The 2020 election will decide the planet's future. Carbon fuels will reach peak usage by the early 2020s, according to a New York Review of Books article by environmental activist Bill McKibbin, citing a report from Carbon Tracker analyst Kingsmill ...


2020 election will decide world's climate-change fate and more...

2020 election will decide world's climate-change fate

The 2020 election will decide the planet's future.

Carbon fuels will reach peak usage by the early 2020s, according to a New York Review of Books article by environmental activist Bill McKibbin, citing a report from Carbon Tracker analyst Kingsmill Bond.

The reason isn't that the world is running out of coal and petroleum. It's that solar and wind power will be much less expensive than carbon. Automakers are stepping up production of electric vehicles.

Expect a last-ditch effort by the carbon industry to re-elect Donald Trump and a GOP-dominated Congress. The Koch brothers know their time is running out.

So is the world's for taking action to slash carbon emissions and change to a carbon-less economy.

The 2020 election will determine whether the United States takes action to halt climate change and lead the world's action.

The re-election of Trump and the climate-change denying GOP will set an irrevocable course.

A Democratic victory will give humanity a chance at escaping disaster.








Wall Street Journal joins Apple news-site venture

Apple has signed The Wall Street Journal to its subscription news service, the first major news company to join.

The New York Times, which has so far resisted Apple's entreaties, reported the news in a brief article Thursday.

Along with the Times, The Washington Post has also declined to place articles on the Apple app. The Times and Post are balking at Apple's offer of a 50-50 split in revenues, the article said. The newspaper companies want a 70 percent share.

The Times and Post also want a bigger slice of subscriber data such as credit card information and purchasing preferences. The article doesn't mention why the Times and Post would be permitted to receive such personal information when privacy concerns have been raised over similar practices by Facebook and Google.

Subscribers will pay $10 a month for the Apple news site, receiving a choice of articles from different publications. Apple says its app will generate more traffic for media companies. The WSJ's participation is intriguing, since newspaper owner Rupert Murdoch has completed a deal with Disney, which will compete with Apple in video streaming and TV and movie production.

Like the Times and Post, the WSJ has an online paywall for those not subscribing to its print newspaper. Whether Apple subscribers will get the full range of WSJ articles remained unclear.

An increase in WSJ readership and ad revenue from the Apple deal might come at the expense of the Times and Post, forcing them to join the Apple site. Or maybe the Times and Post will enter into a partnership to form their own news site, perhaps associated with Amazon, owned by Post publisher Jeff Bezos. The media/digital dance swirls on.




Gwinnett shows its colors, rejects MARTA expansion

Gwinnett civic leaders thought Tuesday night's MARTA election would be close, but county voters once again soundly rejected the transit system's expansion into Georgia's second-most populated county.

“I was surprised,” Gwinnett Commission Chair Charlotte Nash said, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “I thought it would be closer. I thought that if it failed it would be closer to 50-50.”

Like the Georgia Democratic Party, MARTA supporters in Gwinnett counted on younger, more diverse voters. But once again, the millennials' turnout fell behind that of older residents determined to fight off another progressive invasion.

The conservative opposition proved better organized and more strategic than the county's business and political community. According to reports, robocalls claimed that MARTA was planning to build hundreds of apartments, which presumably would be filled with young socialistic Democratic voters. Older county residents' anti-tax attitudes also made a difference, according to statements made to the AJC by those who voted "no."

With such sophisticated opposition, transit supporters might wonder whether the Koch brothers were involved, as they were in defeating transit elections in Nashville. The Gwinnett referendum added to a disturbing trend of voters ignoring the ravages of climate change. Voters in environmental Democratic presidential candidate Jay Inslee's Washington state rejected a carbon tax proposal, even after devastating fires in California.

Long a bastion of suburbanites who associate Atlanta and MARTA with blacks and crime, Gwinnett has now rejected MARTA expansion three times, the last before Tuesday night in 1990. The county's population has tripled since then, with an influx of younger Democratic voters who have shaken the GOP's longtime control of the county.

But as with statewide Democratic candidates, MARTA will wait for a promised golden future. According to political observers, the county will vote again on transit in 2020.

Georgia's Democratic Party, as led by defeated gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams, still receiving national media acclaim, place their hopes on younger ethnic voters moving into the state. But the rush of new residents to metro Atlanta has slowed, according to a recent AJC article. And young voters don't participate in elections as older generations do.

Young voters consider the voting process too cumbersome, beginning with registration. Standing in line, showing an i.d., and making election decisions is too difficult when they can be posting photos on Instagram. Perhaps the tide will turn if smartphone voting is ever allowed. Grim Republicans like Mitch McConnell and the GOP-packed courts will only shake their heads at that.  A big negative is that such a system likely would be even more vulnerable to Russian manipulation.

