It’s Thursday Right? (Reads)

Hello Sky Dancers!

Things are partially back around the little Kathouse on the Mississippi River. Wow, it’s been a while! I’ve had the power on for about a day and 1/2 but the cable TV and internet are still down with no ETA.  I’m using my neighbor’s wifi right now. She has a different provider.  There’s a convergence of anniversaries this month.

It’s been 20 years since we experienced the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center.  I know JJ has much more vivid memories of that than me since her husband was in the tower. I await her thoughts as we approach the anniversary.

I was awakened by my neighbor Bryan who told me to turn on the TV and then from phone calls from the University telling me classes are canceled so stay home.  I turned the TV just in time to see the second plane hit the towers.  Shortly after that, we all watched the Towers fall. This led to a series of bad political/foreign policy decisions and the last 20 years of endless war in the Middle East. Bungalo Bush’s tenure was his own form of disaster and the Russian Potted Plant is the Disaster that keeps on killing.

Sixteen years ago, a zombie version of myself was parked on my late friend Jane’s sofa screaming at CNN to figure out the difference between the lower 9th ward and the upper 9th ward. The levees had failed and Hurricane Katrina became the next huge Dubya Bush failure. That was the year the Bad Hands people slapped a $10,000 named storm deductible on my home insurance policy that plagues me at least every several years and especially today.

Ah, today, America, land of massive hurricanes, massive fires, and can’t we all just agree this is the result of Climate Change and aim some torches and pitchforks at Exxon Mobile and captured pols?  Mexico gets a massive earthquake today and legal abortions.  Well, you know what Texas gave us, what Florida is doing to kill us, and what is going to happen on the 18th which could be another attempt at an insurrection by white Christian nationalists.

So, watching the news just keeps getting more stressful. Part of me is glad I didn’t get mine for about 10 days. My friend, a retired CNN news producer, keeps telling her colleagues to stop being part of the problem that what is going on right now is important and choose the right side and report on it. I keep thinking all these events call for us to stand up for humanity, justice, and democracy. The Republican Party is lost to its worst instincts.  Acknowledge they are not capable of governing us out of any crises and are responsible for most of them.  They seem to be doing Darwin’s work already thought with Covid-19.  Why do they want their base to basically die and kill others?

Lineworkers from Northern Wisconsin working to restore power to my street on September 7.

So, here comes the enemies of democracy again.  From Roll Call: “As Sept. 18 rally approaches, violent language ramps up online. Capitol Police chief will brief congressional leaders about situation.”

As Capitol Police Chief J. Thomas Manger prepares to brief congressional leaders on a potentially violent rally scheduled for Sept. 18, an internal department assessment reveals more violent online discussion around the event and increased attendance numbers for the demonstration.

The intelligence assessment, dated Sept. 7, notes that in recent days, the department and partner agencies have found more violent online talk surrounding the #JusticeForJ6 rally, organized by Look Ahead America. The event seeks to support pro-Trump rioters who were jailed for their roles in the Jan. 6 Capitol attack.

A discussion thread on the far-right site 4chan includes calls to “do justice” against “local jews and corrupted officials.” It also says the demonstration should be used as a vehicle to participate in violent acts against local “Jewish centers and Liberal churches” while law enforcement is distracted.

Another comment from the thread reads, “I will be there with my AR15 even though legally I can’t have one f*** the Demonrats.” (ed. note: asterisks inserted by CQ Roll Call)

Look Ahead America, a group led by former Trump campaign employee Matt Braynard, asked for a permit in Union Square at noon on Sept. 18 for 700 participants, a number that has risen from 500.

The city, state, and FEMA were all present throughout the neighborhood rec centers with cooling and charging stations, hot meals, and supplies. This has been my morning retreat for days. September 7 with neighbors at the Stallings Center.  FEMA is there helping with registrations.

Again, CNN reports that “Capitol Police memo warns of potential for violence during September 18 rally.”  They are preparing this time for trouble.

Law enforcement officials are bracing for potential clashes and unrest during an upcoming right-wing rally in Washington, DC, as violent rhetoric surrounding the September 18 event has increased online and counterprotests are being planned for the same day, according to an internal Capitol Police memo reviewed by CNN.

The latest intelligence report on the “Justice for J6” rally — which aims to support insurrectionists charged in the Capitol riots — notes that online chatter in support of the event started increasing after the officer who fatally shot rioter Ashli Babbitt went public with his identity in a recent interview with NBC’s Lester Holt.

There’s been a noticeable uptick in violent rhetoric around the event and heated discussions centered on Babbitt’s shooting on social media and discussion boards, according to the memo. The document warns that many individuals may also see September 18 as a “Justice for Ashli Babbitt” rally, which could be cause for concern, and it’s not unreasonable to plan for violent altercations. There have been additional discussions of violence associated with the event, with one online chat suggesting violence against Jewish centers and liberal churches while law enforcement is distracted that day.

The Capitol Police have formally asked the Capitol Police Board that temporary fencing be put in place again around the complex ahead of the rally, a source familiar with the planning told CNN. The Capitol Police Board will make the final call, but the recommendation will weigh heavily in its final decision.

There’s a list of those arrested for the US Capitol Breach on January 6 here at the website of the US District Attorney of the DC.  These are the insurrectionists that are the targets for the September 18th rally.  USA Today maintains a continuously updated list of these traitors here. This list has pictures and narratives for each of the individuals.  You can also check out the ones from your state!

So, thanks again to BB who held up my end of the deal here. Also, thanks to JJ who offered to put me and the Kathouse critters up. We have a wonderful family here and I appreciate and love each and every one of you!

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?


Lazy Caturday Reads

Arthur's morning, by Vicky Mount

Arthur’s morning, by Vicky Mount

Good Morning!!

