Lazy Caturday ReadsPosted: December 3, 2022
This is going to be kind of a lightweight post, because I’m burned out on serious news at the moment.
There was a big social event in support of climate change research in Boston over the past few days. I wasn’t really paying attention, and neither was most of the national media; but it was for a good cause. Prince William and Princess Kate toured the Boston area for days, and handed out “Earthshot” awards at a ceremony featuring President Biden and some big name celebrities. This was the second Earthshot awards ceremony.
From the Earthshot Awards Website: FIVE WINNERS OF THE SECOND EVER EARTHSHOT PRIZE AWARDS UNVEILED.
Tonight, Prince William and The Earthshot Prize revealed the 2022 Earthshot Prize winners – an accomplished group of entrepreneurs and innovators spearheading ground-breaking solutions to repair and regenerate the planet.
Each winner was awarded a £1 million prize at the second-annual Earthshot Prize awards ceremony, which will be broadcast Sunday, December 4 at 17:30pm GMT on BBC and will begin streaming on Monday, December 5 at 2:00pm EST on PBS.org and the PBS app.
Inspired by President John F. Kennedy’s Moonshot challenge in the 1960s, which united millions of people around the goal of putting a person on the moon within a decade, The Earthshot Prize aims to discover and help scale innovative solutions that put the world firmly on a trajectory toward a stable climate by 2030 – a world in which communities, oceans and biodiversity can thrive in harmony.
Each year over the course of this critical decade for the planet, five winners will be chosen for their ground-breaking solutions to five of the greatest environmental challenges facing our planet. These five Earthshots are: Protect and Restore Nature; Clean our Air; Revive our Oceans; Build a Waste-free World; and Fix our Climate.
Following a rigorous selection process focused on identifying the most inspirational, impactful, and inclusive solutions, the five 2022 winners are:
Clean our Air: Mukuru Clean Stoves, Kenya – A start-up providing cleaner-burning stoves to women in Kenya to reduce unhealthy indoor pollution and provide a safer way to cook.
Protect and Restore Nature: Kheyti, India – A pioneering solution for local smallholder farmers to reduce costs, increase yields and protect livelihoods in a country on the frontlines of climate change.
Revive our Oceans: Indigenous Women of the Great Barrier Reef, Australia – An inspiring women led program that combines 60,000 years of indigenous knowledge with digital technologies to protect land and sea.
Build a Waste-free World: Notpla, United Kingdom – A circular solution creating an alternative to plastic packaging from seaweed.
Fix our Climate: 44.01, Oman – Created by childhood friends who have developed an innovative technique to turn CO2 into rock, and permanently store it underground.
There is no shortage of environmental problems that need to be solved. And today in Boston, Mass.—at a ceremony marked by celebrity appearances and calls to action from around the world—Prince William through his Earthshot Prize handed out over $6 million dollars to help accelerate five solutions to tackling issues on conservation, air quality, oceans, waste, and climate change.
The annual Earthshot Prize, an independent charity founded by Prince William and the Royal Foundation in 2020, awards $1.2 million each to winners in the five categories. The initiative aims to bring the same level of urgency and ambition to today’s environmental challenges as John F. Kennedy’s “moonshot” space-race challenge. (Marc and Lynne Benioff, TIME’s owners and co-chairs, have been among the philanthropic supporters of the effort.)
Among the panel of judges selecting this year’s high-profile awards are naturalist Sir David Attenborough, actress Cate Blanchett, musician Shakira, and Christiana Figueres, former head of the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change. The winners were selected from a group of 15 finalists from 10 different countries, and included, among others, grassroots organizations dedicated to forest protection and biodiversity conservation, along with start-ups exploring clean battery technology and alternative leather derived from waste.
It seems I’m not the only Bostonian who was unimpressed with the royals visit to our city.
Crowds had gathered at rain-swept City Hall Plaza to welcome Prince William and Princess Catherine of Wales, the photogenic royals who touched down on Wednesday for a whirlwind three-day tour.
