SCOTT SIMON, HOST: It's well known that trees help counter climate change by soaking up carbon dioxide. Now there is a growing body of research to point to many ways a dose of trees can improve our mental and physical health. Here's Martha Bebinger of member station WBUR on how and why.
MARTHA BEBINGER, BYLINE: The tiny sapling Robin Williams planted 30 years ago towers above her Boston home.
ROBIN WILLIAMS: I raised this tree when I raised my children. And look at this (laughter). Look at that.
BEBINGER: She says there's something about being near this tree.
WILLIAMS: It makes everybody a little bit happy around here. When you're looking for strength, you can't do better than looking at a tree.
BEBINGER: And there's evidence Williams may well be gleaning any number of direct or associated health benefits.
HOWARD FRUMKIN: A longer life, better birth outcomes, lower stress levels, lower risk of heart disease...
BEBINGER: Dr. Howard Frumkin is at the University of Washington School of Public Health.
FRUMKIN: ...Lower risk of diabetes, reduced symptoms of ADHD. Proximity to trees is associated with a ridiculously broad range of health benefits. I wish we had pills that were this good for health.
And I noted a study about the youth and the climate crisis last week in "The climate crisis." NPR's WEEKEND EDITION SUNDAY discussed it:
LULU GARCIA-NAVARRO, HOST: Storms, floods, wildfires, heat waves - many of us are now being impacted in some way by climate change. And maybe that makes you feel dread, fear - there is a name for that, climate anxiety. Young people are especially vulnerable to this. A forthcoming global study looked at 10,000 young people's attitudes towards climate change. And one of the authors is Caroline Hickman. She specializes in climate psychology at the University of Bath. And she's here to tell us more about what they found. Hello.
CAROLINE HICKMAN: Hello. Good morning.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: You surveyed 10,000 young people across 10 countries, all of them between the ages of 16 to 25. And you asked them a variety of questions about their feelings and their thoughts about climate change. How would you characterize their answers?
HICKMAN: Well, the short answer is we found these answers quite devastating. We've known from our previous research with children and young people around the world that they were distressed, that they were finding climate change terrifying. What we didn't realize was quite how frightened they were. We didn't realize the depth of the feeling. And we didn't realize how that was impacting on their thinking and their daily functioning.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: Yeah. I mean, did it vary country by country? And what were those numbers?
HICKMAN: Yes, there is some variation country by country. And not surprising, countries like India, Nigeria, the Philippines are reporting a much greater impact on their trust in governments and adults to be taking action and much higher levels of distress. But to be honest, the levels of distress across all of the countries were worrying. I mean, across the results, we found things like two-thirds overall were feeling sad, afraid, anxious. And half of young people were telling us they were feeling angry, powerless, helpless, guilty and ashamed. This was not a small percentage of children and young people. Eight out of 10 were telling us people have failed to take care of the planet. Eight out of 10 were saying, the future is frightening, you know? And then some of the worst findings - over half were telling us that they thought humanity was doomed. And 4 out of 10 felt reluctant to have children themselves because of their fears about climate change.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: And you mentioned that they said that their feelings about climate change negatively affect their daily lives. Did they explain how?
HICKMAN: Yes, they did. They said it has a negative impact on eating, sleeping, going to school, studying, working and playing and having fun. I'm afraid there was no area of their life that they said wasn't impacted.
I'm glad the young people care. I wish the people my age and older were as bothered as the young are. I can remember being very frustrated as a young person that we were not doing anything to end the arms race. I really thought a lot of adults were stupid -- and I was right. So to the young people today, if you're thinking a lot of adults are stupid, you are right.
"Iraq snapshot" (THE COMMON ILLS):
Monday, September 20, 2021. A War Criminal roams free in California where a crowd embraces lies and the liar while booing and hissing an Iraq War veteran, in Iraq elections are looming.
In the video below, Richard Medhurst offers reality as he reviews the many lies told to start the Iraq War.
