Friday, June 23, 2017

Burned feet, parched throats: Arizona homeless desperate to escape heatwave

Supported by
Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation
Griselda Nevarez in Phoenix
Friday 23 June 2017 1

The man was not wearing any shoes, and he was crawling along the baking asphalt with socks on his hands.

That was how David Lee Witherspoon Jr, president of a food pantry, found him while driving through Phoenix last week. The man told Witherspoon he had left his home without any footwear after a fight, though Witherspoon thought he might have been homeless. Then he had taken off his socks to remove some burrs, but the road surface was so scorching he was forced onto all fours. Luckily Witherspoon had some spare sneakers in his car, and helped the man put them on.

“Anyone crawling along the street when it’s over 100 degrees – you would not survive very long before you got third-degree blisters on your hands and even your knees,” Witherspoon said.

It is currently so hot in Arizona that just inhaling can feel painful. Dozens of flights have been canceled at the Phoenix airport. The National Weather Service has declared an excessive heat warning that will be in place until Monday, amid temperatures approaching 120F.

Yet the swelter is, for the majority of people, mostly avoidable thanks to air conditioning. For those living under bridges and in tents, however, it is suffocating and inescapable. Eventually, it could be fatal.

Almost 6,000 homeless people were counted in the Phoenix region during a one-day census last year.


Katrina Giddings, 35, said she had spent the previous night, when temperatures were in the high 90s, bedded down on some concrete. “It was a terrible night,” she said. “I kept waking up every hour just to drink some water and to get my hair wet.”

According to the National Weather Service, when the air temperature is 102F and the sun is shining, blacktop can be heated to as much as 167F. That is hot enough to fry an egg or cook ground beef, though more worryingly, the weather service also notes that in such conditions, “human skin is instantly destroyed”. Pets’ paws are also vulnerable – and it is common for homeless people to have dogs.

Phoenicians might fancy themselves accustomed to climatic extremes, though this week even they have been surprised: temperature records have been surpassed two days in a row.
US south-west swelters under extreme heatwave – in pictures
Read more

To help people living on the streets, the Phoenix Rescue Mission has volunteers passing out water, sunscreen, hats, bandanas and towels soaked with cold water. A few beneficiaries don’t realize how dangerous the conditions are.


And some organizations have been giving out items that seem bizarre: blankets. But there is good reason. The sidewalks don’t necessarily cool all the way down at night, and the blankets are a barrier.

Meanwhile, cooling centers have been set up around the city, and demand for indoor shelter is high. On Thursday, close to 100 homeless people packed the Lodestar Day Resource Center in downtown Phoenix. Some were drenched in sweat and their skin was tomato-red, while others sat and laid their heads on round tables trying to sleep.


Informative links

Navy files first charges under military law in ‘Fat Leonard’ scandal

Congress to Pruitt: We’re Not Cutting EPA Budget to Trump’s Levels

How Liberals Really Reacted to Obama-Themed ‘Julius Caesar’

Polk inmates save correctional officer who passed out during work detail

Daniel Ellsberg: Nixon White House Wanted to ‘Shut Me Up’ With Assault

Mike Pence's infrastructure mess: What went wrong with I-69?

A Republican contractor’s database of nearly every voter was left exposed on the Internet for 12 days, researcher says

Remember Trump’s Promise Not to Touch Social Security? It’s Gone Now

Trump sells Qatar $12 billion of U.S. weapons days after accusing it of funding terrorism

That $9.99 find at T.J. Maxx? It might raise questions about labor practices

Died from mixing ammonia and bleach

Trump 'simply does not care' about HIV/AIDS, say 6 experts who just quit his advisory council

London mosque attack suspect named, according to media outlets

How cats conquered the ancient world

Personal Bankruptcies Cut Almost in Half After Obamacare

Weed Warning: Legalizing Marijuana Tied to Rise in Crashes in 3 States by HLDI

Russia debacle destroys the last rationale for Trump, the myth of the genius CEO

Living with climate change: You can make a difference

How Could the Fitzgerald Collision Happen?