So were patrons abuzz about the visit two miles away at Santarpio’s, a bare-bones bar and pizza joint, and East Boston institution?
“Not yet,” a bartender said dryly as he hustled crispy pizzas and plates of steaming sausage to a row of diners Wednesday night, his expression suggesting the likelihood of any buzz was quite low.
As breathless online commentary tracked the royal couple’s every movement and designer wardrobe change for a global audience of devoted palace watchers, laconic swaths of their host city remained unimpressed, if not wholly unaware of their presence.
At a Dunkin’ in the diverse Dorchester neighborhood on Thursday, a woman waiting for her order in a puffy winter coat, hood up, declined to talk to a reporter, then asked what the story was about.
Informed of the topic, she curtly shook her head.
“Don’t care,” she said.
The city’s history helps explain its deep veins of indifference, said Brooke Barbier, a historian who also offers guided tours of Boston. Because its identity is so rooted in the American Revolution and its rejection of monarchy, and because its landscape is still littered with vivid reminders of that past, “it makes sense, even centuries later, that Boston can’t care about the monarchy,” she said. “Even if, secretly, they care.”
Commuters cross the site of the Boston Massacre on their way to the subway (the place where it happened, then King Street, was later renamed); at the Boston Tea Party Ships and Museum, actors routinely re-enact the colonists’ famous 1773 protest against British taxation.
Fans of the first-place Boston Celtics seemed to channel vestiges of that feistiness on Wednesday night, when William and Kate attended a game at TD Garden alongside city officials, and were reportedly met with scattered chants of “USA! USA!” amid the louder cheering, when their faces were shown on a giant screen.
Harpers Bazaar: Boston Is Apparently Really Angry That the Royals Are Visiting.
While some in Somerville, Massachusetts, are appreciative of the fact that the British royals will bring some positive attention to Greentown Labs, an incubator for start-ups aiming to tackle the climate crisis with tech-fueled innovation, others are annoyed about the inconveniences the Wales’s visit will cause for the city—traffic, for example.
A main concern on the social channels is how difficult it will allegedly be for residents to get to grocery store Market Basket, located on Somerville Avenue. A block of the avenue, from Dane Street to School Street, will be blocked during William and Kate’s visit to the area today, according to an email city officials sent to residents on Wednesday, The Boston Globe reported.
Both directions of travel, the sidewalks, and parking will also be closed to the public, and the MBTA’s route 87 bus will be temporarily rerouted, the city reportedly said, adding that the move was made “to accommodate security measures for the British royal visit.”
A spokesperson for Market Basket said the store will remain open, with access from the Union Square side, per the Globe. But even the Somerville city councilor is outraged at the possibility of having one entrance to the local supermarket temporarily, partially blocked for the royals’ historic visit—their first to the U.S. since 2014.
“Hey, did you know that the royal family is visiting Ward 2 tomorrow? Yeah, me neither until I read it in the press,” City Councilor Jefferson Thomas Scott wrote on Twitter yesterday upon the royals’ arrival in Boston.
“I didn’t invite these people and was unaware of this visit until you found out too,” he added. “The City is not handling the Prince and Princess of Wales’ itinerary, so the times of these transits and closures ending is unknown.”
In other news, here’s the latest on Elon Musk’s ongoing destruction of Twitter.
Remember back in the days of the 2008 financial crisis when Matt Taibbi seemed like a serious journalist to some people even though his reporting style was a weak imitation of Hunter Thompson’s gonzo journalism? I wasn’t particularly impressed even then. For a time, Taibbi pretended to be a “progressive,” supporting Bernie Sanders for president. But these days Taibbi, like Glenn Greenwald, is a right-winger and apparent Russian asset. Now he has become an Elon Musk puppet. Yesterday he posted a Twitter thread on Hunter Biden’s laptop, at Musk’s request. I couldn’t quite make sense of the thread, but here are some articles about it.
