Lazy Saturday Reads

Newsstand, by Max Ginsburg

Happy Saturday!!

I spent yesterday in my cozy apartment with uninterrupted electricity, TV, and internet; but outside my refuge, the Boston area was hit by a massive storm. Some parts of Massachusetts had 90 mph wind gusts, and wind gusts of 40 to 50 mph will continue through the day today. Today’s noon high tide is still likely to be dangerous.

The Boston Globe has a collection of photos from the storm if you’re interested. One example:

Water floods from Boston Harbor onto Seaport Boulevard in the Seaport district of Boston. — Greg Cooper EPA-EFE REX Shutterstock

 

Here’s a video from downtown Boston that I found on Twitter that will give you an idea of what the winds were like.

I hope all you Sky Dancers along the East Coast are safe and warm today!

In other news, Trump has decamped to Florida, and I hope he’ll be busy enough with golf to leave the rest of us alone for awhile. This golfing trip represents a “milestone” for him though.

CNN: A presidential milestone: Trump has spent 100 days in office at one of his golf clubs.

President Donald Trump reached a presidential milestone at his Palm Beach County, Florida, golf club on Saturday: One hundred days in office at a golf club that bears his name.

Trump, once a critic of presidential golfing, has ignored his own advice and made a habit of visiting some of the many golf courses emblazoned in his moniker. The habit is part of the broader trend of the President and first lady making frequent trips to properties owned and operated by the Trump Organization.

Bill Day / Cagle Cartoons

According to CNN’s count, Trump has exclusively visited four golf clubs he owns during his presidency: Trump International Golf Club in West Palm Beach, Florida; Trump National Golf Club in Jupiter, Florida; Trump National Golf Club in Sterling, Virginia; and Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, New Jersey.

Trump has spent 36 days at his Florida club and 40 days at his New Jersey course and made the short trip from the White House to his Virginia club 23 times. He golfed once at his Jupiter course with professional golfers Tiger Woods, Dustin Johnson and Brad Faxon.

In total, Trump has spent nearly 25% of his days in office at one of his golf clubs. It is impossible to know whether Trump golfs every time he visits one of his golf clubs because White House aides rarely confirm that he is golfing, and Trump has, at times, visited his golf clubs to eat a meal or meet with people.

Melania went to Florida with Trump, and here’s how he treated her while he rushed to get out of the wind and onto Air Force One.

Imagine if Obama had done that to Michelle? But it’s nothing new for our asshole in chief.

One reason Trump may have been so “unglued” lately (besides the Russia investigation) is that he’s apparently on a diet. Bloomberg: Trump Swaps His Beloved Burgers for Salads and Soups in New Diet.

The president whose trademark campaign-trail dinner consisted of two McDonald’s Big Macs, two Filet-o-Fish sandwiches and a chocolate milkshake is cutting back on doctor’s orders to drop a few pounds, according to three people familiar with the matter. Less red meat, more fish.

One person said it’s been two weeks since he saw the president eat a hamburger.

It’s not just the president, though. Jackson and the vice president’s doctor, Jennifer Pena, are pushing healthy food choices throughout the West Wing.

Trump so far has embraced the new regimen, giving aides the impression he feels he is thriving on his new diet, they said.

Still, he is allowing himself indulgences. He ate bacon at breakfast one day this week.

Something very newsworthy has been happening in West Virginia, but national news outlets are only just beginning to cover it.

The New York Times: ‘All-In or Nothing’: How West Virginia’s Teacher Strike Was Months in the Making.

GILBERT, W. Va — Home from a long day teaching English last month at Mingo Central High School, Robin Ellis told her husband the latest talk among the teachers. They were tired of low pay and costly health benefits — and they were mulling a “rolling strike,” in which teachers in a few counties would walk out each day.

“You don’t want to do that,” Donnie Ellis, her husband, said. As a veteran of strip mines and the intense labor conflicts that often came with them, he knew what made some strikes succeed and others crumble.

“It’s got to be all-in or nothing,” he said.

It has definitely been all-in in West Virginia. For seven days now, teachers have refused to work in all 55 counties, shutting down every school in the state.

Teachers and supporters rally outside West Virginia State House Photograph by Craig Hudson Charleston Gazette AP

Every school day since last Thursday, thousands of red- and black-clad teachers, bus drivers and cooks have descended on Charleston to fill the halls of the State Capitol, chanting and singing defiantly in one of the few statewide teachers’ strikes in American history.

On Friday, as thousands crowded into the Capitol, all of the energy was directed at the State Senate, which has yet to take up a bill that would grant teachers a 5 percent pay raise — despite support for the measure by the governor, the Republican-controlled House and the state’s superintendents.

Click on the NYT link to read the rest.

More from the AP via The Chicago Tribune: Statewide West Virginia teacher strike enters day 7 without classes; state Senate nixes vote.

The West Virginia teachers’ strike rolled into its second weekend with the state Senate planning to meet Saturday after declining to take a vote on whether the teachers will get the 5 percent pay raise negotiated by Gov. Jim Justice and union leaders.

Senate Republicans have repeatedly emphasized spending restraint while saying the teachers and West Virginia’s other public workers are all underpaid.

