May the Fourth be with You!

Disney Storyboard Drawing of a Dinosaur from Fantasia (1940)

Good Morning!

I’ve always loved SF and fantasy but I’ve also loved delving into the mysterious past.  What kid doesn’t like stories about dinosaurs and spaceships?  One of all time favorite things to watch is Disney’s Fantasia. I love the animated Dinosaurs brought to life to the strains of Stravinsky’s ‘The Rite of Spring’.  There’s some news dealing with the EPA, our planet, and our dependence on fossil fuels I’d like to share today.  Climate change is real.  The current administration only cares about enriching itself and its friends.  What does this mean for our fragile time on this planet?

 

From The Grist: Humans didn’t exist the last time there was this much CO2 in the air.

The last time atmospheric carbon dioxide levels were this high, millions of years ago, the planet was very different. For one, humans didn’t exist.

On Wednesday, scientists at the University of California in San Diego confirmedthat April’s monthly average atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration breached 410 parts per million for the first time in our history.

We know a lot about how to track these changes. The Earth’s carbon dioxide levels peak around this time every year for a pretty straightforward reason. There’s more landmass in the northern hemisphere, and plants grow in a seasonal cycle. During the summer, they suck down CO2, during the winter, they let it back out. The measurements were made at Mauna Loa, Hawaii — a site chosen for its pristine location far away from the polluting influence of a major city.

Increasingly though, pollution from the world’s cities is making its way to Mauna Loa — and everywhere else on Earth.

In little more than a century of frenzied fossil-fuel burning, we humans have altered our planet’s atmosphere at a rate dozens of times faster than natural climate change. Carbon dioxide is now more than 100 ppm higher than any direct measurements from Antarctic ice cores over the past 800,000 years, and probably significantly higher than anything the planet has experienced for at least 15 million years. That includes eras when Earth was largely ice-free.

Not only are carbon dioxide levels rising each year, they are accelerating. Carbon dioxide is climbing at twice the pace it was 50 years ago. Even the increases are increasing.

That’s happening for several reasons, most important of which is that we’re still burning a larger amount of fossil fuels each year. Last year, humanity emitted the highest level of greenhouse gas emissions in history — even after factoring in the expansion of renewable energy. At the same time, the world’s most important carbon sinks — our forests — are dying, and therefore losing their ability to pull carbon dioxide out of the air and store it safely in the soil. The combination of these effects means we are losing ground, and fast.

 

From the New York Times: ‘It was 122.4°F This Week in Pakistan, Probably a World Record for April’

Even in Pakistan, no stranger to blistering heat, the temperature on Monday stood out: 122.4 degrees Fahrenheit.

The reading came from Nawabshah, a city of 1.1 million people in southern Pakistan, and meteorologists say it is the highest temperature ever reliably recorded, anywhere in the world, in the month of April.

The World Meteorological Organization keeps global temperature records, but not by month, which means Monday in Nawabshah cannot be officially confirmed as the hottest April day. But experts on extreme temperatures say it probably is.

Christopher C. Burt, the author of “Extreme Weather: A Guide and Record Book” and a contributor to Weather Underground, said that 122.4 degrees, or 50.2 degrees Celsius, appeared to be the hottest reliably measured April temperature “in modern records for any location on Earth.” Only one reading might challenge it: 123.8 degrees Fahrenheit, or 51 degrees Celsius, recorded in Santa Rosa, Mexico, in April 2011. But Mr. Burt said that measurement was “questionable because the site was a regional observation site and not of first order.”

Fantasia “Rite of Spring” Concept Art (Walt Disney, 1940)

From Montana’s KRTV 3: ‘Clean-up plan being developed for oil spill on Fort Peck Indian Reservation’.

A oil spill occurred at an oil well operated by Anadarko Minerals Inc. near Lustre, which is located in the central region of the Fort Peck Indian Reservation.

According to a press release, the spill was reported to the Tribes’ Office of Environmental Protection (OEP) on Friday, April 27.

The spill was spotted by a rancher doing a flyover in the area. The exact date that the leak occurred has not yet been determined. The well had been shut-in in late December of 2017.

Wilfred Lambert of the Fort Peck Tribes OEP and officials from the federal Bureau of Land Management (BLM) initially estimated that 600 barrels of oil and 90,000 barrels of production water, also known as brine, were released from the well.

The oil and brine flowed approximately 200 yards downhill to a stock pond used by tribal entities for watering livestock.

The press release states that the extent of the stock pond’s contamination has not been determined. Early assessments indicate about three to six inches of oil sitting on top of the water.

I don’t think these three event require much explanation and cannot be viewed with too much consternation.  We’ve been warned about all of this by the scientists and Cassandras of earth science and climate science.  It’s all getting worse at a much faster and more disturbing rate than projected.

Meanwhile, Scott Pruitt is the swamp thing that administers our EPA.  You know, that agency that was the pride of the Nixon administration meant to clean up our messes and perpetual destruction of our environment.  He also frets his brow over the Bureau of Land Management and the Department of Interior.   The BLM came about during the Truman years.  The Department of interior has been around since 1849 and has its roots as far back as Madison although it was established through the Polk administration on the eve of Zachary Taylor’s inauguration. It is the agency which took the main approach to Native Americans after a number of Secretaries of States argued that the land and indigenous people of America was not best served by their Departments. These agencies really are most responsible for our past and our future in numerous ways.

  Both the Department of Interior and the EPA are headed by knuckle dragging, corrupt fools. There also seems to be some internecine drama between their dueling ids. Both have taken the idea of using a Federal position for personal benefit and show boating to new heights.

As Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt faces a seemingly endless stream of scandal, his team is scrambling to divert the spotlight to Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke. And the White House isn’t happy about it.

In the last week, a member of Pruitt’s press team, Michael Abboud, has been shopping negative stories about Zinke to multiple outlets, according to two sources with direct knowledge of the efforts, as well as correspondence reviewed by The Atlantic.

“This did not happen, and it’s categorically false,” EPA spokesman Jahan Wilcox said.

The stories were shopped with the intention of “taking the heat off of Pruitt,” the sources said, in the aftermath of the EPA chief’s punishing congressional hearing last week. They both added, however, that most reporters felt the story was not solid enough to run. On Thursday, Patrick Howley of Big League Politics published a piece on the allegations; he did not respond to request for comment as to his sources.