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Federal court allows Mississippi to let businesses and government employees cite religious beliefs to refuse service to LGBT people

Jerry Smith was appointed by Ronald Reagan.
Jennifer Elrod and Catharina Haynes were appointed by George W. Bush.

Emily Wagster Pettus, Associated Press
June 22, 2017

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — A federal appeals court said Thursday that Mississippi can start enforcing a law that allows merchants and government employees cite religious beliefs to deny services to same-sex couples, but opponents of the law immediately pledged to appeal.

A three-judge panel of the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals reversed a judge’s decision that had blocked the law.


House Bill 1523 Becomes Law after 5th Circuit Overturns Injunction

JACKSON — The controversial "Protecting Freedom of Conscience from Religious Discrimination Act" is now state law, after the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals reversed the 2016 injunction that prevented House Bill 1523 from becoming law last July.

The opinion says that plaintiffs, who were Mississippians from every corner of the state claiming the wide-ranging legislation affected and discriminated against them, did not prove that they had suffered injury-in-fact that would allow a court to deem the law unconstitutional.

"We do not speculate on whether, even with those allegations, the injury would be too attenuated to satisfy the standing requirements. The plaintiffs have not shown an injury-in-fact caused by HB 1523 that would empower the district court or this court to rule on its constitutionality," the opinion says.


The three-judge panel ruled unanimously with an opinion from Circuit Judge Jerry Smith. Jennifer Elrod and Catharina Haynes were the other two judges. Plaintiffs could appeal to the full 5th Circuit to hear the case or appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.


Rick Perry Denies Climate Change Role of CO2

Where does he think the heat from the oceans is coming from?

By Marianne Lavelle
Jun 19, 2017

Energy Secretary Rick Perry said Monday he does not believe carbon dioxide emissions are the main driver of the earth's record-setting warming, a core finding of climate science. Instead, Perry said, the driver is most likely "the ocean waters and this environment that we live in."

Perry became the second of President Donald Trump's cabinet members to go on television to publicly dismiss the importance of CO2 in global warming, ignoring the scientific evidence. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt rejected its role in answer to essentially the same question in March, also on CNBC's "Squawk Box."

But Perry went further in his response to CNBC host Joe Kernen—who has expressed his own skepticism about climate science in the past—when asked whether he viewed carbon dioxide as the main "control knob" for climate.

"No. Most likely the primary control knob is the ocean waters and this environment that we live in," Perry, a former Texas governor, said.
Where does he think the heat in the ocean comes from?
What does he mean by "this environment that we live in"? The increasing amounts of CO2 and other greenhouse gases are part of "this environment that we live in". What other part of it does he think is causing global warming?

Despite the fuzzy, circular illogic of that reply, Perry went on to say that skepticism about the scientific consensus is a sign of a "wise, intellectually engaged person."

His view comes at a time of record-setting temperatures around the world. The U.S. southwest is entering a brutal heat wave, parts of the Middle East are even hotter, and a fatal wildfire in Portugal punctuated a tremendous hot spell in that part of Europe. No part of the world has been immune from the damages of the warming climate in the past few years.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has said that the global scientific consensus is that it is "extremely likely" that most of the observed increase in global average surface temperature since 1951 was caused by the concentrations of greenhouse gas emissions from human activity. The science shows that the oceans are warming—as they absorb carbon dioxide and heat trapped by increasing levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.


"The point is, are we going to continue to have innovation that helps affect in a positive way our environment?" Perry said. "Absolutely!"

But such technology won't be getting much federal government support under the White House budget plan that Perry is slated to defend tomorrow before the House Energy and Water Appropriations Subcommittee and on Wednesday before the Senate Appropriations Committee's energy panel.

The portion of the Energy Department's budget that actually addresses energy (as opposed to stewardship of nuclear weapons facilities) would be cut by 18 percent, with the budget ax falling most heavily on programs aimed at reducing fossil fuel emissions. The department's Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE), which funds research on electric vehicles and clean energy, would face a 70 percent funding cut in the fiscal year beginning in October, under the Trump budget—losing $1.5 billion from its current $2.1 billion budget. Clean coal research would be cut by 85 percent.

