Thursday Reads: Bomb Cyclone, Bunnies, and a Bit of Breaking NewsPosted: January 27, 2022
It looks like we finally might get a big winter storm here in New England. This one is supposed to have a bomb cyclone, a lot of snow, and possible blizzard force winds. Now that I live in a warm apartment and don’t have to go out and shovel, I’m kind of looking forward to it. I have a grocery delivery coming this afternoon, so I should be all set.
A powerful nor’easter will develop in the western Atlantic beginning late Friday, bringing heavy snow, strong winds and coastal flooding to parts of the East Coast, but there remains a larger than usual amount of uncertainty in the forecast for this storm.
Winter storm watches have been issued by the National Weather Service for Friday night and Saturday from parts of southern New England southward through the coastal mid-Atlantic as far south as eastern North Carolina. This includes Boston, Providence, New York City, Philadelphia and Norfolk.
The winter storm watches outline the areas where there is the possibility of significant snowfall and strong winds from this storm. It does not mean all of those locations will see moderate to heavy snowfall, but rather the potential is there.
The setup begins Friday with a cold front moving across the Northeast that will haul in a fresh blast of chilly air prior to this storm’s potential impact. Then, low pressure will strengthen as it tracks off the East Coast late Friday through Saturday in response to an upper-level disturbance tracking through the central and eastern United States.
It’s likely this storm will become a “bomb cyclone” – a term meteorologists use for a low-pressure system associated with fronts with a central pressure that plunges at least 24 millibars in 24 hours or less. A storm with a lower pressure is stronger.
But what’s still in doubt is the exact track of this bomb cyclone in relation to the East Coast. That future track will have a domino effect for what areas will see the most significant snowfall, high winds and/or coastal flooding.
Portions of southern and eastern New England continue to have the highest probability of seeing heavy snow and strong winds. Areas farther south from around the New York tri-state area to the coastal mid-Atlantic could also see significant snow and gusty winds, but the confidence in the forecast for those areas is lower.
It’s difficult to understand why President Biden’s poll numbers are so low. Check this out:
The U.S. economy grew last year at the fastest pace since Ronald Reagan’s presidency, bouncing back with resilience from 2020′s brief but devastating coronavirus recession.
The nation’s gross domestic product — its total output of goods and services — expanded 5.7% in 2021. It was the strongest calendar-year growth since a 7.2% surge in 1984 after a previous recession. The economy ended the year by growing at an unexpectedly brisk 6.9% annual pace from October through December as businesses replenished their inventories, the Commerce Department reported Thursday.
“It just goes to show that the U.S. economy has learned to adapt to the new variants and continues to produce,″ said Beth Ann Bovino, chief economist at Standard & Poor’s Global Ratings.
Squeezed by inflation and still gripped by COVID-19 caseloads, the economy is expected to slow this year. Many economists have been downgrading their forecasts for the current January-March quarter, reflecting the impact of the omicron variant. And for all of 2022, the International Monetary Fund has forecast that the the nation’s GDP growth will slow to 4%….
Many U.S. businesses, especially restaurants, bars, hotels and entertainment venues, remain under pressure from the omicron variant, which has kept millions of people hunkered down at home to avoid crowds. Consumer spending, the primary driver of the economy, may be further held back this year by the loss of government aid to households, which nurtured activity in 2020 and 2021 but has mainly expired.
What’s more, the Federal Reserve made clear Wednesday that it plans to raise interest rates multiple times this year to battle the hottest inflation in nearly four decades. Those rate increases will make borrowing more expensive and perhaps slow the economy this year.
Growth last year was driven up by a 7.9% surge in consumer spending and a 9.5% increase in private investment. For the final three months of 2021, consumer spending rose at a more muted 3.3% annual pace. But private investment rocketed 32% higher, boosted by a surge in business inventories as companies stocked up to meet higher customer demand. Rising inventories, in fact, accounted for 71% of the fourth-quarter growth.
Slowing to 4 percent growth doesn’t sound that bad. I’ll have to see what Dakinikat thinks. More from The Washington Post: U.S. economy grew 5.7 percent in 2021, fastest full-year clip since 1984, despite ongoing pandemic.
The U.S. economy grew by 5.7 percent in 2021, the fastest full-year clip since 1984, roaring back in the pandemic’s second year despite two new virus variants that rocked the country.
The growth was uneven, with a burst of government spending helping propel a fast start, even as a surge in new cases and deaths in the second half of the year created new pressures. The economy grew by 6.9 percent from October to December, the Bureau of Economic Analysis said Thursday, a sharp acceleration from 2.3 percent in the previous quarter.
In a powerful rebound from 2020, when the economy contracted by 3.4 percent — its worst result since 1946 — 2021′s strong growth created a record 6.4 million jobs. But it also brought a host of complications, helping fuel the highest inflation in 40 years and creating supply chain snarls as consumers hungry for products overwhelmed the global delivery system. To beat back rising prices, the Federal Reserve is now shifting its strategy and preparing for interest rate hikes this year, convinced it has given enough support to help the labor market and now must keep the economy from overheating even further.
While the omicron variant had begun its vicious surge by the end of 2021, economists didn’t expect to see any fallout in Thursday’s data. Rather, forecasters anticipated that the GDP report would represent a year of blockbuster growth despite the unpredictability of the pandemic economy, from labor shortages to supply chain backlogs to inflation.
