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Showing posts from November, 2016

Trump......and The NY Times, newspapers and journalists

Todd Gitlin is a professor of journalism and sociology and chair of the Ph.D. program in communications at Columbia University.  

Writing in "Trumping the Times"on truthdig, Gitlin puts into perspective (including calling out Trump for what he is - a " profoundly disturbed ignoramus") the New York Times, newspapers in general and journalists in relation to Trump and his treatment of the media.  

"We have plunged into an emergency, and one reason is that journalists who are supposed to supply a picture of the world failed to do so. Not the only reason, but one reason, which is enough to prompt serious rumination.

I wrote last week about journalists searching their souls, trying to figure out what they did wrong in this appalling campaign. Like the rest of us — nobody deserves a free pass in an endangered world — they’re obliged to think deeply about what to do better. Is it too impossibly high-minded and do-goody to insist that their reason for being is to offer t…

The shocking differences in wealth disparity

The world - certainly those in the West or in so-called First World countries - risk community upheaval if the tide of wealth disparity continues unabated, as now.    The latest stats on wealth disparity make for sober reading and are truly shocking - even if not surprising!

"Global wealth inequality continues to rise, according to a new study from Credit Suisse, with the richest 10 percent now owning a full 89 percent of all global assets.

The annual assessment (.pdf) from the Zurich-based financial services company finds that while the world was trending toward greater equality until 2008, the financial crisis halted that trajectory. The report reads:

Our calculations indicate that the top 1 percent of global wealth-holders started the millennium owning 49.6 percent of all household wealth. This share declined slowly and steadily until it reached 45.4 percent in 2009. The downward trend then reversed and the share rose each year, passing the 2000 level in 2014. We estimate that th…

Google accounts under attack

We may all marvel at and love how the internet is useful in all manner of ways - connectivity being one of them - but the reality is that the whole "internet thing" is seemingly out of control.    Hacking is rife, cyber security appears to be little understood, let alone successfully in place at most corporations and now governments are in on the act of accessing the internet of other countries or even targeted persons in another country.

It is high time that governments, corporations and individuals start to tame an out-of-control monster.

ars TECHNICA reports:

"Google is warning prominent journalists and professors that nation-sponsored hackers have recently targeted their accounts, according to reports delivered in the past 24 hours over social media.

The people reportedly receiving the warnings include Nobel Prize-winning economist and New York Times columnist Paul Krugman, Stanford University professor and former US diplomat Michael McFaul, GQ correspondent Keith Olber…

Anne Frank. What would Trump do?

Do yourself a favour and read this poignant piece under the headline "America once turned its back on Anne Frank, just as Donald Trump rejects Muslim refugees today" from The Independent (published here in full) by none other than the acclaimed journalist, author, commentator and film maker, Robert Fisk.

"I’ve just visited the hiding place of some troublesome refugees who should make Donald Trump very angry. It’s not the first time I’ve called at the little house on the old canal, but you only have to glance at the family’s papers to see how they fall under Trump’s anti-immigrant rhetoric. They fled a dangerous country full of extremists – a nation which threatened its own neighbours – and they sought their first new home for “economic reasons”. Worse still, they even tried to enter the United States. They were turned away – on the grounds that even if they had good reason to flee their persecutors, they didn’t have good enough reason to choose America as their place of …

International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women......The Grim Reality

25 November is marked as International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women.  

If it were only so.... that violence against women is receding if not eradicated altogether.     The grim reality is otherwise, as this piece from Inter Press Service reports.......

"Each year on November 25, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women is commemorated. A commemoration in essence is an opportunity to reflect on the challenges, prove that progress can be made and celebrate victories. It is also a reminder of the obligations and the responsibility we all must own at both the private and the public level to ensure that every woman, every girl, in all corners of the world lives in a world free of violence and fear. They must be enabled to enjoy their most fundamental right to physical integrity and security.

The reality today is grim. In every country, in every city or village, in conflict zones and refugee camps, in health pandemics like HIV or Ebola and h…

Keeping it in the (Trump) family

Bad enough that ol' Donald T was elected President, but it seems his hideous family is part of the package.       The whole Trump circus - with all that entails - as he goes about picking his Cabinet and advisers, must give one more than cause for concern.....if not downright alarm!