Perry will face some of the GOP senators who wrote a letter last month decrying the proposed cuts. "Government-sponsored research is one of the most important investments our country can make to encourage innovation," wrote the group, led by Sen. Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, chairman of the Energy and Water Appropriations Subcommittee.

Informative links

House GOP health bill changes exempt members of Congress

Heat Wave Across Southwest Turns Deadly

Carrier braces for 600-person layoff just 6 months after Trump touted the company as a job policy victory

If your neighbor's tree falls in your yard, who pays for cleanup?

Want to be happy and successful? Try compassion

Learning compassion

America’s Generosity Divide

Four GOP senators say they can't vote for current Republican health care bill

What the Republicans’ Senate Health-Care Bill Means for America

The Senate republican health care bill goes into effect over several years, some things not fully going into effect until 2021. (Tax cuts for the rich go into effect immediately.) Surely I'm not the only one who sees that this puts these changes not only after the next mid-term elections, but after the next presidential election. So many people will blame the people who are in office then. Since the party of the president usually loses seats in the next mid-year election, this would result in many people blaming them for the actions of the republicans. Same if the Democrats win in 2020. And the people who are oblivious to the way republicans blocked President Obama's efforts to help the economy will be oblivious to the clever scheming of Congressional republicans on this issue.

By John Cassidy, Benjamin Wallace-Wells, and Adam Davidson

On Thursday, Senate Republicans unveiled their bill to replace the Affordable Care Act. Below, New Yorker writers offer some initial reactions to the news.

The Senate bill is really three separate proposals. In the private-insurance market, it amounts to what Larry Levitt, a health-care expert at the Kaiser Family Foundation, calls “Obamacare-lite.” As for Medicaid—the federal program that provides health services to roughly seventy-five million Americans, most of whom are poor or elderly or are children—the bill involves much bigger, and more harmful, changes. Finally, the legislation would deliver a hefty tax cut to some of the wealthiest households in the country.


The Affordable Care Act’s biggest achievement came through its expansion of Medicaid and its sibling, the Children’s Health Insurance Plan. By raising the income-eligibility threshold for households and allowing states to cover low-income adults who don’t have children, some thirteen million people have been added to the Medicaid rolls since January, 2014. But the Senate bill would reverse this extension, over three years, starting in 2021. Additionally, it would drastically change the future financing of Medicaid, placing a cap on federal subsidies per person and putting strict limits on the subsidies’ future growth. (The funding formula is actually less generous than the one in the House legislation.) Like the House bill, these changes would cause millions of Americans to lose their health coverage. It would also generate hundreds of billions of dollars of cost savings over the next ten years. We’ll see some precise projections in the coming days, after the Congressional Budget Office releases its analysis of the bill. For some reason, the Republicans’ desire to slash Medicaid has received less coverage than their proposals for the private-insurance market have. This should be at the center of the political debate.


According to a recent analysis by the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center, the top 0.1 per cent of earners—i.e., households that make at least 3.9 million dollars a year—would receive a tax cut of more than two hundred thousand dollars. And, unlike other aspects of the bill, this one would go into effect immediately.


This bill does openly what killing the Labor Reform Act did with considerable more subtlety: it takes hundreds of billions of dollars from the poorest and most vulnerable and gives it to the richest. It is, by any rational metric, the opposite of what our country needs at this moment. And savvy, self-protective Republican lawmakers feel no need to offer an explanation. This is not a health-care bill; it is a wealth grab by the wealthy. Political-opinion polls show that most Americans know that. Do Republicans care?—Adam Davidson

Why does America have so many hungry kids?

When children are hungry, it cause their bodies to react in a way that eventually causes them to be overweight, becoming more efficient at storing fat from food, lowering their metabolism.

By Thom Patterson, CNN
Updated 3:48 PM ET, Thu June 15, 2017


Ryder's family represents America's 13.1 million households with children that often go without food: "food-insecure households."

"Food is a struggle at times," said Ryder's mom, Kelly Ann Pfaffly, who also is raising a newborn boy.
Pfaffly, 23, and her 24-year-old husband, Justin, have been married five years. They -- along with Ryder, his 7-year-old sister and his infant brother -- all live in a small room at the hotel. "We've been struggling for quite sometime now," she said. "But we always find a way to make it."

