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?

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Tuesday Reads: Blizzard of 2015 and Other News

A pedestrian crosses Beacon Street in Boston as a large snowstorm approaches New England on Monday, January 26, 2015. Staff photo by Christopher Evans

A pedestrian crosses Beacon Street in Boston as a large snowstorm approaches New England on Monday, January 26, 2015. Staff photo by Christopher Evans

Good Morning!!

As of late last night we didn’t have much snow where I live, but this morning there’s at least a foot out there if not more. The town hasn’t even plowed my street yet, so it looks like a sea of white and you can’t tell there’s a road there at all. The snow is piled up against the storm door, so I’ll either have to dig out gradually while pushing the door outward or try to get out through the garage. We are still expecting at least another foot today before the storm passes.

I can’t really complain so far. I’m warm and dry and I have electricity. I feel for the people along the coast and on the islands. Here in Massachusetts, Nantucket and parts of Cape Cod have lost power.  Nantucket had 78 mph winds last night. In Scituate, which is on the South Shore, “officials cut power to homes along ocean,” 

SCITUATE, Mass. (WHDH) –Town officials in Scituate cut power to several coastal roads because they fear, if an electrical fire sparks inside a home it could easily spread to several homes and fire crews wouldn’t be able to access it during high tide.

It was a precaution based of a similar storm in 2010 that destroyed two houses.

“We’re doing it for this storm, because experience has told us, the power company  needs lots of advance notice to power down an area, we expect significant flooding in this area,” Scituate Town Administrator Patricia Vinchesi said.

“There are no mandatory evacuations permitted in MA, that’s why can only ask people to voluntarily leave,” Vinchesi said.

I feel for those people. The temperature where I live was in the single numbers last night and it’s only in the teens right now.

Orion (L) walks through Central Park after a snowstorm hit New York January 27, 2015 ©Stan Honda (AFP)

Orion (L) walks through Central Park after a snowstorm hit New York January 27, 2015 ©Stan Honda (AFP)

 

You can watch the storm track live at NBCNews.com. Here’s the latest on the storm, according to NBC.

Coastal New England was battered Tuesday by a blizzard of blinding snow, ferocious waves and winds that topped hurricane speed, and city streets in Boston were empty of all but snowplows.

New York City, New Jersey and parts of Connecticut lifted travel bans, and Gov. Andrew Cuomo said subways and buses in the nation’s largest city would roll again later in the morning. But major airports in the Northeast were still deserted after more than 7,700 flights were canceled.

In Massachusetts, the blizzard was living up to its historic billing. The city of Worcester, about 60 miles west of Boston, had 25 inches of snow on the ground and was closing in on its record of 32.1 as a band of extremely heavy snow settled in for the morning.

In Boston proper:

Mayor Marty Walsh of Boston said it could still be Tuesday night or Wednesday before mass transit starts rolling again there. In the meantime, police were ferrying doctors and nurses to their hospital shifts.

“We’ve had a pretty good night, but the main bulk of the storm is hitting us right now,” Walsh of Boston said on NBC’s TODAY. “We’re asking people just to stay in their homes today and just ride this one out.”

Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island were all under states of emergency as of early this morning. Apparently the storm was somewhat of a bust in NYC, with only about 6 inches in Central Park and not much more predicted.

From USA Today: Mighty storm hammers Northeast; NYC ‘dodges bullet.’

A mighty storm marched resolutely across the deserted streets of the Northeast early Tuesday, showing mercy on New York City and Philadelphia but relentlessly pounding Boston and many coastal areas with heavy snow, high winds and flooding.

More than 50 million people were hunkered down in the angry storm’s path. More than 7,000 flights were canceled, road travel was banned in several states and schools were closed for millions of kids.

The storm was forecast to continue roaring through much of the region into Wednesday, although forecasters were downgrading the potential impact in some areas. The National Weather Service said the storm tracked 50 to 75 miles further east than expected.

“It’s a case of haves and have nots,” AccuWeather meteorologist Tyler Roys told USA TODAY on Tuesday. “The worst of it is in the coastal areas. Other places have been relatively spared.”

Philadelphia, which on Monday morning appeared to be vulnerable to huge snow totals, had about an inch downtown early Tuesday. A blizzard warning was canceled for New York City and New Jersey.

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio opened city streets to traffic Tuesday morning, and the subway system was being brought up to speed. The city had feared a blast of 20 inches of snow or more; Central Park had almost 8 inches Tuesday morning.

“This is a better-safe-than-sorry scenario,” de Blasio said on CNN Tuesday morning. “It is still very bad on the streets … but we dodged a bullet.”

Here’s another NBC News page with live updates on transportation delays and road closings.

For the real weather geeks, here’s an article from The Boston Globe on How and Why Nor’easters Form.

One question you might ask during this major storm is how and why did this form? If you saw a forecast as recently as Friday, meteorologists thought this storm would stay mostly out to sea, obviously that isn’t the case. Let me explain why the storm formed and then why it’s hitting and moving so slowly.

