Archive for David Lindsay

Opinion | The Ornithologist the Internet Called a Murderer – The New York Times

In September 2015, Dr. Filardi and a team of researchers from the museum and the University of the South Pacific ascended the rugged Chupukama Ridge, on Guadalcanal, one of the Solomon Islands, which he described in his field journal as “a sky island filled with scientific mystery.” The goal of the mission was not only to study Guadalcanal’s ecosystems, but to make the case for preserving them at a time when the Solomon Islands are under pressure to open more land up to logging and mining.

On the third morning, the sound of “kokoko-kiew” pulsed through the forest. The call was unmistakably a forest kingfisher’s. Dr. Filardi’s heart raced. For 20 years, he’d been searching for the mustached kingfisher, known as a “ghost” bird. Only three individuals, all female, had been discovered by scientists over the past century. There were no male specimens in any of the world’s museums; not even a photo of one was known to exist. He got a glimpse of the bird, just a flash of blue and gold, before it vanished.

Days later, when the team captured a male in a mist net, Dr. Filardi gasped. “One of the most poorly known birds in the world was there, in front of me, like a creature of myth come to life,” he wrote in a dispatch to the museum.

While the expedition was still underway, the museum released the first photographs of the bird, which seemed to be mugging for the camera. The mustached kingfisher became a viral celebrity, under headlines like “ridiculously gorgeous.”

It wasn’t until the public realized that Dr. Filardi had “collected” the bird — killing it for the museum’s research collection — that the adulation turned to venom.”

Source: Opinion | The Ornithologist the Internet Called a Murderer – The New York Times

David Lindsay:  Horrible story, well reported, good comments. PETA and the bullies who have hounded this great scientist into hiding should be taken to court. I don’t know how, but they are acting like a pack of hyenas. Edward O Wilson of Harvard has written in his great short book “Half Earth,” that we desperately need more naturalists to go out and catalog and map the ecosystems of myriad species that we know so little about.

Posted in: David Lindsay, Environment, Micronesia and Solomon Islands, Vietnam's Neighbors

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Opinion | Trump Was Outfoxed in Singapore – by Nicholas Kristof – NYT

It sure looks as if President Trump was hoodwinked in Singapore.

Trump made a huge concession — the suspension of military exercises with South Korea. That’s on top of the broader concession of the summit meeting itself, security guarantees he gave North Korea and the legitimacy that the summit provides his counterpart, Kim Jong-un.

Within North Korea, the “very special bond” that Trump claimed to have formed with Kim will be portrayed this way: Kim forced the American president, through his nuclear and missile tests, to accept North Korea as a nuclear equal, to provide security guarantees to North Korea, and to cancel war games with South Korea that the North has protested for decades.

In exchange for these concessions, Trump seems to have won astonishingly little. In a joint statement, Kim merely “reaffirmed” the same commitment to denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula that North Korea has repeatedly made since 1992.

“They were willing to de-nuke,” Trump crowed at his news conference after his meetings with Kim. Trump seemed to believe he had achieved some remarkable agreement, but the concessions were all his own.

Source: Opinion | Trump Was Outfoxed in Singapore – The New York Times

David Lindsay:

This writer loves Nicholas Kristof, and this is another thoughtful piece by him. However, I have more to add to it. I agree with the NYT commenter, that it was nothing to Trump to give up the war games with South Korea, this was one of his promises to his base. I’m not sure he lost anything he cares about, since what he actually won, was the taking over and dominating of the American and world press. He successfully made himself the center of attention. That he shredded our relations with our NATO allies, and praised won of the most brutal dictators in the world, is a small price to pay for so much attention.

I do like another comment, that this is just a tempest in a teapot.  We are not out of danger, if Trump gets wind that he has been perceived as the weaker negotiator, in front of the whole world, he might get belligerent. Kudos to the president of South Korea for bringing this thawing about.

An expert on NPR made the astute comment, that North Korea is subtly re-balancing their position in East Asia, moving slightly towards the west, and making themselves less reliant on China, the hungry elephant in the room. Or is China a Chimera:  “(in Greek mythology) a fire-breathing female monster with a lion’s head, a goat’s body, and a serpent’s tail.”

It is also important that Kim Jung-un has declared, his nuclear deterrent is in place, and he promises to his people he will improve the North Korean economy. So as long as we are patient, there is opportunity for peaceful improvement.