She said she and her husband always make sure the kids have food and clothes. "Even if they don't like wearing them," she joked.

Money from cleaning hotel rooms doesn't always last them through the month. Neither do foodstamps. Lately, the family's broken-down car has made transportation difficult, prompting Kelly to quit her part-time cashier job at a local restaurant.

Located deep in the heart of the Ozark Mountains, the area is swimming in "up to 65,000 visitors daily who pump $1.5 billion into the local economy," according to the Branson Tourism Center. Yet the town doesn't have public transit.

A larger percentage of America's food-insecure households are outside metropolitan areas, according to the US Department of Agriculture.

Missouri ranked 12th in the nation for highest percentage of food-insecure households: 15.2% with "low or very low" food security in 2015, according to the USDA. North Dakota had the lowest percentage of food-insecure households with 8.5%, and Mississippi had the highest with 20.8%. The national percentage: 12.7%


The national percentage of food-insecure households has been dropping lately. It peaked at 11% during the 2008 recession, when so many Americans were losing their jobs. But as unemployment figures began to drop, so did the number of food-insecure households. By 2015, the percentage of American food-insecure households had dipped below 8%.


Helping the hungry shifted the perspective of Ashley Harkness, another Jesus Was Homeless employee.
"I started seeing that people that I used to judge are so much more like me," Harkness said. "We're all are only one paycheck away from poverty. The only difference is, I have someone who can help me -- and they don't."

The war against child hunger is also being fought in America's schools. Blessings in a Backpack is a nationwide program that helps school children who might otherwise go hungry by providing them with a backpack full of food for the weekends. It's funded in part by Walmart, Cigna and other private companies. But once schools close for summer break, this and many other school-linked programs disappear until the fall.

The federal Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act provides needy children with free breakfast and lunch at schools. But the USDA in May began relaxing guidelines for that program, opening the door to meals with reduced whole grains, higher sodium and higher fat and sweetened milk. [Due to decisions by republicans.]


Kelly and Justin Pfaffly want nothing more for little Ryder and his siblings than most parents: a safe place to live and raise their kids and enough work to make a living.

"We never ask for much unless it's absolutely necessary," Justin Pfaffly said.

Currently, they're relying on the kindness of their employer -- a hotel owner who advanced them rent money to live in the hotel in exchange for work cleaning rooms and performing maintenance.

They believe that if they can somehow purchase a reliable vehicle, it could give them better job options and more opportunities.

"I want my kids to never have to worry about being low on food and clean clothes," Justin Pfaffly said. "All in all, my hopes and dreams are that Kelly and I could finally give our children the life they need and most definitely deserve -- and for them to never worry again for things they want."

Woman accused of faking cancer, receiving donations

Updated: Jun 22, 2017

A Rhode Island woman was arrested for allegedly receiving money through a GoFundMe to help with her fake cancer diagnosis.

In May of 2016, the financial crimes unit began investigating a report that a woman was asking for money under false pretenses. Their investigation revealed that 35-year-old Alicia Pierini had told her friends and family she had brain cancer, and one of her friends started a GoFundMe to help with medical expenses.

Rhode Island State Police said that many contributed to the GoFundMe or to Pierini directly, in total about $28,000.

However, as time went on, some became suspicious.

Detectives said they confirmed she had never been a patient at any of the cancer treatment facilities or doctors she said she was attending.

The Woonsocket resident was charged with obtaining money under false pretenses over $1,500 and access to computer for fraudulent purposes.

She was arraigned and released on $40,000 personal recognizance.

GoFundMe will be reimbursing the individuals who donated directly to the account.


If you believe you were a victim in this case, Rhode Island Police are asking you to call the Financial Crimes Unit at 401-444-1201.

It’s so hot in England, schoolboys are wearing skirts

Few houses in England have air conditioning, so I suspect that is true for schools.
When I was a child in the U.S., schools did not have air conditioning.