Hundreds of teachers and supporters, including students, rallied at the Capitol on Friday, the seventh day they’ve shuttered classrooms.

Teachers are protesting pay that’s among the lowest in the nation, rising health care costs and a previously approved 2 percent raise for next year after four years without any increase.

“We’re still not close to resolving this critical issue,” said Sen. Roman Prezioso, the Democratic minority leader, requesting the vote Friday. “Let’s send the teachers and superintendents that I’ve seen here from all the different counties, send them home this weekend for a cooling off period. Let’s start school Monday and say this Senate does support education in West Virginia.”

Read the rest at the link.

Here’s another local story that is getting more attention–this is for you, JJ. The Louisville Courier-Journal: Kentucky’s ‘child bride’ bill stalls as groups fight to let 13-year-olds wed.

FRANKFORT, Ky. — A bill to make 18 the legal age for marriage in Kentucky has stalled in a Senate committee amid concerns about the rights of parents to allow children to wed at a younger age, according to several lawmakers.

Known as the “child bride” bill, Senate Bill 48 was pulled off the agenda just hours before a scheduled vote by the Senate Judiciary Committee for the second time in two weeks.

Donna Pollard, who married an older man at age 16, is working for a bill that would raise the legal age for marriage to 18 in Kentucky.

“SO disappointed! My SB 48 (outlaw child marriage) won’t be called for a vote,” sponsor  Julie Raque Adams, a Louisville Republican, said in a Tweet early Thursday. “It is disgusting that lobbying organizations would embrace kids marrying adults. We see evidence of parents who are addicted, abusive, neglectful pushing their children into predatory arms. Appalling.”

Eileen Recktenwald, the executive director of the Kentucky Association of Sexual Assault Programs, was more outspoken.

“This is legalized rape of children,” she said. “We cannot allow that to continue in Kentucky, and I cannot believe we are even debating this is the year 2018 in the United States.”

The bill’s supporters have said underage marriages most often involve a teenage girl marrying an older man and may have involved sexual exploitation of the girl.

Guess who’s getting credit for killing the bill? If you guessed right wing “Christians,” you’re right. Patheos:

According to reports, a bill to outlaw child marriage in Kentucky has been indefinitely delayed after opposition from the conservative Family Foundation of Kentucky, a powerful lobbying group backed by conservative Christians in the state.

The Courier-Journal reports Senate Bill 48, Known as the “child bride” bill, has been stalled in committee after the conservative Christian group expressed “concerns about the rights of parents to allow children to wed at a younger age.”

 

Sherry Johnson, Florida based anti child marriage campaigner who was forced to marry aged 11 in 1971. Photograph by Katharina Bracher

Raw Story explains the legislation:

The modest bill would not totally ban child marriages, but would require a judge to review records to make sure that the child was not the victim of abuse, that there are not domestic violence incident involving either party and that the adult is not a registered sex-offender. The bill would require that the judge deny the right to marry if there was a pregnancy that resulted from the adult spouse molesting the child.

However, this “modest bill” protecting children from being forced into marriage by their parents, is perceived as a threat by conservative Christian lawmakers in Kentucky.

These “Christians” claim the bill would interfere with “parental rights.” The rights of young girls are of course irrelevant.

I have more stories to share; I’ll give them to you links only.

The Week: Hope Hicks apparently kept a White House diary. (I imagine Bob Mueller is already working on the subpoena!)

Gabriel Sherman at Vanity Fair: “She’s in Immense Personal Jeopardy”: Even for Hope Hicks the White House Got Too Hot.

Jessica Valenti at The Guardian: With Hope Hicks’ exit, we can’t let Trump’s female allies off the hook.

The Washington Post: Days before the election, Stormy Daniels threatened to cancel deal to keep alleged affair with Trump secret.

ABC News: Jared Kushner entanglements increasingly concern President Trump: Sources.

CBS News: John Kelly’s comment about God punishing him with chief of staff job aggravated Trump.

The Washington Post: Trump picks tough-on-crime crusader with history of racial remarks for criminal justice post.

The Washington Post: Trump pushes Republicans to oppose crucial New York-New Jersey tunnel project.

The Dallas News: Texas early voting numbers a ‘wake-up call’ for GOP as Democrats double their 2014 turnout.

Associated Press: Roy Moore pleads for money, saying resources ‘depleted.’

So . . . What’s on your mind? What stories are you following today?

At your local casino, an exciting release from Play’n Go is released. Check it out now at nyeste casino.

 

 


Monday Reads

Good Afternoon!

The unfolding drama of the flooding of Houston and surrounding areas takes me back 12 years ago to Katrina when my community was surrounded by a similar hell realm full of water, the stench of death, and mass destruction.  Right now, Houston is relying on skilled first responders, its local government, and neighbors. Soon, it will be a test of our country’s ability to help our own as well as the test of the charity of nations around the world.

What is it going to take for Republican decision makers to understand that some things are too big and too important to be left to the for-profit-motivated private sector of carpet baggers?  When will they realize their constant denial of science and sycophantic support of the fossil fuel industry is driving us to epic catastrophe? 