Gwinnett's threatened GOP leaders moved the MARTA referendum from the November general election ballot to Tuesday's stand-alone vote to suppress turnout. A total of 91,921 voters participated, a 17 percent turnout. The referendum lost by 7,951 votes, according to media reports.

Ladies and gentlemen, start your SUVs. The county's 900,000 residents will continue to use their cars and trucks to go to work, to shop, to have fun. They rejected a 1-cent sales tax for MARTA so that they can sit in traffic.







Mike Trout deal crosses line

I've been hearing for years that Mike Trout's a great ballplayer, so I'm sure he is.

But $432 million for a Los Angeles Angel who's nearly invisible? Trout's games are rarely on TV. Unlike L.A. NBA celebrity Lebron James, Trout never does a TV commercial, or makes news. Sports fans never think of him as one of the top athletes in the nation.

I understand the dynamics of multimillion-dollar contracts for ballplayers. Sure, school teachers and emergency room doctors deserve more money. But players like Trout can hit a major league curveball. In our economy, that's worth millions, while saving a life or teaching a child to read is not.

But Trout's deal crosses a line. Fellow ballplayers and baseball pundits say he's worth the money, but I don't accept that. Trout might be good, but I don't see him on the same level as legendary center fielders like Willie Mays, Mickey Mantle or Joe Dimaggio. They were stars, and led their teams to World Series championships. Trout plays out of sight for a mediocre team.

Somewhere, Angels founder Gene Autry is shaking his head. The old singing cowboy never received a movie deal worth anything like Trout's baseball contract. And he could ride a horse.



Bryan Washington's "Lot" examines gay, ethnic lives in Houston

Bryan Washington describes his short story collection "Lot" as "my little book about queer POC running around Houston."

That Twitter reference reminded me of Randy Newman's line about rich white frat boys "running around Atlanta in their alligator shoes."

Newman's "Good Ole Boys" defined the urban South of college-educated white businessmen that emerged in the 1960s. Now, Washington's multi-hued quilt of Houston's ethnic neighborhoods reveals the South's new urban reality

Washington's book about gay, black, mixed-race and immigrant people in the country's most diverse city is making a big arrival, including a laudatory review by The New York Times' Dwight Garner on the newspaper's coveted Arts front page Tuesday. 

"Lot," echoing the biblically referenced name in the collection's central story, is also receiving media attention ranging from NPR to the Los Angeles Times and Texas Monthly.

The birthplace of Donald Barthelme, whose surrealistic reveries made no reference to his hometown, Houston has received little literary attention outside of a quartet of novels written by Larry McMurtry. McMurtry's books took place in the ranch homes, business suites and academic halls of Houston's white, upper-middle class, reflecting the city's urban cowboy image.

Following Michael Arcneaux's memoir about growing up as a black gay Catholic in Houston, Washington's "Lot" gives voice to minority groups clambering for livelihoods in a sprawling, bumptious city known for oil wealth and white privilege.

Published Tuesday by Riverhead Books, "Lot" relates the experiences of a young black gay narrator as he travels through Houston's raucous ethnic streets and neighborhoods, according to media accounts. The unnamed young man's life intersects with those of  gay, black, mixed-race and Latino denizens of the city's marginal neighborhoods. 

Southern literature was obsessed for years with a guilt-ridden upper-class white aristocracy threatened by a rising white commercial class.  William Faulkner, Eudora Welty, Flannery O'Connor, Walker Percy, Peter Taylor and Robert Penn Warren produced novels that gained national prominence. Old Southern cities like New Orleans and Memphis were shown as exclusive enclaves of genteel manners and gracious traditions rather than cauldrons of urban diversity and conflict.

Breaking from the white dominated literature, Louisiana's Ernest Gaines gave witness to the fraught rural experience of Southern blacks. In recent years, Jesmyn Ward's novels explored the deprivation and endeavors of working class blacks in coastal Mississippi's small towns and farm communities.

Now, Washington joins writers like Atlanta's Tayari Jones in examining the minority experience in major cities like Houston and Dallas. Voices are also rising from New Orleans.

Washington's Houston stories might not even be considered Southern literature. Houston and Texas have always been seen as separate from the South, with a different economic and social history.

With its vastness, Texas developed its own literature, criticized by McMurtry as self-consciously regional and shallow. Washington, novelist and political writer Ben Fountain and journalist Lawrence Wright are bringing new perspectives to the state's literature.

From Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles to John Updike's and John Cheever's suburbia, Saul Bellow's Chicago, Philip Roth's Newark and Mark Twain's Mississippi River, American literature has examined how place intersects with racial, social, religious and economic demands and individual identity.  Washington's "Lot" brings new stories to that tradition.