"The Trump brain and its fabulous functioning will fascinate researchers long after POTUS 45 leaves the Oval Office. But as he arrives, we can only wonder at where Donald Trump sits on a great American continuum - at one end, sweet innocence and Willy Wonka; at the other, the ethical netherworld of Don Corleone.

There's an element of the Wonka chocolate factory in the crowds that queue around the block at Trump Tower in Manhattan, patient and wide-eyed as they wait to shell out $US100, even $US200, for a swag of hot new presidential memorabilia at the gift kiosk, which is sandwiched between the Trump Ice Cream Parlour and the Trump Grill on the ground floor.

There are little chocolate bricks with…

Whack! One big No to Trump

We all know about Trump's attack on The New York Times.   Then he sat down with them yesterday.   His tune changed.    The Times wasn't all that bad after all.     

All of that was too much to stomach for Charles Blow, a regular op-ed writer for the Times......

"Donald Trump schlepped across town on Tuesday to meet with the publisher of The New York Times and some editors, columnists and reporters at the paper.

As The Times reported, Trump actually seemed to soften some of his positions:

He seemed to indicate that he wouldn’t seek to prosecute Hillary Clinton. But he should never have said that he was going to do that in the first place.

He seemed to indicate that he wouldn’t encourage the military to use torture. But he should never have said that he would do that in the first place.

He said that he would have an “open mind” on climate change. But that should always have been his position.

You don’t get a pat on the back for ratcheting down from rabid after exploiting that very…

It'll Be Alt-Right

Pierre Tristam is a journalist, writer, editor and lecturer. He is currently the editor and publisher of, a non-profit news site in Florida. A native of Beirut, Lebanon, who became an American citizen in 1986, Pierre is one of the United States' only Arab Americans with a regular current affairs column in a mainstream, metropolitan newspaper. 

Writing in "It'll Be Alt-Right" on CommonDreams, Tristam makes more than  valid points about Trump, the election campaign, post Trump's election,  Republicans, the Trump appointments and the press.....

"I keep reading that the press didn’t do its job. I disagree. This was the most fact-checked campaign in history. We knew pretty much all there was to know about both candidates to make informed decisions. And it’s not as if Trump takes after obscure post-modernist French intellectuals who need armies of academic translators to figure out what he’s saying. He’s not into big policy statements or overarching …

Most students don't know what is fake news and what is not...

With the revelations now coming to light of fake news having abounded during the US election campaign, the result of a study by Stanford University that students are unable to readily distinguish what is fake news, and what is not - let alone to be trusted - is troubling.

"Preteens and teens may appear dazzlingly fluent, flitting among social-media sites, uploading selfies and texting friends. But they’re often clueless about evaluating the accuracy and trustworthiness of what they find.

Some 82% of middle-schoolers couldn’t distinguish between an ad labeled “sponsored content” and a real news story on a website, according to a Stanford University study of 7,804 students from middle school through college. The study, set for release Tuesday, is the biggest so far on how teens evaluate information they find online. Many students judged the credibility of newsy tweets based on how much detail they contained or whether a large photo was attached, rather than on the source.

More than tw…

Double standards?

Credited to Mike Luckovich

Trump opts for the "ugly" options

What does it say about the man, when one sees not only the people Trump is appointing to significant positions in his upcoming administration but the so-called advisers around him.  He is downright awful and confirming all the preposterous things he was saying on the campaign trail.     It is also  apparent that neither Trump nor some of his potential nominees - think Mick Romney - have any scruples or integrity.

"Early signs of what the Trump administration may look like: A man associated with white supremacy and misogyny will be White House chief strategist; a man rejected for a judgeship because of alleged racism will be attorney general; and an Islamophobe who has taken money from Moscow will be national security adviser.

No, this is not satire.

I’ve repeatedly noted that my side lost this election, that elections have consequences, and that President-Elect Donald Trump should be given a chance. He seems intent on blowing that chance.

The announcement that Trump has recruited Lt.…

The man who didn't really want the presidency?

Roger Cohen writes a regular op-ed piece for The New York Times.    

His column this week "The Man Who Would Not Be President" is an interesting take on Trump.....

