What Happened Today: July 25, 2022
Trudeau’s climate plan puts squeeze on food producers; WHO declares monkeypox global emergency; Lou Reed's Brooklyn
The Big Story
A group of Canadian ministers told federal government officials on Friday that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s plan to limit fertilizer used on farms as a way to reduce Canada’s carbon emissions will ultimately undermine the nation’s food security. At a panel in Saskatoon, Canada’s minister of agriculture, Marie-Claude Bibeau defended the administration’s proposal, called the Sustainable Canadian Agricultural Partnership, which will require farmers to slash fertilizer use by 30% by 2030. “The idea is to produce the most sustainable food in the world,” she said, noting that fertilizers contribute potent nitrous oxide emissions that accelerate climate change. But the plan would drastically cut the roughly 60% of the global supply of canola oil and 8% of the barley that farmers now grow in Canada, which could soon necessitate more food imports—in other words, expending energy to ship foods that are likely grown using less sustainable practices. “The world is looking for Canada to increase production and be a solution to global food shortages,” said Nate Horner, a minister in Alberta. “The federal government needs to … understand this.”
Ahead of an eventual vote on the plan by Canada’s parliament, farm groups like Farmers for Climate Solutions have advocated for wetland management and forest-development projects that could cut as much as 14% of current greenhouse gas emissions without undermining food production or the economic security of Canada’s agricultural industry. A recent analysis of the fertilizer reduction mandate estimated that farmers who grow approximately 1,000 acres of canola and wheat would see their incomes reduced by as much as $31,450 every year. Earlier this month, farmers in Sri Lanka suffered a drastic drop in their income after a federal push into organic farming accelerated the collapse of its agricultural base and led to widespread food shortages. Protestors stormed government buildings, and Sri Lanka’s president and prime minister both resigned.
In the Back Pages:
→ The World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Tedros Ghebreyesus has rejected the majority recommendation of the group’s emergency committee and declared monkeypox a global health emergency, the first such declaration by the organization since 2020, when the COVID-19 pandemic began. Of the 15 people on the panel, 9 told Ghebreyesus that issuing the formal emergency designation “might cause undue alarm among the general public when the disease is currently affecting a specific group of people,” according to The Wall Street Journal. It’s the first time a WHO top official has ignored the panel’s recommendation, though it comes just as some four dozen Democratic members of U.S. Congress called on President Biden last week to deem monkeypox a public health emergency. The WHO designation does not trigger any release of funding or resources toward defense against monkeypox and serves only as a recommendation to governments. The virus disease has spread almost exclusively among men who have sex with men, and there have been approximately 16,000 cases across 75 countries, with the only reported deaths so far occurring in Africa. Because of its similarity to smallpox, several vaccines and treatments exist to help temper the spread of the virus.
→ In the latest episode of Musk, revelations emerge that Tesla owner and Twitter tease Elon Musk and his old friend and Google co-founder Sergey Brin had a falling out because Elon Musk slept with Brin’s wife—an accusation Elon strongly denies. “This is total bs,” Elon tweeted shortly after the news broke. “Sergey and I are friends and were at a party together last night!” Brin and his wife filed for divorce earlier this year—in part, it seems, because of her exploits with Elon. This episode is the latest in a season of sordid drama, which has seen our protagonist face claims that he exposed himself to a flight attendant, fathered secret twins with a company executive, and was disavowed by one of his 10 children. Elon also allegedly had a tryst with Johnny Depp’s now ex, Amber Heard, the news of which was revealed during the Depp-Heard trial when Depp’s texts referring to Musk as “the Mollusk” and threatening to castrate him were entered into evidence.
→ Fresh off his Wimbledon victory, Novak Djokovic will not be able to play at the U.S. Open in New York in August. The top men’s tennis player in the world became something of a poster child for those hesitant about the COVID-19 vaccine after his decision to avoid the jab prevented him from playing the Australia Open in January. Djokovic said the natural immunity from his COVID-19 infection in December should have been enough, but a showdown with Australia government officials who didn’t agree became a global news story. “He doesn’t want to get vaccinated, he doesn’t want to introduce it into his body,” said Goran Ivanisevic, his coach, who is vaccinated but feels Djokovic has been given a mantle he hadn’t sought out. “He never told others not to get vaccinated,” he said. While U.S. Open officials said Djokovic is allowed to play, U.S. border policy requires a vaccination for travelers to enter the country, even if they have natural immunity. As of now, U.S. Open officials say that proof of vaccine won’t be required for spectators.
