San Francisco’s Hard Lesson In Unethical Ethics

It shouldn’t be a difficult concept to grasp, but history tells us it is: idealism unmoored to human nature and reality lead to disaster with depressing consistency. Thus “ethical” plans and motives that rely on fantastic and contrived versions of how the world might works under ideal circumstances are in truth not ethical at all. They are incompetent. They are irresponsible.

And thus we have the current fiasco in San Francisco, where the progressive voters left their hearts while their brains AWOL. The Martian leader of the invasion in “Plan Nine From Outer Space” has it right. Meet Chesa Boudin, the City on the Bay’s visionary District Attorney, elected in 2019.

Boudin had, it is far to say, no qualifications for the job of the head prosecutor of a major U.S. city with a growing crime problem. He had never prosecuted a case. But then he didn’t think most cases should be prosecuted. He dreamed of something kinder, gentler, that didn’t require anything so crass and mean as “punishment.” His experience with America’s judicial system showed him that there had to be a better way, as Robert Redford’s clueless idealist in “The Candidate” kept saying. He is “the son of jailed Sixties radicals,” and his kind and caring parents are the inspiration for his campaign against what civilizations have known for eons, but America’s progressives have chosen to forget: bad people abound, and if society doesn’t stop them, they will stop society.

In my value system, and one I am proud to say has been consistent on this issue all my life, Chesa Boudin’s parents, his role models, were bad people. They were members of the Weather Underground, a domestic terrorist organization that bombed banks and government buildings, including the US Capitol. They wanted to bring “The Man” down, man. The Weathermen were too mild for Mom and Dad, so they formed the May 19th Communist Organization, more violent and anti-American still. In 1981, the Boudins took part in the armed robbery of a bank truck. A security guard and two policemen were killed, and Chesa’s parents were convicted of felony murder. At the trial, they explained that the stolen $1.5 million was needed to fund the creation of a black nation-state in the American south. Good plan!

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Afternoon Ethics Delights, 4/6/2021:

The U.S. entered The Great War on this date in 1917, surely among the most disastrous decisions the nation has ever made. Unfortunately, almost all of the debate over whether we “should” have gotten involved in the seemingly pointless quarrel among the European powers is polluted by hindsight bias, consequentialism, and a disregard for moral luck. Yes, it’s true that The Great War led to a far worse one, and that Germany winning what became World War I probably would have kept Adolf Hitler painting houses. But that’s cheating: we can only assess the legitimacy of the U.S. entering the war on the basis of what was known at the time.

1. Baseball uniform ethics. Oh yeah, this makes a lot of sense. The Boston Red Sox uniforms have been red, white and blue for almost a century—perfect for the team’s annual Patriot’s Day game, which occurs in the morning so the crowd can watch the end of the Boston Marathon. Only Massachusetts, Maine and Connecticut celebrate Patriot’s Day, when Paul Revere (and his two friend) rode to warn the Boston suburbs that the British were coming in 1775.

Well, Nike is now pulling baseball’s strings (there is evidence that the company that employs Colin Kaepernick as a spokesperson helped push MLB into punishing Atlanta for Joe Biden’s made-up racist voting law claims), and part of its deal with the sport is that it will design new uniforms for many of the teams. Here are the uniforms the company thinks the Boston Red Sox should wear to celebrate Patriots Day, since those old colors just reflect the flag of the racist nation founded on the backs of slaves:

They look like eggs.

And of course, no red socks.

2. The rest of the story! Remember this post, about San Francisco’s lunatic school board declaring that one-third of the city’s school names, including those honoring Washington, Jefferson,  Lincoln, James Madison and both Roosevelts , Presidents Monroe, McKinley, Herbert Hoover and James Garfield; John Muir, the naturalist and author; James Russell Lowell, abolitionist poet and editor; Paul Revere,  Robert Louis Stevenson, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow,  Daniel Webster, and current California Senator and former city mayor Diane Feinstein must be replaced so as not to honor individuals who were, in the words of an over-acting character in “The Birds”,

Rendering the equivalent of Tippy Hedren’s slap to these idiots has been, well, just about everybody, from historians, scholars, parents, anyone with an IQ above freezing, and even San Francisco’s reliably woke mayor. Implementing the re-naming was also expected to embroil the city in litigation. So now, the school board, after pausing its grand cancellation project, is expected to overturn its decision after wasting a lot of time and money, and making the city appear even more absurd than it usually does, which is quite an achievement.