We’re heading into the long Labor Day weekend, but it isn’t quiet one on the news front. The angry reaction to the Texas abortion law continues, Louisiana and multiple states in the Northeast are still just beginning their recovery from Hurricane Ida, Covid-19 is worse than ever, thanks to GOP governors and antivaxxers, and right wing crazies are threatening another violent insurrection in Washington D.C. as well as further attacks on democratic elections.

Texas Abortion Law Stories

AP News: Judge shields Texas clinics from anti-abortion group’s suits.

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — A state judge has shielded, for now, Texas abortion clinics from lawsuits by an anti-abortion group under a new state abortion law in a narrow ruling handed down Friday.

The temporary restraining order Friday by state District Judge Maya Guerra Gamble in Austin in response to the Planned Parenthood request does not interfere with the provision. However, it shields clinics from whistleblower lawsuits by the nonprofit group Texas Right to Life, its legislative director and 100 unidentified individuals.

A hearing on a preliminary injunction request was set for Sept. 13.

The law, which took effect Wednesday, allows anyone anywhere to sue anyone connected to an abortion in which cardiac activity was detected in the embryo — as early as six weeks into a pregnancy before most women even realize they are pregnant.

Ralph Black Cat painting by Dora Hathazi

Ralph Black Cat painting by Dora Hathazi

CNBC: Lyft, Uber will cover legal fees for drivers sued under Texas abortion law.

Lyft and Uber said Friday they would cover legal fees for drivers on their respective platforms who are sued under Texas’ restrictive abortion law that went into effect this week….

“Drivers are never responsible for monitoring where their riders go or why. Imagine being a driver and not knowing if you are breaking the law by giving someone a ride,” Lyft said in a release.

“Similarly, riders never have to justify, or even share, where they are going and why. Imagine being a pregnant woman trying to get to a healthcare appointment and not knowing if your driver will cancel on you for fear of breaking a law. Both are completely unacceptable,” Lyft added.

Lyft said its defense fund would cover 100% of legal fees incurred by drivers because of the law, being the first rideshare company to do so. The company will also donate $1 million to Planned Parenthood.

Uber shortly followed by saying it would also cover fees.

The New York Times: TikTok Users and Coders Flood Texas Abortion Site With Fake Tips.

After a Texas law restricting abortion went into effect on Wednesday, the state’s largest anti-abortion group publicized a website that invited citizens to inform on the law’s violators.

The website, prolifewhistleblower.com, which was set up by the group Texas Right to Life, was designed to help carry out the new law. That’s because the law places enforcement not in the hands of state officials but with private citizens, who are deputized to sue anyone who performs or aids an abortion in violation of the law.

Tips about the law’s potential offenders quickly flooded into the website, which features an online form so people can anonymously submit reports of those who are illegally obtaining or facilitating abortions.

But some of the tips were a little unexpected.

Gov. Greg Abbott of Texas, who was a leading proponent of the abortion law, was a violator, according to some of the tips. The fictional characters from Marvel’s Avengers were also apparently seeking abortions, the reports said. Other tips did not point to individuals but instead contained copies of the entire script to the 2007 animated film “Bee Movie.”

The reports, which were obviously bogus, were the work of activists on TikTok, programmers, and Twitter and Reddit users who said they wanted to ensnarl the site’s administrators in fabricated data.

Hurricane Ida Aftermath

The New York Times: Satellite Images Find Oil Spill in Gulf Left in Ida’s Wake.

Cleanup crews are working to contain what experts called a substantial oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, according to an examination of satellite and aerial survey images, ship tracking data and interviews with local officials and others involved in the spill response.

Manolo Ruiz-Pipo, 1957 Spanish, 1929–1998, The Little Girl with the Cat

Manolo Ruiz-Pipo, Spanish, 1929–1998, The Little Girl with the Cat, 1957

The spill, one of multiple plumes spotted off the Louisiana coast in the wake of Hurricane Ida, was identified in satellite imagery captured Thursday by the space technology companies Planet Labs and Maxar Technologies.

A black expanse and rainbow sheen of oil spanning at least 10 miles was spreading in coastal waters about two miles off Port Fourchon, an oil and gas hub. An aerial survey image of the spill was captured Wednesday by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration….

It was unclear how much oil had spilled into the Gulf, according to a person with direct knowledge of the cleanup. The spill, possibly from an old pipeline no longer in use that was damaged by the storm, was first spotted on Monday from reconnaissance flights led by a number of Gulf Coast producers, and was reported to the Coast Guard, said the person who was not authorized to speak publicly about the cleanup effort.

Reuters: Why Hurricane Ida crippled the New Orleans power grid.

Hurricane Ida’s 150-mph winds crippled a Louisiana electric grid already vulnerable from aging transmission lines, electricity bottlenecks and $2 billion worth of damage caused by three hurricanes that hit last year.

Ida’s landfall on Sunday left a wake of destruction and suffering. More than 1 million customers were without electricity immediately after the storm – a hardship that, for some, could last weeks.

Entergy Corp (ETR.N), the largest Louisiana utility, is facing tough questions on whether it had done enough to harden the electric system, which lost eight major transmission lines delivering power to the New Orleans metropolitan area.

Entergy was in the midst of upgrades throughout its system after Hurricane Laura in 2020. From 2017 to 2019, Entergy’s Louisiana subsidiary spent about $1.2 billion on numerous projects to improve its transmission system.

A pivotal question now for Entergy and its consumers is how well those capital improvements survived the hurricane’s wrath compared to the company’s older infrastructure. Entergy declined to detail the age of the eight New Orleans-area transmission lines that failed.

Anatoly Merkushevvia

Painting by Anatoly Merkushevvia

NPR: Why Ida Hit The Northeast So Hard, 1,000 Miles Away From Its Landfall.