Abboud alleged to reporters that an Interior staffer conspired with former EPA deputy chief of staff Kevin Chmielewski to leak damaging information about the EPA, as part of a rivalry between Zinke and Pruitt. The collaboration, Abboud claimed, allowed the Interior staffer to prop up Zinke at the expense of Pruitt, and Chmielewski to “get back” at his former boss.

Abboud offered to connect reporters with Healy Baumgardner as a second source, according to a person with direct knowledge. Baumgardner, a former Trump campaign official, is a global energy lobbyist for the U.S.-China Exchange. She’s close to some EPA officials, the source, as well as an EPA official, confirmed. Baumgardner did not immediately return a request for comment.

According to the two sources, Interior staffers who fielded the reporters’ calls were able to ascertain that Abboud, who is a former Trump campaign official, was behind the stories. The Interior Department’s White House liaison then called the White House Presidential Personnel Office to complain about his conduct.

There is a stream of complaints about Pruitt’s conduct.  None of them garner the proper attention.

Scott Pruitt’s itinerary for a February trip to Israel was remarkable by any standard for an Environmental Protection Agency administrator: A stop at a controversial Jewish settlement in the West Bank. An appearance at Tel Aviv University. A hard-to-get audience with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

One force behind Pruitt’s eclectic agenda: casino magnate and Republican megadonor Sheldon Adelson, a major supporter of Israel who arranged parts of Pruitt’s visit.

The Israel trip was canceled days before Pruitt’s planned departure, after The Washington Post revealed his penchant for first-class travel on the taxpayers’ dime. But federal documents obtained by The Post and interviews with individuals familiar with the trip reveal that it fit a pattern by Pruitt of planning foreign travel with significant help from outside interests, including lobbyists, Republican donors and conservative activists.

After taking office last year, Pruitt drew up a list of at least a dozen countries he hoped to visit and urged aides to help him find official reasons to travel, according to four people familiar with the matter, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal agency deliberations. Pruitt then enlisted well-connected friends and political allies to help make the trips happen.

Ongoing allegations of Pruitt’s attempts to the EPA into his person bank and travel agency are astounding.  They keep oozing out of his swamp.  From EWG: ‘Reports: Before Confirmed, Scott Pruitt Wanted EPA Office, Private Phone Booth in Okla.’

Congressional leaders are demanding information from Environmental Protection Agency head Scott Pruitt over allegations he wanted taxpayers to open an office in his hometown of Tulsa, Okla., before he was confirmed by the Senate.

Democrats on the House Science, Space and Technology Committee sent letters this week to Pruitt and the head of the Government Services Administration seeking all records that may show there was an attempt to find an office in Tulsa.

The letters say that in early 2017, Ryan Jackson – now Pruitt’s chief of staff but then a top congressional aide – wanted the GSA to look for office space in Tulsa, 250 miles from the EPA regional headquarters in Dallas. Jackson asked that the office include a private, secure phone booth, like the one Pruitt later spent $43,000 to install at EPA headquarters in Washington.

“It appears that even before he was confirmed, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt had dreams of dismantling programs to protect air, water and kids from pollution from the comforts of an office in his hometown,” said EWG President Ken Cook. “What better place to have a secure phone booth to receive instructions from the energy lobby, and avoid the pesky expertise of agency scientists and lawyers?”

“Each day brings new evidence of Pruitt’s obsession to embellish the trappings of his office and adorn his days with pricey perquisites, taxpayers be damned. Historians will make note of Pruitt’s record of fleecing the public and attacking public health as signature ‘accomplishments’ of the Trump presidency.”

Trump appears unwilling to deal with Pruitt.  This is from VOX: ‘Why Trump would really, really rather not fire Scott Pruitt. The EPA administrator has given the White House most of the few policy wins it has to date.’  That’s rather disturbing.

Scott Pruitt’s tenure as head of the Environmental Protection Agency is now deeply tainted by a stunning number of alleged ethical and legal violations. There are at least 10 investigations into potential violations like his $43,000 phone booth, his 20-person security detail, and his housing deal with a lobbyist’s wife. And fallout, like the resignation and new congressional scrutiny of the head of his security team, Pasquale Perrotta (just reported by ABC News), continues.

To some Democrats in the House and Senate, environmental groups who’ve launched the Boot Pruitt campaign, and former top ethics officials, what should happen now is very clear: Pruitt should resign.

“I think your actions are an embarrassment to President Trump and distract from the EPA’s ability to effectively carry out the president’s mission,” said Rep. Frank Pallone (D-NJ) during one of two House hearings on Pruitt last week. (A whistleblower, by the way, is now saying Pruitt lied during the hearings.)

Yet in an administration afflicted with unprecedented turnover, Pruitt has remained startlingly resilient.

His subservience to Trump appears to be one reason why he has dodged the ax. “People are not people to [Trump], they are instruments of his ego,” Tony Schwartz, the ghostwriter on Trump’s book The Art of the Deal, told the New York Times. “And when they serve his ego, they survive, and when they don’t, they pass into the night.”

Pruitt must be impeached if Trump refuses to deal with him. This from Forbes.

No self-respecting prosecutor would be proud of winning a shoplifting conviction for a suspected murderer. But that’s almost exactly what’s happening in the congressional investigation of Environmental Protection Agency head Scott Pruitt.

Last week, lawmakers grilled Pruitt for renting a ridiculously cheap luxury condo from the wife of a lobbyist trying to get EPA approval for a client’s project. They asked why he reassigned investigators of criminal violations of environmental laws to his personal security detail.

It was all about the “appearance” of corruption. But the truth is that these petty corruptions pale in comparison to Pruitt’s actual policy record at the EPA.

The EPA is a science agency. It’s supposed to consult closely with scientists and base its decisions on rigorous evidence. While adherence to this principle has never been perfect, under Pruitt’s leadership it’s been trashed beyond recognition.

Even as he was about to face his congressional questioning, Pruitt announced a deceptive science “transparency” initiative. It’s a proposed rule stating that only scientific studies which are reproducible, and in which all underlying data are publicly available, can be used as the basis for regulation.

It sounds unobjectionable. But it would end up keeping a whole lot of public health data—on the impact of pollution, pesticides, or climate change, for example—out of the EPA’s hands.