By Lindsey Bever June 22

Amid an intense heat wave, dozens of British schoolboys went to class wearing girls' uniform skirts when the head teacher would not relax a dress code banning the more suitable option: shorts.

The teenage boys at Isca Academy in Exeter argued it was too hot for pants as temperatures approached 90 degrees Wednesday. Dozens of boys, who borrowed uniform skirts from female friends and sisters, planned to go to class Thursday sporting a new look in protest of the school's 'no shorts' policy, according to the English news site,, though, the temperatures Thursday had dropped into the upper 60s, according to the Associated Press.

“We're not allowed to wear shorts, and I'm not sitting in trousers all day — it's a bit hot,” one of the boys told BBC News.


“My son wanted to wear shorts but was told he would be put in the isolation room for the rest of the week,” a mother, who was not named, told about her 14-year-old son. “The head teacher told them 'Well you can wear a skirt if you like' but I think she was being sarcastic. However, children tend to take you literally, and so five boys turned up in skirts today — and because she told them it was okay there was nothing she could do as long as they are school skirts.


The mother also told the boys are fighting “injustice.”

“Children also don't like injustice,” she told the news site. “The boys see the women teachers in sandals and nice cool skirts and tops while they are wearing long trousers and shoes and the older boys have to wear blazers. They just think it's unfair that they can't wear shorts in this heat.

“They are doing this to cool down — but also to protest because they don't feel they have been listened to.”


10 ways the UK is ill-prepared for a heatwave
By Vanessa Barford BBC News Magazine
18 July 2013
From the Magazine


The UK is a country of radiators, not air conditioning. A Mintel report in 2008 found that just 0.5% of houses and flats in the UK had any kind of air con.

That contrasts with the US, where nearly 100 million homes have it. It has even been suggested that air con accounts for as much as 15% of total American energy consumption.

Air con is more common in the workplace in the UK, which might avoid some problems. A Nasa study, cited by Mintel, suggested that productivity falls by 3.6% for every degree over 22C [71.6F].


McDonald’s Says its Wage Hikes Are Improving Service

Phil Wahba
Mar 09, 2016
Last year, McDonald's (mcd, +0.70%) joined a chorus of struggling U.S. companies offering workers pay hikes to help spur a turnaround. And it looks like the move is paying off for the fast-food giant.

The hamburger chain in April announced it would raise the average hourly rate for workers at the U.S. restaurants it owns to $9.90 from $9.01 starting July 2015, with average wages climbing above $10 per hour by the end of 2016. The company also said it would allow those employees to earn up to five days of paid vacation every year following one year of employment. (The higher wages remain very far from the $15 rate many labor advocates are pressing McDonald's to adopt.)

The raises, which affected only about 10% of workers (the vast majority of McDonald's U.S. restaurants are franchised), were announced while McDonald's was developing a plan to shake off a multi-year comparable sales slump and bring people back to its stores.

McDonald's CEO Steve Easterbrook, who took the helm in 2015, has since moved swiftly, closing hundreds of weak stores, bringing back all-day breakfast, and simplifying the chain's menu, reducing bottlenecks in serving customers quickly. But improving the customer experience hinges on workers being on board with all these changes, hence the raises.

"It has done what we expected it to—90 day turnover rates are down, our survey scores are up—we have more staff in restaurants," McDonald's U.S. president Mike Andres told analysts at a UBS conference on Wednesday. "So far we're pleased with it—it was a significant investment obviously but it's working well."


Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Facebook manipulators

From a Facebook comment I saw:

There's a business in Facebook, of liking and sharing, people get paid for it . often it involves a sick child in bed or a hurt animal or things of that nature that Force reactions from people and get likes and shares. This builds up stats and those stats are what they get paid for because of advertisements.snd agendas.
I spoke to a really right-wing string and they were in no way ashamed of the fact that this person's job was to acquire information, steal it -and then manipulate it into algorithms for Facebook for the sole purpose of getting people to support a political candidate in the United States. This person was a Freemason. I told him I had suspected that these algorithms were being developed because a lot of the provocateurs are on Facebook seemed professional. He verified my suspicions and let me know that that was his profession. And let me tell you this guy was living pretty well. I guess the bottom line is we need to gain some awareness into the source of certain kinds of memes and when you see people like really going off the handle on the right wing on social media , no pun intended...🌞 they may be following instructions and patterns and algorithms that were given to them to follow by professional propagandists. This alone has been very interesting and its effect on our society will be long-lasting.