Hurricane Ida’s remnants created deadly havoc in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and New York days after the system hit the Gulf Coast — some 1,000 miles away.

There was “just the right mix of weather conditions” in place to fuel the system, according to Tripti Bhattacharya, an assistant professor of earth and environmental sciences at Syracuse University.

“A storm like this would have been exceptionally rare 20 or 50 years ago,” she told NPR. “But we have to start thinking about it becoming the norm as the climate warms.”

Bhattacharya’s research on regional rainfall and climate change was cited in the U.N.’s recent climate change report.

Click the link to read the interview.

Covid-19 News

The Washington Post: U.S. covid death toll hits 1,500 a day amid delta scourge.

Nationally, covid-19 deaths have climbed steadily in recent weeks, hitting a seven-day average of about 1,500 a day Thursday, after falling to the low 200s in early July — the latest handiwork of a contagious variant that has exploited the return to everyday activities by tens of millions of Americans, many of them unvaccinated. The dead include two Texas teachers at a junior high, who died last week within days of each other; a 13-year-old middle schoolboy from Georgia; and a nurse, 37, in Southern California who left behind five children, including a newborn.

What is different about this fourth pandemic wave in the United States is that the growing rates of vaccination and natural immunity have broken the relationship between infections and deaths in many areas.

The daily count of new infections is rising in almost every part of the country, according to data tracked by The Washington Post. But only some places — mostly Southern states with lower vaccination rates — are seeing a parallel surge in deaths. The seven-day average of daily deaths is about a third of what it was in January, the pandemic’s most deadly month, but it is forecast to continue rising as high numbers of patients are hospitalized.

Alberto Zampieri (Italian, 1903-1992) - Il bambino e il gatto (Boy with cat), 1952

Alberto Zampieri (Italian, 1903-1992) – Il bambino e il gatto (Boy with cat), 1952

Bloomberg: Florida’s Newly Reported Covid Deaths Jump to Pandemic Record.

Florida reported 2,345 additional Covid-19 deaths in its latest weekly report, the most ever in a similar period.

The daily average rose 36% to 335, according to calculations based on the report. That would surpass the high for the entire pandemic in Johns Hopkins University data. The data is based on when the death was reported, not when it occurred.

People 65-and-over accounted for 63% of the deaths reported in the period. Cumulatively over the entire pandemic, Florida seniors have made up 79% of deaths.

Raw Story: 15 Miami-Dade school staffers die of COVID in 10 days: report.

On Friday, NBC 6 Miami reported that 15 staffers and educators in the Miami-Dade County school system have died of COVID 19 — just in the past ten days.

“Sonia Diaz, a spokesperson for several unions in the school district, confirmed the number of deaths to NBC 6,” reported Johnny Archer. “Miami-Dade County Public Schools resumed classes on Aug. 23, and it’s unknown when the employees contracted COVID-19.”

The news comes as school districts and state governments around the country wrestle with how to handle the continued spread of the Delta variant.

The Washington Post: Here’s what we know about the mu variant.

A coronavirus variant known as “mu” or “B.1.621” was designated by the World Health Organization as a “variant of interest” earlier this week and will be monitored by the global health body as cases continue to emerge across parts of the world. It is the fifth variant of interest currently being monitored by the WHO….

The variant was first detected in Colombia in January 2021, where cases continue to rise. It has since been identified in more than 39 countries, according to the WHO, among them the United States, South Korea, Japan, Ecuador, Canada and parts of Europe….

About 2,000 mu cases have been identified in the United States, so far, according to the Global Initiative on Sharing All Influenza Data (GISAID), the largest database of novel coronavirus genome sequences in the world. Most cases have been recorded in California, Florida, Texas and New York among others.

However, mu is not an “immediate threat right now” within the United States, top infectious-disease expert Anthony S. Fauci told a press briefing on Thursday. He said that while the government was “keeping a very close eye on it,” the variant was “not at all even close to being dominant” as the delta variant remains the cause of over 99 percent of cases in the country.

More Coronavirus stories:

Cincinnati.com: CDC classifies every Ohio county as ‘red’ for high levels of COVID-19 transmission.

Katherine J. Wu at The Atlantic: What We Actually Know About Waning Immunity.

Derek Thompson at The Atlantic: The Masks Were Working All Along. Now we have definitive proof that masks really are effective.

Trump Supporters’ Threats on Democracy

Ellie Silverman at The Washington Post: Former Trump campaign operative plans rally for those charged in Capitol riot.

Law enforcement authorities are monitoring plans by supporters of former president Donald Trump to rally outside the U.S. Capitol later this month to argue that the hundreds of people charged in the Jan. 6 insurrection are political prisoners, an assertion that has exploded beyond far-right rallying cries and into mainstream conservatism.

A girl with a black cat - Frida Holleman Dutch 1908-1999

A girl with a black cat – Frida Holleman Dutch 1908-1999

Look Ahead America, a nonprofit group founded and led by Matt Braynard, a former Trump campaign operative, is planning a “Justice for J6” rally on Sept. 18 to bring its message to Washington. Braynard’s followers believe many of the more than 570 people who have been charged with federal crimes in the attack were nonviolent and “reasonably believed they had permission” to enter the Capitol, according to a Jan. 29 letter Braynard sent to the Department of Justice and FBI. Braynard’s letter demands prosecutors drop all charges.

Braynard’s group requested to hold its rally at Union Square, the public park by the Capitol Reflecting Pool, according to a permit application his group submitted to the U.S. Capitol Police Board and provided to The Washington Post. Although local authorities have not provided crowd estimates, Look Ahead America estimates that 700 people will attend — up from an earlier estimate of 500 in a previous permit application. Plans for a counterprotest began to circulate online this week.