Remember the realities that Richard Medhurst lists the next time a Condi Rice shows up whoring to claim that Iraq is better off because of the illegal war and the lies told to start it. Or worse yet, when it's Bully Boy Bush lying today -- he's apparently done hiding under a rock. A few hypocrites in the center and on the slight-left want to hug him out of fear of Donald Trump and suddenly he thinks the world is welcoming him back.
That's Iraq War veteran Mike Prysner raining reality down on Bully Boy Bush's paid speech yesterday on as The Saban Theater on Wilshire in Beverly Hills. Tonight, the War Criminal will be heading to The Terrace Theater at 300 E. Ocean Blvd in Long Beach.
While the series takes place at multiple locations, only Los Angeles and Long Beach were trashy enough to host War Criminal Bully Boy Bush. Pasadena, Thousand Oaks and Redondo Beach took a hard pass on that demonstrating that some still have standards.
There were no standards in Los Angeles as Mike was prevented from noting the friends he lost in Iraq and the Iraqi people who are being killed in the war. They didn't want truth at the Saban Theater, they wanted lies and that's why they turned out for Bully Boy Bush -- a War Criminal, a known homophobe, a disgusting piece of trash. And that's who those present elected to side with, not the Iraq War veteran trying to tell truth.
Some are far too invested in lies and hypocrisy to break free from them.
And so US troops continue to be deployed to Iraq. Dave Phillips (NEW YORK TIMES) reports:
A taut line of soldiers crossed the sprawling Army post’s parade ground in the afternoon, hoisting flags draped with a rainbow of streamers from past deployments: Afghanistan, Iraq, Vietnam, Korea, Germany, France, Civil War battles and even skirmishes with Plains tribes on horseback.
“Present colors!” a sergeant yelled. The soldiers turned and dipped the flags toward their commanding colonel, who stepped forward and carefully wrapped each one in camouflage sleeves.
At that very moment — 1:29 p.m. Mountain time on Aug. 30 — the last U.S. military plane took off from the Kabul airport in Afghanistan.
American flags across the country had been lowered to half-staff to honor the 13 U.S. troops killed there by a suicide bomber. And at the front gate of Fort Carson, women set out 13 pairs of boots and 13 cold Bud Lights as a memorial.
But the ceremony on the parade ground was not marking the end of America’s war in Afghanistan. The 4th Infantry Division’s 1st Stryker Brigade was wrapping its flags to mark the beginning of its latest deployment. It was going back to Iraq.
Although the mission may have dropped from public attention, the United States still has boots on the ground in the other nation it invaded in the wake of 9/11. About 2,500 U.S. troops are in Iraq now, the embers of what was once a scorching and divisive war, now carefully scattered to protect a few strategic bases. For the next nine months, roughly 2,000 soldiers from 1st Brigade will take over much of that duty.
In other news, THE NEW ARAB oofers an AFP article which examines voter mood ahead of the upcoming national election:
Mohammed, an economics graduate who works in a shop selling olive-, almond and other types of oils, says he feels "the election won't bring change".
At age 30, he keeps postponing the idea of marriage because of the searing economic difficulties.
"Basic services are not provided to me. Why should I go to vote?" he said, as the country suffers daily power cuts.
"The last time roads were paved in my neighbourhood was before 2003," added Mohammed, who like many Iraqis prefers not to give his full name when discussing politics.
In his Baghdad constituency, he said he knows two of the five candidates, but hasn't bothered to check their electoral platforms.
"The political factions have been the same since 2003; the only thing that changes are the faces," he said.
He denounced Iraq's entrenched clientelism, saying "the only people who vote are those who've been promised a job, or people who vote for someone close to them or from their tribe".