For obvious ethical reasons, many public health studies can’t be repeated—not if they’d entail intentionally exposing people to toxins—and raw data on individuals’ health histories usually can’t be disclosed. Several hundred scientists pointed out these facts in a letter to Pruitt, but Pruitt doesn’t care what scientists think.

It gets really egregious when you look at what kind of data political appointees at the EPA want to exempt from the rule: proprietary corporate data, according to internal discussions obtained by the Union of Concerned Scientists. The proposed rule provides wide discretion to the EPA administrator—and only the administrator—to grant exemptions to the transparency requirement on a case-by-case basis. And Pruitt seems far more inclined to grant those exceptions to polluting industries, not

So many policies and actions of modern Republicans basically are aimed at killing every one.  They are either extremely shorted sided or actually believe that they will some how escape the karma they’re bringing on to the planet and country.  It might be that they are simply a cult of mass destruction since so many of them are whack-a-do Dominionists and actively seek an ends times.

They are bringing on an end times or a dystopia or whatever it is that I used to watch and read about in those old books.  I’m not seeing a Star Trek future in any of this.  In any case, we must stop this administration before these things cannot be undone. Enough of what’s gone on recently appears irreversible as it is.

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?

 

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Sunday Reads: One Word, Tampa.

This tweet by Jim Cantore sums things up into one single word…yeah, that is your latest update on Hurricane Irma.

Tampa.

My hometown.

This post is a quick round-up of links and tweets on the storms. (Don’t forget about Jose.)

One of those cranes just collapsed on a building:

And if all this wasn’t bad enough:

A little humor to lighten the mood:

View this post on Instagram

That's the spirit! #Irma #hurricaneirma #IrmaGerd

A post shared by Shannon Fisher (@msshannonfisher) on

Houston sunk 2cm, thank you Harvey:

Update in the Mexico earthquake:

Guess y’all heard about the “stupids” in Florida and their plans to shoot at Irma? Even the sheriff had to make a statement.

LOLGOP had the perfect response:

I will end it there. This is an open thread.


Wednesday Reads: Eclipse From Reality…Hump Day Cartoons

Cartoon by MStreeter -

08/09/2017 Cartoon by MStreeter

 

The upcoming total eclipse is big news here in Georgia. I am sure it is making the rounds of top stories in states where folks will observe the complete and total event. In Banjoville they are closing the school:

Solar eclipse 2017: Some schools close on Aug. 21, traffic plans during eclipse | AL.com

Expect heavy traffic along the path of totality for the Aug. 21 complete solar eclipse. (Contributed photo/Department of Transportation)

Areas along the prime viewing path of the Aug. 21 complete solar eclipse are bracing for an influx of visitors and traffic.

In Nashville, the city’s school board has opted to close on the day of the eclipse. According to the Tennessean, more than 400 teachers and 100 bus drivers were scheduled to be off that day, with only a half-day possible for high schoolers and no pre-kindergarten. School officials cited other concerns in deciding to close, including heavy traffic.

Dubbed the “Great American Eclipse,” the main viewing path – or path of totality – for the complete solar eclipse spans from Oregon to South Carolina and includes portions of Tennessee. The Great Smoky Mountain National Park part of the viewing path and has several activities planned on that day.

My daughter works for the Georgia DNR, at Vogel State Park, and they are expecting to close the park because they will have reached full capacity within an hour after the park opens on Aug. 21st.

Concerns over traffic tie ups are growing as the eclipse nears. According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, some 200 million people – a little less than 2/3 of the nation’s population – live within a day’s drive of the path of the total eclipse.

The traffic will not be the only effect this eclipse brings…5 surprising effects the total solar eclipse will have besides darkness

Subtle differences may be noticed in areas that only experience a partial solar eclipse, but much bigger changes will take place along the narrow path from Oregon to South Carolina that see a total eclipse of the sun.

1. 360-degree sunrise/sunset

While everyone’s attention will be focused on the sky, looking down can reveal another scene that not many have experienced.

Spectators that look at the horizon during totality will witness the colors of sunrise and sunset around them in every direction.

This 360-degree sunset effect is caused by the light from the sun in areas outside of the path of totality and only lasts as long as the face of the sun is covered by the moon.

2. Stars and planets

As the moon causes day to turn to night, the darkness will reveal the stars in the sky as well as a few planets.

People shouldn’t waste too much time looking for planets and constellations since many of these can be seen at night during different parts of the year. However, the eclipse will make it easy to spot Mercury, a planet that can be tricky to spot due to its close proximity to the sun.

I hope many of you get a chance to see these…Number 4 on the list has a historical record to match…

The celestial alignment will also reveal the sun’s corona, the area of hot gas the surrounds the sun.

A few lucky spectators may even be fortunate enough to see a meteor streak across the sky during the brief period of darkness.

3. Light pollution and city lights

Those watching the total solar eclipse from a city, parking lot or street corner may still see some light during the brief period of totality.

This light will not be from the sun, but rather streetlights that automatically turn on when it gets dark outside.

These automatic lights will not ruin the eclipse, but it may make it more difficult to spot planets and stars in the sky during totality.

4. Temperature change

Not only will an eclipse cause the environment to appear different, but also feel different.

“When sunlight fades at twilight, we always notice how things start to cool down. The same is true for the temporary dimming during a total solar eclipse,” NASA said.

Depending on factors such as the time of year, cloud cover and the length of totality, the air temperature can drop more than 20 degrees F.

During a solar eclipse in 1834, the air temperature in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania reportedly dropped by 28 degrees F.

Astronomers aren’t expecting the temperature to drop quite that much, but people may still feel the temperature drop by around 10 degrees F.

Here is a graph of the temperature change from a total eclipse in Zambia, 2001;Credit/Dr. Mitzi Adams NASA/MSFC:

temp change eclipse

The fifth thing you can see is something called Shadow Snakes. Now this one is a bit more tricky to witness, and does not always occur:

5. Shadow snakes

One of the rare phenomenon to look for during the total solar eclipse is something called shadow bands or shadow snakes.

“Shadow bands are thin, wavy lines of alternating light and dark that can be seen moving and undulating in parallel on plain-colored surfaces immediately before and after a total solar eclipse,” NASA said.

Some people also call these shadow snakes since their wavy motion can look like snakes slithering on the ground.