D.C. police, Capitol Police and U.S. Park Police met with the group on Wednesday so that the group could answer questions about its permit request. The conference call seemed to be the next phase in the process, but authorities have not yet granted a permit for the event, Kimmie Gonzalez, the group’s director of government affairs who attended the meeting, said in an interview Thursday.

The permit application described the event as “a peaceful demonstration of our First Amendment rights.”

The planned rally comes as the city is still recovering from three attacks in eight months in the nation’s capital. A violent mob stormed the seat of the U.S. government on Jan. 6, disrupting Congress from confirming President Biden’s election victory and resulting in the deaths of five people. In April, a man rammed his car into a barricade outside the building, killing a Capitol police officer, and last month, a man threatening that he had a bomb parked a truck near the Capitol and demanded to speak to Biden

ProPublica: Heeding Steve Bannon’s Call, Election Deniers Organize to Seize Control of the GOP — and Reshape America’s Elections.

One of the loudest voices urging Donald Trump’s supporters to push for overturning the presidential election results was Steve Bannon. “We’re on the point of attack,” Bannon, a former Trump adviser and far-right nationalist, pledged on his popular podcast on Jan. 5. “All hell will break loose tomorrow.” The next morning, as thousands massed on the National Mall for a rally that turned into an attack on the Capitol, Bannon fired up his listeners: “It’s them against us. Who can impose their will on the other side?”

Sekino Jun'ichirô (Japanese, 1914 - 1988) Boy holding a cat

Sekino Jun’ichirô (Japanese, 1914 – 1988) Boy holding a cat

When the insurrection failed, Bannon continued his campaign for his former boss by other means. On his “War Room” podcast, which has tens of millions of downloads, Bannon said President Trump lost because the Republican Party sold him out. “This is your call to action,” Bannon said in February, a few weeks after Trump had pardoned him of federal fraud charges.

The solution, Bannon announced, was to seize control of the GOP from the bottom up. Listeners should flood into the lowest rung of the party structure: the precincts. “It’s going to be a fight, but this is a fight that must be won, we don’t have an option,” Bannon said on his show in May. “We’re going to take this back village by village … precinct by precinct.”

Precinct officers are the worker bees of political parties, typically responsible for routine tasks like making phone calls or knocking on doors. But collectively, they can influence how elections are run. In some states, they have a say in choosing poll workers, and in others they help pick members of boards that oversee elections.

After Bannon’s endorsement, the “precinct strategy” rocketed across far-right media. Viral posts promoting the plan racked up millions of views on pro-Trump websites, talk radio, fringe social networks and message boards, and programs aligned with the QAnon conspiracy theory.

Suddenly, people who had never before showed interest in party politics started calling the local GOP headquarters or crowding into county conventions, eager to enlist as precinct officers. They showed up in states Trump won and in states he lost, in deep-red rural areas, in swing-voting suburbs and in populous cities.

Read the rest at ProPublica.

That’s my news summary for today. Take care Sky Dancers!!


Monday Reads: Climate Change is more Dire than we Knew

“Landscape with Rainbow (Right-hand part of the Three-part fire screen)”
Franz Marc – Painting – 1913

Good Day Sky Dancers!

All the headlines are rather dire today. The Andrew Cuomo stories of sexual harassment are growing with worse-than-ever details.  The Republicans have gone deficit hawk and are now refusing to increase the deficit level. The Delta Variant news just keeps getting worse.  However, the recent climate change research backs up our anecdotal stories on what we see and experience as intense outlier weather events are related to worsening climate change. A newly released UN report suggests that “Humans have pushed the climate into ‘unprecedented’ territory, landmark U.N. report finds. U.N. chief calls findings ‘a code red for humanity’ with worse climate impacts to come unless greenhouse gas pollution falls dramatically.  This coverage is from WaPo

The landmark report, compiled by 234 authors relying on more than 14,000 studies from around the globe, bluntly lays out for policymakers and the public the most up-to-date understanding of the physical science on climate change. Released amid a summer of deadly firesfloods and heat waves, it arrives less than three months before a critical summit this November in Scotland, where world leaders face mounting pressure to move more urgently to slow the Earth’s warming.

Monday’s sprawling assessment states that there is no remaining scientific doubt that humans are fueling climate change. That much is “unequivocal.” The only real uncertainty that remains, its authors say, is whether the world can muster the will to stave off a darker future than the one it already has carved in stone.

“What the world requires now is real action,” John F. Kerry, the Biden administration’s special envoy for climate, said in a statement about Monday’s findings. “We can get to the low carbon economy we urgently need, but time is not on our side.”

It certainly is not, according to Monday’s report.

Humans can unleash less than 500 additional gigatons of carbon dioxide — the equivalent of about 10 years of current global emissions — to have an even chance of limiting warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 Fahrenheit) above preindustrial levels.

But hopes for remaining below that threshold — the most ambitious goal outlined in the Paris agreement — are undeniably slipping away. The world has already warmed more than 1 degree Celsius (1.8 degrees Fahrenheit), with few signs of slowing, and could pass the 1.5-degree mark early in the 2030s.

Max Pechstein, Untitled Palau Landscape (detail). Oil on canvas. From the estate of Vance E. Kondon and Elisabeth Giesberger.

This report is sliced and diced as the big headline in every news source around the world. Will it get a decent listen and bring about much-needed action?  This is from CNN: “Earth is warming faster than previously thought, scientists say, and the window is closing to avoid catastrophic outcomes .”

As the world battles historic droughts, landscape-altering wildfires and deadly floods, a landmark report from global scientists says the window is rapidly closing to cut our reliance on fossil fuels and avoid catastrophic changes that would transform life as we know it.

The state-of-the-science report from the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change says the world has rapidly warmed 1.1 degrees Celsius higher than pre-industrial levels, and is now careening toward 1.5 degrees — a critical threshold that world leaders agreed warming should remain below to avoid worsening impacts.