You would think that someone on the school board would have been sufficiently smart, competent, responsible grounded in reality to predict the fate of such a mass historical airbrushing. Nope!

This isn’t called The Great Stupid for nothing, you know.

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Ethics Dunces: The San Francisco School Board [Corrected]

Rushmore 6

I was going to write an Ethics Dunce post about Jamie L.H. Goodall, a staff historian at the U.S. Army Center of Military History who wrote a truly stupid piece for The Washington Post headlined “The Buccaneers embody Tampa’s love of pirates. Is that a problem?” Goodall is triggered by the fact that the NFL’s now champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers carry a nickname that romanticizes pirates, who were bad people.

Of course, everyone knows pirates were (are, since there are more pirates operating now than back in the “Arrrgh!” days) bad, but they were scary and tough, see, and teams are named after scary and tough symbols, sometimes. Only people who have nothing better to do but to try to bend others to their will make the fatuous kinds of arguments Goodall does. ( “There is danger in romanticizing ruthless cutthroats…Why? Because it takes these murderous thieves who did terrible things — like locking women and children in a burning church — and makes them a symbol of freedom and adventure, erasing their wicked deeds from historical memory. These were men (and women) who willingly participated in murder, torture and the brutal enslavement of Africans and Indigenous peoples.” ) Oh yeah, we had to get the racist angle. I wonder how the good people of Pittsburgh managed to have a much-loved baseball team called “The Pirates” for more than a century without anyone, or any of their many, many proud African American and Caribbean players feeling that they were honoring raping and pillaging. Perhaps it’s because the team doesn’t and neither do “Treasure Island” and “The Pirates of Penzance (which I have performed in and directed).

The problem isn’t the Buccaneers; it’s the far too successful ongoing strategy of the oppressive Left, which seeks to keep anyone with normal sensibilities and an appreciation of history, literature, humor, whimsy and proportion constantly apologizing and retreating under a barrage of manufactured indignation and artificial moral superiority. The blunder has been that instead of responding to the power-hungry ideologues and their allies like Goodall who make these claims with the mockery and contempt they deserve, those under assault make the mistake, again and again, of saying, “Well, if it bothers you that much, okay. We’ll give you what you want. After all, it’s only a name.

But it’s not only a name. It’s a word, a street, a mascot, a flag, a logo, a book, a song, a movie, a statue, an artist, a leader, a President, a Founder, a culture, and a nation. The strategy and its purpose should have been obvious long ago, and it should have been fought against hard, right at the beginning, with all the fury and determination that goes into any other existential battle. Or a war.

As I said, I was going to write this post about Jamie L.H. Goodall, but her idiocy is already a cliche, and at this point, arguing over team names is a distraction. (Too bad, though, as I had a fun post ready explaining how almost every professional sports team name was vulnerable to woke attack.) But I realized that the recent action by San Francisco’s school board represents the metastasized end game in the totalitarian Left’s cultural bull-dozing plan.

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First Snowfall Ethics Accumulation, 12/16/2020 [Corrected]

For the record, I believe that Dean Martin’s is the definitive version of this holiday favorite. It’s the perfect vehicle for his inimitable style, which always makes me smile. I miss Dean; indeed I miss all of the great singers whose Christmas offerings come up on the Sirius-XM “Christmas Traditions” channel, because they are all dead, every one of them. In one short trip, I heard Bing, Dean, Rosemary Clooney, Burl Ives, Nat King Cole, and Karen Carpenter. All gone. Christmas songs shouldn’t make you sad.

1. No, “doctor” doesn’t mean “teacher.” The disingenuous nonsense defenders of Jill Biden and anyone else who insists of being called “Dr.” because they have a doctorate is stunning, and the hypocrisy is hilarious. When the pompous one was a Trump White House aide, the biased media mocked him. Now that the insecure title-wielder is a Democrat, the rules are different. Got it.

