Associate professor of English John Duffy examined the quality of American public discourse and its social impact Saturday in his lecture “Beyond Civility: The crisis in American public discourse.”The lecture, the final installment of the Snite Museum’s Saturday Scholars series, examined both the current trends in American civil discourse and the measures needed to address the problem effectively. According to Duffy, the problem with contemporary public discourse lies in its polarizing and factually questionable nature.“We seem to have reached the point in our public deliberation in which there is no widely shared agreement as to the nature of a fact,” Duffy said. “There is little place in our public arguments for deliberative language that might express doubt, explore ambiguities, admit errors or acknowledge positions that might depart from orthodoxy.”Duffy said some of the main factors behind the nature of contemporary civil discourse lay in economics and technology. He said sensationalized, polarizing rhetoric has become more marketable for lucrative corporations and media, while the accessibility modern technology has given to news channels and public radio has created a media climate saturated with misleading and combative discourse from both politicians and media pundits.“There is nothing new about vilification, but what makes our moment extraordinary is not the fact of our corrosive discourse, rather it’s the technologies that allow us to disseminate the discourse so effectively,” he said. “We’re unique not because of the toxic nature of our rhetoric, but because of the methods we have to liberate the toxins.”According to Duffy, in order to create a more fruitful rhetoric, we must begin to understand the purpose of argument not merely as a tool of persuasion, but also as a way to engage in a relationship with another human being where opinion is well articulated and respectful of the other’s intelligence. Duffy said this requires a knowledge of “rhetorical virtues.”“To understand rhetorical virtue is to understand that speaking and writing are not merely instrumental but are fundamentally ethical activities,” he said. “That means we are obliged to answer certain questions of ourselves before we speak or write. How does our speech or writing reflect, say, the virtues of respectfulness, generosity? How does our writing respect the practices of tolerance?”While many believe the solution to polarizing, ineffective discourse is to encourage greater civility, Duffy said civility is often a “misleading metric.” Since civility is both too vague to define and too limited in its approach to rhetoric, Duffy said what is needed in civil discourse is a better recognition of rhetorical virtue and purpose.“What the rhetorical virtues offer is something different. They offer a language of assessment and practice of public discourse,” he said. “They call upon us to speak and write, not as Republicans or liberals, Libertarians or Democrats, but as a people committed to an ethical discourse and a common good.”Tags: Beyond Civility, John Duffy, Saturday Scholars
Only 10 U.S. states have “bottle bills” requiring deposits on some beverage containers so consumers will return them. Those states recycle 70 percent of their bottles and cans, 2.5 times more than states without bottle bills. The beverage industry has spent millions fighting bottle bill legislation, even though beverage containers make up 5.6 percent of the U.S. waste stream. Credit: Mr. T. in DC, courtesy FlickrDear EarthTalk: Why don’t more states mandate deposits on beverage bottles as incentives for people to return them? Most bottles I’ve seen only list a few states on them.— Alan Wu, Cary, NCSo-called bottle bills, otherwise known as container recycling laws, mandate that certain types of beverage containers require a small deposit (usually five or ten cents) at checkout beyond the price of the beverage itself. Customers can return the empty containers later and reclaim their nickels and dimes. The idea is to provide a financial incentive for consumers to recycle and to force industry to re-use the raw materials.According to the Container Recycling Institute (CRI), a California-based non-profit which encourages the collection and recycling of packaging materials (and runs the website BottleBill.org), the benefits of bottle bills include: supplying recyclable materials for a high-demand market; conserving energy, natural resources and landfill space; creating new businesses and green jobs; and reducing waste disposal costs and litter. The 10 U.S. states that currently have container recycling laws recycle at least 70 percent of their bottles and cans; this amounts to a recycling rate 2.5 times higher than in states without bottle bills.Beverage containers make up a whopping 5.6 percent of the overall U.S. waste stream, so every bottle and can that gets recycled counts toward freeing up landfill space. And CRI reports that beverage containers account for some 20 percent of the greenhouse gas emissions resulting from landfilling municipal solid waste and replacing the wasted products with new ones made from virgin feedstock. So by promoting more recycling, bottle bills indirectly reduce our carbon footprints.The 10 U.S. states with bottle bills are California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Iowa, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, New York, Oregon and Vermont. Delaware’s legislature repealed its bottle bill after almost three decades on the books last year as the state’s bottle recycling rate had dropped to just 12 percent due to more and more retailers refusing to deal with the hassle of accepting returned containers. In place of its bottle bill, Delaware enacted a $0.04/bottle recycling fee that will help defray the costs of starting up a curbside recycling pickup system to service the entire state.“We are extremely disappointed they chose to repeal their law, rather than enforce it,” reported CRI’s Susan Collins, adding that the new fee places a burden on consumers only. “Consumers will be subsidizing the producers and that is unfair.” CRI supports “extended producer responsibility” where producers and consumers together pay for the life cycle costs of product packaging.Beyond Delaware, the main reason bottle bills haven’t caught on is because of opposition to them by the beverage industry, which doesn’t want to bear the costs of recycling and claims that the extra nickel or dime on the initial cost of the beverage is enough to turn potential customers away. The U.S. Public Interest Research Group (USPIRG) found that the beverage industry and its representatives spent about $14 million in campaign contributions aimed at defeating a national bottle bill between 1989 and 1994. Meanwhile, members of a Senate committee who voted against national bottle bill legislation in 1992 received some 75 times more in beverage-industry PAC money than those who voted in favor of the bill.CONTACTS: Container Recycling Institute, www.container-recycling.org; USPIRG, www.uspirg.org.EarthTalk® is written and edited by Roddy Scheer and Doug Moss and is a registered trademark of E – The Environmental Magazine (www.emagazine.com). Send questions to: email@example.com. Subscribe: www.emagazine.com/subscribe. Free Trial Issue: www.emagazine.com/trial.