David Lindsay Jr. is the author of “The Tay Son Rebellion, Historical Fiction of Eighteenth-century Vietnam,” and blogs at TheTaySonRebellion.com and InconvenientNewsWorldwide.wordpress.com

Posted in: David Lindsay, Korea - North and South Korea, Nicholas Kristof

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Opinion | Democrats Childishly Resist Trump’s North Korea Efforts – by Nicholas Kristof – NYT

“Shock! Horror! President Trump is actually doing something right.

Sadly, Democrats in Congress are responding in a quite Trumpian way: They seem more concerned with undermining him than supporting a peace process with North Korea. They are on the same side as National Security Adviser John Bolton, quietly subverting attempts to pursue peace.

While international security is complicated, here’s a rule of thumb: When you find yourself on the same side as Bolton, go back and re-examine your position.

Sure, we all wish that Trump treated Justin Trudeau or Angela Merkel with the respect that he now shows Kim Jong-un. Yes, it seems that Trump has been played by Kim. Yet another way of putting it is that Trump is finally investing in the kind of diplomatic engagement that he used to denounce, and that we should all applaud.

Trump’s newfound pragmatism is infinitely preferable to the threat of nuclear war that used to hang over all of us, so it’s mystifying to see Democrats carping about any possible North Korea deal.”

“. . . . .  Now a similar partisan petulance seems to be turning some Democrats into spoilers. Trump’s engagement with North Korea has been chaotic and should have begun with working-level talks, but it’s still better for leaders to exchange handshakes than missiles.

Granted, there’s plenty of reason to be nervous about Trump’s deal making with North Korea, and plans can still collapse. How will Trump manage Kim when he can’t even manage a summit with the Philadelphia Eagles?

Still, even if North Korea won’t hand over nuclear weapons in the next few years, I can imagine it committing in coming months to a sustained moratorium on nuclear tests and long-range missile tests, on production of plutonium and uranium fuel, on transfer of nuclear technology to other countries, such as Syria. North Korea might also destroy an ICBM or two and accept inspectors at its nuclear sites in Yongbyon. Trump and Kim might agree to exchange liaison offices and to declare peace on the Korean Peninsula.

North Korea might well cheat, and these are half-steps, not rapid denuclearization. But half-steps toward peace are better than full strides toward war.”

Source: Opinion | Democrats Childishly Resist Trump’s North Korea Efforts – The New York Times

David Lindsay:

Great writing, thank you Nicholas Kristof.  The comments are mostly so negative. As my father liked to say, Don’t let the bastards get you down.

It is ethnocentric to expect North Korea to denuclearize now, but not naive, to think that peace would serve both Koreas and the world. Trump really needs to be contained, since he is so untrustworthy. The real work of peace will be by North and South Korea and their real neighbors.

Here is a comment that I found pleasantly optimistic and could recommend:

Hamid Varzi
Tehran
Times Pick

Donald Trump is irrelevant to the peace process, because he is unpredictable and untrustworthy. If peace occurs it will be in spite of Trump, as no traditional U.S. ‘enemy’ would eschew its only deterrent against a U.S. military attack.

The Koreas will make peace, the North will maintain its nuclear warheads at current levels of readiness, and Trump will claim ‘victory’ in the same way that a rooster claims credit for the sunrise.

Posted in: David Lindsay, Korea - North and South Korea, Nicholas Kristof

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Opinion | Think Military Strikes Could Stop North Korea? Try It and See. – By MARK FITZPATRICK – NYT

“United States-North Korean relations have been a rollercoaster in recent months. Escalating missile tests from Pyongyang and taunting tweets from the White House in 2017 were followed by a period of seeming rapprochement as President Trump and North Korea’s supreme leader, Kim Jong-un, agreed to meet for a summit to discuss “denuclarization.” And now things seem to be taking another turn for the worse.

On Thursday, Mr. Trump, in a fiery letter to Mr. Kim, called off the summit, following North Korea’s clarifications that it would not immediately give up its nuclear weapons. The Trump administration, led by the hawkish national security adviser John Bolton, seems to once again be contemplating military options. In his letter to Mr. Kim, Mr. Trump wrote, “You talk about your nuclear capabilities, but ours are so massive and powerful that I pray to God they will never have to be used.”

The results of any American military action against North Korea could be disastrous. To truly understand the consequences of what such a strike would mean, click through the options presented below.