It’s important to keep this in mind when thinking about a storm. It’s all about nature’s attempt to bring balance to the atmosphere. Storms try to blend cold and warm air together to make them even. Once this happens, a storm will weaken and die. As the storm is forming the contrast in air masses is at it’s most intense. We are seeing nature’s attempt to bring warm air north and cold air south, the result is an intense coastal storm, we call a nor’easter.

Noreaster

You have likely heard of the jet stream. This is the band of winds at 30,000 feet that moves storms and air masses across the middle latitudes of the planet where we live. This jet stream doesn’t blow in a straight line. Instead it has curves and loops and these change the way the air flows within this stream of air. Basic meteorology tells us that if the air up at 30,000 feet is spreading out and speeding up it in turn aids in pulling the air upward off the surface of the planet. We call these concepts diffluence and divergence and they are two major components to why winter storms form. That upward motion or lift brings the air from the ground higher and higher until it cools and forms clouds and eventually precipitation. The more lift you have, the bigger the storm.

upperlevel12814

When storms are formed and becoming more intense all the levels of the atmosphere work in tandem to help build the storm.

Read much more wonky stuff about weather at the link.

So that’s the winter weather situation as of this morning. If you are in one of the affected states, please let us know how you’re doing.

In other news,

I’m going stick with headlines this morning, because I’m still fighting a cold and I didn’t sleep that well last night. Here’s what’s happening:

Washington Post, Koch-backed network aims to spend nearly $1 billion on 2016 elections.

Politico, The Kochs put a price on 2016: $889 million.

Via Cannonfire, an interview  with Max Blumenthal at The Read News about the lies in the movie American Sniper, American Sniper: Honoring a Fallen Hero or Whitewashing a Murderous Occupation?

AL.com, Alabama’s first openly gay lawmaker threatens to ‘out’ officials having extramarital affairs.

The Hill, Pelosi: With Hillary Clinton, Democrats can win the House.

Something very creepy out of Indiana, Gov. Mike Pence’s state-run news outlet will compete with media. “Gov. Mike Pence is starting a state-run taxpayer-funded news outlet that will make pre-written news stories available to Indiana media, as well as sometimes break news about his administration, according to documents obtained by The Indianapolis Star.” Yikes!

Interesting developments in Greece.

The Guardian, Greece’s new anti-austerity government set on collision course with Brussels.

The New Yorker, Greece’s Warning to the Rest of Europe.

NPR, Greece’s Left-Wing Prime Minister Takes Charge.

Fox News, Bergdahl to be charged with desertion, ex-military intel officer says.

Washington Post, Former CIA officer Jeffrey Sterling convicted in leak case.

Talking Points Memo, Jon Stewart Has Field Day With Incomprehensible Palin Speech (VIDEO).

What else is happening? Please share your links in the comment thread and enjoy your Tuesday!


Tuesday Reads

Good Morning!! WTH is going on with the weather? When I got up yesterday, the temperature was -9 degrees! It got up to about 10 degrees during the day and back into the below zero numbers last night. On top of that, we have another nor’easter coming on Wednesday and Thursday. How much more of this can we take? Even southern states have been getting snow and cold this winter. Meanwhile, it’s way warmer than usual in the Arctic regions.

According to this article by Justin Gillis in The New York Times,

The immediate cause of the topsy-turvy weather is clear enough. A pattern of atmospheric circulation that tends to keep frigid air penned in the Arctic has weakened during the last two winters, allowing big tongues of cold air to descend far to the south, while masses of warmer air have moved north.

The deeper issue is whether this pattern is linked to the rapid changes that global warming is causing in the Arctic, particularly the drastic loss of sea ice. At least two prominent climate scientists have offered theories suggesting that it is. But others are doubtful, saying the recent events are unexceptional, or that more evidence over a longer period would be needed to establish a link.

Since satellites began tracking it in 1979, the ice on the Arctic Ocean’s surface in the bellwether month of September has declined by more than 30 percent. It is the most striking change in the terrain of the planet in recent decades, and a major question is whether it is starting to have an effect on broad weather patterns.

Ice reflects sunlight, and scientists say the loss of ice is causing the Arctic Ocean to absorb more heat in the summer. A handful of scientists point to that extra heat as a possible culprit in the recent harsh winters in Europe and the United States.

Apparently it’s all related to the jet stream being too “weak” and something called the “arctic fence.” Interesting article, check it out.

The Chicago Sun-Times is raising some questions about one of the judges who may have to decide what to do about Rahm Emanuel’s appeal of the ruling yesterday that he cannot run for Mayor of Chicago. The Illinois Supreme Court Judge in question is Anne M. Burke, who is married to a powerful Chicago Alderman–one who doesn’t support Rahm’s candidacy.

Now that Rahm Emanuel has been tossed off the mayoral ballot by an appeals court, Ald. Edward M. Burke (14th) and his wife, Illinois Supreme Court Justice Anne M. Burke, will each have a role in Chicago’s mayoral election.

Ed Burke, the city’s most powerful alderman, has said he’s backing Gery Chico — a former staff member for Burke and Mayor Daley who’s trailed Emanuel in every poll on the mayor’s race.