One particularly off-base defender of the non-medical “Dr.” in the comments writes, “Doctor means teacher.” No, it obviously doesn’t, or all teachers would be called “doctor.” My best high school teacher, Miss Rounds, who taught Latin, actually had a PhD but never asked her students to call her “Dr.,” because, you see, that would be stupid. Funny: none of the lists of synonyms for “doctor” include “teacher,” and none of the lists of synonyms for “teacher” include “doctor.”

But mirable dictu! The embarrassingly Orwellian Miriam Webster Dictionary, as it showed in this episode, has as its #1 general definition of “doctor” is “a learned or authoritative teacher.” I thought it had changed the definition to cover for Jill, just as it had changed a definition to follow the Democratic narrative in October (and as Dictionary.com did this very month). But no, Commenter Phlinn found that Miriam Webster has its outlier definition at least since January, hence this correction.

Now, if only on-line dictionaries were trustworthy and didn’t pull their partisan games, I wouldn’t suspect them. But they do, I am, and I am not wrong to be.

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The Pre-Unethical Condition Of Planning A Public Memorial: The Maya Angelou Debacle [Corrected]

_maya_angelou_proposal

(The ghost family isn’t part of the design, in case you were wondering…)

I use the term “pre-unethical conditions” to describe situations which have a record of leading directly to ethical conflicts and misconduct. “Ethics Chess,” another Ethics Alarms term mandates that a participant think multiple moves ahead, and thus anticipate, plan for, and with luck and skill, even avoid the ethical perils ahead. The task of honoring a famous or accomplished public figure with a monument or memorial structure for the ages once was simple and straightforward: you put up a statue after a respected and credentialed artist designed it. Of course, if you picked a hack to do the job and got something like this…

Lucy statue

That’s supposed to be Lucille Ball, in a now-replaced statue in her home town.

..there would be trouble, but usually the standards for statues were reasonable and the public easy to satisfy. That was fortunate, because any committee decision involving art of any kind is bound to be contentious; as the saying goes, there’s no accounting for taste. I’ve had to oversee the organizational acceptance of a new logo more than once, and it is impossible. When the board meeting reaches the point where members are scribbling their own crude designs on pads, you know you’re doomed. Public art is much, much worse, because it’s more visible, there are people who make their livings criticizing whatever the final result may be, and it’s expensive. Good luck.

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Constitution? What Constitution? A “White Lives Don’t Matter” Program In San Francisco

This is just one more Exhibit in the case to prove beyond a shadow of a doubt  that the current “movement” exploiting the death of George Floyd is not concerned with seeking equality of opportunity or eliminating “systemic racism.” Instead, it seeks to install a system that favors races it cares about over others. You have to admit, the evidence is damning.  If this were a trial, I’d request a directed verdict.

From the S.F. Gate:

Mayor London Breed Announces Launch of Pilot Program to Provide Basic Income to Black and Pacific Islander Women During Pregnancy …

Mayor London N. Breed, in partnership with Expecting Justice, today announced the launch of the Abundant Birth Project, a pilot program that provides targeted basic income to women during pregnancy and after giving birth. The pilot will provide an unconditional monthly income supplement of $1,000 to approximately 150 Black and Pacific Islander women in San Francisco for the duration of their pregnancy and for the first six months of their baby’s life, with a goal of eventually providing a supplement for up to two years post-pregnancy. Expecting Justice, a collective impact initiative led by Dr. Zea Malawa at the San Francisco Department of Public Health and supported by the Hellman Foundation and the UCSF California Preterm Birth Initiative, will study the resulting health impacts of the pilot program, which is the first of its kind in the United States….

The program is racially discriminatory on its face, and Breed, Dr. Zea Malawa, the San Francisco Department of Public Health,  the Hellman Foundation and the UCSF  are either civically ignorant, racists, dumb, hoping to get away with something they know is illegal, or some combination of two or more of these.  So are other funders mentioned in the mayor’s press release:Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey, Genentech, the Kellogg Foundation, San Francisco Health Plan, Tipping Point, Economic Security Project, Walter and Elise Haas, San Francisco Foundation, and the Friedman Family Foundation.

The program cannot withstand the inevitable legal challenge. Eugene Volokh, a Constitutional law specialist, explains, Continue reading

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 7/16/2020: Dreadlocks, Kareem, Scrabble And “Political Slogan? What Political Slogan?”