Only by making deep cuts to greenhouse gas emissions, while also removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, can we halt the precipitous trend. “Bottom line is that we have zero years left to avoid dangerous climate change, because it’s here,” Michael E. Mann, a lead author of the IPCC’s 2001 report, told CNN.

Unlike previous assessments, Monday’s report concludes it is “unequivocal” that humans have caused the climate crisis and confirms that “widespread and rapid changes” have already occurred, some of them irreversibly.

“Burning Landscape”
Jackson Pollock, 1943

This from NPR cited in the Warren Tweet above.

The authors — nearly 200 leading climate scientists — hope the report’s findings will be front and center when world leaders meet for a major climate conference in November.

The effects of that warming are obvious and deadly around the world. Heat waves, droughts and floods are killing people and disrupting lives around the world this summer. Wildfires are burning with unprecedented frequency and intensity, including in places that used to rarely burn. Smoke and smog are choking people in cities and towns from Asia to the Arctic. Ocean heat waves are threatening entire ecosystems and supercharging hurricanes and typhoons.

The science is clear: Human-caused emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases are the primary driver of such changes.

One of the biggest recent advances in climate research is in the field of so-called attribution science, which ties global warming to individual weather events such as hurricanes or heat waves. Scientists can now say with certainty that humans are causing more extreme weather, including heavy downpours and extended heat waves and droughts.

“This whiplash — this increase in both extreme wet and dry events — is projected to increase through the 21st century,” says Kim Cobb, one of the report authors and a paleoclimate scientist at Georgia Institute of Technology.

This is the first time that paleoclimate researchers, who study the climate of the past to understand how Earth will change in the future, have helped write every chapter of the report. Their work helps put today’s climate in perspective. “We can now say global surface temps are reaching levels not seen in 100,000 years,” says Cobb. “The rate of warming since 1970 is higher than any 50-year period in the last 2,000 years.”

The report also confirms that global sea level rise is accelerating. Globally, sea levels rose about 8 inches on average between 1901 and 2018, although the water rose much more in some places, including in some cities on the East Coast and Gulf Coast of the United States.

Sea level rise is primarily driven by melting glaciers, and Arctic ice. There’s a lag between emissions and ice melting, which means even if humans were to stop all greenhouse gas emissions today, sea levels would continue to rise for a few decades, the report notes.

“Sea level change through the middle of this century has largely been locked in,” says Bob Kopp, one of the report’s authors and the director of the Institute of Earth, Ocean and Atmospheric Sciences at Rutgers University. That means no matter what, people living in coastal areas will need to adapt to higher seas.

This tweet links to the reports.

“The Rainy Season in the Amazon Rainforest ” , Kazuya Akimoto. ‘2008

Of course, nothing changes if we can’t get the world to change or even change things at the local level. My state’s politics are somewhat driven by the priorities of the Oil and Gas industry.  They throw money around to ensure it stays that way.  This is from Forbes. “Fugitive Methane Worsens Warming: New Assessments Point To Urgent Oil And Gas Fix.”  Methane is the third leg of this discussion.

The word fugitive methane conjures up the Harrison Ford movie, where the hero was always running and hiding. It’s a good concept for methane leakages that occur in all phases of natural gas production and processing, except they are not heroes.

Methane has also been hiding from the press which has paid most attention to controlling carbon dioxide (CO2), the main greenhouse gas (GHG). But the poor sister has now awakened to tell us she is responsible for 25% of present global warming. The world should have had a second Paris Agreement for methane back in 2015.

But its not too late as the “methane lever” can still be moved to make a substantial change to current warming by global GHG emissions.

Methane is the second important greenhouse gas. Methane emissions are surreptitious and really bad. The global warming effect of methane is 20-80 times that of carbon dioxide, depending on duration (how many warming years are counted).

The amount of methane in the atmosphere has more than doubled in the past 250 years since the industrial revolution

Fossil fuels, agriculture, and waste management comprise the big three sources of man-made methane. In the US, methane emissions from oil and gas are almost half of all man-made methane emissions.

 

So, that’s a lot to read and think about so I’ll leave the down thread shares to you as well as the discussion.

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?

 


Tuesday Reads: Heatwave! And Other News

Good Morning!!

collioure-in-the-summer-by-henri-matisse-1905

Collioure in the Summer, by Henri Matisse

We’re having another heatwave here in the Boston area–four days of 90 degrees or more–with a high temperature today of 99 degrees. Thunderstorms are expected to break the heat tomorrow night, with temperatures in the 80s on Thursday. But that is nothing compared to what is happening in the Pacific Northwest. I talked to my sister in Portland, OR, yesterday, and she said the temperature was supposed to hit 115 degrees! She said her garden is dying even though she is soaking her plants every morning.

The New York Times: How Weird Is the Heat in Portland, Seattle and Vancouver? Off the Charts.

Heat waves and the “heat domes” that can cause them aren’t rare, but the recent weather that’s been smothering the Pacific Northwest has little precedent in at least four decades of record-keeping….

The heat has been not only widespread, but also intense, in some places surpassing previous records by double digits.

In Vancouver, British Columbia, this past weekend’s temperatures were far above norms for this time of year, and a town in British Columbia reached nearly 116 degrees, the highest recorded temperature for any place in Canada in its history. In Seattle, there have been only two other days in the last 50 years with temperatures in the triple digits: in 2009 and 1994.

The heat has resulted from a wide and deep mass of high-pressure air that, because of a wavy jet stream, parked itself over much of the region. Also known as a heat dome, such an enormous high-pressure zone acts like a lid on a pot, trapping heat so that it accumulates. And with the West beset by drought, there’s been plenty of heat to trap.

