Donald Trump, Jr. is on a book tour with an important message for America.  He wants us to know that half of the country’s citizens are closed-minded, anger-driven, easily-offended buffoons who seek to subvert thoughtful discussion of meaningful topics.  To prove this, he took his message to UCLA, where he was met with peaceful protesters outside his speaking venue, and raucous, unruly, and (according to his girlfriend) poorly-dressed protesters inside, who eventually caused him to leave the stage, flustered (Guardian, Fox, Washington Post, Haaretz, Fox KTVU, KSBY).  He seemed to be very triggered by the right-wing protesters who shut him down.

Oxycotin Blues

Hey–remember that nice family of doctors that created the opioid crisis (Wikipedia, Purdue (not this Purdue)) in the United States and made billions of dollars from it and then named a bunch of museum wings after themselves (Vox, NYT, The Guardian, The Art Newspaper, OpenSecrets News, Forbes) with the drug money they made?  Well, they’ve decided to courageously fix the mess they’ve caused by shuffling their money out of the country (Global News) and declaring bankruptcy (CNN, Vox, CBC, Global News, NYT, Purdue).  Lord, I love the American health care system.

One million extinctions

The Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) has produced a new report (summary here) claiming that human activity is currently threatening the extinction of one million species (IPBES, NYT, BBC, BBC, Al Jazeera, CBC).  The full report (1,500 pages (NYT) or 1,800 pages (Al Jazeera), depending upon whom you ask) is due out later this year.  While climate change is mentioned, the report pointed to several drivers of potential extinction.  These findings harmonize with an earlier article by Maxwell et al. that pointed to habitat degradation and exploitation as primary drivers of extinction.  Kolbert (2014) describes our anthropocene era as the sixth great extinction event in known history.  It’s difficult to put into perspective how tragic this all is.  I’m sorry I don’t have a witty punchline for this one.  Maybe I’ll go reread the Mueller report to cheer myself up.


The demise of the INF Treaty

The United States has just pulled out of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (Reuters), a 1987 agreement that restricted short-range and medium-range land-based missiles, and Russia has responded by doing the same (NYT).  Both countries accuse each other of violating the treaty (NYT, RT).  Nato seems to be supporting the United States’ decision (Sputnik International).  Escalating matters, Russia has announced that it plans to develop new weapons previously banned under the treaty in response both to the U.S. pull out from the treaty and to previous U.S. weapons development that Russia claims violated the treaty (TASS).

It’s difficult for me to tell, just yet, what is going on here.  Considering the stakes involved, news coverage has been (in my opinion) rather scanty.  What precipitated this pull-out?  Is this a Trump thing?  If so, where was all the usual bellicose blather and self-indulgent fanfare that precedes all Trump initiatives?  Is this a move initiated by Pompeo?  By Bolton?  Who’s pulling this string and why?  Is this a move to bring a militarily unfettered China to the table?  Is the U.S. pulling out of the treaty because the treaty puts the country at a military disadvantage against China (Daily Mail)?  Possibly.  China certainly sees no good in all of this for itself (The Times of India).  The move seems senseless and venal enough to be a Trump move, but, again, without the signature posing and crowing, it could surely have nothing to do with him.  So, what gives?

This situation is both bizarre and boring.  It’s a tedious thing to try to learn about.  It seems to be in the news all of a sudden, with little warning or context, and has received relatively little attention.  The media message seems to be that there is very little to see here, folks.  It feels like being lulled to sleep just before the end of the world.