This is an exercise based on what we know about American policy, North Korea’s military and the strategic calculus of Northeast Asia. It isn’t a sure thing, but it should make clear pretty quickly that the outcome of war on North Korea will be bad, worse or much, much worse.”

Source: Opinion | Think Military Strikes Could Stop North Korea? Try It and See. – The New York Times

David Lindsay:  To science based, law respecting environmentalists like myself, Donald Trump is an embarrassment and a disaster.  This war game set of scenarios by points out many of the serious problems of going to war with North Korea. Sun Tzu would laugh himself into another life, if he could witness such foolishness. His disciples in China must be smiling, while his disciples in Vietnam are probably crying.

Posted in: David Lindsay, Korea - North and South Korea, Military Affairs and Espionage

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Opinion | #MeToo Goes Global – by Nicholas Kristof – NYT

She was an 8-year-old girl with thick brown hair, large brown eyes, a purple dress and a fondness for running through the fields in northern India where she tended horses.

Then a man called her into the nearby forest, grabbed her by the neck and forced her to take sleeping pills, according to police accounts. The man dragged the girl, Asifa Bano, to a Hindu temple, where he and other men raped her repeatedly over three days, before murdering her — after one man insisted on raping her one last time. Asifa’s body was left in the forest.

Murder and rape happen in all societies, but this girl’s body was a battleground: Hindu extremists were trying to terrorize and drive out the Muslim community that Asifa belonged to. The killing triggered a huge controversy in India, with some Hindu lawyers and housewives protesting against prosecution of the murder suspects and Prime Minister Narendra Modi keeping shamefully silent for too long. To their credit, many middle-class Indians, including Hindus, mobilized to demand justice for Asifa.

Source: Opinion | #MeToo Goes Global – The New York Times

David Lindsay Jr.
Hamden, CT | Pending Approval at the NYT Comments.
So much pain, suffering and humiliation. I applaud Nicholas Kristof. He writes about things that are hard to read and difficult to comprehend. The comments are also excellent. While I will consider supporting organizations that help women and the poor around the world, I will continue to stay focused on driving out of the US Congress men and women who oppose family planning and population control, and attempts to stop the greenhouse gas emissions that are causing climate change, including ocean acidification and global warming with the expected sea level rise. Replacing these anti-science ideologues with representatives that respect science and environmental issues and data-based truth will make a big difference in ameliorating some of the suffering that Kristof describes. And, if we don’t curb out of control population control, while causing sea level rise, the suffering ahead will make the misery index today look look very low.
David Lindsay Jr. is the author of “The Tay Son Rebellion, Historical Fiction of Eighteenth-century Vietnam,” and blogs at TheTaySonRebellion.com and InconvenientNewsWorldwide.wordpress.com

Posted in: Bullies and Scoundrels, David Lindsay, India, Nicholas Kristof

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Trump Hits China With Trade Measures as White House Exempts Allies From Tariffs – The New York Times

“President Trump said he would impose about $60 billion worth of annual tariffs on Chinese imports on Thursday as the White House moved to punish China for what it says is a pattern of co-opting American technology and trade secrets and robbing companies of jobs and billions of dollars in revenue.

The measures come as the White House grants a long list of exemptions to American allies from steel and aluminum tariffs that go into effect on Friday, including the European Union, which has lobbied aggressively and publicly for relief from the trade action.

“The word that I want to use is reciprocal,” Mr. Trump said in announcing the tariffs in the Diplomatic Room of the White House. “If they charge us, we charge them the same thing.”

The China tariffs are his strongest trade action yet against a country he has branded an “economic enemy.” They fulfill one of his core campaign pledges, to demand more reciprocal deals with trading partners around the world.

But coupled with the administration’s decision to exempt the European Union, South Korea, Brazil, Canada, and Mexico from the tariffs on cheap metals, the action demonstrates how much Mr. Trump’s nationalist trade agenda is really targeted at a single country: China.”

Source: Trump Hits China With Trade Measures as White House Exempts Allies From Tariffs – The New York Times

David Lindsay Jr.

Hamden, CT 

“The tariffs, which the United States trade representative will publish within 15 days, will target 1,300 lines of Chinese goods — everything from shoes and clothing to electronics, administration officials said.” I understood the the argument for steel and aluminum, but what is the argument for these other 1,298 products? All the mainstream economists that I learn from, say that tariffs are toxic. The Chinese are famous for their intelligence, work ethic and pride. If they feel insulted, and have lost face, they will be forced to retaliate. Can Boeing stay on top without one of their biggest customers? Or did their stock price just drop almost 4% for no reason?

