May 2019
【5/3 (五) 7:30pm Strengthening Governance
【5/10 (五) 7:30pm Smart Cities
【5/17 (五) 7:30pm "Patient" Capitalism
【5/24 (五) 7:30pm The Democratic Process of Impeachment
【5/31 (五) 7:30pm 思‧英語討論會】

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The Democratic Process of Impeachment

John Bonifaz is an attorney and leading activist specializing in constitutional law and voting rights.
Sarah Kendzior is a journalist, scholar and author of the essay collection “The View from Flyover Country.”
This is an interview from Gaslit Nation, a podcast covering corruption in the Trump administration and the rise of autocracy around the world.

Arguments for Impeachment
Sarah Kendzior: So I want to start out by asking a general question because there's a lot of confusion these days about what exactly impeachment is and how it works. So can you just tell us that? What is impeachment and how does it work?

John Bonifaz: Yes. Impeachment is a power that we the people have in our constitution to remove an elected official of the government, including the president, when that person has abused the office and abused the public trust. And it's important to note that there is no requirement whatsoever that there be a conviction of a crime under the federal criminal code, or even an indictment issued before an impeachment process can begin. And this is the way we deal with those in power, including a president who would so trample on the Constitution and abuse the power of the office that we don't wait until another election, because the threat is to the republic itself, to the body politic and the view that the framers had is that there must be a power within the Constitution to protect the republic in that kind of moment. And that's the impeachment power.

Sarah Kendzior: Do you see this as a political or a partisan process or more of a constitutional duty?

John Bonifaz: It's absolutely a constitutional duty, it's a nonpartisan process. It's about defending and protecting our Constitution and our republic when we're faced with somebody in the Oval Office, or in another office, who so abuses the power of that office and abuses the public trust.

Sarah Kendzior: Right. And back in 2019, as I mentioned, you wrote that op ed with Rashida Tlaib, and there is a lot of enthusiasm at that time. You know right after the Dems taken the house to go forth with impeachment proceedings. That was tempered somewhat by Nancy Pelosi coming out and calling against it and now has been reinvigorated in light of the Mueller Report. So, taking all of these different developments into consideration, what are to you, what are some of the most compelling reasons to begin impeachment proceedings now?

John Bonifaz: First I want to be clear that the most compelling reason that we began with respect to this impeachment campaign at free speech for people was on the day the president took the oath of office, Donald Trump was refusing to divest from his business interests and placing himself on a collision course with the two anti corruption provisions of the Constitution: the foreign Emoluments Clause and the domestic Emoluments Clause. He's been treating the Oval Office as a profit making enterprise at the public expense. And so that's why we launched this campaign with Roots Action: Impeach Donald Trump Now on the day that he took the oath in January 2017 for his direct violations of the emoluments clauses. That's the first impeachable offense. But sadly, as we know, this president has committed multiple impeachable offenses since that day. And we now see the most recent one becoming even more in the news here with obstruction of justice. Although, it was clear to us when he fired the FBI Director James Comey that he had committed obstruction of justice. But the Mueller report lays out very clearly for the nation and for Congress that this president, but for being president, would be indicted in a criminal court for criminal charges of obstruction of justice. And the only reason why Mueller chose not to indict is because of a Department Justice Policy which claims that a sitting president cannot be indicted. But the fact is, that impeachment is not about again whether there is an indictment. Impeachment is about whether there's been abuse of power and that obstruction of justice and repeated efforts to shut down the Mueller investigation demonstrate that this president has abused his power.

Smart Cities

Let's talk about Smart Cities! As always, the title of each excerpt is a link to the article it came from.

What is a Smart City?
“Smart city” is one concept that has been, to some extent, oversold and under-understood. It is not about sensors and gadgets and software and more routers and more IBM equipment. A smart city [endeavor] is more about building a happy city. We are not saying that existing cities are dumb, but we need to use technology to create an environment where people are better off in terms of pollution, traffic, education, health, jobs, living conditions and cultural spaces. All of these are very important aspects of building a happy city, including security. But the idea is not to bring more cameras and more police and more guns. The idea is to build better communities.

For example, we have built cities where people drive a half an hour to work. That’s not smart. Why can’t we design cities where people walk to work? But because of the car industry, and because of the Western model, everybody said, “Oh, that’s okay, we can drive 30 minutes to work.” And there are traffic jams everywhere. People who live in the north work in the south. People who live in the south work in the north. It doesn’t make sense.

Then we come to organizational issues. How are we organized in the city? What resources do we have in the city? We can do so much without any technology input today. Of course, technology will help a great deal. But let’s go see what we can do with what we’ve got and not jump into technology. By bringing technology to the existing systems, you’re going to create chaos, because the systems are not designed to adapt to new technology. We waste resources on technology if we are not equipped to handle the external input that technology brings.

When people talk about a hundred smart cities in India, they have no clue as to what they are saying. They’re naive. If you cannot empower the mayor of the city, how do you build it? [What about] organizational autonomy, freedom and flexibility? If you don’t allow your cities to raise money of their own for projects, how do you get cities to fund them? You have not really created autonomy for your cities. If you don’t do that, there’s no way you can bring technology to solve your problems.

Strengthening Governance


How do we create a society that works for everybody? One major effective way is through good governance. In this talk, the speaker points to a couple of important factors that need to be present to achieve good governance: Strong checks and balances, enforceable international standards, and informed citizens who can ask for useful change.