By Dialogo January 17, 2012 On January 15, more than 2,000 Bolivian military and police personnel began work on the eradication of excess coca in several regions of the country, with special emphasis on ecological reserves. “We’re going to start the work of eradicating excess coca both in the tropical area of Cochabamba (where President Evo Morales got his start as a union leader) and in the Yungas area of La Paz, chiefly prioritizing national parks,” Deputy Minister of Social Defense Felipe Cáceres told reporters. The announcement follows an incident that took place in the region of La Asunta, in the Yungas area of La Paz, where three unions expelled 20 members of a joint task force during an opposition-led demonstration against the destruction of excess coca fields. The government invited those unions to a meeting planned for January 16 to reach a consensus on joint actions to fight drug trafficking, which feeds on excess coca crops. A force of 1,700 military personnel and 400 police officers of various ranks will be deployed to the camps, Cáceres announced, without going into details. The law regulating coca and controlled substances recognizes areas of coca production for legal uses in the amount of 12,000 hectares, but a recent United Nations report asserted that there are a total of 31,000 hectares of coca fields in Bolivia. Bolivia is the world’s third-largest producer of coca, the chief raw material for cocaine, behind Peru and Colombia.
By Dialogo October 01, 2012 Long isolated by mud and dirt roads, rural communities in the department of Concepción received medical treatment and education from the Paraguayan Army and U.S. Special Operations Command South (SOCSOUTH) on June 2-3, 2012. Paraguayan Military and police, in conjunction with the Ministry of Health and the National Anti-Drug Secretariat, brought doctors, surgeons, dentists and nurses to treat more than 2,400 residents. Laboratory and pharmacy services also were provided. Medical supplies were donated to the local clinic in Arroyito, and school supplies were given to the 12 de Abril school with a $70,000 grant from the U.S. Southern Command’s Humanitarian Assistance Program. Brigadier General Mario Restituto González Benítez, the Paraguayan 4th Army Division commander, oversaw the Military-police operation in Arroyito. He said this was the first time his troops could fully operate in Arroyito. Commissioner Hugo Cesar Barrios, chief of the National Police’s Rural Operations Unit, also highlighted the Government’s objective to build relationships with the community. “It’s clear that when we talked to the communities, it’s about gaining their trust and letting them know that the Government and police are here to support them.” The Medical Civic Action Program (MedCAP) provided the opportunity for the military and police to serve a vulnerable population, develop rapport between the two partner nation services, and build community relations. Paraguayan Military, National Police and SOCSOUTH plan three more MedCAPs in the near future. Sources: Kelsey L. Campbell, SOCSOUTH, and Air Force Master Sgt. Larry Carpenter, SOCOM, http://spanish.paraguay.usembassy.gov
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Biden seeks party unity Biden immediately hailed Sanders as “a good man, a great leader, and one of the most powerful voices for change in our country.”He urged Sanders supporters to join his campaign, which already has the backing of nearly all other ex-rivals in the race including senators Kamala Harris and Amy Klobuchar, and former Indiana mayor Pete Buttigieg.”I see you, I hear you, and I understand the urgency of what it is we have to get done in this country,” Biden said in a statement to Sanders and his supporters.”I hope you will join us. You are more than welcome. You’re needed.”Trump made his own pitch for Sanders’s supporters, though in a more abrasive tone.”Bernie Sanders is OUT!” the president posted on Twitter. “The Bernie people should come to the Republican Party, TRADE!” Trump said.Trump won the 2016 election with help from disaffected working-class voters who believed they were being left behind by politicians in Washington.Sanders also appeals to those voters.He said he would not remain in an unwinnable campaign that would “interfere” with important anti-coronavirus work while the country is gripped by crisis.Biden said his focus is on ending the pandemic, but promised to continue campaigning despite the logistical challenges.”First things first: how we’re going to keep America safe and get this crisis under control and provide economic assistance,” he said during a virtual fundraiser. Leftist US Senator Bernie Sanders suspended his presidential campaign Wednesday, clearing the way for rival Joe Biden to secure the Democratic nomination and challenge Donald Trump in November.The feisty 78-year-old democratic socialist shook up the 2020 race with his relentless pursuit of “economic justice” for all Americans and a demand for universal health care.But he acknowledged his campaign had fallen short, as party voters determined Biden would be a stronger candidate to go up against Trump in the general election. ‘Strengths where I have weaknesses’ And he repeated a pledge to choose a woman as his running mate — a topic on which