ambitious proposals through a parliament where his nascent En Marche — ‘Forward’ — party is unlikely to have a majority after next month’s parliamentary elections. However, Macron’s successful shepherding of a package of labor reforms through parliament two years ago while economics minister will encourage those calling for a leaner French state.It is tempting, too, to view Macron’s victory as a vote for hope over fear and forward-thinking optimism over nativist nostalgia. But the harsh reality is the incoming president largely owes his landslide win to the disastrous campaign led by France’s two mainstream left and right parties — and that his surname is not Le Pen. One survey showed that 43 percent of those who voted for Macron Sunday did so out of opposition to Le Pen’s National Front, with only a third doing so to renew French politics.Since taking over the leadership of the National Front in 2011, Marine Le Pen’s central goal has been to de-demonize a party long-associated with the thuggish neo-fascism of her father — founder and former leader Jean-Marie Le Pen. But despite the soft-focus photos of ‘Marine’ cuddling kittens and the airbrushing of the Le Pen name and FN logo from campaign posters, the presidential campaign has proved that these changes are largely cosmetic and that the party is still wedded to its extreme nationalist and xenophobic past. After Le Pen stepped down as party head last month to focus on the election, the politician who replaced her was forced to resign after just three days for questioning whether gas chambers were used in the Holocaust.last_img read more