Elon Musk’s Twitter took aim at the firm’s previous management Friday evening with a “Twitter Files” presentation intended to demonstrate “free speech suppression.“
Driving the news: Musk’s team apparently provided newsletter author Matt Taibbi with access to internal documents surrounding Twitter’s controversial decision, three weeks before the 2020 presidential election, to limit access to a New York Post article about the contents of Hunter Biden’s laptop.
At the time Twitter said that it was blocking the Post story under a policy against stolen and hacked materials. Conservatives said the company was censoring the news. Within two days CEO Jack Dorsey reversed the decision and apologized.
The Post story alleged that in 2015 Hunter Biden tried to arrange a meeting between his father and an executive at a Ukrainian company Hunter Biden worked for. Biden spokespeople denied the allegations at the time.
Details: Taibbi’s “Twitter Files” unrolled Friday on Twitter, stretched out across nearly two hours of posting.
— The posts show debates inside Twitter over whether the decision to block the Post story was the right call.
— Conservative outrage at Twitter’s action was loud and public at the time, but Taibbi also reports messages from outside organizations and a Democratic politician over the move.
— A text apparently from Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.) to a Twitter executive reads, “Generating huge backlash on hill re speech.”
Between the lines: Musk’s following greeted “The Twitter Files” as evidence that Twitter had operated with bias, but there was no smoking-gun evidence of a partisan conspiracy to censor.
So that’s the gist of the story. It’s also evident that Musk still doesn’t grasp the meaning of the First Amendment’s freedom of speech clause. Its purpose was to protect speech from government control and interference. A private company like Twitter is not the government and thus has the right to moderate offensive speech on its platform
Zachary Petrizzo at The Daily Beast on the right wing response: Deeply Underwhelmed’: Right-Wingers on Musk’s Overhyped ‘Twitter Files.’
Elon Musk hyped the release of bombshell revelations Friday about Twitter’s controversial decision to restrict stories about Hunter Biden’s laptop on the platform, but the leak was a resounding flop with many right-wing pundits.
“So far, I’m deeply underwhelmed,” Sebastian Gorka, a former Trump administration official turned right-wing radio host, said. His comments came after journalist Matt Taibbi released a lengthy Twitter thread detailing Musk’s touted findings, namely that Twitter executives themselves were at odds over whether to restrict the Hunter Biden reporting and that Democrats (and Republicans) filed moderation requests with the social media giant….
But the right-wing host didn’t leave it to just a single post. He continued by doubling down when pressed by MAGA diehard followers who were convinced the “Twitter files” promoted by Musk were a smoking gun.
Responding to a Truth Social user claiming the Twitter company emails were “a clear violation of the 1st Amendment,” the radio host fired back: “Err no, it’s not the DNC asking a private company to censor has nothing to do with the First Amendment.”
The back and forth ended with Truth Social users accusing Gorka of being “deep state.” (The radio host failed to address questions on the matter sent to him by The Daily Beast on Friday night.)
“I feel that Elon Musk has held back some material,” she then alleged, claiming sinister forces were perhaps controlling Musk after the Twitter chief took a meeting with Apple CEO Tim Cook earlier in the week. “In particular, there’s a tweet in which Matt Taibbi says he hasn’t seen any evidence that law enforcement specifically warned off Twitter from our story. But that’s just not correct.”
While normal humans who denied Republicans their red wave were enjoying an epic sports weekend, an insular community of MAGA activists and online contrarians led by the world’s richest man (for now) were getting riled up about a cache of leaked emails revealing that the former actor James Woods and Chinese troll accounts were not allowed to post ill-gotten photos of Hunter Biden’s hog on a private company’s microblogging platform 25 months ago.