In Seattle, Portland and other areas west of the Cascades, hot air blowing from the east was further warmed as it descended the mountains, raising temperatures even more.

Martha Walter, American impressionist painter

Beach Scene by Martha Walter, American impressionist painter

Climate is naturally variable, so periods of high heat are to be expected. But in this episode scientists see the fingerprints of climate change, brought on by human-caused emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases.

Karin Bumbaco, Washington’s assistant state climatologist, said that any definitive climate-change link could be demonstrated only by a type of analysis called an attribution study. “But it’s a safe assumption, in my view, to blame increasing greenhouse gases for at least some portion of this event,” she said.

On a global average, the world has warmed about 1.8 degrees Fahrenheit since 1900. “When you have that warmer baseline, when you do get these extreme events it’s just going to get that much warmer,” she said.

This heat wave is also unusual because it occurred earlier than most. Those two previous triple-digits days in Seattle, for example, happened in late July, about 30 days later.

This one occurred just a few days after the summer solstice, which may have contributed to the extreme conditions. “The days are longer, and we’re not getting that cool-off at night,” she said.

Read more details at the NYT, with maps and charts.

The Washington Post: The Pacific Northwest heat wave is shocking but shouldn’t be a surprise.

More than three decades ago, in his seminal study predicting the course of human-caused climate change, NASA scientist Jim Hansen wrote that “temperature changes within several decades will become large enough to have major effects on the quality of life for mankind in many regions.”

Hansen used the analogy of “loaded dice” to describe how climate change would increase the likelihood of extremely hot weather in a given year while decreasing the chance of unusually cold weather.

Even before that, in 1979, the National Research Council published a study led by the late meteorologist Jule Charney that predicted serious global warming would evolve. “It appears that the warming will eventually occur, and the associated regional climatic changes so important to the assessment of socioeconomic consequences may well be significant,” the report said.

Since those prescient projections 30-to-40-plus years ago, heat waves all over the world have intensified. Heat domes, the sprawling zones of high pressure at high altitudes that essentially bake the air underneath them, have strengthened.

Claude Monet, The Beach at Sainte-Adresse

Claude Monet, The Beach at Sainte-Adresse

During the European heat wave in 2003, blamed for 70,000 deaths, the average temperature was higher than any year since at least 1851. A study published in 2004 found human influence “at least doubled the risk” of a heat wave of that magnitude.

By 2010, when a historically intense heat wave killed 50,000 people in Russia, the risk of such an event was tripled due to climate change, according to a study published in 2012.

In 2016, a report from the National Academies of Sciences concluded that of the connections between human-caused climate change and extreme weather events, heat waves had among the most straightforward ties.

See also this excellent piece at Axios that summarizes a great deal of information about the heat wave. It’s much longer and more detailed than the usual Axios post: Pacific Northwest heat wave reaches astonishing peak  on Monday.

In other news, Axios analyzed traffic at “partisan” news sites and discovered big drops in clicks since Trump was ejected from the White House: Boring news cycle deals blow to partisan media.

In the months since former President Donald Trump left office, media companies’ readership numbers are plunging — and publishers that rely on partisan, ideological warfare have taken an especially big hit.

Why it matters: Outlets most dependent on controversy to stir up resentments have struggled to find a foothold in the Biden era, according to an Axios analysis of publishers’ readership and engagement trends.

By the numbers: Web traffic, social media engagement and app user sessions suggest that while the entire news industry is experiencing a slump, right-wing outlets are seeing some of the biggest plunges.

  • A group of far-right outlets, including Newsmax and The Federalist, saw aggregate traffic drop 44% from February through May compared to the previous six months, according to Comscore data.
  • Lefty outlets including Mother Jones and Raw Story saw a 27% drop.
  • Mainstream publishers including the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, USA Today and Reuters dropped 18%.

App visits tell a similar story. Both right-leaning (including Fox News, Daily Caller) and left-leaning (including Buzzfeed News, The Atlantic) saw considerable average drops in app user sessions over this time period at 31% and 26%, respectively, according to Apptopia data.

  • Data from Sensor Tower shows that downloads of fringe-right social networking apps like MeWe, Rumble, Parler and CloutHub have also plummeted.

Engagement on social media has taken the biggest dive, according to data from NewsWhip.

  • Left-leaning and right-leaning publishers have seen social interactions on stories drop by more than 50%, while mainstream publishers have experienced a slightly more modest drop of 42%.

The big picture: Opposition media traditionally relies on traffic booms when a new party takes office, but right-wing outlets have seen some of the most precipitous declines in readership since a Democratic president took office.

Untitled and undated painting by Harold Newton

Untitled and undated painting by Harold Newton

Political news sites would get a big upsurge in hits if the Trump Organization is indicted in New York this week. The Washington Post: Trump attorneys meet with New York prosecutors to argue that his company should not be criminally charged over its business practices, By David Fahrenthold, Josh Dawsey, and Shayna Jacobs.

Attorneys for the Trump Organization met with New York prosecutors on Monday to argue that former president Donald Trump’s company should not be criminally charged over its business dealings, according to three people familiar with the meeting.

Previously, the prosecutors — working for Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance Jr. (D) and New York Attorney General Letitia James (D) — had set Monday as the last day for the organization’s lawyers to make their case.

After Monday’s session, spokespeople for both Vance and James declined to comment. No charges were announced on Monday. Vance has convened a grand jury in Manhattan to vote on potential indictments in the investigation, but so far, no person or entity connected to Trump has been charged. It remains possible that none will be. Those familiar with the investigation spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the private meetings.

Trump issued a lengthy written statement Monday denouncing the prosecutors, saying they were seeking to punish him because of his politics. Trump did not specify what practices prosecutors were focused on, but said they were “things that are standard practice throughout the U.S. business community, and in no way a crime.” [….]