1. This Morning’s Grovel: A white Seattle hairdresser apologized profusely for daring to wear dreadlocks. The key quote: “I have come to understand—far too belatedly—that my hairstyle is harmful.”

To lightly paraphrase Orwell: ‘She loved Big Brother.’

It’s hard to work up any sympathy for people like Irene—weak, ignorant, unwilling to stand up for basic  human rights, like being able to wear your hair any damn way you want to. This is yet another of the one-way “rules” that are being delivered by edict as an alleged remedy for “systemic racism”: Blacks can do anything they want to, whites are severely limited. The hair rules: black women can straighten their hair, dye it blonde, adopt any style the choose as a method of self expression, but a white woman who chooses dreadlocks has “harmful hair.”

Those who won’t stand up for their own liberties deserve to lose them. Irene is a fool, and betraying the values of her country. Continue reading

Comment Of The Day: “Saturday Ethics Freakout, 6/20/2020: Fake News, Resignations, Topplings And Cancellations…But Also Hope,” Item #4

The toppling of a statue of our 18th President and the Civil War general who defeated Robert E. Lee, Ulysses S. Grant, in San Francisco should disabuse the historically literate of any misconception that all of the George Floyd demonstrators are concerned with “systemic racism.” Dishonoring Grant, as well as Francis Scott Key, whose statue also was pulled down, is signature significance for enmity toward the United States itself. 

Steve-O-in-NJ performed a service for all of us by taking the time to provide a concise and informative summary of this important American’s life of public service for Ethics Alarms readers. There are several references to Ulysses S. Grant on the blog; the most extensive was this segment of the President’s Day post in 2015:

My son is named after Grant, arguably the nicest and most sensitive of our Presidents. (How this sensitive man was able to sacrifice his soldiers in the thousands to win the horrible battles he did is an enigma.) As a cadet at West Point he drew pictures of horses obsessively; in the field, he refused to allow any of his men to see him unclothed. He loved his wife passionately, and wouldn’t allow her to get her badly crossed eyes fixed, because “God made her that way.” When his daughter was married, he retired to his bedroom and could be heard sobbing for over an hour.

As President, he was fatally handicapped by his nature, which caused him to trust people he shouldn’t and allowed others to exploit his good nature. The result was several scandals engineered by his appointees and associates, including Crédit Mobilier and the Whiskey Ring. Yet he had a natural aptitude for leadership, as his superb autobiography proved on every page. He could manage and lead; what he was bad at was manipulation, deceit, pretense, and retribution—in short, politics.

In one odd area, his customary sensitivity was completely lacking. He hated music of any kind.

Here is Steve-O-in-NJ’s Comment of the Day on Item #4 in the post, “Saturday Ethics Freakout, 6/20/2020: Fake News, Resignations, Topplings And Cancellations…But Also Hope”:

Apparently a lot of people don’t know their Presidents or their Civil War history. The man on the statue in Richmond is Robert E. Lee, commander of the Army of Northern Virginia, and General-in-Chief of all the Confederate Armies. The man in the San Francisco Park, although likewise bearded and in the uniform of the time, is his polar opposite. Born Hiram Ulysses Grant in Ohio, he adopted the name Ulysses Simpson Grant when he was admitted to West Point to avoid the embarrassing initials H.U.G. Graduating 21st of 39, he never planned to be a career officer.

During the Mexican-American War, where he was “an untidy young captain” as opposed to Lee being pronounced “the very finest soldier I ever saw in the field” by General Winfield Scott, and which he opposed as a land grab, he discovered he was actually a skilled officer, and began to change his mind about what he would do for a career. However, he left the army in 1854 after he was found drunk on duty and offered the choice of resigning or being court-martialed.

For the next seven years, Grant struggled between farming, real estate trading, and a few other things, none of which he was very good at. At one point he pawned his gold watch to buy his family Christmas gifts. He did not vote for the first Republican candidate for the presidency, John Fremont, because he could see this would probably lead to the country splitting in two. He did during this period acquire a slave named William Jones from his father-in-law. However, he found he didn’t have it in him to force him to work, and manumitted him before a year had passed. As the election of 1860 approached, he found himself becoming increasingly opposed to slavery.