"What was evident during the campaign is more apparent after Donald Trump’s election: Mr. Trump is deeply ambivalent about becoming president. He’d rather stay in his lavish New York penthouse. Policy is a headache. It requires concentration. There are annoying laws against nepotism. Trump won 4.1 percent of the vote in the District of Columbia. Washington does not pine for him.

It all began as a game, turned into an ego trip and ended in a strange apotheosis. Trump has uncanny instincts but no firm ideas. He knows the frisson authority confers. A rich boy from Queens who made good in Manhattan, he understands the galvanizing force of playing the outsider card. A man who changed his past, purging German lineage for “Swedish,” he understands America’s love for the outsized invented life. For his victory he depend…

World economy's US$12 Trillion bill

Let it not be said that we haven't been warned.....and are sitting on our hands doing very little to ameliorate the present fossil fuel's emissions problem and what looms.  Future generations won't thank us of our inaction - and our plain idiocy.

"Unabated fossil fuel emissions will cost the global economy a staggering $12 trillion by 2050, according to a new report from the United Nations.

"The report predicts a temperature rise of 2.5ºC by 2050 if climate change continues on its current course, compared to the 1.5ºC temperature rise that was the goal of the emissions reduction plans laid out in the Paris climate accord. The world's gross domestic product will fall by $33 trillion in the "business-as-usual" scenario, the report found, and by $21 trillion under the 1.5ºC scenario—a difference of $12 trillion.

The report, Pursuing the 1.5ºC Limit, was published by the United Nations Development Programme along with "a group of 43 developing countri…

Take in a deep breath! Flynn as Trump's Security Advisor

As the Trump "team" takes shape, one can do little but be concerned.     Just about every appointment gives one cause for outrage.

The latest horror appointment is that of Micheal Flynn as Trump's Security Advisor.

This is what TheWashington Post has to say about him....

"Flynn was forced out of his job as director of the Defense Intelligence Agency in 2014 over concerns about his leadership style. After the ouster, he frequently lashed out in public against President Obama and blamed his removal on the administration’s discomfort with his hard-line views on radical Islam.

Spurning the decorum traditionally expected of retired U.S. flag officers, Flynn became a fervent campaigner for Trump and was given a high-profile role speaking before the GOP convention, an appearance in which he led the crowd in “lock her up” chants against Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.

Flynn’s behavior drew the ire of former colleagues and superiors, including retired Gen. Stanley A. McChrys…

Trump's "ugly" right-hand man

It will probably come as no surprise to those who follow these things, but not unexpectedly Trump has chosen Stephen Bannon as his Chief Strategist.

Needless to say that has seen outrage from certain quarters.      Forward "covered" the appointment this way, here.     The Guardian dealt with this way, here.

The New York Times has this - "Stephen Bannon and Breitbart News, in Their Words".......

"The appointment of Stephen K. Bannon as chief White House strategist for President-elect Donald J. Trump has been condemned by civil rights groups, Democrats and some Republicans, because of Mr. Bannon’s record as chairman of Breitbart News, the hard-right news and opinion site.

Here, in his own words, are a selection of Mr. Bannon’s public statements about the country, the Republican Party and his own political philosophy."

Continue reading, here, the litany of appalling things said by this advisor to Trump.    Ugly!

Yikes!.....and Gasp!!! Sarah Palin for Trump Cabinet?

Hard to believe, but credible reports suggest that Sarah Palin could be offered the position of Secretary of the Interior in the Trump Cabinet.     

That the woman is nothing short of a dilettante and "drop-kick" - to use the expression by an Australian Cabinet Minister about Trump - is being kind.

Just consider and reflect on this collection of what Palin said back in collected on Alternet in "The 11 Dumbest Things Sarah Palin Has Said So Far".

"When Sarah Palin was first added to the Republican ticket, the McCain campaign went to almost comical extremes to guard her from press scrutiny. The Alaska governor was hustled through photo opportunities, kept from doing interviews and hidden from reporters at several events. Palin did prove adept at reading from a teleprompter in front of conservative supporters, though, so the campaign mostly had her do that.

When Palin finally made her teleprompter-free debut in an interview with Charlie Gibson, it became …

Lies do not equal news

Op-ed writer Nicholas Kristof, in his latest piece for The New York Times, reflects on how the media (some of it so-called) dealt with, if at all, the repeated lies of Trump as he he electioneered his way to the White House.