A five or ten percent tariff on just Chinese steel and aluminum might have been a more prudent test of the waters. Rejoining the TPP asap, would probably do more for the US economy and economic defense, than the steel tariff. The Chinese play like a people at war with the West, and they probably are, since they still have a score to settle over the bombardment and destruction of the Spring Palace, and its mulitude of treasure buildings and libraries, in the 1840’s, during the ugly opium war. The civilization that invented, paper, writing, gunpowder, history and literature, should be courted with carots as well as with sticks.

x

David Lindsay Jr. is the author of “The Tay Son Rebellion, Historical Fiction of Eighteenth-century Vietnam,” and blogs at here and InconvenientNewsWorldwide.wordpress.com

Posted in: China, David Lindsay, Foreign Trade Policy, Globalization and Trade

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Opinion | In Vietnam- Turning a Camera on the War – by James Hill – NYT

No foreign photographer spent more time in Vietnam than Horst Faas, who oversaw photographers in Saigon for The Associated Press, who was based there from 1962 until late 1970 and then regularly returned until the withdrawal of American forces in 1973. Despite being heavily wounded just before the Tet offensive — which did not stop him from going to the office on crutches during the attacks on Saigon — he survived the war thanks to a cocktail of fearlessness, Germanic common sense, good luck and wry humo

Source: Opinion | In Vietnam, Turning a Camera on the War – The New York Times

David Lindsay Jr.
Hamden, CT | Pending Approval
Thank you James Hill for this extraordinary story. You wrote, “In 1993 Tim Page, a British photographer who was wounded four times during the war, approached Mr. Faas to help produce a visual memorial to the photographers who had died in Vietnam. Mr. Page had already managed to unearth a large number of works from photographers who had been documenting the North Vietnamese side. …their book, “Requiem,” appeared in 1997. . . “When the exhibition first opened in Hanoi in March 2000, Mr. Faas was amazed to see veterans from the war arrive with magnifying glasses to look at details in the photographs. His and Mr. Page’s only stipulations were that the images should be accompanied by short, objective captions; no polemics. The exhibit is now on permanent display in the War Remnants Museum in Ho Chi Minh City; standing there for over an hour this summer I watched as a mix of local schoolchildren and tourists came in to look, often overwhelmed by its earnestness and the power of the images on display.” If I ever return to Vietnam, I will find this museum in Ho Chi Minh City. I will find the book Requiem,which I had never heard of. In my library, I treasure a photo book, :Vietnam Inc,” 1971, by the photographer Phililp Jones Griffiths. Sad, haunting, and extraordinary. x David Lindsay Jr. is the author of “The Tay Son Rebellion, Historical Fiction of Eighteenth-century Vietnam,” and blogs on Vietnam at TheTaySonRebellion.com and InconvenientNewsWorldwide.wordpress.com

Posted in: David Lindsay, Vietnam-American War

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The Biggest Refugee Camp Braces for Rain: ‘This Is Going to Be a Catastrophe’ – The New York Times

The world’s largest refugee camp, a temporary home to more than half a million people that sprawls precariously across barren hills in southeastern Bangladesh, faces a looming disaster as early as April when the first storms of the monsoon season hit, aid workers warn. “It’s going to be landslides, flash floods, inundation,” said Tommy Thompson, chief of emergency support and response for the World Food Program. “It’s going to be a very, very challenging wet season. That’s if we don’t have a cyclone.”

“But then, in a matter of weeks, as refugees poured in by the tens of thousands, trees were hacked away. Canals were dug. Bamboo-and-tarp shacks went up. More trees were cut as refugees scrambled to find firewood.

The hills, where elephants recently roamed, are now bare. Even the roots have been pulled out, leaving nothing to hold the parched soil together as rainwater washes downhill, potentially taking tents and people with it and quickly inundating low-lying settlements. The United Nations says 100,000 refugees are at acute risk from landslides and floods.

The early rains — known in Bengali as kalboishakhi, which translates loosely as the storms of an “evil summer” — are a precursor to the full-on monsoons. They strike when the soil is still dry and especially susceptible to mudslides. The only warning of their approach is usually hot winds that send the dry earth of summer swirling through the air.”