→ Andrew Torba, a consultant for the gubernatorial campaign of Pennsylvania Republican Doug Mastriano and the CEO of Gab, a social media platform launched to help form “a parallel Christian society because we are fed up and done with the Judeo-Bolshevik one,” has said that Jewish conservatives like Ben Shapiro and Dave Rubin are not welcome on his platform unless they “repent” and “renounce” their faith. Facing criticism for such views, Torba doubled down:
These people aren’t conservative. They’re not Christian, right? They don’t share our values. They have inverted values from us as Christians. So don’t fall for the bait, right? Don’t fall for the bait of Populism Inc. Don’t fall for the bait of this pseudo-conservatism, big tent nonsense. This is a Christian movement, and this movement needs to be centered on the gospel and truth of God’s word and of Jesus Christ, our lord and savior and king.
Mastriano has been unmoved, thus far, by the mounting calls for him to distance his campaign from Torba and Gab, and recent reporting has suggested one reason why. The $5,000 Mastriano paid Gab for “consulting fees” has boosted his Gab following from 2,300 people to 37,000, with every new account created on the platform now being automatically subscribed to Mastriano’s channel.
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→ With record-setting droughts drying up critical reservoirs, a large swath of northeastern Mexico is now facing an intense water shortage. The situation has become so dire that households in the city of Monterrey (Mexico’s second largest with a population 1.1 million) are being limited to only several hours of water per day, and some households report not having any water at all. This has sent residents into the streets to fetch water; they walk in the sun with empty buckets and bottles to fill before hauling the water home. “It’s like we’ve gone back in time,” said one woman who walked a half mile to a well and back for water to wash dishes, flush toilets, and bathe. “And tomorrow I’ll have to do it all over again.” Mexicans have also taken to the streets in protest, denouncing the government’s lackluster response and that large industrial factories have been allowed to continue using as much water as they need. Analysts on the U.S. side of the border, meanwhile, look at what’s happening in northern Mexico as a “crystal ball” for the American Southwest. “Monterrey has the perfect storm of over-drafted aquifers, low reservoirs and water imports that are low,” said Samuel Sandoval Solis, an associate professor in the Department of Land, Air, and Water Resources at UC Davis. “You see the exact same thing in Los Angeles.”
→ Despite the thousand+ Starbucks locations dotting the streets of England, Howard Schultz, the company’s CEO, is considering selling its business in the U.K. market amid what he called “significant” market pressures. In most foreign markets, Starbucks licenses its stores out; in the U.K., however, the company still owns 30% of franchises. Starbucks first entered the U.K. market in 1998, hoping it would be a beachhead for a full-scale colonization of the European coffee market. Some 25 years later, with enemy baristas vanquished and rival coffee houses in ruin, Starbucks is encountering mounting pressures on its domestic front, including 195 U.S. franchises unionizing since December. Meanwhile, in China—which Starbucks executives believe will grow into the company’s largest market—the country’s COVID-19 mandates requiring that residents hole up in their apartments for weeks on end have hindered customers’ enjoyment of their shaken lattes.
→ NUMBER OF THE DAY: 1.1 million
The number of Americans who die each year prematurely, according to data from an international mortality database and the CDC. Despite the United States collectively paying more for healthcare than any other country does, its citizens have shorter lives, with more disease, and fewer doctors to care for them. That number continues to rise; it’s ticked up steadily since the 1980s and has exploded since the start of the pandemic, from 626,000 in 2019 to 992,000 in 2020 to 1.1 million in 2021. Jacob Bor, the epidemiologist at Boston University School of Public Health who crunched this data and arrived at these results, spoke of the horrifying significance of so many premature deaths. If the United States ranked roughly average compared to other wealthy countries, “a third of all deaths last year would have been prevented,” Bor said—including half of the premature deaths among working-age adults. “Think of two people you might know under 65 who died last year,” he said. “One of them might still be alive. It raises the hairs on the back of my neck.”
→ Hertz has been filing erroneous “stolen vehicle” claims for years, according to more than 300 people who allege that they have suffered because of the car-rental company’s careless clerical mistakes in how it files its thousands of stolen vehicle reports each year. Victims tell their stories on a new website, TruthHertz.net, which was created by Francis Alexander Malofiy, who is representing the 330 people suing the company. Some of Malofiy’s clients describe getting pulled away from their families by law officers at gunpoint, only to be released days, weeks, or even months later when it turns out that Hertz had made a paperwork mistake or had rented the car to someone who was using a stolen identity. “These are horror stories,” Malofiy said. “People are losing their jobs, their home, custody of their kids.”
Read More: https://truthhertz.net/
→ MAP OF THE DAY:
“Noisy City,” the work of the Belgian data-analytics firm Jetpack.AI, helps us hear and see the noise pollution of New York City. Using data from the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Noise Map, this audible cartography of New York’s noise is less a perfect representation of the cacophony of Midtown or Williamsburg than an invitation to think about the noise levels of the places you live and work, and what makes them sound just so. Click the map to explore the city’s noise or to see similar maps for Paris or London.