“Patient" Capitalism, or Funding the Businesses of the Poor


This video talks about the nature of getting healthy businesses started in a capital-poor economy, and how it needs to work to be successful.

Relationship between courage, learning, vulnerability and shame

How not to screw up your kids

Dr. Gabor Maté is a physician whose books have been published in twenty languages internationally. His interests include child development, the mind-body unity in health and illness, and the treatment of addictions. Gabor has worked in palliative care and as a family physician, and for fourteen years practiced addiction medicine in Vancouver's Downtown Eastside.

There are a number of his talks available online, below are two talks I've found that are related to our topic today, and which go into much greater depth, if you're interested in further exploring his ideas.
Biology of Loss: Recognizing Impaired Attachments & Fostering Resilience 1hr 31min
The Consequences of Stressed Parenting 1hr 21min

The video we'll discuss today is called "How not to screw up your kids":

Storing Energy in Air

Below are excerpts from several articles about CAES, or Compressed Air Energy Storage. The titles of each section are a link to the original article, if you want more information. Besides that, there's a fantastic selection of articles about 'outdated' energy technology used throughout the ages here.

Solving the intermittency issue of solar and wind generation
Electricity generated by fossil fuels is increasingly unsustainable and a shift towards renewable energy – principally from the sun and wind – is vital. Renewable generation is already less expensive per unit than its polluting counterparts, but the fact the sun doesn’t always shine and the wind doesn’t always blow presents an obstacle to a serious takeover of the energy sector.

Energy storage could overcome this pressing “intermittancy” issue. If storage was available at sufficiently low cost and high performance, renewable energy would rapidly displace all other generation forms.

Energy is already stored, of course, in batteries or various other technologies. Even reservoirs can act as huge stores of energy. However nothing that exists or is in development can store energy as well, and as cheaply, as compressed air.

CAES at its simplest involves storing air in tanks: you just suck in some air from the atmosphere, compress it using electrically-driven compressors and store the energy in the form of pressurised air. When you need that energy you just let the air out and pass it through a machine that takes the energy from the air and turns an electrical generator.

Why not batteries?
Over their lifetimes, chemical batteries store only two to ten times the energy needed to manufacture them. Small-scale CAES systems do much better than that, mainly because of their much longer lifespan.

Furthermore, they do not require rare or toxic materials, and the hardware is easily recyclable. In addition, decentralised compressed air energy storage doesn’t need high-tech production lines and can be manufactured, installed and maintained by local business, unlike an energy storage system based on chemical batteries. Finally, micro-CAES has no self-discharge, is tolerant of a wider range of environments, and promises to be cheaper than chemical batteries.

Teaching Resilience

What is resilience?

Resilience is a term that people are using to describe how we can prepare for the upcoming climate upheavals and the inevitable economic upheavals that will accompany it. We need to build resilience into our institutions and social practices in order to move through what the decisions of the last 50 years are bringing us.

Margrét Pála is an educator in Iceland who has unconventional and useful ideas of how to prepare children for their lives, and subsequently prepare society for our future.

Let's talk about her recommendations:
Training for all human qualities
Compensating for weaknesses of boys' culture and girls' culture
Learning to master your own life
Creating your own solution
Reducing competition
Try new things, break the frame, try unexpected things
Learn to tolerate adversity
Learn to keep trying
Learn to be in community: discipline and identifying with your team
Learn how to handle mistakes
Be responsible
Have courage: being able to stand up and continue.
Or the courage to start over again.
Or to have the courage to tackle difficult tasks
Training to be bored.
Learning to be in community: Closeness, cooperation, having feelings, helping others, respect, communication, how to behave with other people.

Let's share what each of us already knows about these qualities.
(Because all of us already have experience with each one of things things for sure!)

Social Business

Muhammad Yunus is a Bangladeshi social entrepreneur, banker, economist, and civil society leader who was awarded the Nobel peace prize in 2006 for founding the Grameen bank and pioneering the concepts of microcredit and microfinance. These loans are given to entrepreneurs too poor to qualify for traditional bank loans.

All the following are excerpts from a talk he gave at Caixa Forum in Barcelona.

Financial Services are Oxygen
Financial services are like oxygen. we need it to breathe, without it we collapse. The absence of financial oxygen makes people collapse, makes people dysfunction, and we call them poor people. The moment they are connected to financial services, they become alive, they become active, they become creative. that is the story of microcredit.

Social Businesses
The actual financial system is the root of many of the problems that we have created for ourselves.
It's a tricky time to be in. We are in a situation where the whole world is going up in flames: socially, economically and politically. It is rooted in the very concept of the capitalist system.
You can not pass a law to change it, it's not a matter of governmental action. It's a machine that sucks up wealth and sends it out to the sky to a very few people, that's all. It's a one way and a continuously one-way process. Can we make it a two-way process? What comes up, comes down, a circular process, can we do that? Can we do a one-way process, that all the wealth that is accumulated comes down and is shared? Can we do that? Of course, we can do that! For the simple reason that a human can do anything they want if they pay attention. It happens because we don't pay attention.
We created this system, we can un-create it, make it disappear, it's possible.

Greening the Desert

Geoff Lawton has been teaching Permaculture for 30 years. One of his teaching centers is in Jordan in the Middle East, where they created a garden paradise out of bare rock and soil, on a piece of land near the Dead Sea, where temperatures are between 35 and 50 degrees Celsius from May to September.

Start the video at 13:30 to get to the desert project. If you have problems accessing the video, let me know on the LINE group.