The The October Revolution kicked off protests in the fall of 2019 which forced the prime minister to step down and early elections to be announced. As ARAB WEEKLY notes, "Tens of thousands of Iraqi youths took to the streets to decry rampant corruption, poor services and unemployment. Hundreds died as security forces used live ammunition and tear gas to disperse crowds." This is what forced the resignation of one prime minister and has led to national elections which are supposed to take place October 10th. (Members of the Iraqi military will vote October 8th. Two election simulations have been carried out by the IEC and the third and final one will take place September 22nd.) Charlotte Bruneau (REUTERS) notes that the candidates for Parliament include 951 women ("close to 30% of the total number of candidates") who are running for the 329 seats. Halgurd Sherwani (KURDISTAN 24) has reported Jeanine Hannis-Plasschaert, the Special Representiative in Iraq to the United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, declared that Iraq's "Female candidates face increasing levels of hate speech, violence, and blackmail intended to force them to withdraw their candidacy."
Sinan Mahmoud (THE NATIONAL) counts 3,249 people in all seeking seats in Parliament BROOKINGS notes this is a huge drop from 2018 when 7,178 candidates ran for office. RUDAW is among those noting perceived voter apathy, "Turnout for Iraq’s October 10 parliamentary election is expected to be a record low, with a recent poll predicting just 29 percent of eligible voters will cast ballots." Human Rights Watch has identified another factor which may impact voter turnout, "People with disabilities in Iraq are facing significant obstacles to participating in upcoming parliamentary elections on October 10, 2021, due to discriminatory legislation and inaccessible polling places, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today. Without urgent changes, hundreds of thousands of people may not be able to vote. The 36-page report, “‘No One Represents Us’: Lack of Access to Political Participation for People with Disabilities in Iraq,” documents that Iraqi authorities have failed to secure electoral rights for Iraqis with disabilities. People with disabilities are often effectively denied their right to vote due to discriminatory legislation and inaccessible polling places and significant legislative and political obstacles to running for office." Another obstacle is getting the word out on a campaign. Political posters are being torn down throughout Iraq. Halgurd Sherwani (KURDiSTAN 24) observes, "Under Article 35 of the election law, anyone caught ripping apart or vandalizing an electoral candidate's billboard could be punished with imprisonment for at least a month but no longer than a year, Joumana Ghalad, the spokesperson for the Iraqi Independent High Electoral Commission (IHEC), told a press conference on Wednesday." And there's also the battles in getting out word of your campaign online. THE NEW ARAB reported weeks ago, "Facebook is restricting advertisements for Iraqi political parties and candidates in the run-up to the country's parliamentary elections, an official has told The New Arab's Arabic-language sister site."
THE WASHINGTON POST's Louisa Loveluck Tweeted: of how "chromic mistrust in [the] country's political class" might also lower voter turnout. Mina Aldroubi (THE NATIONAL) also notes, "Experts are predicting low turnout in October due to distrust of the country’s electoral system and believe that it will not deliver the much needed changes they were promised since 2003." Mistrust would describe the feelings of some members of The October Revolution. Mustafa Saadoun (AL-MONITOR) notes some of their leaders, at the recent Opposition Forces Gathering conference announced their intent to boycott the elections because they "lack integrity, fairness and equal opportunities." Distrust is all around. Halkawt Aziz (RUDAW) reported on how, " In Sadr City, people are disheartened after nearly two decades of empty promises from politicians."
After the election, there will be a scramble for who has dibs on the post of prime minister. Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr has 90 candidates in his bloc running for seats in the Parliament and one of those, Hassan Faleh, has insisted to RUDAW, "The position of the next prime minister is the least that the Sadrist movement deserves, and we are certain that we will be the largest and strongest coalition in the next stage." Others are also claiming the post should go to their bloc such as the al-Fatah Alliance -- the political wing of the Badr Organization (sometimes considered a militia, sometimes considered a terrorist group). ARAB WEEKLY reported, "Al-Fateh Alliance parliament member Naim Al-Aboudi said that Hadi al-Amiri is a frontrunner to head the next government, a position that can only be held by a Shia, according to Iraq’s power-sharing agreement." Some also insist the prime minister should be the head of the State of Law bloc, two-time prime minister and forever thug Nouri al-Maliki. Moqtada al-Sadr's supporters do not agree and have the feeling/consensus that, "Nouri al-Maliki has reached the age of political menopause and we do not consider him to be our rival because he has lost the luster that he once had so it is time for him to retire."