The article says if you want to see them, it is best to put a piece of white poster board or sheet on the ground and keep a close eye on the lookout for them. There is a video of the Shadow Snakes at the link, so please go and take a look at that…it took me a few minutes to realize what I was watching, until I noticed the faded glimpse of shadows streaking across the white portion of the screen. Very faint and difficult to see. It is almost like looking at those popular 3-d posters from back in the day…you would have to stare into them a long time and then pow…you saw it.

 

I have been actively avoiding the news the past week and a half. First because my aunt and family were in town, then it became a natural defense mechanism. The few times I did come out to see what was going on, stories of nuclear catastrophe caught my attention:

Trump Threatens ‘Fire and Fury’ Against North Korea if It Endangers U.S. – The New York Times

 President Trump threatened on Tuesday to unleash “fire and fury” against North Korea if it endangered the United States, as tensions with the isolated and impoverished nuclear-armed state escalated into perhaps the most serious foreign policy challenge yet of his administration.

In chilling language that evoked the horror of a nuclear exchange, Mr. Trump sought to deter North Korea from any actions that would put Americans at risk. But it was not clear what specifically would cross his line. Administration officials have said that a pre-emptive military strike, while a last resort, is among the options they have made available to the president.

“North Korea best not make any more threats to the United States,” Mr. Trump told reporters at his golf club in Bedminster, N.J., where he is spending much of the month on a working vacation. “They will be met with fire and fury like the world has never seen.”

What the fuck? It made me welcome this bloody story out of Australia:

 

If you can’t see that video from Time magazine…here’s two articles for ya…

Flesh-Eating Sea Fleas Feast on Teen’s Feet at Australian Beach – Motherboard

It’s not shark jaws you have to be worried about, but microscopic pincers.

If you’re terrified of the ocean because of sharks, you should reconsider—the real thing you need to be afraid of is invisible.

As reported by Australian news outlet The Age, 16-year-old Sam Kanizay decided to cool off after a difficult football practice on Saturday night by taking a dip in the water at the Dendy Street Beach in southeastern Australia. When he came out, his legs were dripping with blood.

Sam Kanizay’s father, Jarrod Kanizay, told Australian news outletnews.com.au that his son didn’t know he was bleeding until he stepped out of the water.

“He went back to his shoes and what he found was blood on his legs. As soon as we wiped them down, they kept bleeding,” he said. “There was a massive pool of blood on the floor [at the hospital].”

But the culprit wasn’t sharks, stingrays, or any of the usual suspects in marine attacks on humans.

Tiny ‘meat-loving’ marine creatures ‘eat’ teenager’s legs at Melbourne beach | Australia news | The Guardian

Experts left stunned by possible sea lice bites after Sam Kanizay emerged from the beach at Brighton with severe bleeding

[…]

University of New South Wales marine invertebrates expert, Alistair Poore, said he had never seen a case like it.

Poore told Guardian Australia the biting must have been caused by a marine invertebrate, most likely sea lice. But he said a large number of sea lice would be needed to cause such extensive bleeding.

“If it is sea lice, then it is a pretty dramatic example of it,” Poore said.

He said often beachgoers mistook stinging from the remnants of jellyfish tentacles with bites. But Poore said the bleeding in this case appeared too severe for that scenario.

[…]

The next night, Kanizay went back to the beach with a pool net full of meat and captured the creatures he said were responsible.

“What is really clear is these little things really love meat,” he said of a video showing the bugs in a tray of water devouring chunks of meat.

Now that is some scary shit.

Forget all about Marabunta…

 

Now for some cartoons.

08/09/2017 Cartoon by Jimmy Margulies

Cartoon by Jimmy Margulies -

 

Clay Bennett editorial cartoon: 08/09/2017 Cartoon by Clay Bennett

Cartoon by Clay Bennett - Clay Bennett editorial cartoon

Cartoonist Gary Varvel: Trump vacation Tweets: 08/09/2017 Cartoon by Gary Varvel

Cartoon by Gary Varvel - Cartoonist Gary Varvel: Trump vacation Tweets

08/09/2017 Cartoon by David Horsey

Cartoon by David Horsey -

08/02/2017 Cartoon by David Horsey

Cartoon by David Horsey -

08/09/2017 Cartoon by Kevin Siers

Cartoon by Kevin Siers -

08/09/2017 Cartoon by Joe Heller

Cartoon by Joe Heller -

08/05/2017 Cartoon by Joel Pett

Cartoon by Joel Pett -

Playing the Country Card: 08/09/2017 Cartoon by Jen Sorensen

Cartoon by Jen Sorensen - Playing the Country Card

Judge Jury and Executioner in the Philippines War on Drugs: 08/09/2017 Cartoon by Angelo Lopez

Cartoon by Angelo Lopez - Judge Jury and Executioner in the Philippines War on Drugs

Working Vacation: 08/09/2017 Cartoon by Adam Zyglis

Cartoon by Adam Zyglis - Working Vacation

This is an open thread….


Friday Reads: Animal Farm

It’s difficult not to think about what the current state of affairs means in terms of the celebration of Independence Day as we head into Fourth of July Festivities.  Our country was born of the Age of Reason.  Thomas Jefferson–who wrote the document proclaiming US Independence–was an amateur scientist and philosopher.  He might be considered the ideal Renaissance man if he had also found a way to support his causes and lifestyle with employees instead of slaves.

There’s always been this dark side to the American Dream and there have been many people throughout history who have fought those inclinations. It’s been a slow climb from the idea that we all are created equal to getting to a society that actually lives that value. The climb continues.

Why is it so difficult to treat one another with the respect and dignity we each deserve?

The Republican leadership and Administration is based on the most vulgar, salacious, and base motivations we’ve witnessed since Andrew Jackson was committing mass genocide on human beings he considered “savages” and since a group of people considered the nation’s black Americans to be not wholly human.  They deemed all folks with African descent to be precisely 3/5ths human.  All of this was done in the name of the same religion that tortures our better angels today.

The cognitive dissonance is simply mind boggling.  Today, Ahvaz Iran has reached an almost unheard of temperature of 129.  It’s one of the hottest temperatures ever recorded on the planet. 

Another weather source, the Weather Underground, said Ahvaz hit 129.2 degrees Thursday afternoon. The heat index, which also takes humidity into account, hit an incredible 142 degrees.

Fortunately, the weather forecast for Ahvaz on Friday is for “cooler” weather, with a high of only 119 degrees, according to AccuWeather.