Tags: influence

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Not so green: how the weed industry is a glutton for fossil fuels

Oliver Milman in Denver
Tuesday 20 June 2017


He now owns three cannabis-growing facilities, all housed in what were shuttered Denver warehouses. The second largest, a windowless blockhouse that holds around 500 cannabis plants, throbs with energy.

Large 1,000-watt lamps bathe the plants in a blueish hue during the vegetative phase, when the plants are gaining mass, while a fizzing yellow light scorches the vegetation as it enters its flowering phase, producing the buds of weed that are trimmed, cured and sold for around $1,400 a pound. (It used to be much more, before a stampede of growers saturated the local market).

“We are consuming a lot of energy compared to what we would with LED lights,” said Isenbergh, who pays at least $4,000 a month for electricity. “We tried LED but we couldn’t get the right yield from the plants. And this is a weight game. The LEDs just don’t have the horsepower.”


And with around half of all US states now allowing cannabis for various uses, hothoused cultivation is increasingly a concern for governors and mayors promising to fill a Donald Trump-sized hole in emissions reductions.


Evan Mills, a senior scientist at the University of California, was one of the first researchers to quantify how energy hungry the nascent industry is, estimating in 2011 that indoor cannabis cultivation represents 1% of total electricity use across the US, a figure backed up by a New Frontier study last year.

Lighting can comprise up to half of a cannabis grower’s energy use, with the desire to create a round-the-clock version of natural growing conditions requiring hugely powerful high pressure sodium (HPS) lights. These lights are on a par with those found in hospital operating rooms, throwing out around 500 times the illumination recommended for reading.

As a result, producing just a couple of pounds of weed can have the same environmental toll as driving across America seven times. Cannabis may still invoke thoughts of small-time, hippyish pursuits but the actual energy impact of indoor growers is on a par with humming data centers, Mills’s study found.


Denver’s electricity use has been edging up at a rate of more than 1% a year, with nearly half of that increase due to marijuana-growing facilities, the city has said. While just a small percentage of Denver’s electricity is used by cannabis operations, they are far more energy intensive on a per-square-foot basis than most other types of businesses. This demand, in turn, drives fossil fuel use, because Colorado gets the majority of its energy from coal-fired power plants.


In order to calibrate conditions to reap multiple harvests a year, growers have to bake the plants in light while cranking the air conditioning to ensure rooms stay at a finely balanced temperature. A dehumidifier is used to prevent mold, carbon dioxide is pumped in to bolster growth and fans mimic the presence of a breeze. Irrigation systems are often hoses plugged into the plants, leading to tubs of water. The goal is healthy, weighty buds.

All of this uses a lot of energy and LEDs, despite saving a lot of power, have been deemed by many growers to be less effective and more expensive than HPS lights.


Still, LEDs aren’t in themselves a perfect answer. Because marijuana generally takes longer to mature under LEDs, it can result in not much energy being saved. And large greenhouses such as Strawberry Fields’ two-acre facility in Pueblo County still need supplemental lamp light alongside natural sunshine.


It’s So Hot in Phoenix, Planes Can’t Takeoff

Brian Kahn By Brian Kahn
June 20, 2017

An intense heat wave is crippling the West this week, sending the mercury above 120°F in places like Phoenix. In a sign of just how hot things are getting, some airlines have had to cancel flights because of the heat.

American Airlines said it cancelled 50 flights out of Phoenix Sky Harbor aboard Bombardier CRJ aircraft on Tuesday because the planes can’t operate above 118°F.

Heat waves are intimately tied to climate change as rising background temperatures make them more intense and common. The latest batch of heat will cook an area from northern California to western Texas, a region home to some seven of the 10 fastest-warming cities in the country.