A new Parliament could mean a new president. The post is held by a Kurd, a prime minster has to be Shi'ite and the Speaker of Parliament has to be Sunni. ARAB WEEKLY reports:.
Sources close to Iraqi President Barham Salih say he wants to seek a second term in office.
The sources told The Arab Weekly that it is generally agreed in the region that Salih has discharged the role of president in a balanced manner and has worked hard on rapprochement between Iraq’s neighbours.
They add that Sunni and Shia political forces see him as the most suitable for job. However, the matter will depend ultimately on the Kurdish parties’ agreement on him serving for a second presidential term, after the parliamentary elections, which are scheduled for October 10.
The Iraqi president’s Erbil visit on Friday, coincided with his announcement he would like a second presidential term. He noted that much will depend on the outcome of the elections.
The post of President of Iraq since the 2003 US-led invasion, Iraq has had Jalal Talabani as president (2006 to 2014), Fuad Masum (2014 to 2018) and Barham since 2018.
On The October Revolution, Florian Neuhof (NEWSLINES) reports:
The family house of Ehab al-Wazni lies at the end of a narrow cul-de-sac in a warren of low-slung houses, one of the many nondescript residential blocks that make up the city of Karbala, southwest of Baghdad. The crumbling, sun swept facades bear no resemblance to the elegant, gilded spires of the Imam Hussein shrine at the edge of town, one of the holiest sites in Shiite Islam. Dusty and desolate in the sweltering summer heat, the alleyway hints at menace.
Wearing a black abaya and a worried look on her pale face, Ehab’s mother Samira keeps a watchful eye on the TV in the corner of the living room. Security cameras project onto its screen, picking up any movement outside. Their reach falls just short of the spot where her son was shot on May 8, felled by two bullets to the chest, three to the head.
Ehab had been one of Iraq’s most prominent political activists. In October 2019, a wave of protests had swept the country, fueled by anger at government corruption and failure to provide basic services or jobs.
Radiating from Baghdad’s Tahrir Square, the protests came to be known by the Arabic word for October: Tishreen. It was the young who took to the streets. With around 700,000 people entering the job market each year, at least 1 in 4 young Iraqis are unemployed. But the discontent went beyond economic grievances. A generation that had grown up with sectarian conflict after the 2003 U.S.-led invasion had wearied of rule of law being trumped by the rule of the gun. They were fed up with the outsized role of sectarianism in society and politics, and theocratic Iran meddling in Iraqi affairs.
In Karbala and beyond, Ehab had fanned the flames of dissent by spending countless hours on the streets and on social media.
“Ehab was the engine of the protests. He was trying to unify the movement. He encouraged protests all over Iraq,” his brother Ali al-Wazni said.
Ehab’s murder was only one of a tragic and unbroken string of killings. As the largely peaceful demonstrations spread throughout the country, the protesters were met with a hail of bullets and teargas canisters. At least 700 perished at the hands of police and shadowy militia groups over the past two years.
There is little doubt among the protesters that the militias are behind Ehab’s murder. Formed in the wake of the U.S.-led invasion in 2003, the militias grew as a Shiite insurgent force and engaged in a brutal civil war with Sunni extremist groups. They consolidated their position during the war on the Islamic State group, when they were crucial in defeating the terror group. Many have deep ties to Iran and have formed their own political parties. Woven into the fabric of power, the militias have an interest in propping up the system. More powerful than the state itself, they are a law unto themselves and have few consequences to fear.