he said he has asked former president Barack Obama for advice. At a second virtual fundraiser later in the day, he seemed to imply he had an eye on former rival Harris, who had hoped to become the first black woman president.The two had one particularly memorable clash on a debate stage before she dropped out of the primary in December and later endorsed his candidacy. “And I’m so lucky to have you as part of this, this partnership going forward,” Biden said of 55-year-old Harris, who also made a virtual appearance Wednesday.”We can make a great deal of difference, and the biggest thing we can do is make Donald Trump a one-term president. So I’m coming for you, kid,” Biden said. Trump injected his own comments into his rivals’ contest during a coronavirus briefing, wondering why Obama had not yet endorsed his former vice president, who Trump regularly dismisses as “Sleepy Joe.” “He knows something that you don’t know,” Trump warned voters of Obama’s silence so far. But Obama did not endorse the previous Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, his former secretary of state, until June 2016, after it became clear she would be the party’s nominee. Sanders stressed he would remain on the ballot and seek to gain as many delegates as possible in order to “exert significant influence” over the direction of the party.And while Biden may be to the center of Sanders, former Obama team member Jon Favreau pointed out last month that Biden “will run on the most progressive platform of any Democratic nominee in history,” crediting Sanders and his supporters for that change in the party’s ideology. But he was eclipsed by a surging Biden, who won the vast majority of remaining primaries and now holds a commanding lead in the all-important race for delegates who choose the nominee.Sanders brought his liberal ideological platform — including a call for universal health care and a $15 hourly minimum wage — into the mainstream.”Together we have transformed American consciousness as to what kind of nation we can become, and have taken this country a major step forward in the never-ending struggle for economic justice,” Sanders said.Several lawmakers have come out in support of his policies, and Biden has shifted leftward to incorporate some Sanders positions, although he does not support Sanders’s Medicare for All plan. “I have concluded that this battle for the Democratic nomination will not be successful,” Sanders told supporters in a livestream from his home, where he has remained for the bulk of the coronavirus pandemic that put all in-person campaigning on hold.”Vice president Biden will be the nominee,” he said, adding that he congratulated his rival, a “very decent man, who I will work with to move our progressive ideas forward.”Sanders, who challenged Hillary Clinton for the party’s nomination in 2016, mounted a formidable 2020 bid.He raised astonishing amounts of money from record numbers of donors, becoming the frontrunner early this year and earning the most votes in the first three state-wide contests. 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Hong Kong pro-democracy activists are discussing a plan to create an unofficial parliament-in-exile to keep the flame of democracy alive and send a message to China that freedom cannot be crushed, campaigner Simon Cheng told Reuters.Hong Kong, a former British colony that returned to Chinese rule in 1997, was convulsed by months of often violent pro-democracy, anti-China protests last year against Chinese interference in its promised freedoms, the biggest political crisis for Beijing since the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989.Hong Kong police fired water cannon and tear gas and arrested more than 300 people on Wednesday as protesters took to the streets again in defiance of new, sweeping security legislation introduced by China to snuff out dissent. “We are developing an alternative way to fight for democracy,” Cheng said. “We need to be clever to deal with the expanding totalitarianism: they are showing more powerful muscle to suppress so we need to be more subtle and agile.”He said more and more people were “losing hope that it is effective to go out on to the streets or run for election” to Hong Kong’s Legislative Council, or mini-parliament.”We should stand with the Hong Kong people and support those staying in Hong Kong,” he said.’Very good signal’Asked about HSBC’s support for the sweeping national security law, Cheng said the British government should speak to senior British capitalists to make them understand the importance of democracy.After Prime Minister Boris Johnson offered millions of Hong Kong residents the path to British citizenship following China’s imposition of the law, hundreds of thousands of people would come to the United Kingdom, Cheng said.”The UK has given a very good signal,” Cheng said. “At least hundreds of thousands of people will come.”Almost 3 million Hong Kong residents are eligible for the so called British National (Overseas) passport. There were 349,881 holders of the passports as of February, Britain said.”One day we will be back in Hong Kong,” Cheng said.Hong Kong returned to China 23 years ago with the guarantee of freedoms not enjoyed on the mainland, including its independent legal system