Temperature records have already fallen across California and heat will build throughout the week. Sacramento, San Jose, Palm Springs, Fresno and Death Valley all set daily highs on Monday. But the hottest temperatures aren’t even expected to arrive until Tuesday. They’ll last through Thursday, and forecast highs mean the region could set all-time records.

Phoenix, Tucson and Las Vegas are forecast to be within striking distance of all-time records. All eyes will be on Phoenix, which is ground zero for the heat wave. Temperatures are forecast to climb to 120°F on Tuesday, just 2°F shy of its all-time record.

All-time record hot or not, the extreme weather has the potential to be life-threatening. The National Weather Service has issued an excessive heat warning and its Phoenix office has said “heat of this magnitude is rare, dangerous and very possibly deadly.”


“Across the world we're finding that we can link unusually warm weather events to climate change,” Andrew King, a climate researcher at Australia’s ARC Centre for Excellence, told Climate Central in March following February’s intensely mild weather. He added climate change is almost certainly playing a role in almost all extreme heat events “for most of the world.”

While the heat wave this week in the West has not been specifically attributed to climate change, it’s probably safe to say background warming is playing a role and the impacts we’re seeing will only become more pronounced in the future.

Take the grounded flights, for example. They’re what one group of scientists have dubbed a “hidden cost of climate change.” That’s because higher temperatures generally translate to thinner air, making it harder for airplanes to take off. The solution is either to ground flights or bump people and packages to make planes lighter.

If carbon pollution keeps going at its current rate, Phoenix could see 20 more days a year by 2100 where flights are restricted to a maximum takeoff weight of 10,000 pounds. That’s currently a rare occurrence. Other airports like LaGuardia in New York and Reagan National in Washington, D.C. could see even more days with weight restrictions.

But canceled flights are a climate change inconvenience. There are far more serious impacts that will put more lives at risk if carbon pollution continues unchecked. Research published on Monday showed that half the world’s population will face life-threatening heat waves by 2100 unless carbon pollution is curbed.

The summer average temperatures in Phoenix could be more like Kuwait City by the end of the century, making this currently rare heat routine.

The Science Of Why It's Too Hot For Some Planes To Fly In The Southwest U.S.

Interesting. I anticipated that it would be due to hot air being less dense, which was accurate, but I was thinking only about the amount of force generated by the engines, so that less force would be generated for the same amount of engine speed. That is a factor, but another is the effect on the lift capability of the wings:

Marshall Shepherd
June 20, 2017

The National Weather Service in Phoenix, Arizona confirmed on Tuesday morning that a record high temperature was set Monday June 19th. The temperature was 118 degrees F. This tied the record set only a year ago in 2016. The National Weather Service also tweeted this ominous statement

......If we hit our forecast highs Tuesday and Wednesday it would set 2 new records. #azheat

Across the southwest United States, heat experienced "less than once per year on average" is happening, and it is dangerous. Ironically, a new paper released Monday in the peer-review journal Nature Climate Change found that extreme heat like that being observed in the Southwest U.S. and in Portugal will become more common and intense. The study also finds that the number of people globally affected by 20 days or more of intense heatwaves (dangerous temperature and humidity) will jump from 1 in 4 currently to 3 out of 4 by 2100.

This is consistent with a 2016 National Academy of Science report that concluded that contemporary heatwaves are increasingly linked to climate change. Such heat is obviously a human health concern, but there is another disruption that you may not think about. Extreme heat affects air travel. Believe it or not, it is unsafe to operate many of the airplanes currently in use by major airlines when temperatures are this hot, and science explains why.

The Arizona Republic reported that around 50 flights for Tuesday were cancelled at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport. These were primarily regional flights. According to The Arizona Republic

a statement from American Airlines, the American Eagle regional flights use the Bombardier CRJ aircraft, which has a maximum operating temperature of 118 degrees. Tuesday's forecast for Phoenix includes a high of 120 degrees, and the flights that are affected were to take off between 3 and 6 p.m.....Larger jets that fly out of Sky Harbor have higher maximum operating temperatures: Boeing, 126 degrees, and Airbus, 127 degrees