The official all-time world record temperature remains the 134-degree temperature measured at Death Valley, Calif, on July 10, 1913. However, some experts say that temperature isn’t reliable. Weather Underground weather historian Christopher Burt said in 2016 that such an extreme temperature was “not possible from a meteorological perspective.”

Scorching heat is one of the most expected outcomes of man-made climate change, according to a 2016 report from the National Academy of Sciences and a 2015 study in Nature Climate Change.

The prestigious magazine  Science published a study estimating the economic cost of climate change to the US economy.  It’s not pretty.  You can read the fully study at the link.  This is its Abstract.

Estimates of climate change damage are central to the design of climate policies. Here, we develop a flexible architecture for computing damages that integrates climate science, econometric analyses, and process models. We use this approach to construct spatially explicit, probabilistic, and empirically derived estimates of economic damage in the United States from climate change. The combined value of market and nonmarket damage across analyzed sectors—agriculture, crime, coastal storms, energy, human mortality, and labor—increases quadratically in global mean temperature, costing roughly 1.2% of gross domestic product per +1°C on average. Importantly, risk is distributed unequally across locations, generating a large transfer of value northward and westward that increases economic inequality. By the late 21st century, the poorest third of counties are projected to experience damages between 2 and 20% of county income (90% chance) under business-as-usual emissions (Representative Concentration Pathway 8.5).

Meanwhile, the man responsible for the EPA–professional whackadoodle Scott Pruitt–launches  program to ‘critique’ climate science.

“We are in fact very excited about this initiative,” the official added. “Climate science, like other fields of science, is constantly changing. A new, fresh and transparent evaluation is something everyone should support doing.”

The disclosure follows the administration’s suggestions over several days that it supports reviewing climate science outside the normal peer-review process used by scientists. This is the first time agency officials acknowledged that Pruitt has begun that process. The source said Energy Secretary Rick Perry also favors the review.

Executives in the coal industry interpret the move as a step toward challenging the endangerment finding, the agency’s legal foundation for regulating greenhouse gases from cars, power plants and other sources. Robert Murray, CEO of Murray Energy Corp., said Pruitt assured him yesterday that he plans to begin reviewing the endangerment finding within months.

“We talked about that, and they’re going to start addressing it later this year,” Murray said in an interview. “They’re going to start getting a lot of scientific people in to give both sides of the issue.”

But another person attending the meeting said Pruitt resisted committing to a full-scale challenge of the 2009 finding. The administration source also said Pruitt “did not promise to try to rescind the endangerment finding.”

Climate scientists express concern that the “red team, blue team” concept could politicize scientific research and disproportionately elevate the views of a relatively small number of experts who disagree with mainstream scientists (Climatewire, June 29).

Pruitt told about 30 people attending a board meeting of the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity yesterday morning that he’s establishing a “specific process” to review climate science, the administration official said. Murray and two other people in the room interpreted Pruitt as saying he would challenge the endangerment finding.

Challenging the endangerment finding would be enormously difficult, according to many lawyers. The finding is built on an array of scientific material establishing that human health and welfare is endangered by a handful of greenhouse gases emitted by industry, power plants and cars. It stems from a Supreme Court ruling in 2007.

If Pruitt somehow succeeded in rolling back the finding — an outcome that many Republicans say is far-fetched — the federal government would no longer be required to restrict greenhouse gas emissions.

Other evidence that there is no sign of intelligent life in the majority of Republicans are  these doozies:

Trump Administration Appoints Anti-Transgender Activist To Gender Equality Post

“To put it simply, a boy claiming gender confusion must now be allowed in the same shower, bathroom, or locker room with my daughter,” wrote the new senior adviser for women’s empowerment at USAID.

Oh, and this one.

White House council for women and girls goes dark under Trump

The administration is evaluating whether to keep the office, created under President Barack Obama to focus on gender equality

I agree with Ezra Klein on this: “It turns out the liberal caricature of conservatism is correct. It’s depressing. But it’s true.”  These people are motivated by greed and feeding a group of religious zealots who think Eve is the root of all evil and any one not pristine white carries the stain of sin.

Marc Thiessen, the George W. Bush speechwriter who now writes a column for the Washington Post op-ed page, is aghast at the Senate GOP’s health care bill. “Paying for a massive tax cut for the wealthy with cuts to health care for the most vulnerable Americans is morally reprehensible,” he says.

“If Republicans want to confirm every liberal caricature of conservatism in a single piece of legislation, they could do no better than vote on the GOP bill in its current form.”

But at what point do we admit that this isn’t the liberal caricature of conservatism? It’s just … conservatism.

Though Republicans had long promised the country a repeal-and-replace plan that offered better coverage at lower cost, the House GOP’s health care bill cut hundreds of billions of dollars in taxes for the rich and paid for it by gutting health care spending on the poor. It was widely criticized and polled terribly.

Senate Republicans responded by releasing a revised health care bill that also cut hundreds of billions of dollars in taxes for the rich and paid for it by gutting health care spending on the poor. It has also been widely criticized, and it also is polling terribly.

Donald Trump, who ran on a platform of covering everyone with better health insurance than they get now, has endorsed both bills.

Republicans, in other words, have repeatedly broken their promises and defied public opinion in order to release health care bills that cut spending on the poorest Americans to fund massive tax cuts for the richest Americans. (The Tax Policy Center estimates that 44.6 percent of the Senate bill’s tax cuts go to households making more than $875,000.)

Fundamentalism of all sorts has always been the basis of the evil done by this country.  Republicans are feeding it.

How do you make climate change personal to someone who believes only God can alter the weather? How do you make racial equality personal to someone who believes whites are naturally superior to non-whites? How do you make gender equality personal to someone who believes women are supposed to be subservient to men by God’s command? How do you get someone to view minorities as not threatening personal to people who don’t live around and never interact with them? How do you make personal the fact massive tax cuts and cutting back government hurts their economic situation when they’ve voted for these for decades? I don’t think you can without some catastrophic events. And maybe not even then. The Civil War was pretty damn catastrophic yet a large swath of the South believed and still believes they were right, had the moral high ground. They were/are also mostly Christian fundamentalists who believe they are superior because of the color of their skin and the religion they profess to follow. There is a pattern here for anyone willing to connect the dots.