Twelve years ago I was hunkered down on a pink futon with my two yellow labs–Karma and Honey–and Miles in between the beds of a grad student from Macau and one from Japan. My cell phone could receive but not make calls.  We were watching TV with the families of two other grad students that I had earlier told to get the hell out of dodge while they could still get a hotel room.  One family from Turkey.  The other from Jordan. I know what it’s like to be homeless, scared, broke,  and confused.  A day later, I discovered I had to go some place and that my university had failed to pay me.  I was totally reliant on the goodness of others and much of that goodness came from the people of Texas and Nebraska and the American Tax Payer. There were a few local businesses that helped but the majority of help came from people and the Federal Government.

This is the kind of event that tests our character as a country and we have a soulless narcissist at its helm.  I laugh at the ChristoFascist preachers who blame liberal political views for Gawd’s wrath as seen in these natural disasters.  It seems more likely that their Gawd keeps testing Republican Presidents and finds their governing ways come short of dealing with hell and high water.  The Republican Bushs and now a Trump have faced historic hurricanes. While the Clinton and Obama administrations have tried to rebuild our ability to respond through FEMA and other agencies, it took no time for this latest Republican disaster to seek to gut our ability to help our neighbors in need. It always amazes me that tax cuts for the wealthy come before helping our neighbors in harm’s way.

This destruction is a window into the future of climate change. This is what happens when humanity fails to either meaningfully restrict greenhouse gas emissions or prepare for the damage that is certainly coming.

Now, before the inevitable pedant brigade pounces in, that doesn’t mean Harvey was definitely caused by climate change. Global temperatures have only markedly increased for a few decades, and extreme weather events are rare and random by definition. It will take many more years for enough data to be collected to be able to establish causality.

But what we can say is that climate science predicts with high confidence that increased temperatures will increase the likelihood of extreme weather.

It will make hurricanes that do form stronger. It may also increase the number of hurricanes, though that’s harder to predict with certainty. It’s also besides the point. A storm doesn’t need to qualify as a hurricane to pose many of the same dangers. Simple big storms can still have high winds, tornadoes, and especially flooding, which is the major danger along the Gulf Coast.

I’m calling real estate agents and getting out of here.  I am too old to exist in red state beholden to oil and gas industries where people refuse to see that science is right.   I’m too tired to live in areas where suburban sprawl and concrete provides run off for massive rain creating risks that all too often fall on the heads and homes of people like me. Climate change is likely responsible for the kinds of stalled, training storms like Harvey.  Human destruction of nature’s ways of dealing with water exacerbates it.

Persistent episodes of extreme weather in the Northern Hemisphere summer have been shown to be associated with the presence of high-amplitude quasi-stationary atmospheric Rossby waves within a particular wavelength range (zonal wavenumber 6–8). The underlying mechanistic relationship involves the phenomenon of quasi-resonant amplification (QRA) of synoptic-scale waves with that wavenumber range becoming trapped within an effective mid-latitude atmospheric waveguide. Recent work suggests an increase in recent decades in the occurrence of QRA-favorable conditions and associated extreme weather, possibly linked to amplified Arctic warming and thus a climate change influence. Here, we isolate a specific fingerprint in the zonal mean surface temperature profile that is associated with QRA-favorable conditions. State-of-the-art (“CMIP5”) historical climate model simulations subject to anthropogenic forcing display an increase in the projection of this fingerprint that is mirrored in multiple observational surface temperature datasets. Both the models and observations suggest this signal has only recently emerged from the background noise of natural variability.

The increase in the occurrences of 100, 300 and 500 year events in my backyard is statistically significant.  It also is positively correlated to Climate Change. That’s the science.  Sea level rises have a lot to do with the destruction of the natural barriers to storm surge that are particularly a side product of things that the oil and gas industry do. This is the risk of that business forced onto humanity, nature, and the tax payer.

But Ojeda is watching the Atlantic hurricane season that begins on June 1 with more concern than usual. The retired Coast Guard employee worries that rising sea levels could make the next hurricane more destructive than those he’s lived through.

“That’s really scary to me,” the 70-year-old said.

A study released in May shows that rising sea levels threaten to make storm surges more dangerous, seemingly reinforcing Texas officials’ push for federal funding for a storm-surge barrier, or Ike Dike, to protect Galveston.

“Every storm surge today reaches higher because it starts from a higher level, because sea level is higher,” said study co-author Ben Strauss, a scientist who is vice president for sea level and climate impacts for Climate Central, a group of scientists and journalists dedicated to climate change awareness. “A small amount of sea-level rise can lead to an unexpectedly large increase in damages to most kinds of structures.”

Brian Streck, 62, a retired Galveston firefighter, has watched high tides creep into the streets around the house at the edge of West Galveston Bay, where he has lived for 37 years.

He has no patience for climate-change deniers who doubt seas are rising.

“I’ve witnessed it,” Streck said.

High tides once flooded the streets around his home about twice a year; the flooding in the last decade has increased to a dozen times a year.

“I’ve considered selling this place because eventually I’m going to have a lake house,” he said.

