Plastic Water Bottle Floating in Pacific Ocean, Santa Monica, California, USA

Surprise!  Only a little comes from the US.  A majority of the plastic waste in our oceans comes from China and nearby Asian countries.  Egypt, Turkey and Pakistan each throw more garbage into the waters than we do.  So does the European Union.  The US accounts for less than 1% of the plastic waste in the ocean.  (Banning straws in California isn’t really going to make much difference.)  You can read the dirty details here.




A new study by Environmental Progress (EP) warns that toxic waste from used solar panels now poses a global environmental threat. The Berkeley-based group found that solar panels create 300 times more toxic waste per unit of energy than nuclear-power plants. Discarded solar panels, which contain dangerous elements such as lead, chromium, and cadmium, are piling up around the world, and there’s been little done to mitigate their potential danger to the environment.

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The Obama administration began revising sentencing guidelines and commuting prison sentences for convicted criminals a year or so ago, releasing thousands of felons.  Obama’s Department of Justice also began systematic investigations into civil rights violations by urban police departments about that same time, mostly in response to Black Lives Matter protests and demands for action.  Of course, municipal leaders have reacted to various community protests by BLM and others with aggressive policy reform of police departments.  What are the results of these social justice driven programs?  According to the FBI, last year saw a 4% increase in violent crime in the US and an 11% spike in murder/manslaughter.  Incidents of rape are up over 6% and assault is up 4.5%.  Whether this is due to the large number of criminals released into communities or due to the Ferguson Effect*, President Obama and his administration have made Americans less safe from crime, especially in large urban areas.

Read more about the FBI 2015 Crime Statistics here.


*In Ferguson, MO, violent crimes jumped 65% last year.




Monet reading a newspaper, Piere August Renoir

In case readers wonder if traditional Republican (aka Conservative) ideas are still worth considering, I offer some model programs that have been put into play and are working.  Albuquerque’s Mayor Richard Berry initiated “There’s a Better Way” as a response to increased homelessness.  This program offers homeless people public service work in exchange for a wage, food and shelter.  Participants are able to access city services, including health care, and about 100 have found permanent employment through the program.  Governor Walker of Wisconsin led an overhaul of the state’s  FoodShare Employment and Training (FSET) program, linking food stamp benefits provided to able-bodied recipients without dependent to working at least 80 hours a month.  It also provides access to job search and job training services.  In the past year, 14, 400 FSET participants have found permanent employment. Of course, Conservatives are strong believers of community-based solutions, such as the Joseph Project.  This career placement program is based out of  the Greater Praise Church of God in Christ in Milwaukie Wisconsin, and is sponsored by Senator Ron Johnson and other community leaders.  At a national level, House Speaker Paul Ryan has offered a comprehensive anti-poverty plan as a core piece of the Republican legislative agenda.



Reading Aloud (William Verplanck Birney)

I have several challenging articles to suggest this week.  Victor Hanson Davis (my favorite contemporary historian) discusses how the affluent in our society, The Virtue-Mongers, try to make themselves feel and look virtuous despite their privilege.  Rimah Jaber, of the Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs, points out the need for professional standards in Ethics in Online Activism: False Senses of Social Action or Effective Source of Change?  In a related article, Heather MacDonald of the Washington Examiner critiques the Black Lives Matter movement for veracity.  Her essay, Black Lies Matter, measures the claims of BLM against the statistical evidence.  Finally, Jed Babbin, of the American Spectator, looks at the Obama administration and Hillary Clinton’s role in it, and notes All the Lies: They’ve Turned Us Into a Rotting Banana Republic.