“Rural, white America needs to be better understood,” is not one of the dots. “Rural, white America needs to be better understood,” is a dodge, meant to avoid the real problems because talking about the real problems is viewed as “too upsetting,” “too mean,” “too arrogant,” “too elite,” “too snobbish.” Pointing out Aunt Bee’s views of Mexicans, blacks, gays…is bigoted isn’t the thing one does in polite society. Too bad more people don’t think the same about the views Aunt Bee has. It’s the classic, “You’re a racist for calling me a racist,” ploy. Or, as it is more commonly known, “I know you are but what am I?”

I do think rational arguments are needed, even if they go mostly ignored and ridiculed. I believe in treating people with the respect they’ve earned but the key point here is “earned.” I’ll gladly sit down with Aunt Bee and have a nice, polite conversation about her beliefs about “the gays,” “the blacks,” “illegals,”…and do so without calling her a bigot or a racist. But, this doesn’t mean she isn’t a bigot and a racist and if I’m asked to describe her beliefs these are the only words that honestly fit. No one with cancer wants to be told they have cancer, but just because no one uses the word, “cancer,” it doesn’t mean they don’t have it. Just because the media, pundits on all sides, some Democratic leaders don’t want to call the actions of many rural, Christian, white Americans, “racist/bigoted” doesn’t make them not so.

Paul Krugman is more succinct.  He calls it Republican ‘cruelty’. It is exactly that.

The puzzle — and it is a puzzle, even for those who have long since concluded that something is terribly wrong with the modern G.O.P. — is why the party is pushing this harsh, morally indefensible agenda.

Think about it. Losing health coverage is a nightmare, especially if you’re older, have health problems and/or lack the financial resources to cope if illness strikes. And since Americans with those characteristics are precisely the people this legislation effectively targets, tens of millions would soon find themselves living this nightmare.

Meanwhile, taxes that fall mainly on a tiny, wealthy minority would be reduced or eliminated. These cuts would be big in dollar terms, but because the rich are already so rich, the savings would make very little difference to their lives.

More than 40 percent of the Senate bill’s tax cuts would go to people with annual incomes over $1 million — but even these lucky few would see their after-tax income rise only by a barely noticeable 2 percent.

So it’s vast suffering — including, according to the best estimates, around 200,000 preventable deaths — imposed on many of our fellow citizens in order to give a handful of wealthy people what amounts to some extra pocket change. And the public hates the idea: Polling shows overwhelming popular opposition, even though many voters don’t realize just how cruel the bill really is. For example, only a minority of voters are aware of the plan to make savage cuts to Medicaid.

In fact, my guess is that the bill has low approval even among those who would get a significant tax cut. Warren Buffett has denounced the Senate bill as the “Relief for the Rich Act,” and he’s surely not the only billionaire who feels that way.

Which brings me back to my question: Why would anyone want to do this?

Because they can and because they love power and money.  Their mega-rich donors will shower them in both.

I think we can forever ask ourselves the big question of why do these uneducated white people continually fall for it?  The answer is that their life basically sucks and they’re doing what ever they can to feel better about it. Religion and Republicans give them a feeling of superiority based on the only thing they have: the identity birth gave them.  Every one is paying an awful price for that.

What’s on your reading and blogging list today? Tuesday is Independence Day if we can keep it.


Sunday Reads: ffather’s Day. Just a straight “fuh”…

👆🏼  See that image? I still haven’t spoken those two words together… and very proud of that fact.

It is Father’s Day…so let me first start out by wishing all the daddies the best on this special Sunday.

I was planning on writing a happy post, with happy links. Then I started to review the news and realized…who am I trying to kid? Such crap goings on.

That is why today’s ffather’s Day post is spelled as such…we have such an embarrassment in office, and in the administration. These dudes are fathers but look at what horrible pieces of shit they are…

They do not deserve a capital letter Father’s Day.

So let us commemorate it…which brings us to ffather’s Day.

Foreign Correspondent (1940) — (Movie Clip) May I Have Your Picture? 

Just a straight “fuh” …as in “Fuck you kid, can’t you see, the only person that matters is me!”

(Granted, tRump hasn’t been beheaded…but I think you will get my meaning here.)

Back to the “fuh”.

Case in point:

Here is the images if you can’t see this tweet:

Today’s tweets…44 and 45.



It’s enough to make you puke.

Have a look at some of the ffather’s out there…and the kind of legislation these assholes are sponsoring these days.

These horrid men, are not only plotting to kill millions, as they kill Obamacare: The AHCA Could Cause an Economic Downturn – The Atlantic

A new report argues that the Republican health law would slash jobs and perhaps trigger a recession.

A new report from the Commonwealth Fund and George Washington University researchers Leighton Ku, Erika Steinmetz, Erin Brantley, Nikhil Holla, and Brian K. Bruen finds that the AHCA would slash total jobs by about a million, total state gross domestic products by $93 billion, and total business output by $148 billion by 2026. Most of those jobs would be shed from the health-care industry, which would contract severely over that frame. Most of the losses in economic activity would come in states that have expanded Medicaid to low-income adults under the Affordable Care Act.

 

 

 

 

 

 

How about some new form of discrimination…Using Birth Control or Getting an Abortion Could Disqualify You From Jobs in Missouri | Allure

Reproductive rights have been taking a hit left and right, and now folks living in Missouri may be facing another setback. Their state Senate has just voted to pass a bill this past Wednesday night after 10 hours of closed-door meetings that, if fully approved, could legally allow hiring managers to discriminate against those who have gotten abortions in the past, as well as applicants who use birth control.

Alison Drieth, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Missouri, told The Kansas City Star what she thought about the late night vote made by the Senate. “Passing further restrictions on women’s access to abortion in the dark of night is shameful, at best,” she said. “Republican senators know this, or they would have allowed the hundreds of people rallying at the Capitol on Wednesday take part in the process.”

Reproductive rights have been taking a hit left and right, and now folks living in Missouri may be facing another setback. Their state Senate has just voted to pass a bill this past Wednesday night after 10 hours of closed-door meetings that, if fully approved, could legally allow hiring managers to discriminate against those who have gotten abortions in the past, as well as applicants who use birth control.

Alison Drieth, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Missouri, told The Kansas City Star what she thought about the late night vote made by the Senate. “Passing further restrictions on women’s access to abortion in the dark of night is shameful, at best,” she said. “Republican senators know this, or they would have allowed the hundreds of people rallying at the Capitol on Wednesday take part in the process.”