Scientific studies have established an acceleration in sea-level rise because of a warming atmosphere. Coal and oil burning and the destruction of tropical forests have increased heat-trapping gases that have warmed the planet by 1.8 degrees since 1880. Earth has been losing 13,500 square miles of ice annually since 1979, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Sea levels are generally rising faster along the Texas Gulf Coast and the western Gulf than the average globally, according to a January study by NOAA.

“The western Gulf is experiencing some of the highest rates of relative levels of sea-level rise in the country,” said NOAA oceanographer William Sweet, lead author of the study. “The ocean is not rising like water would in a bathtub.”

Sea-level rise is making storm surges larger, said John Nielsen-Gammon, Texas state climatologist at Texas A&M University in College Station.

“Compared to a storm that would have hit, say, 30 years ago, the additional storm surge we are talking about is on the order of … about 7 inches,” Nielsen-Gammon said.

The NOAA study found sea levels rising at more than double the rate estimated during the 20th century, increasing to more than 0.13 inch annually. NOAA made six projections of sea-level rise, from low to extreme, and found the global mean level under the lowest projection could rise 2.3 inches by 2020 and 3.5 inches by 2030. The extreme projection shows a 4.3-inch rise by 2020 and a 9.4-inch rise by 2030.

The rate of sea-level rise even under the lowest projection would increase the chances of severe flooding on the Texas Gulf Coast from storm surges or other causes from once every five years to once every two years by 2030 under the extreme projection, and 2060 under the low prediction.

“We’re not talking much longer than a mortgage cycle,” Sweet said. “I just bought a house, I’ve got a 30-year note. That’s 2047.”

By 2100, sea level is expected to rise between 1.3 feet and 31 feet, the NOAA study predicts; Galveston Island and most of the Texas coast would be swallowed up under the latter scenario.

Scientist Michael Mann keeps doing compelling science and making cogent arguments that are being ignored by policy makers.  He’s the scientist behind the research on the “rain bombs”.  That’s a term with a lot of click bait appeal.  But, how do you get anyone to listen when you discuss things like this?  What happens when a hurricane parks itself over you home or an intense thunderstorm sits over you city and just does nothing but dump rain for days on end in biblical amounts?

So Harvey was almost certainly more intense than it would have been in the absence of human- caused warming, which means stronger winds, more wind damage, and a larger storm surge (as an example of how this works, we have shown that climate change has led to a dramatic increase in storm surge risk in New York City, making devastating events like Superstorm #Sandy more likely (http://www.pnas.org/content/112/41/12610.full).

Finally, the more tenuous but potentially relevant climate factors: part of what has made Harvey such a devastating storm is the way it has stalled right near the coast, continuing to pummel Houston and surrounding regions with a seemingly endless deluge which will likely top out at nearly 4 feet of rainfall over a several days-long period before it is done.

The stalling is due to very weak prevailing winds which are failing to steer the storm off to sea, allowing it to spin around and wobble back and forth like a top with no direction. This pattern, in turn, is associated with a greatly expanded subtropical high pressure system over much of the U.S. right now, with the jet stream pushed well to the north. This pattern of subtropical expansion is predicted in model simulations of human-caused climate change.

More tenuous, but possibly relevant still, is the fact that very persistent, nearly ‘stationary’ summer weather patterns of this sort, where weather anomalies (both high pressure dry hot regions and low-pressure stormy/rainy regions) stay locked in place for many days at a time, appears to be favored by human-caused climate change.

How will the Texas Representatives and Senators respond to the disaster in their own back yards?  Will they fight funding they way they fought it for those impacted by Super Storm Sandy?  Will Kremlin Caligula with his 2 second attention span be able to rise to the occasion of saving lives and help people rebuild and heal? What about threats to shut down the Federal Government over funds for the Wall?

The catastrophic floods brought by Hurricane Harvey to southeastern Texas will pose an immediate test for the White House and Congress, pressing policymakers to approve billions of dollars in recovery funds even though they haven’t agreed on much else this year.

White House officials and GOP leaders were already taking stock of the challenge on Sunday, even as the floodwaters in Texas — and the eventual cost of recovery — were still rising. One senior White House official and GOP aides on Capitol Hill said late Sunday they expected to begin discussing an “emergency” package of funding soon to help with relief and rebuilding efforts, even if agreement as to the size of such a package remained premature.

Harvey’s devastation poses President Trump’s first test in emergency assistance, potentially revealing whether he can overcome Congress’s deep divisions over spending and the budget to prioritize aid. It will also test whether Trump can suspend his adversarial governing style and even postpone his own agenda, notably an overhaul of the tax code, to assemble a major — and costly — package that could be directed to law enforcement, emergency relief, schools, infrastructure, hospitals, food banks and several other entities.

The storm comes as Washington was gripped with a budget battle and little time to resolve differences. Many government operations are funded through only the end of September, and Trump has threatened to partially shut down the government if lawmakers don’t approve $1.6 billion in funding to construct parts of a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.

Harvey could upend that budget fight, pressuring politicians to reach a quick resolution. That is because a government shutdown could sideline agencies involved in a rescue and relief effort that officials are predicting will last years.

This battle starts after the battle first responders and volunteers are making to save lives ends.  This is still an ongoing disaster.  There is still very much potential, additional for flooding the next few days. It is still happening now.  Two Reservoirs are being opened that will contribute to flooding.  Resources will undoutedly be running short as well be tempers.