In the past Justice Burke has recused herself from cases involving Chicago politics. What will she do this time?

Dakinikat will probably like Paul Krugman’s latest blog post: The War on Demand.

Something really strange has happened to the debate over economic policy in the face of the Great Recession and its aftermath — or maybe the real point is that events have revealed the true nature of the debate, stripping away some of the illusions. It’s a bigger story than any one point of dispute — say, over the size of the multiplier, or the effects of quantitative easing — might suggest. Basically, in the face of what I would have said is obviously a massive shortfall of aggregate demand, we’re seeing on all-out attack on the very notion that the demand side matters.

This isn’t entirely new, of course. Real business cycle theory has been a powerful force within academic economics for three decades. But my sense is that the RBC guys had very little impact on public or policy discussion, simply because what they said seemed (and was) so disconnected from actual experience.

Now, however, we’re seeing a much more widespread attack on demand-side economics. More than that, it’s becoming clear that many people don’t so much disagree with the idea that demand matters as find it abhorrent, incomprehensible, or both. I fairly often get comments to the effect that I can’t possibly believe what I’m saying about monetary or fiscal policy, that no sensible person could believe that printing money or engaging in deficit spending will increase output and employment — never mind that all I’m saying is what Econ 101 textbooks have been saying for the last 62 years.

It seems the powers that be are determined to put us into a deep depression by basing policy decisions on Reaganite voodoo economics. And no matter how hard Krugman tries, I don’t think the guys in charge are going to wake up to reality.

There was a terrible suicide bomb attack at Domodedovo airport in Moscow yesterday.

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has vowed to track down and punish those behind an apparent suicide bomb attack at Moscow’s Domodedovo airport killed 35 people and injured more than 100.

[….]

Unnamed officials said three suspects were being sought over the attack.

Suspicion has fallen on Russia’s restive North Caucasus region.

Last March the Russian capital’s underground system was rocked by two female suicide bombers from Russia’s volatile Dagestan region, who detonated their explosives on the busy metro system during rush hour, killing 40 people and injuring more than 80.

But the airport was up and running again very soon after the attack, according to The New York Times.

Just hours after a suicide bomber struck at the international arrivals terminal at Moscow’s busiest airport on Monday afternoon, passengers coming off flights from abroad were being ushered through the very same terminal where bodies had only just been removed.

Some inbound flights had to circle for a time after the bombing, and some arriving passengers had to wait on the tarmac before being asked to make their way through the terminal. But Domodedovo Airport is an important transport hub for Moscow, the capital, and the authorities decided to keep it open.

Sheets of blue plastic had simply been hung to block out the scene.

Meanwhile, people continued to arrive to pick up loved ones and to embark on flights out of the city. It was as if officials, passengers and Muscovites in general were displaying a particular brand of Russian stoicism, if not fatalism.

The Huffington Post reported “exclusively” last night that:

The bipartisan panel appointed by Congress to investigate the financial crisis has concluded that several financial industry figures appear to have broken the law and has referred multiple cases to state or federal authorities for potential prosecution, according to two sources directly involved in the deliberations.

The sources, who spoke on condition they not be named, declined to identify the people implicated or the names of their institutions. But they characterized the panel’s decision to make referrals to prosecutors as a significant escalation in the government’s response to the financial crisis. The panel plans to release its final report in Washington on Thursday morning.

In the three years since major lenders teetered on the brink of collapse, prompting huge taxpayer rescues and amplifying an already painful recession into the most punishing downturn since the Depression, public indignation has swelled while few people who played prominent roles in the crisis have faced legal consequences.

That may be about to change. According to the law that created the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission, the panel has a responsibility to refer for prosecution any evidence of lawbreaking. The offices that have received the referrals — the Justice Department, state attorneys general, and perhaps both — must now determine whether to prosecute cases and, if so, whether to pursue criminal or civil charges.

Very interesting. Will Obama’s Justice Department act? Stay tuned….

I know I should be linking to stories about the SOTU, but I just can’t bear to do it. I’m already bored with the whole thing. So I’ll end with this story about new research on what is making the honey bees sick.

Ecologist Colin Henderson co-authored a study that may have identified the cause of the honeybee illness that has plagued U.S. bees since 2006. Henderson, 59, is an associate professor of biology at the University of Montana. He and colleagues there found a correlation between colony collapse disorder (CCD) and a lethal combination of a parasite and a virus.

The study, on which Army scientists at the Edgewood Chemical Biological Center near Baltimore also collaborated, has been called groundbreaking (though also controversial because one of the study’s lead authors previously received funding from a maker of pesticides that some blame for CCD). By the way, for an overall house pest control service, consider having bed bug treatment lexington ky at premierpests.com. The honeybee die-off strikes about 20 to 40 percent of commercial beekeepers in a good year, Henderson says, and up to 60 percent in a bad one. When it hits a beekeeping operation, it can take out up to 70 percent of its colonies.

There’s an interesting interview of Henderson in the article.

So….. What are you reading this morning?