If passed, the bill would put stringent and unwanted restrictions on abortion providers, as the bill would require state health departments to annually inspect clinics unannounced. The Kansas City Star reports, “It also would provide stronger whistleblower protections for employees of abortion clinics and new requirements for pathologists who provide services to abortion clinics.” Both employers and landlords would be allowed to put into place discriminatory practices based on applicants reproductive health decisions. There’s currently an ordinance in place banning this type of discrimination that the bill aims to nullify, based on the idea that it infringes on the religious rights of faith-based employers and landlords.

This bill is not law yet, however, so there is hope. The Missouri House will reconvene next week, and they’ll either ask the Senate to make adjustments to the bill or pass it up to the governor without any changes. We’ll just have to watch this one and see what happens.

 

Next up, bully kids. I wonder how many of these kids learned their bully tactics from their fathers:

White kids are bullying minority students using Trump’s words – Salon.com

This is Trump’s America: kids are mimicking the president in rhetoric and action

Donald Trump’s real campaign promise was that he would give whites back the power they imagined they’d lost. That message was stated not in dog whistles, but loudly enough that the entire country heard him, even children. The trickle-down effect of Trump’s campaign rhetoric and election is now being felt among kids in schools across the country. Bullying, according to a Buzzfeed News report, has taken on an “alarming twist . . . with white students using the president’s words and slogans to bully Latino, Middle Eastern, black, Asian, and Jewish classmates.”

Buzzfeed reporters analyzed data collected by the Documenting Hate Project, which catalogs reports of bias and bullying, and found more than “50 incidents, across 26 states, in which a K-12 student invoked Trump’s name or message in an apparent effort to harass a classmate during the past school year.” The incidents took place between October 2016 and May 2017. Here are just a fraction of the incidents cited by Buzzfeed investigators:

  • A group of white male students at a high school in Shakopee, Minnesota who surrounded an African-American girl and sang the national anthem, “replacing the closing line with ‘and the home of the slaves.’”
  • In a third-grade classroom in Louisville, Kentucky, a boy chased a Latina girl while screaming “Build the wall!”
  • On the school bus, a white eighth-grader told a Filipino classmate, “You are going to be deported.”
  • A white eighth-grade student in Brea, California, told a black student, “Now that Trump won, you’re going to have to go back to Africa, where you belong.”
  • An English teacher in Spokane Valley, Washington, describes discovering a “group of white students following a Latino student in the hallway, taunting him with chants of ‘the wall’s coming!’ and ‘Trump! Trump! Trump!’”
  • The Dallas, Texas mother of a sixth-grader reported that on Election Day, students at her son’s school harassed him and his friends with shouts of, “Heil Hitlary.” One of the bullied students was told, “One million of your lives is worth less than 30,000 deleted emails.”

These represent just a handful of the bullying incidents the Buzzfeed article lists. The authors acknowledge that countless incidents go unreported, and spoke to parents whose children had avoiding telling school authorities because of fears of social backlash. Kids are infamously cruel. And while some school administrators suggested the bullies in these cases may have been unaware of what their words truly meant — an excuse that’s believable for the youngest offenders — it would be naive to think Trump is the only source they’re learning from. While the president has certainly helped make the environment exponentially more toxic, parents, friends and neighbors feed the ugliness as well.

There is a new rally planned in Charlottesville, how many ffathers will attend this?

Talking about disgusting ffathers…Scalise has been listed in stable condition today. You must have seen this? In a funny sort of ironic way….Bigoted Homophobe Steve Scalise’s Life Was Saved by a Queer Black Woman

Steve Scalise, the House Majority Whip who was shot by a gunman who attacked a congressional baseball practice on Wednesday, has kept company with racists. He was forced to apologize for speaking at an international conference of white supremacists, and reportedly referred to himself as “David Duke without the baggage.” Following Scalise’s shooting, Duke praised him for “defending white civil rights.”

Scalise has also been described as one of the most anti-LGBTQ politicians in Washington. He’s voted against LBGTQ rights over and over again. He also authored Louisiana’s ban on same-sex marriage. Like many of his ilk, he said he was only trying to protect “traditional” marriage.

So it is a point of especially delicious irony that Scalise, who survived the attack (and is reportedly in critical condition), may owe his life to a queer black woman.

Crystal Griner, a Capitol Police officer, was one of two special agents on Scalise’s security detail yesterday who helped take down shooter James Hodgkinson. People at the scene said that the two officers prevented an all-out “massacre” on the field that day, engaging in a firefight with Hodgkinson before killing him.

Griner sustained wounds in the fight, and she, like Scalise, was in a hospital recovering last night. By her side was her wife, Tiffany.

 

 

 

Horrible ffathers…

 

Just a few more links:

 

Huge forest fires in Portugal kill at least 60 | World news | The Guardian

Many died in their cars as they fled from huge blaze amid severe heatwave on Iberian peninsula

Brrr! How Much Can Temperatures Drop During a Total Solar Eclipse?

During the total solar eclipse on Aug. 21, 2017, the moon will completely cover the disk of the sun from Oregon to South Carolina. During this period of “totality,” eclipse observers will likely report feeling a sudden drop in temperature. Just how much does the mercury drop during this celestial event?

During the total solar eclipse on Dec. 9, 1834, the Gettysburg Republican Banner reported that in some places, the eclipse caused the temperature to drop by as much as 28 degrees Fahrenheit, from 78 degrees F to 50 degrees F (25 degrees Celsius to 10 degrees C). During a total solar eclipse on the Norwegian island of Svalbard in March 2015, temperatures dropped from 8 degrees F to minus 7 degrees F (minus 13 C to minus 21 degrees C).

This weekend in Boston a wonderful thing to see….Tall ships!

 

 

 

Last link, and it is about damn time:

Olivia de Havilland becomes oldest ever Dame  | Daily Mail Online

She’s one of the last surviving legends of Hollywood’s golden age.

Her beauty and enigmatic smile saw Olivia de Havilland play alongside the biggest names of the silver screen – Errol Flynn, Clark Gable and Montgomery Clift.

Off screen she was romanced by the likes of Jimmy Stewart, John Huston and Howard Hughes – and reportedly turned down the advances of John F Kennedy. She won two best actress Oscars in a career spanning six decades and 49 feature films – many of them considered to be classics.