Grant was a civilian when the Confederates fired on Fort Sumter, and initially Lincoln’s top military officer, George McClellan, turned down his request to be recommissioned. However, before the month was out, the governor of Illinois made him his military aide and a colonel, tasked with mustering in the Illinois militia. By August, old General Fremont, who he hadn’t voted for, made him a general himself and a district commander. That November he won the first major Union victory of the war at Fort Donelson. The following April his victory in the bloody Battle of Shiloh (for which he was roundly called a butcher and accused of drunkenness again) killed Confederate hopes of conquering the Mississippi Valley. That November he assumed command of the Army of the Tennessee, and ordered freed slaves to be incorporated into the ranks.

You probably know or should know the rest: the taking of Vicksburg, the brief reverse at Chickamauga, the taking of Chattanooga, his naming to supreme command (btw, before this, only Washington had held the three-star rank), and the slow, methodical advance into the South on five fronts. It took a year and was not without some reverses and mistakes, but ultimately he forced the Army of Northern Virginia under Robert E. Lee to withdraw from the Confederate capital at Richmond and flee west. On April 9, 1865, Lee tried to break through the Union cavalry screen, but was forced to abort the attack when he topped a ridge and saw two untouched full corps of Union infantry. He had no choice but to surrender.

Grant was actually heartbroken to receive the surrender of a man he had served with, even though he considered the Southern cause one of the worst ever fought for. He granted generous surrender terms, including letting the officers keep their personal sidearms and the soldiers keep their horses. He also stopped all celebration among his own men, reminding them that the rebels were now their countrymen again. He later personally opposed any attempts to try Lee and his officers for treason, since he had promised otherwise at the time of the surrender.

He actually became Secretary of War for a time during the presidency of Andrew Johnson, but issues with the appointment led to a complete break between the two men. He remained popular, though, and was elected the next president, in an attempt to unify the nation. During his presidency he actively fought the Ku Klux Klan and fought for civil rights for the freedmen, including the Fifteenth Amendment. His policy toward the Indians unfortunately fell apart in his second term. His reputation among historians was low until recently, due to scandals among his cabinet. It has enjoyed a revival recently, starting with a biography by Edward Jean Smith in 2001.

So, what do we take away from this long story (which could be a lot longer)? Ulysses S. Grant was, like all men, human, and like most humans, had feet of clay. Like most men, he passed through some difficult times, some of which were his own fault, and, like most men, he was probably given some opportunities that he might not have deserved. However, I can confidently say that he made more than the most of his second chance in the US Army, and was the right man at the right time to deal with the greatest crisis this nation has ever faced on the battlefield. He was as good a strategist and tactician as Lee, he just had the good fortune to have at least three lieutenants who were almost on the same level (Sherman, Thomas, Sheridan), while Lee had only the one (Jackson, whose loss he never recovered from). I can say with confidence that he was a man of his word, even when it might have been expedient not to be. I can also say with confidence that he did the best anyone could with the almost impossible task of putting a broken and embittered nation back together again.

He never betrayed the oath he swore twice, and he never once considered turning against his nation, although he did leave its service for a time. He never struck a blow against a fellow American, save one who was in open rebellion. He was not in sympathy with the Southern cause, and thought it was wrong, however, in the end he realized that continued hostility toward the defeated states would be counterproductive. He did not display any particularly racist attitudes or belief that one race was superior to another, in fact he incorporated freed slaves into his army. Continue reading

Saturday Ethics Freakout, 6/20/2020: Fake News, Resignations, Topplings And Cancellations…But Also Hope

I know just how you feel, Homer.

1. Mainstream media journalism, 2020. I thank Tim Levier for this classic, from NBC News:

Fake news. First, the Court did NOT rule that Trump cannot end DACA. The opinion by Chief Justice Roberts said explicitly that he can. Second, “Dreamers”  were not legal immigrants so they cannot magically become legal immigrants. At best, they will be illegal immigrants who have been given a pass for their violation.  The tweet is deceptive, misleading, and incompetent.

2. Cancellations, Resignations and Topplings Update! The current list of entertainment celebrities and politicians who have been documented as wearing blackface for one reason or another is long, and if one falls to the mob, the rest might start feeling awfully nervous.