In interviews with Politico and the Associated Press on Monday, Trump’s attorney Ron Fischetti said he believed the charges would focus on whether the proper taxes were paid on benefits that the Trump Organization gave to its executives, such as free apartments or company cars. In a brief call with The Washington Post, Fischetti said he did not attend Monday’s meeting with prosecutors.

The Post previously reported that prosecutors view Weisselberg as a key potential witness in the ongoing investigations, but that they have become frustrated with what they view as a lack of cooperation from him. If Weisselberg was charged with crimes, he could face new pressure to offer testimony against his boss in exchange for a reduction in his legal risk.

I’ll end with two stories on the tragic building collapse in Florida.

John Singer SargentEn Route pour la peche (Setting Out to Fish), 1878

John Singer Sargent, En Route pour la peche (Setting Out to Fish), 1878

CNN: Letter sent months before deadly Florida collapse warned damage to condo building was accelerating.

A correspondence from the board president of Champlain Towers South, part of which unexpectedly crashed to the ground last week in Surfside, Florida, describes the progression of decay at the building since 2018 saying, “the observable damage such as in the garage has gotten significantly worse since the initial inspection.”

Board President Jean Wodnicki addressed the letter to neighbors April 9

“The concrete deterioration is accelerating. The roof situation got much worse, so extensive roof repairs had to be incorporated,” says the letter, acquired by CNN’s “Erin Burnett OutFront.”

Wodnicki further describes issues facing the building saying, “When you can visually see the concrete spalling (cracking), that means that the rebar holding it together is rusting and deteriorating beneath the surface.” [….]

The letter confirms what Surfside Mayor Charles Burkett has been saying all along, he said: “There was something very, very wrong at this building.

“Buildings in America just don’t fall down like this. This is a third-world phenomenon, not a first-world phenomenon. … I think from the perspective of a condominium association, which is just like a homeowner except bigger, they probably don’t grasp the intensity of the issue and probably just thought it was a pro forma sort of operation we have to get around to doing. Obviously, that was a fatal mistake.”

Miami Herald: Two days before condo collapse, a pool contractor photographed this damage in garage. (See photos at the link.)

There was nothing unusual about the lobby and pool area at Champlain Towers South condo, which looked clean and well maintained to a commercial pool contractor who visited the building last Tuesday, just 36 hours before half of the building unexpectedly collapsed. Then, he saw the basement-level garage.

At-The-Beach Edward Henry Potthast

At The Beach by Edward Henry Potthast

“There was standing water all over the parking garage,” the contractor, who asked not to be named, told the Miami Herald. He noted cracking concrete and severely corroded rebar under the pool.

He also took photos, which he shared with the Herald.

The contractor visited the condo building last week to put together a bid for a cosmetic restoration of the pool as well as to price out new pool equipment — a small piece of the multimillion-dollar restoration project that just was getting underway at the 40-year-old building.

While he had worked in the industry for decades and had “gone in some scary places,” he said he was struck by the lack of maintenance in the lower level. The amount of water at Champlain Towers seemed so unusual that the contractor mentioned it to a building staff member, Jose, who was showing him around.

“He thought it was waterproofing issues,” the contractor said of the staff member. “I thought to myself, that’s not normal.” He said Jose told him they pumped the pool equipment room so frequently that the building had to replace pump motors every two years, but he never mentioned anything about structural damage or cracks in the concrete above.

There’s much more at the link.

That’s it for me today. Please take care if you’re in one of the areas experiencing extreme heat.


Monday Reads: Heat Wave Edition

2000 Roy Lichtenstein ‘Sunrise

Good Day Sky Dancers!

Yesterday went up to 97 degrees Fahrenheit with a feels like 107 heat index.  The heat index is supposed to hit 110 today.  We got a reprieve finally when a storm blew down from the north with rain and kicked us into the high 70s.

I need to get my central air repaired and was planning on doing it last month but I have had nearly 6 years of an unwanted guest and it does no good for me to fix anything so I’ve been operating on a very small window unit in the guest room for the entire back of the house.  I’m just exhausted so need to get this up before the intense heat kicks in again. I’ll probably be in a cold bath reading something or another.

Impression Sunrise, Claude Monet, circa 1872

Ezra Klein wrote an interesting Op-Ed at The New York Times yesterday.  It has a hypothesis that’s worth considering: “What the Rich Don’t Want to Admit About the Poor.”  Basically, if the “American Dream” is the carrot, then the everlasting threat of poverty is “the stick”.

Reports that low-wage employers were having trouble filling open jobs sent Republican policymakers into a tizzy and led at least 25 Republican governors — and one Democratic governor — to announce plans to cut off expanded unemployment benefits early. Chipotle said that it would increase prices by about 4 percent to cover the cost of higher wages, prompting the National Republican Congressional Committee to issue a blistering response: “Democrats’ socialist stimulus bill caused a labor shortage, and now burrito lovers everywhere are footing the bill.” The Trumpist outlet The Federalist complained, “Restaurants have had to bribe current and prospective workers with fatter paychecks to lure them off their backsides and back to work.”

But it’s not just the right. The financial press, the cable news squawkers and even many on the center-left greet news of labor shortages and price increases with an alarm they rarely bring to the ongoing agonies of poverty or low-wage toil.

I actually tweeted one of my deplorable senators when he started at it. Got a nice number of retweets too

Back to Klein:

This is the conversation about poverty that we don’t like to have: We discuss the poor as a pity or a blight, but we rarely admit that America’s high rate of poverty is a policy choice, and there are reasons we choose it over and over again. We typically frame those reasons as questions of fairness (“Why should I have to pay for someone else’s laziness?”) or tough-minded paternalism (“Work is good for people, and if they can live on the dole, they would”). But there’s more to it than that.