Dame Olivia pictured in Paris in 2011

But it is only now – two weeks before her 101st birthday – that the Gone With The Wind actress has been given a damehood for services to drama. It makes her the oldest woman ever to receive the honour. In a statement, she called it ‘the most gratifying of birthday presents’.

My aunt is on a little vacation on the Northwest coast…she sent me this text last night:

Funny eh?

What is going on in your Sunday…funday?

 


Wednesday Reads: Butkus or Buttkiss? Hump Day Cartoons 

Something tells me, that you will get a sense of where the title of this post is coming from…

…by the sample of these first few images and cartoons. 

Oh…shit. I’m getting ahead of myself. 

Let me post a few links, and then get to the cartoons. 

Aw, fuck the links. 

I wasn’t able to bring myself to watch the show yesterday. I think it is difficult for me to watch all this testimony going on, when I know the Senate is working behind those closed doors to kill my mother. 

Here is a cartoon with commentary from Pat Bagley:

Innit the truth. 

I can’t much wrap my head around anything else nowadays. 

Here are the rest of today’s cartoons…I hope you enjoy them. 

You will have to click on the link to see that one by Luckovich in full size. 

And remember as you look at many of these cartoons, they are from the foreign press/political cartoonist. 


And on that note…..This is an open thread. 


Sunday F*ck You Trump and Other Reads

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Good Afternoon

This post is more of a link dump than anything else, we are still working on the move…and it seems like it will go on forever.

The articles will be presented to you in a certain way…

Starting with the deep south…Florida:

Student found biting victim’s face after killings dared police to drug-test him | US news | The Guardian

In Florida, Pregnant Women Cover Up and Stay Inside Amid Zika Fears – The New York Times

Moving westward…Civil suit will cost parents of Ga. teen found dead in gym mat – NY Daily News

Trump has been causing the usual fuck ups at campaign rallies in North Carolina, Wisconsin and Michigan…

Being Donald Trump Means Never Having To Say You’re Sorry

Trump’s Second Amendment Comment Is Part of an Ongoing and Troubling Trend

Trump To Black Voters: ‘What The Hell Do You Have To Lose?’

Trump Surrogate Snidely Suggests African American Voters Prefer ‘A Backdrop With A Burning Car’ | Crooks and Liars

(Just a couple of more links on Trump that I have to include.)

Jerry Falwell Jr.: Trump is the Churchillian leader we need – The Washington Post

Churchillian? What the fuck is that?

Here is TPM’s take on that op/ed by Jerry Falwell Jr: Jerry Falwell Jr.: Americans Must Elect Trump Or ‘Suffer Dire Consequences’

Jerry Falwell Jr. penned a Washington Post op-ed posted Friday evening that compared Donald Trump to Winston Churchill and warned that Americans will “suffer dire consequences” if they don’t line up behind the GOP nominee.

“We are at a crossroads where our first priority must be saving our nation. We need a leader with qualities that resemble those of Winston Churchill, and I believe that leader is Donald Trump,” Falwell wrote.

 

Westward ho….to a new study out of Colorado: Contraception’s Role In Fighting Poverty

And in Washington State…Interracial Couple Allegedly Stabbed For Kissing by White Supremacist | LawNewz

Next up is a long read from the Grist: This California couple uses more water than all of the homes in Los Angeles | Grist

I don’t know I always find the topic of water rights laws interesting.

The Resnicks are the world’s biggest producers of pistachios and almonds, and they also hold vast groves of lemons, grapefruit, and navel oranges. All told, they claim to own America’s second-largest produce company, worth an estimated$4.2 billion.

The Resnicks have amassed this empire by following a simple agricultural precept: Crops need water. Having shrewdly maneuvered the backroom politics of California’s byzantine water rules, they are now thought to consume more of the state’s water than any other family, farm, or company. They control more of it in some years than what’s used by the residents of Los Angeles and the entire San Francisco Bay Area combined.

Such an incredible stockpiling of the state’s most precious natural resource might have attracted more criticism were it not for the Resnicks’ progressive bona fides. Last year, the couple’s political and charitable donations topped $48 million. They’ve spent $15 million on the 2,500 residents of Lost Hills — roughly 600 of whom work for the couple — funding everything from sidewalks, parks, and playing fields to affordable housing, a preschool, and a health clinic.

Last year, the Resnicks rebranded all their holdings as the Wonderful Company to highlight their focus on healthy products and philanthropy. “Our company has always believed that success means doing well by doing good,” Stewart Resnick said in a press release announcing the name change. “That is why we place such importance on our extensive community outreach programs, education and health initiatives and sustainability efforts. We are deeply committed to doing our part to build a better world and inspiring others to do the same.”

But skeptics note that the Resnicks’ donations to Lost Hills began a few months after Earth Island Journal documented the yawning wealth gap between the couple and their company town, a dusty assemblage of trailer homes, dirt roads, and crumbling infrastructure. They claim the Resnicks’ influence among politicians and liberal celebrities is quietly warping California’s water policies away from the interests of the state’s residents, wildlife, and even most farmers. “I think the Wonderful Company and the Resnicks are truly the top 1 percent wrapped in a green veneer, in a veneer of social justice,” says Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla of Restore the Delta, an advocacy group that represents farmers, fishermen, and environmentalists in the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta, east of San Francisco. “If they truly cared about a sustainable California and farmworkers within their own community, then how things are structured and how they are done by the Wonderful Company would be much different.”

In other California news, Hearst Castle threatened by fast-moving Chimney Fire – LA Times

Keeping with the Go West…theme: vintage everyday: Girls of Western United States in the early 20th Century: The Real Cowgirls of American West

Cowgirl – It’s not just a word it is a way of life! The Beauty of a Cowgirl must be seen from her eyes because that is the doorway to her heart, her true beauty is reflected in her soul.

Here are what images of badass cowgirls in the early 20th century looked like.

And just a few more articles, dealing with worldly news:

Why a 1995 speech proved formative for Clinton | PBS NewsHour -This is a post about that famous speech of Clinton’s given in China in 1995.

Refugees in Greek camps targeted by mafia gangs | World news | The Guardian

Not so jovial after all: how historians misunderstood William the Conqueror | Books | The Guardian

1-click exodus: Online ‘check out’ option sees Norway Church lose 15k parishioners in just 4 days — RT News

That is all the links I have for you today…this is an open thread.