In Houston, reservoirs swollen by rain from Hurricane Harvey were opened early Monday, a move that was expected to flood more homes — but one that the Army Corps of Engineers says is needed to limit the scope of the disaster that’s threatening lives and property in Texas.

“If we don’t begin releasing now, the volume of uncontrolled water around the dams will be higher and have a greater impact on the surrounding communities,” said Col. Lars Zetterstrom, commander of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Galveston District. He warned residents to stay vigilant as water levels rise.

Around midday Monday, Gov. Greg Abbott activated the entire Texas National Guard to support communities cope with the flooding. Thousands of guard members were already deployed in the effort; the number now stands at roughly 12,000.

Gates to Houston’s reservoirs were opened as emergency crews and residents scramble to deal with the intense rains brought by Harvey, which became a tropical storm after making landfall as a Category 4 storm late Friday.

Houston set a new daily rainfall record Sunday, with 16.07 inches reported at the city’s international airport, the National Weather Service says. On Saturday and Sunday, more than 2 feet of rain (24.44 inches) fell.

Here’s how to help those dealing with Harvey. I can tell you that the American Red Cross did a lot for me after Hurricane Katrina.

Scientific American reminds us that Harvey had some disturbing features that has caused it to be so destructive. Is this our future?  If so, will our policy makers rise to the challenge of disrupting our contribution to climate change and providing adequate federal funding and systems to support our neighbors in need because they failed to act when they could?

I have to admit that my Katrina PTSD is full force between the images on my TV,  its 12th anniversary, and the knowledge that Harvey could still do irrational things like move back in to the Gulf to strengthen.  It’s path and timing is still so uncertain.   Now is the time we need heroes and leadership.  The heroes are on the ground.  We have to wait and see when it comes to the leadership.

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?  Also, please Texas Sky Dancers!  Let us know if we can help!!!  Let us know if you’re okay!! We’re here for you!!!


Friday Reads

Good Afternoon!

It’s been raining like crazy here this week.  That’s great for the electric bill since it keeps the house cool inside but wow, we’re just about convinced there is no sun down here and the flooding is getting bad.  I’m actually just relieved it’s not a hurricane. I don’t think I could take the stress of one this year.  The Governor has declared a state of emergency.  Here’s a local’s take on watching the Olympics and living in Southeast Louisiana right now.

There’s been a few amazing Olympic feats this year that I wanted to share with you before getting to some polls and talking more about the Trump meltdown.  First,  Simone Biles is more than amazing as she sweeps Women’s Gymnastics.  She defies the laws of Physics.landscape-1467228071-biles

Watching U.S. gymnast Simone Biles land her gravity-defying signature move leaves you feeling disoriented. On what planet is it physically possible for a tiny young woman, not even five feet tall, to cap a series of rapid-fire somersaults with a single leap so high in the air it allows her to complete not one but two full revolutions, only to land solidly on her feet? The unprecedented move, named after its 19-year-old creator, has even physicists mystified.

Oregon State University physicist Faye Barras, Ph.D., was floored after first seeing footage of the move. “It’s incredible,” she told Inverse, mystified after roughly calculating the insanely high amounts of force involved in landing the jump. Here, she explains the physics behind the mystifying double half-layout with a half twist and a blind landing, which the world now knows as the Biles.

515a698b845ee.imageShe’s one amazing athlete!  But then, there are more of them!! Simone Manuel has become the first African American Woman to medal in swimming!  She’s overcome a history of racism in the sport to shine like Olympic Gold!

As Vox’s Victoria Massie wrote in June, swimming pools have always been spaces where social inequalities have played out. And as University of Montana history professor Jeff Wiltse wrote for the Washington Post last year, the nation’s swimming pool history is intimately tied to racism.

When the first public pools were established in America’s Northern cities at the turn of the 20th century, class prejudices fueled decisions of where municipal pools were built to keep out poor and working-class people, regardless of race. In the 1920s and ’30s, when pools were larger and men and women began swimming together, some major Northern cities used racial segregation tactics to prevent interactions between black men and white women.

“Southern cities typically shut down their public pools rather than allow mixed-race swimming,” Wiltse said. “In the North, whites generally abandoned pools that became accessible to blacks and retreated to ones located in thoroughly white neighborhoods or established private club pools, where racial discrimination was still legal.”

Physical violence and criminal charges were also common practices to keep segregation in place. In April 1950 in Pittsburgh, Nathan Albert — the secretary for the local communist club — was convicted of “inciting a riot” for allegedly trying to bring a mixed-race group to the local swimming pool two years prior.

In the 1950s, legal battles ensued. Between 1950 and 1955, the NAACP was involved inmultiple anti-discrimination lawsuits for swimming pools after black patrons were denied access to swim at pools and beaches, including Isaacs v. Baltimore.

After three black children drowned in a local natural water swimming area, the NAACP brought the case and two others to the US District Court of Appeals. In light of Brown v. Board of Education, the court ruled in 1955 that segregated but equal facilities no longer sufficed. When the Supreme Court refused to hear the case, the district court’s ruling remained unchallenged, setting a new legal precedent against racist swimming pool practices.