Considerable blame can be heaped on to the media for not only giving Trump so much free airplay and oxygen but not vigorously challenging and testing his continuous lies.   As many are now saying the media were talking to themselves - and from lofty heights.  

"As I’ve argued for most of this year, I think we in the mainstream media — especially cable television — sometimes bungled coverage of Trump. There was too much uncritical television coverage of Trump because he was good for ratings; then there was not enough investigation of his business dealings, racism and history of sexual assaults, and too much false equivalency that equated the two candidates as equally flawed.

More broadly, we in the mainstream media are out of touch with working-class America; we …

Climate change already affecting life on earth and ecosystems

Let it not be said we haven't been warned.     Climate change is already affecting ecosystems and life .....and will continue to do so.

"Climate change is already affecting life on Earth, despite a global temperature increase of just 1°C, according to a new study published in the journal Science on Friday.

Nearly every ecosystem on the planet is being altered, and plants and animals are being so affected that scientists may soon be forced to intervene to create "human-assisted evolution," the study, titled The Broad Footprint of Climate Change from Genes to Biomes to People, found.

The researchers say 82 percent of "core ecological processes" on land and sea have been affected by climate change in a way that had not been expected "for decades."

Co-author and professor John Pandolfi of the University of Queensland said, "Temperature extremes are causing evolutionary adaption in many species, changing them genetically and physically. These respons…

Trump on his way to the White House: An insighful retrospect

This piece "President Trump: How America Got It So Wrong - Journalists and politicians blew off the warning signs of a Trump presidency – now, we all must pay the price" in Rolling Stone ought to be of interest to those who are still wondering how the US ended up with Trump headed for the White House and who missed what along the way to him getting there.

"Most of us smarty-pants analysts never thought Trump could win because we saw his run as a half-baked white-supremacist movement fueled by last-gasp, racist frustrations of America's shrinking silent majority. Sure, Trump had enough jackbooted nut jobs and conspiracist stragglers under his wing to ruin the Republican Party. But surely there was no way he could topple America's reigning multicultural consensus. How could he? After all, the country had already twice voted in an African-American Democrat to the White House.

Yes, Trump's win was a triumph of the hideous racism, sexism and xenophobia that has alw…

Yep, clowns coming on board.......

Credited to Mike Luckovich

The plight and tragedy of Gaza

The Gazans (or perhaps, more so, Hamas) are demonised by the world - resulting in Gaza being described by many as one giant prison.   Most Gazans simply cannot exit the territory.    Most foreigners are barred from entry.   And as one Israeli Cabinet Minister said, famously, a while back, Israel is allowing just enough food into Gaza to prevent the people starving.   A hell-hole personified!

An up to date account of life in Gaza in "Lives in ruins: the human tragedy unfolding in Gaza" has just appeared in The National.....

"A 2015 UN report found that Israel struck seven sites designated as civilian shelters in the 2014 Gaza war, killing 44 Palestinians and injuring 227. No Israelis have been charged for these incidents, or any attacks, during the war.

Beit Hanoun was particularly badly hit in the 2014 conflict and 70 per cent of its housing became uninhabitable. Today, sand, rubbish and discarded clothes remain strewn across the ground but the UAE, Qatar and the Maldives …

Coming our way......."Cabinet of Horrors"

"As Trump Transitions to Power, 'Cabinet of Horrors' Takes Shape" from CommonDreams:

"As President-elect Donald Trump began his transition to power on Thursday, early reporting has opened a window into what the nation can expect as his "cabinet of horrors," as AFP put it, takes shape.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, Rudy Giuliani, Ben Carson, Newt Gingrich, Florida Gov. Rick Scott, and former Alaskan Gov. Sarah Palin are among the more high-profile individuals named on a shortlist of potential appointees leaked to several news outlets.

On Wednesday, BuzzFeed News published a list of 41 names suggested for 13 positions, including attorney general, secretary of state, White House chief of staff, and White House counsel.

And while some, like Christie, were unsurprising, as Salon's Brendan Gauthier wrote, "The people whose names you don't recognize are as bad or worse as those whose names you're sick of hearing."

For example, Retired Lt. …

A repeat?

Credited to Signe Wilkinson

Naomi Klein.... on why Trump?