Additional reporting and writing provided by The Scroll’s associate editor, David Sugarman
TODAY IN TABLET:
Tiny Temples Jenna Weissman Joselit on how models of Jerusalem’s holy sites became tourist attractions around the world
Punks vs. Posers B. Duncan Moench says it’s the only culture war worth fighting.
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Lou Reed’s Brooklyn
In Out of the Fog, historical detective Brian Berger digs through newspaper columns, clippings, and other clues to bring readers the fascinating, scandalous, and forgotten tales of the past. In this installment … we tour the Brooklyn of Lou Reed’s childhood and rediscover the forgotten inspirations of the Velvet Underground great.
Lou Reed never hid his Brooklyn roots, but he did surround them with so much myth, irony, and half truth that even his admirers found it difficult to know his true origins in the borough.
There were reasons for this, not least Reed’s often contentious relationship with the press, and a preference for expressing himself in character. But it is possible now, almost a decade after Reed’s death, to see how the details of his early days in Brooklyn made his artistic devotion to the borough all the more striking.
Lewis Allen Reed was born in Beth-El Hospital (Brookdale Hospital today), in Brownsville on Monday, March 2, 1942. The front page of that afternoon’s Brooklyn Eagle was dominated by World War II, and local headlines like “Cop, 3 Others Shot in Wave of Holdups” and “Judge’s Wife Saves Slayer From Chair” betray any myths of a borough idyll.
Reed’s grandparents were Yiddish-speaking Eastern European immigrants—paternal side Polish, maternal side Russian—who made new lives in Brooklyn. If we cannot know them personally, we may yet know their kind from Jewish American folklore and the stories of Bernard Malamud. Reed’s father, Sidney Rabinowitz (1913-2005), was an accountant from the largely Jewish and Italian neighborhood of Borough Park.
Reed’s mother, Toby Futterman (b. 1920-2013), was from what was then the city’s largest Jewish community, Brownsville, renowned for Pitkin Avenue, boisterous left-wing politics, and gangsterism. In 1939, Futterman—who’d left high school early to help support her family—earned fame as Queen of the Stenographers, a beauty contest covered in, among other publications, the Communist newspaper Daily Worker.
Sidney and Toby met shortly afterward and would marry. In an effort to elude corporate antisemitism, Rabinowitz legally changed his last name, and thus that of his family, to Reed. With baby Lewis, the family’s first home—as discovered in a Brooklyn telephone directory—was 1620 Avenue V, near East 17th Street, in Sheepshead Bay.
A few years later, the Reeds had a daughter named Merrill and moved north, to 1477 East 27th Street, near Kings Highway, in Midwood.
Reed would attend school just four blocks away, at P.S. 197 on Kings Highway. Though he’d recall these years as ones of fear and violence, such claims run contrary to the neighborhood’s placid Jewish middle-class reputation. Certainly, there was plenty of casual violence those days in a Brooklyn still a half century away from mass gentrification. Still, of the borough’s many rough neighborhoods, Reed’s wasn’t one of them.
In 1952, Reed’s father took a position as treasurer of Cellu-Craft, a manufacturer of packaging materials, and the family moved about 25 miles east, buying a home in Freeport, Long Island.
For Lou Reed, Brooklyn boy, the transition was difficult but not impossible, and his childhood on the island began as one of comfortable suburban normality: sports, girls, music—he even had a bar mitzvah, though his parents were largely non-religious. Reed also had a furtive, more troubled side, and during his first year attending New York University’s campus in the Bronx, he suffered a nervous breakdown, one perhaps related to his experimentation with drugs and homosexuality. However it would be diagnosed and treated today, the answer then, the Reed family was assured, was ECT, electroconvulsive therapy. While its impact would be lifelong and traumatic, Reed did improve.
Next Reed attended Syracuse University, where he had friends and girlfriends and a successful band, L.A. and the Eldorados. Perhaps most significantly, it was there that Reed developed a transformative relationship with a professor, the well-known writer Delmore Schwartz, author of the classic In Dreams Begin Responsibilities and himself a Brooklyn Jew with fraught family pains. Reed graduated with honors in English in 1964—the same year Hubert Selby Jr.’s landmark avant-naturalist novel Last Exit to Brooklyn was published. Shocking for its time, Selby’s account of violence, depravity, and casual amorality established a literary style—raw, street-level, brutal yet empathetic—to which Reed, who revered the novel, would aspire.
Read the rest here.