Michael Phelps has just blown through the big record of most medals won at an age where most swimmers have hung it up.  The Guardian explains how it’s now possible to maintain training in the USA anyway.

Age 31 isn’t over the hill in most endeavors. Baseball players routinely play into their 40s, Phillip Dutton just won an equestrian medal at age 52, and writers often peak in their 50s or 60s (we hope).

But what Michael Phelps has done in the pool is unusual. The list of individual medalists (excluding relays) in swimming who’ve passed their 30th birthday is a short one – SportsReference.com counts 15 (add relays, and the list expands to 23). Of that group, only Dara Torres was older than Phelps today when she won multiple individual medals in one Olympics, taking three bronzes in 2000.

Individual gold medalists age 31 and up? None. Not until Phelps did it Tuesday night in the 200m butterfly. That was his 12th gold medal in an individual event, sending historians back to Greek antiquity for a comparable antecedent.

How is Phelps able to do what swimmers of the past have not?

Sheer persistence helps. Mark Spitz won two medals as a teen phenom in 1968 and seven golds in his standard-setting streak in 1972. Then he retired, apart from a short-lived comeback effort years later.

One reason Phelps has chosen a different career path is simple: the life of an Olympic star is no longer one of monastic poverty, thanks to a series of changes internationally and domestically through the 1970s. We’re no longer talking about Jim Thorpe being stripped of his 1912 medals because he accepted a pittance for playing a totally different sport. Today, Thorpe would win cash just qualifying for the US team.

And swimmers such as Phelps get paid, with prize money at the World Aquatic Championships now up over $5m and a steady stream of sponsorship money available. Even swimmers who aren’t anywhere close to Phelps’ level can earn a healthy $3,000 monthly stipend.

A brand new set of swing state polls should have Republicans worried as they go to their version of a situation room to prepare to possibly dump financial supportla-1470950004-snap-photoof Trump today.  Clinton basically runs the table of key swing states in these new polls.

Democrat Hillary Clinton leads Republican Donald Trump in some of the most diverse battleground states – including by double digits in two of them – according to four brand-new NBC News/Wall Street Journal/Marist polls.

In the key battleground of Florida, which President Obama won in 2008 and 2012, Clinton is ahead of Trump by five points among registered voters, 44 percent to 39 percent, with the rest saying neither, other or they’re undecided. (In the same poll before the conventions last month, it was Clinton 44 percent, Trump 37 percent.)

In North Carolina, which Obama won in 2008 but lost in 2012, the former secretary of state has a nine-point advantage over Trump, 48 percent to 39 percent. (A month ago, Clinton was up by six points, 44 percent to 38 percent.)

In Virginia, Clinton’s lead is 13 points, 46 percent to 33 percent. (It was Clinton 44 percent, Trump 35 percent in July’s poll.)

And in Colorado, the Democrat is ahead by a whopping 14 points, 46 percent to 32 percent. (It was an eight-point Clinton lead before the conventions, 43 percent to 35 percent.) Obama won both Colorado and Virginia in the previous two presidential elections.

Wow  Meanwhile, Trump continues to have a meltdown after calling the President and former Secretary of State co-founders and MVPs of ISIS. He’s walking that back now as “sarcasm”.

How many angry white males does this dude think are left standing around the country?   Here’s an op ed from The Observer arguing the self-destruction of the Orange Man is no longer funny.

There is no middle ground here. This is where you look into the abyss, into the Day of the Locust, into this Helter Skelter, into this proposed mayhem and make a choice and say no.

Today’s comments are not banter. They are not theories. This is real. There is no turning back. He is saying there will be blood. I’m horrified.

No longer can any worthwhile American say, “But the candidates are the same.” No. It’s not a lesser of two evils. There is one evil. And it is Trump. There is no cover. You can no longer and say, “He’s a business guy.” Or, “I’m bothered by Hillary’s emails.” Or, “They’re all the same.” Or, “He doesn’t mean it.” Or, “He’s an entertainer.”

He means it. He made that crystal clear today. He is calling for internecine war. He is calling for all-out Armageddon. He is calling for battle—beyond this election. This cannot be ignored.

I don’t want to hear that this is a breath of fresh air, he’s not politically correct, or let’s let Donald be Donald. Donald is antithetical to our character. He’s dangerous to our safety. We must stop Donald being Donald at all costs.

It’s black and white. It’s alpha omega. It’s a stark choice.

Exactly.

Trump announced last night they he didn’t think he really needed to GOTV. Jaws dropped in Republican circles all over the world. I love the Trump Cover labelled MeltDown this week on Time.  Click here and read about the creation process and its designer  Illustrator Edel Rodriguez

Donald Trump trumpeted a confident assessment of his campaign on Thursday night, saying there was no need for him to encourage voters to head to the polls on election day.

Asked by Fox News’ Eric Bolling about the open letter by 70 Republicans asking the Republican National Committee to redirect funding from the presidential race to down-ballot campaigns, Trump said he didn’t need their assistance.

“One of the big things about the RNC is they have this whole infrastructure of data and information and contacts and email lists and mailing lists and phone numbers. That is something that is important to your campaign,” Bolling said. “That’s not at risk. Is that in jeopardy at all?”