Now if you are one of the normals—someone who would never think about posting another person’s penis on your social media account; has no desire to see politicians’ kids’ penises when scrolling social media; doesn’t understand why there are other people out there who care one way or another about the moderation policies surrounding stolen penis photos; or can’t even figure out what it is that I’m talking about—then this might seem like a gratuitous matter for an article. Sadly, it is not.
Because among Republican members of Congress, leading conservative media commentators, contrarian substackers, conservative tech bros, and friends of Donald Trump, the ability to post Hunter Biden’s cock shots on Twitter is the number-one issue in America this weekend. They believe that if they are not allowed to post porno, our constitutional republic may be in jeopardy.
I truly, truly wish I were joking.
Miller’s take on what it was all about:
Here’s a synopsis for the blessedly uninitiated:
On Friday, Elon Musk promised to reveal “what really happened with the Hunter Biden story suppression by Twitter.” It turns out that he had provided a trove of internal corporate documents to the Tulsi Gabbard of Substack, Matt Taibbi, who said they amounted to a “unique and explosive story”—revealing the juicy details inside Twitter’s decision to suppress the New York Post’s Hunter Biden laptop story, which had previously been rejected by such liberal outlets as Fox News and the Wall Street Journal due to its suspicious provenance. Taibbi agreed to divulge these private emails on Twitter itself rather than via his Substack as part of a “few conditions,” which he does not detail, that were imposed on him, presumably by Musk or a Musk factotum.
The documents Taibbi tweeted on Friday were titillating in the way that reading private correspondence revealing what people were really saying around a controversial subject always is, but nothing new was learned about the contours of the story. The leak mostly relitigates two facts that have already received much ink across the media: 1) How Twitter throttled the New York Post’s initial story about Hunter’s laptop based on what we now know was an incorrect assessment of its source; and 2) How political campaigns and government agencies have worked with social media companies—in this case Twitter—to flag troubling content.
Read more at the Bulwark link if you’re interested.
I’ll wrap up this gossipy post with some HuffPost reporting by Matt Shuham on Trump’s dinner with Nazis: The Mysterious Fourth Man At The Trump-Ye Dinner Tells His Story.
When former President Donald Trump held a now-infamous dinner last month with Ye, the antisemitic rapper formerly known as Kanye West, and a prominent white nationalist, an unnamed additional guest sat alongside the powerful men.
NBC News reported only that the other person in Ye’s group was the parent of a student at Donda Academy, the rapper’s private school in California. But while speaking about the dinner this week, Ye briefly referred to a man named Jamar Montgomery during a livestream with far-right influencer Tim Pool. Ye identified him as a “Boeing engineer.”
HuffPost tracked Montgomery down and spoke with him Thursday night. He is indeed a Boeing employee, though he did not confirm any connection with Donda Academy. Montgomery told a wild tale about how an invitation from Ye, whom he says he barely knew, quickly led to a dinner with the former leader of the free world. Montgomery shared some details from the evening, including some insight into why a mysterious phone call suddenly darkened Trump’s mood, after which he began treating Ye with open hostility.
Montgomery says he didn’t know about Ye’s anti-Semitism and positive views of Hitler when he accepted the invitation.
Montgomery said Ye initially reached out to him about two weeks ago to talk about education, given Montgomery’s experience as an educator and tutor.
Montgomery confirmed he worked for Boeing, but said, “the work that’s most important to me is the work that I do for the people.” He cited his efforts to teach his community about financial literacy, cryptocurrency and political science. A Boeing spokesperson confirmed to HuffPost that someone of the same name works for the company. The spokesperson declined to describe Montgomery’s work, citing privacy reasons, and said “we did not have an employee there representing Boeing in any official capacity.”
Montgomery ran for U.S. Senate in Louisiana in 2020 as a no-party-affiliation candidate, ultimately earning 5,804 votes, and he currently goes by the moniker “The Crypto Politician.”
And as for the dinner? “I was there as a spectator. I was just along for the ride.”
Those are my offerings for Caturday. Feel free to discuss serious issues in the comment thread.