Earlier in the year, economists worried that global supply chain problems would keep businesses from being able to fully stock shelves. But a rush by companies in the final months of 2021 to bolster their inventories ultimately drove GDP much higher, as companies started to refill empty storerooms.
It’s actually kind of complicated, so if you want more, head over to the WaPo.
Yesterday’s big news was the upcoming retirement of Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer.
Moira Donigan at The Guardian: Liberals across America are sighing with relief about Justice Breyer’s retirement.
That sound you hear is Democrats in Washington and across the country letting out a sigh of profound relief: Associate Justice Stephen Breyer is retiring in June, at the end of the US supreme court’s current term. News of the 83-year-old’s choice to step down broke on Wednesday – evidently a little earlier than the man himself would have liked – giving President Biden his first opportunity to fill a vacancy on the nation’s highest court.
The decision from Breyer ends months of speculation and a determined pressure campaign to convince the ageing liberal justice to retire while Democrats still held both the White House and the Senate, that rare and precarious circumstance that is now required for any Democratic president to see his federal court nominees confirmed. Breyer’s decision to step down this summer gives the Democrats a narrow window to appoint his replacement before they are expected to lose control of the Senate in the November midterms.
Breyer’s retirement, after nearly 30 years as a justice, will not change the balance of power on the supreme court, which has heaved dramatically rightward since Justice Anthony Kennedy chose to retire under Donald Trump in 2018. Nor will his exit mitigate what are likely to be ruinous outcomes in this term’s major rulings, which include the hateful Dobbs v Jackson, the case that is almost certain to overturn Roe v Wade. The benefits of his timely exit aren’t so much ameliorative as preventive: because he has retired under a Democratic trifecta, he has ensured that the supreme court’s conservative 6-3 supermajority will at least stay 6-3, and not become and insurmountable 7-2. But the extremist makeup of an increasingly maximalist rightwing court will continue.
Read about Breyer’s record on the Court at The Guardian link.
President Joe Biden received a much-needed political opening on Wednesday. But neither he, nor anyone close to him, appeared ready to celebrate it.
Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer’s retirement plans were publicly revealed before the White House or the justice himself was expecting it, leading to a muted response from Biden and his aides. The White House — which had learned of Breyer’s plans last week, though the justice did not inform the President directly — had been preparing for the moment for more than a year. But a subdued reaction from Biden was indicative of something he has made clear for months: He won’t abide any pressure from his team, however subtle, on Breyer to step down.
“Let him make whatever statement he’s going to make,” the President said in the State Dining Room as a group of chief executives looked on. “And I’ll be happy to talk about it later.”\The awkward moment — with Biden remaining mum even as many Democrats were celebrating news that could provide him a badly needed political boost — reflected an announcement that had not come as many had planned, least of all the President.
Biden’s calculated silence over the past months has not stopped the process of selecting Breyer’s successor from quietly taking shape. Groundwork has been carefully laid for a process that will unfold over the coming weeks, which the President hopes will lead to a confirmed justice by spring.
Biden’s White House has created a judicial nomination machine during the President’s first year in office, vetting and selecting a raft of diverse candidates to fill open spots on the federal bench at a pace that outstrips most of Biden’s most recent predecessors. The President also has a deeply experienced player in a key role for the coming high-stakes process — his top adviser, chief of staff Ron Klain, has played a major part in nine different Supreme Court nominations over the last several decades.
Read the rest at CNN. Breyer will join Biden at the White House today for the official announcement. Biden is still committed to appointing a Black woman to replace Breyer.
Two more articles to check out:
Dozens of local and state Republican leaders who showed their loyalty to Donald Trump by casting fake electoral votes for him a year ago may now face prison time in return for that devotion.
Because as the House select committee investigating the U.S. Capitol riot on Jan. 6, 2021, starts to look into the origins of the scheme to send “alternate” ballots to Congress from states narrowly won by Joe Biden, the 59 ersatz Trump electors who claimed to be “duly elected and qualified” could face federal charges ranging from election fraud to mail fraud, in addition to a range of state-level charges.
And in two of the states, the Democratic attorneys general are openly calling on the Department of Justice to act.
“I believe it’s critical that the federal government fully investigates and prosecutes any unlawful actions in furtherance of any seditious conspiracy,” said Josh Kaul, attorney general of Wisconsin, where 10 Republicans filed papers claiming to be the state’s electors even though Biden narrowly won there.
“This is a crime,” Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel told reporters earlier this month, adding that calling the elector slate “alternate” did a disservice and that it should be called a “false, counterfeit, fake slate of electors.”
In her state, 16 Republican office holders and party officials filed paperwork claiming then-President Trump had won the state even though he had lost it by 154,000 votes. “This is election fraud, and it’s many other crimes as well, both, I believe, at the state and the federal level.”
Deputy U.S. Attorney General Lisa Monaco on Tuesday confirmed to CNN that Justice Department prosecutors “are looking at those” but would not comment further.
Arizona, where 11 Republicans filed papers falsely claiming to be the state’s electors; Georgia, which had 16; and Nevada, which had six, account for the rest of the 59.
Greg Sargent at The Washington Post: Opinion: What would a 2024 Trump coup look like? A new paper offers a worrying answer.