and rights to gather and protest, under a “one country, two systems” formula.Huge protests calling for democracy, especially on the anniversaries of the June 4, 1989, Tiananmen crackdown, were common and brought major streets to a standstill for 79 days in the Umbrella movement of 2014.The national security law punishes crimes of secession, subversion, terrorism and collusion with foreign forces with up to life in prison, will see mainland security agencies in Hong Kong for the first time and allows extradition to the mainland for trial.Topics : The law pushes China’s freest city and one of the world’s most glittering financial hubs on to a more authoritarian path. China, which denies interfering in Hong Kong, has warned foreign powers not to meddle in its affairs.Cheng, a Hong Kong citizen, worked for the British consulate in the territory for almost two years until he fled after he said he was beaten and tortured by China’s secret police. Cheng, who has since been granted asylum by Britain, describes himself as pro-democracy campaigner.”A shadow parliament can send a very clear signal to Beijing and the Hong Kong authorities that democracy need not be at the mercy of Beijing,” he told Reuters in London. “We want to set up non-official civic groups that surely reflect the views of the Hong Kong people.”He said that while the idea was still at an early stage, such a parliament-in-exile would support the people of Hong Kong and the pro-democracy movement there. He declined to say where the parliament might sit.
Norges Bank Investment Management (NBIM) has signed an agreement to invest $450m (€330m) into a new joint venture with Prologis, while PGGM has invested $300m into a new arrangement with Behringer Harvard.The investment by Norges is part of a $1bn joint venture with Prologis in the US. Norges holds a 45% interest in the JV, and Prologis the remainder.Karsten Kallevig, CIO for real estate at Norges, said: “We are investing in a solid portfolio of logistics assets close to key transportation hubs.” The transaction between Norges and Prologis is expected to close before 28 February. The portfolio to be acquired is unencumbered by debt, and no financing will be involved in the closing.The assets in the transaction total 12.8m square feet (1.2m sqm) of industrial and logistics properties in the US. The assets comprise 66 properties located in eight states and nine markets, including Southern California, Pennsylvania, the San Francisco Bay Area, New Jersey, Las Vegas, Chicago, Seattle, Atlanta and Miami.In addition to the venture on the existing portfolio, both parties have announced the signing of a definitive agreement to form the Prologis US Logistics Venture (USLV). This relationship anticipates adding to the initial portfolio over time with future investments in the US.It has not been publicly disclosed how much additional capital will be invested in the USLV venture going forward. The idea would be to acquire logistics properties in the country in gateway markets over the next several years.Norges and Prologis formed the €2.4bn Prologis European Logistics Partners Sari in 2013. This relationship consisted initially of 195 properties in Europe totalling 4.5m sqm of assets.Meanwhile, the capital from PGGM has gone into the PGGM Private Real Estate Fund. Behringer Harvard Multifamily REIT I, the real estate manager of the fund, contributed $360m of its own equity to the venture. With 55% debt, the venture’s total capitalisation is around $1.6bn-1.7bn.The ownership stake in the venture is 55% to Behringer Harvard and 45% to PGGM.Much of the capital has already been placed into an existing apartment portfolio in the US owned by Behringer Harvard Multifamily REIT I. There are a total of 13 assets in the portfolio located in a variety of markets including Florida, Virginia, Dallas, Houston, Denver and Atlanta.Mark Alfieri, president and COO at Behringer Harvard Multifamily REIT I, said: “Our plan would be to invest the capital in development projects. “Our company has only acquired one existing property the past two years. There is a tremendous amount of competition for core apartment assets, and pricing is very aggressive. “The market demographics are strong now for apartment development and should remain that way for the near future.”Alfieri also pointed out the big difference in returns for developments versus core assets.“The floor for returns for developments are around a 12% net IRR on invested capital,” he said.“This compares to a 7-7.5% net IRR for the acquisition of existing properties.”
Polar Onyx, one of GC Rieber’s vesselsA lawsuit by former employees of Norwegian offshore shipping firm GC Rieber Shipping against the company has been dismissed by a court in Bergen.Following the liquidation of GC Rieber’s subsidiaries, GC Rieber Crewing AS (GCRC) and GC Rieber Shipping AS (GCRS), the company was sued by a number of former employees who lost their jobs as a result.GC Rieber said on Tuesday that the Bergen District Court ruled in favor of GCRC and GCRS with each of the parties being liable for its own legal costs.According to the company, the court ruling may be appealed within one month. As per the report, 17 former employees had filed the lawsuit in the Bergen District Court (Bergen Tingrett).