“I don’t know. I will let you know on the ninth, on November 9th,” Trump replied.

“We are gonna have tremendous turnout from the evangelicals, from the miners, from the people that make our steel, from people that are getting killed by trade deals, from people that have been just decimated, from the military who are with Trump 100 percent,” he went on. “From our vets because I’m going to take care of the vets.”

“I don’t know that we need to get out the vote,” the Republican nominee concluded. “I think people that really want to vote, they’re gonna just get up and vote for Trump. And we’re going to make America great again.”

The Trump campaign has yet to develop on-the-ground support in critical battleground states as election day draws nearer and Hillary Clinton’s poll numbers in those states rise. Trump has only one field office in all of Florida, as Politico reported, and lacks the basics of a campaign in Hamilton County, a key county in the swing state of Ohio.

Any bets on when Reince Preibus’ hair goes completely gray?

Republican U.S. presidential nominee Donald Trump attends a campaign rally in Abingdon, Virginia August 10, 2016. REUTERS/Eric Thayer - RTSMH25

Republican U.S. presidential nominee Donald Trump attends a campaign rally in Abingdon, Virginia August 10, 2016. REUTERS/Eric Thayer – RTSMH25 I’d prefer to call it a which Devils do we back meeting?

And about that big meeting … I’d prefer to call it a ‘Which Devils do we back?’ meeting.

Donald Trump’s campaign and top Republican Party officials plan what one person called a “come to Jesus” meeting on Friday in Orlando to discuss the Republican nominee’s struggling campaign, according to multiple sources familiar with the scheduled sit-down.

Though a campaign source dismissed it as a “typical” gathering, others described it as a more serious meeting, with one calling it an “emergency meeting.” It comes at a time of mounting tension between the campaign and the Republican National Committee, which is facing pressure to pull the plug on Trump’s campaign and redirect party funds down ballot to protect congressional majorities endangered by Trump’s candidacy.

The request for the Orlando Ritz Carlton meeting originated with Trump’s campaign, according to a source familiar with the broad details, and is being viewed by RNC officials as a sign that the campaign has come to grips with the difficulty it is having in maintaining a message and running a ground game.

“They want to patch up a rift that just keeps unfolding,” one source said. “They finally realize they need the RNC for their campaign because, let’s face it, there is no campaign.”

Another person familiar with the meeting, a Republican operative who works with the campaign, said the planned gathering was “a come-to-Jesus meeting.” That source said that many Trump campaign staffers share the party officials’ frustrations with Trump’s penchant for self-sabotaging rhetoric. “What’s bothering people on the campaign is that they feel like they’re doing all the right things, but they’re losing every news cycle to Hillary and there’s nothing they can do about it

The Republican Party and the coalition of crazies has broken the political process this year.  Not that I mind a Clinton win, but really, how is the government to be run when one party is this big of a mess in a two party state?  It seems like the Donald is looking a little shellshocked these days because he’s losing yugely and folks are rushing to dump him.  Check out #XanaxTrump on Twitter for a few laughs about this.

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?


Monday Reads: Bachmann’s Federal Subsidies, Nebraska Nuke Plants, and Cuomo vs. Obama on Marriage Equality

Good morning!! This is going to be a quickie morning post, because I kind of wore myself out yesterday obsessing on the Casey Anthony trial and another “tabloid” story I’ve been following about woman–Lauren Spierer, an IU student–who disappeared in Bloomington, Indiana three weeks ago. I grew up in Indiana and my sister lives in Bloomington, so I’ve been reading a lot about the case.

Here’s some background on the Spierer case: Vanished: Following the last-known steps of Lauren Spierer

I promise I’ll get back to obsessing on politics as soon as some real news starts happening again.

The LA Times had a couple of stories about Michele Bachmann and her husband getting federal money for his clinic and his parents’ farm.

Bachmann’s had her share of government aid

Rep. Michele Bachmann has been propelled into the 2012 presidential contest in part by her insistent calls to reduce federal spending, a pitch in tune with the big-government antipathy gripping many conservatives.

But the Minnesota Republican and her family have benefited personally from government aid, an examination of her record and finances shows. A counseling clinic run by her husband has received nearly $30,000 from the state of Minnesota in the last five years, money that in part came from the federal government. A family farm in Wisconsin, in which the congresswoman is a partner, received nearly $260,000 in federal farm subsidies.

And she has sought to keep federal money flowing to her constituents. After publicly criticizing the Obama administration’s stimulus program, Bachmann requested stimulus funds to support projects in her district. Although she has been a fierce critic of earmarks — calling them “part of the root problem with Washington’s spending addiction” — the congresswoman nonetheless argued recently that transportation projects should not be considered congressional pork.

Michele Bachmann denies benefiting from government aid

Rep. Michele Bachmann deflected allegations Sunday that she and her immediate family had benefited from government assistance despite her demands to cut the federal budget, saying hundreds of thousands of dollars for her family farm and a counseling clinic went to employees and her in-laws.

“My husband and I did not get the money,” the Minnesota Republican said on Sunday news shows one day before officially opening her presidential campaign in Waterloo, Iowa — her birthplace.