It is true, of course, that some might use a guaranteed income to play video games or melt into Netflix. But why are they the center of this conversation? We know full well that America is full of hardworking people who are kept poor by very low wages and harsh circumstance. We know many who want a job can’t find one, and many of the jobs people can find are cruel in ways that would appall anyone sitting comfortably behind a desk. We know the absence of child care and affordable housing and decent public transit makes work, to say nothing of advancement, impossible for many. We know people lose jobs they value because of mental illness or physical disability or other factors beyond their control. We are not so naïve as to believe near-poverty and joblessness to be a comfortable condition or an attractive choice.

Most Americans don’t think of themselves as benefiting from the poverty of others, and I don’t think objections to a guaranteed income would manifest as arguments in favor of impoverishment. Instead, we would see much of what we’re seeing now, only magnified: Fears of inflation, lectures about how the government is subsidizing indolence, paeans to the character-building qualities of low-wage labor, worries that the economy will be strangled by taxes or deficits, anger that Uber and Lyft rides have gotten more expensive, sympathy for the struggling employers who can’t fill open roles rather than for the workers who had good reason not to take those jobs. These would reflect not America’s love of poverty but opposition to the inconveniences that would accompany its elimination.

Nor would these costs be merely imagined. Inflation would be a real risk, as prices often rise when wages rise, and some small businesses would shutter if they had to pay their workers more. There are services many of us enjoy now that would become rarer or costlier if workers had more bargaining power. We’d see more investments in automation and possibly in outsourcing. The truth of our politics lies in the risks we refuse to accept, and it is rising worker power, not continued poverty, that we treat as intolerable. You can see it happening right now, driven by policies far smaller and with effects far more modest than a guaranteed income.

Olive Trees With Yellow Sky And Sun
VINCENT VAN GOGH, 1889

I have a friend who is the walking anecdotal evidence on “shoe-leather costs” and how they relate to risks in job searches.  She had an off-and-on job as a concierge at a small hotel during the panic and had to rely on unemployment for obvious reasons. Another neighbor had a long-term job with a big hotel here and they basically paid to retire him early which may or may not have been a good deal but a year ago the risks of being out of a job were quite hard to predict.  They’re both out on the street.  He’s about my age and she’s in her 40s and on her own.

So, she gets this great job offer at a start-up hotel operation in the Garden District in a historic building about a month ago.  She was on the payroll as they were training everyone and getting ready to open which they did about 10 days ago. She quit her not-so-stable job for one that appeared to look like a great opportunity. Well, about 2 days of open hotel, the owners realized they’d be overly optimistic on business and they downsized.  That’s business-speak for leaving your employees to the wolves.

She has a job interview today.  But, look at her now.  She has two jobs from which she is unlikely to get references and look sketchy in terms of time on the job on a resume. She’s trying to get back on UI because once again, she’s out of work.  It’s risky and hard work to find a reliable, well-paying job these days. Low wages are built into the business model since we’ve been in an employer’s job market. Well, if all it takes is giving people a certain level of money to pressure low-wage payers to pony up, then call me a Marxist.

Remember the business owner in Seattle that just paid everyone what would be needed to live in Seattle?  Here are his comments about the little ticket to ride Jeff Bezos just bought.

Like Klein said, it’s about our priorities in the policy arena. Threatening families with homelessness and starvation so they’ll accept $9 an hour to sweat it out in a hot-as-hell kitchen in New Orleans is such a good example of the American Dream. Isn’t it?  And let’s not forget about who bought that 28 million dollar ticket to space.  The guy that’s rich enough to buy that can’t be bothered with paying taxes and Republican policy has granted that to him.  At least the ticket proceeds with going to a nonprofit set up to encourage children to study technology.

If you’d like a reminder, here’s the list of billionaires who avoided paying taxes while also getting richer during the pandemic. and economic meltdown.  That’s because if you can play the market, you can bet for or against the economy and still make money. Guess what group of people can’t do that easily?

Another, the weather is hell story comes from me last night working at this desk and waiting for Amazon to deliver my two packages of socks.  I noticed the storm coming in and that the parish had just shut down the causeway because of 65 mph winds.  I ran out to meet my driver–a young black woman–who was frantically trying to get the last of the packages delivered around 8 pm.  Yes, I left my desk. I wanted her to know they had just shut down the causeway and what she might get caught up in.  She didn’t know the causeway had closed but she said all of us were trying to tell them it was going to get bad but they kept telling us to get that last package out. I said please be safe and rain through the misty rain to the desk where I am underpaid and overworked while being way overeducated. The first question I had was why did those other workers in that other state turn down a union.  The only place I ever worked as a college instructor that actually paid fairly was solidly unionized and bargained for wages and would get a complaint into the NLB if the negotiations were crap.

The Senator up there is also whining that everyone is being mean to the oil and gas company. I sure hope he is here melting in the “unusual” heat we have going on with everyone else.  Maybe he’d like to work a while with the guys trying to clean out the drains before the next “unusually active” hurricane season gets on with it.  He needs to hang with those folks working outside to give his Doctor Senator Ass a chance to learn about heat exhaustion.

He’s also against equal pay for equal work and any kind of law that stops racial discrimination or anything else that has nothing to do with getting a job done.  All of these things prove that we don’t have the kinds of perfect job markets because according to classical economics (i.e. capitalism) we should all be paid according to our productivity. Sex and Racial discrimination shouldn’t exist but they do which requires some kind of intervention to make the market right.  So, the guy hates functional markets.  What else can I deduce from his prattle?

Anyway, thanks for coming to my Ted Talk and reading my rant. I’m probably going a bit crazy from the heat and I still have to work today.  My employer isn’t interested in my AC issues just that it makes me unfit for service.

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?