This piece by Naomi Klein on The Guardianexplaining the reasons for Trump winning the US presidential election deserves to be read.      There is a lot to be learnt from it.   

"They will blame James Comey and the FBI. They will blame voter suppression and racism. They will blame Bernie or bust and misogyny. They will blame third parties and independent candidates. They will blame the corporate media for giving him the platform, social media for being a bullhorn, and WikiLeaks for airing the laundry.

But this leaves out the force most responsible for creating the nightmare in which we now find ourselves wide awake: neoliberalism. That worldview – fully embodied by Hillary Clinton and her machine – is no match for Trump-style extremism. The decision to run one against the other is what sealed our fate. If we learn nothing else, can we please learn from that mistake?

Here is what we need to understand: a hell of a lot of people are in pain. Under neoliberal policies of deregulation, …

Too, too true!

USA (and the world too?) now on a precipice

Whilst the world absorbs what was thought unthinkable - that is, Donald Trump becoming the next President of the USA - The New York Times (which certainly did not favour Trump) editorialises about Trumps's victory, the man (or what is known about him) and what it might all mean for the US.

"President Donald Trump. Three words that were unthinkable to tens of millions of Americans — and much of the rest of the world — have now become the future of the United States.

Having confounded Republican elites in the primaries, Mr. Trump did the same to the Democrats in the general election, repeating the judo move of turning the weight of a complacent establishment against it. His victory is a humbling blow to the news media, the pollsters and the Clinton-dominated Democratic leadership.

The candidates appeared neck-in-neck in the popular vote, but Mr. Trump bested Hillary Clinton in the Electoral College.

So who is the man who will be the 45th president?

After a year and a half of erratic…

So, what if Trump does win?

Scary and horrifying as it might seem, at the time of writing (and this post) Trump is ahead in the presidential election account.

Let us assume he does win, what could it all mean?

Kumuda Simpson, a lecturer in International Relations at La Trobe University, writing on ABC News (in Australia) analyses what might follow from a Trump win.

"After a gruelling and often highly antagonist election, Americans will vote today for the next US president and several key policy areas that will require leadership that is thoughtful, creative and aimed at uniting a divided country.

But it is not just domestic policy that will be shaped by the next president.

Whether it is Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump, the president will have a fundamental role in shaping global affairs for the foreseeable future.

For this reason, it's worth examining what is at stake for America and the world."

Continue reading here.

Australia's shameful refugee policy

An editorial "Australia Doubles Down on Cruel Refugee Policy" in The New York Times says all that needs to be said about Australia's proposed legislation relating to refugees "housed" on what many describe as near-enough to hell-holes - Manus Island and Nauru.

Migrants bound for Australia were stranded in Indonesia after their boat broke down and washed ashore. "The government of Australia has come under withering criticism for its harsh anywhere-but-here approach to refugees and other migrants who attempt to reach the country by boat. But instead of revisiting a cruel and costly policy — which involves sending everyone intercepted at sea to offshore prisons — Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has decided to double down.

His administration intends to propose legislation this week that would bar anyone who seeks to enter Australia without authorization and by boat from ever setting foot in the country. That would ban, among others, the approximately 1,200 people…

5 urgent climate change stories not dealt with in US presidential election

As already previously commented upon here at MPS, climate change didn't figure in any of the so-called presidential debates between Clinton and Trump.

Juan Cole, writing on his blog, Informed Comment, under the title "The Top 5 Most Urgent Climate Change Election Stories the Mainstream Media Suppressed" takes the media to task for not addressing climate change in the discussions during the presidential election.

Cole lists 5 critical topics relating to climate change which ought to have been raised.....

"Here are 5 climate tie-ins with the election that the news channels didn’t convene panels to dissect at length.  Maybe they didn’t report them at all.  Maybe it was in a single sentence or in that ticker at the bottom where they sometimes put real news.

1.  It is rare for China to say anything to a US presidential candidate publicly.  Beijing nevertheless came out and blasted Donald Trump for saying he would renege on the Paris climate agreement. Xie Zhenhua, China’s to…

An escape?