Except she did get the money, as shown by her disclosure forms. See the previous story. Bachmann claimed that the money for the clinic went for employee training. Wouldn’t training of employees also help the business?

The New York Times has a pretty good article about the two Nebraska nuclear plants that are endangered by flooding from the Missouri River–the Ft. Calhoun and Cooper reactors. If you haven’t read Dakinikat’s post on this scary situation, please do. From the NYT piece:

Like inhabitants of a city preparing for a siege, operators of the nuclear reactor here have spent days working to defend it against the swollen Missouri River at its doorstep. On Sunday, eight days after the river rose high enough to require the operators to declare a low-level emergency, a swarm of plant officials got to show off their preparations to the chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

The reactor, Cooper Station, is one of two nuclear plants on the Missouri River that are threatened by flooding. The second reactor, Fort Calhoun, 85 miles north, came under increased pressure for a brief period on Sunday. Before dawn, a piece of heavy equipment nicked an eight-foot-high, 2,000-foot-long temporary rubber berm, and it deflated. Water also began to approach electrical equipment, which prompted operators to cut themselves off from the grid and start up diesel generators. (It returned to grid power later Sunday.) Both nuclear plants appeared prepared to weather the flooding, their operators and federal government regulators said.

Fort Calhoun was shut down in April for refueling and stayed closed because of predictions of flooding. Plant officials say the facility is designed to remain secure at a river level of up to 1,014 feet above sea level. The water level stabilized at 1,006.5 feet on Sunday, according to the Omaha Public Power District, the operator of the Fort Calhoun plant.

Unfortunately the Times doesn’t mention that large amounts of nuclear tritium are leaking from these plants into the groundwater or say whether any testing of drinking water is being done. What happens if the Missouri becomes contaminated by nuclear material?

CNN reports that a huge water-filled berm that was being used to protect the Ft. Calhoun plant burst yesterday.

Some sort of machinery came in contact with the berm, puncturing it and causing the berm to deflate, said Mike Jones, a spokesman for the Omaha Public Power District (OPPD), which owns the Fort Calhoun plant.

Authorities say this was just a back-up measure and the plant is still safe.

Parts of the grounds are already under water as the swollen Missouri River overflows its banks, including areas around some auxiliary buildings, Jones said.

The 8-foot-tall, water-filled berm, 16 feet wide at its base, surrounded the reactor containment structure and auxiliary buildings, according to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

“We built the plant up high enough based on history, based on the flooding in the past. If the flood would rise for some reason above that level we have taken precautions, again, per our procedures to sandbag the important equipment for the reactors,” said Dave Van Der Kamp, with the Nebraska Public Power District.

He said the chances of floodwater getting into the building where the core is kept are almost zero.

I sure hope that’s true.

The NYT has an interesting article on how Andrew Cuomo helped shepherd the gay marriage bill through the New York legislature.

In the 35th-floor conference room of a Manhattan high-rise, two of Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s most trusted advisers held a secret meeting a few weeks ago with a group of super-rich Republican donors.

Over tuna and turkey sandwiches, the advisers explained that New York’s Democratic governor was determined to legalize same-sex marriage and would deliver every possible Senate vote from his own party.

[….]

…the donors in the room — the billionaire Paul Singer, whose son is gay, joined by the hedge fund managers Cliff Asness and Daniel Loeb — had the influence and the money to insulate nervous senators from conservative backlash if they supported the marriage measure. And they were inclined to see the issue as one of personal freedom, consistent with their more libertarian views.

Basically, Cuomo acted more presidential than Obama did. I wonder if Cuomo would like to primary Obama? Just kidding….

Here’s an interesting piece at the WaPo: Votes that pushed us into the red. There is a chart that shows how various politicians rationalized supporting big spending projects–although some of them might have actually provided some economic stimulus.

Finally, there’s going to be some kind of cost-cutting change to the electric power grid that will make our electric clocks run fast.

A yearlong experiment with the nation’s electric grid could mess up traffic lights, security systems and some computers — and make plug-in clocks and appliances like programmable coffeemakers run up to 20 minutes fast.

“A lot of people are going to have things break and they’re not going to know why,” said Demetrios Matsakis, head of the time service department at the U.S. Naval Observatory, one of two official timekeeping agencies in the federal government.

Since 1930, electric clocks have kept time based on the rate of the electrical current that powers them. If the current slips off its usual rate, clocks run a little fast or slow. Power companies now take steps to correct it and keep the frequency of the current — and the time — as precise as possible.

The effect will be greater in some areas than others.

The North American Electric Reliability Corp. runs the nation’s interlocking web of transmission lines and power plants. A June 14 company presentation spelled out the potential effects of the change: East Coast clocks may run as much as 20 minutes fast over a year, but West Coast clocks are only likely to be off by 8 minutes. In Texas, it’s only an expected speedup of 2 minutes.

Some parts of the grid, like in the East, tend to run faster than others. Errors add up. If the grid averages just over 60 cycles a second, clocks that rely on the grid will gain 14 seconds per day, according to the company’s presentation.

That’s it for me. I’ve gotta go see what Judge Belvin Perry has to say this morning. What are you reading and blogging about today?