Source: The Biggest Refugee Camp Braces for Rain: ‘This Is Going to Be a Catastrophe’ – The New York Times

DL: It is too bad that these 600,000 Rohingya refugees were forced or allowed to deforest the area they were placed in. Now they have turned that piece of dessert into a probable death camp when the monsoon rains appear. I need firewood now, versus, I need these trees to prevent flooding later, is a choice I  hope that I never have to make.

Posted in: Bullies and Scoundrels, David Lindsay, Environment, Myanmar, Rohingya of Myanmar

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How Xi Jinping Made His Power Grab: With Stealth, Speed and Guile – by Chris Buckley – NYT

“BEIJING — Some 200 senior Communist Party officials gathered behind closed doors in January to take up a momentous political decision: whether to abolish presidential term limits and enable Xi Jinping to lead China for a generation.

In a two-day session in Beijing, they bowed to Mr. Xi’s wish to hold onto power indefinitely. But a bland communiqué issued afterward made no mention of the weighty decision, which the authorities then kept under wraps for more than five weeks.

That meeting of the party’s Central Committee was the culmination of months of secretive discussions that are only now coming to light — and show how Mr. Xi maneuvered with stealth, swiftness and guile to rewrite China’s Constitution.

The decision was abruptly announced only last week, days before the annual session of China’s legislature, the National People’s Congress. The delay was apparently an effort to prevent opposition from coalescing before formal approval of the change by the legislature’s nearly 3,000 members.”

Source: How Xi Jinping Made His Power Grab: With Stealth, Speed and Guile – The New York Times

 

David Lindsay Jr.

Hamden, CT 

Will this be good of bad for Vietnam? My gut tells me it will be bad. As China moves away from becoming more democratic, and moves towards becoming more fascist, it will perhaps become more dependent, or willing, to take on outside foreign wars, to distract its people. No one has more to lose in such a development, than the Vietnamese, who have had to repel Chinese invasions and occupations, at least seven times by 1789, when Nguyen Hue and his 200,000 troops deffeated a Qing army of about 300.000. I am pleased that the Trump administration has sent one of its aircraft carriers to visit Vietnam this month, at the deep port of Danang. This is an important message, that we in the United States agree with the Vietnamese, that the South China Sea, or the East Sea in Vietnam, does not belong to China, but should be shared by all the nations that live around it, or send their ships through it.

 David Lindsay Jr. is the author of “The Tay Son Rebellion, Historical Fiction of Eighteenth-century Vietnam,” and blogs at TheTaySonRebellion.com and InconvenientNewsWorldwide.wordpress.com

Posted in: China, David Lindsay, Foreign Affairs and U.S.ForeignPolicy, Post War Problems in Vietnam

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Europe Once Saw Xi Jinping as a Hedge Against Trump. Not Anymore. – The New York Times

“BRUSSELS — A year ago, the self-styled global elite gathered at Davos, shaken by the election of Donald J. Trump, who made no secret of his contempt for the multilateral alliances and trade that underpin the European Union.

Then up stepped the Chinese president, Xi Jinping, promising that if America would no longer champion the global system, China would.

European officials and business leaders were thrilled.

But a year later, European leaders are confronted with the reality that Mr. Xi could also be a threat to the global system, rather than a great defender. The abolition of the two-term limit for the presidency, which could make Mr. Xi China’s ruler for life and which is expected to be ratified this week by China’s legislature, has punctured the hope that China would become “a responsible stakeholder” in the global order. Few still believe China is moving toward the Western values of democracy and rule of law.

Instead, many European leaders now accuse China of trying to divide the European Union as it woos Central Europe and the Balkan states with large investments. They are also wary of how China has become more aggressive militarily, in espionage and in its investment strategy abroad — with targets including its largest trading partner in Europe, Germany.”

Source: Europe Once Saw Xi Jinping as a Hedge Against Trump. Not Anymore. – The New York Times

David Lindsay:

Good article. It ends, “Now Mr. Xi’s open-ended tenure could give China a chance to plan long-term and carry out its policies systematically with “a steady hand on the helm of a great power,” Mr. Schell said. “But it is rooted in Leninism, autocracy and control, which will make it a tremendous challenge for liberal democracies rooted in a different value system, especially in a world reeling with no leadership.” ”

It is surprising to think the Europeans are so dependent on the US for leadership. It would be useful, if we in the US could rally around an alternative leader, who could challenge our current president, with the leadership that is called for in the article here. Secretary State Kerry is the name that pops up in my mind. Who else should be on the short list.

Posted in: China, David Lindsay, Foreign Affairs and U.S.ForeignPolicy

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