Credited to Signe Wilkinson

Turkey heads into dictatorship

Yes, there was some sort of coup in Turkey, but the breathtaking actions of the President since then are clearly those of a dictator.      A piece in Salon "Turkey’s ruthless, slow-motion coup: 110,000 purged as Western ally cracks down on dissent, journalism" spells things out more than clearly.    And this is an ally of the West!

"Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has taken advantage of the failed coup attempt in July to carry out a coup of his own.

In the past three months, more than 110,000 people have been purged and nearly 40,000 have been imprisoned in Turkey, a NATO member and close Western ally. The increasingly authoritarian President Erdogan is implementing a slow-motion coup, restructuring the government and civil society through a mass purge of the political opposition.

People from all sectors of society have been targeted — those working in the government, military, courts, media and academia. Over the weekend, more than 10,000 civil servants were fired …

Global Warming: Paris pledge ignored. Temps to rise above 3 degrees celsius

For all the talk - put that down to the yak-yak of politicians and the opportunity to attend international forums and conferences (aka as junkets) - today comes news that we are headed to global warming to top 3 degrees celsius.      Yet again the experts have been ignored!   And the powers-that-be sit on their collective hands.

CommonDreams reports in  "Despite Paris Climate Pledge, Planet on Track to Surpass 3°C Temperature Rise' - After 24 years of negotiations we are hurtling towards a 3.5 degree world, which will be catastrophic for millions'"

"Global warming is on track to top 3° Celsius, the United Nations warned this week, because today's climate pledges are "not nearly enough" to prevent dangerous levels of warming.

That's according the latest annual "Emissions Gap Report" (pdf) from the United Nations Environmental Program (UNEP), which concluded that pledges to cut emissions will result in a global temperature rise of 3.4ºC ab…

Aleppo. The world stands condemned!

To allow the ancient Syrian city of Aleppo to be so pulverised and more importantly its people subjected to relentless attack in all manner of ways, food shortages and deprivation of medical aid - to name but a few things - is nothing short of scandalous.    Imagine if this was happening in and to a Western city.    The outcry!    The UN and all so-called civilised States stand severely condemned for their inaction and watching a tragedy unfold.

"The unnamed man shown on CCTV (go to link here) standing in a sunny courtyard and fiddling with his phone, could be any one of us whiling away a few minutes of the day.

Except that, in the city where this moment played out a few weeks ago, any notion of the ordinary has been turned on its head.

One second, the man is simply standing alone and looking down. The next, the wall behind him explodes and all trace of him is obliterated in a violent, catastrophic air strike that destroys everything around him.

To many in the comfort of the West, th…

It all started in November 99 years ago....

Ilan Pappe ( Director of European Center of Palestine Studies at the University of Exeter), writing on AlJazeera, starts out analysing the Balfour Declaration, 99 years ago this month, and the course of history since.... resulting in what continues to be the dispossessed Palestinian people.

"November is a painful month in the Palestinian calendar. It is dotted with commemorative days that have one theme in common: the partitioning of Palestine.

Today is the 99th anniversary of the Balfour declaration. Although it did not offer partition, it sowed the seeds for it, which eventually allowed the Zionist movement to take over Palestine.

On November 15, we commemorate the Palestinian Declaration of Independence (issued by the Palestinian National Council (PNC)), which was a reluctant national Palestinian consent to partition, notwithstanding the injustice and criminality involved in such an act.

At the end of the month, on the 29th, we commemorate the UN General Assembly Resolution 181, w…

6 traits which make Trump repellant....and an Ugly American

Brendon Connor joined the United States Studies Centre in 2009 as Associate Professor in American Politics.

Writing under the headline "Six types of ugly American, and Donald Trump is all of them" in The Conversation, Connor dissects Trump and the characteristics which make his so repellant.

"If non-Americans could vote for what is often called “leader of the free world”, Hillary Clinton would easily be the next US president. WIN/Gallup has surveyed world opinion and Donald Trump’s support is extremely weak (apart from in Russia). Trump support was polled at 15 per cent in Australia, 8 per cent in Germany, 5 per cent in Mexico, 4 per cent in Spain, and 3 per cent in Jordan, Japan and South Korea.

Some of this has to do with what Trump has flagged as his possible foreign policies: the Japanese and South Koreans are key allies one day, and on their own the next day with encouragement to nuke up. Mexicans have been told they are going to pay for that “tremendous wall” along t…