The list includes Justin Trudeau, Ralph Northam, Howard Stern, Jimmy Kimmel, Jimmy Fallon, Joy Behar, Sarah Silverman, Ted Danson, Gigi Hadid, Julianne Hough and Billy Crystal.  Right now rumors are swirling around the irredeemable Jimmy Kimmel, who has suddenly announced a hiatus, with many speculating that he is holding on to his job by a thread…and if he goes, the innocuous Fallon may be next. Though Stern, Kimmel and Behar are blights on the culture whose professional demise I would cheer, long past blackface dabbling should not be used to punish any of these people now….except perhaps the Virginia Governor.  Northam is a special case, because his party is wildly hypocritical to allow him to escape accountability when it is cheering on the mobs. However, again, a law school costume has no relevance to the Governor today.

As for Trudeau–I don’t care.

3. Cancellations, Resignations and Topplings Update, Literary Division. At the Poetry Foundation earlier this month,  leadership was forced to resign because its official grovel to Black Lives Matter and the George Floyd mob was deemed not abject enough. The Foundation had issued a brief, four-sentence statement on June 3, expressing “solidarity with the Black community” and declaring faith in “the strength and power of poetry to uplift in times of despair.” This prompted a critical uproar from the progressive poets, with another letter from members calling the statement “worse than the bare minimum” and an insult to George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and other African-American victims of police violence. The foundation’s president and board chairman then quit, because, I suppose, poets are lovers, not fighters.

“As poets, we recognize a piece of writing that meets the urgency of its time with the appropriate fire when we see it — and this is not it,” the letter said. “Given the stakes, which equate to no less than genocide against Black people, the watery vagaries of this statement are, ultimately, a violence.”

Genocide! Talk about poetic license. Continue reading

High Noon Ethics Warm-Up, 11/12/2019: Laser Eyes And Science Trees

Yyyyup!

Sirius XM already has two Christmas stations operating, emulating Hallmark, which is showing nothing but cheesy Christmas movies starring B and C list actors (Candace Cameron Bure is one of the better known ones) all day long. Is there some significance to this rush to get to Christmas? Is it because everyone is so nasty and hostile that there is some kind of collective yearning for peace on earth and good will toward men, womyn and non-binary trans-pan-sexuals to arrive by cultural fiat? My wife is betting that the effort will just make everyone thoroughly sick of Christmas by the time we get there. Elmo learned, in a Sesame Street Christmas Special, that if every day is Christmas, nothing is.

But I digress…The reason I noted this was that I just heard Kelly Clarkson’s “My Grown-Up Christmas List” on the “Holiday Traditions” channel (I deemed it a better bet than The Doors, and “:Please Mister Custer”) and finally listened to the lyrics:

So here’s my lifelong wish
My grown up Christmas list
Not for myself but for a world in need
No more lives torn apart
That wars would never start
And time would heal all hearts
And everyone would have a friend
And right would always win
And love would never end, no
This is my grown up Christmas list.

Yeesh. Those are grown-up wishes? They are if “grown up” means ten-years-old.

Or you’re John Lennon.

I. One more ominous example of the Left channeling old fashioned totalitarianism..I knew that San Francisco was erecting a mural dedicated to the Climate Change Bullies’ own  Joan of Arc, creepy Greta Thunberg, but I didn’t realize how huge it was going to be. The conservative satire site the Babylon Bee joked that her eyes would be equipped with lasers to zap SUVs, at least I thought it was a joke. Legal Insurrection writes, 

Instead of focusing on issues of sanitation, job creation, or at least ensuring there are more high school students than drug addicts in the city, activists have chosen to honor Swedish “climate crisis” activist Greta Thunberg with a giant mural that will grace the skyline.

Andres “Cobre” Petreselli, an internationally renowned artist, is painting the activist teen with big blue eyes and a Mona Lisa smile.

The mural is still a work in progress, as Cobre is spending his days hoisted high up on a platform about 10 stories above Mason street, on the side of the Native Sons building near Union Square.

Thunberg is the 16-year old from Sweden who has inspired young people all over the world to take to the streets and let older people know they want climate change to be taken seriously.

“What I want from people is to realize have to do something for the world,” Cobre said. “Otherwise, it’s going to be the beginning of our extinction.”

Yikes. Continue reading