The science behind why airlines struggle in extreme heat is rather simple. Patrick Smith is a pilot and author of the book Cockpit Confidential. In 2013, Business Insider considered the question of why aircraft struggle in extreme heat. While heat is stressful on some of the planes internal parts, physics is the main reason. Business Insider quotes Smith's writing:

Hot air is less dense. This affects the output of the engines as well as aerodynamic capabilities, increasing the required runway distance and reducing climb performance. Therefore the amount of passengers and cargo a plane can carry are often restricted when temps are very high......How much so depends on the temperature, airport elevation and the length of the available runways. And getting off the ground is only part of it: once airborne, planes have to meet specific, engine-out climb criterion, so nearby obstructions like hills and towers are another complication.


An airplane's wing is designed in such a way (see below) that lower pressure is created as air flows over the the top of the wing, and higher pressure is found beneath the wing. The difference in pressure (gradient) creates lift. If there is not sufficient airflow to create the pressure difference, there is insufficient lift. Extreme heat conditions, as noted above, make it difficult to generate the required lift for planes to take off or land.


For me, this is one of many ways that extreme heat (and likely climate change) affects your life and our economy that you may not realize. This is not about polar bears or penguins. It is about our day-to-day commerce, economy, and convenience.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Tropical storm warnings for U.S., northern South America

Forecasts made possible by scientists.

See maps at the National Hurricane Center:

A serious rain/flood threat for the central Gulf Coast

The much bigger tropical concern in the Atlantic is from a system that hasn’t yet become a depression. Advisories on Potential Tropical Cyclone 3 were launched on Monday afternoon. A Tropical Storm Warning is in effect from Intracoastal City, Louisiana, to the mouth of the Pearl River, and a tropical storm watch from west of Intracoastal City to High Island, Texas (see Figure 3 below). Although the Alabama and Florida Panhandle coasts are not included in the watch, residents there should be aware of the potential for extremely heavy rain even if the potential tropical storm remains well to the west.


NHC’s official outlook for PTC3 calls for it to become a tropical storm by Tuesday evening, in which case it would be named Cindy. Having two simultaneous tropical storms in June would be very unusual, though not unprecedented. According to Dr. Phil Klotzbach, the Atlantic has seen at least two simultaneous tropical storms in June three times during the 20th century: in 1909, 1959, and 1968.
NHC forecast track for PTC 3 as of 2100Z 6/19/2017


The slow-moving system now known as PTC 3 could dump 10” to 20” of rain on parts of the central Gulf Coast this week. Models do not indicate that PTC 3 is likely to become a strong tropical storm or hurricane. Even if it does become Cindy, its sustained winds may never top 50 mph. However, a system like this doesn’t need to reach tropical storm status in order to cause major havoc. This became clear with last year’s “no-name” floods in Louisiana—the nation’s worst disaster of 2016, with more than $10 billion in damage.

Lead found in 20% of baby food samples, especially juices and veggies

By Lydia Zuraw, Kaiser Health News
Updated 12:17 PM ET, Fri June 16, 2017

Pediatricians and public health researchers know they have to be on the lookout for lead exposure from paint chips and contaminated drinking water. A new report suggests food -- particularly baby food -- could be a problem, too.

The Environmental Defense Fund, in an analysis of 11 years of federal data, found detectable levels of lead in 20 percent of 2,164 baby food samples. The toxic metal was most commonly found in fruit juices such as grape and apple, root vegetables such as sweet potatoes and carrots, and cookies such as teething biscuits.

The organization's primary focus was on the baby foods because of how detrimental lead can be to child development.

"Lead can have a number of effects on children and it's especially harmful during critical windows of development," said Dr. Aparna Bole, pediatrician at University Hospitals Rainbow Babies and Children's Hospital in Cleveland, who was not involved with the report. "The largest burden that we often think about is neurocognitive that can occur even at low levels of lead exposure."

Lead can cause problems with attention and behavior, cognitive development, the cardiovascular system and immune system, Bole said.

The samples studied were not identified by brand, and the levels of lead are thought to be relatively low. Still, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, no safe blood lead level in children has been identified.


In the resulting report, released Thursday, Neltner found that the baby food versions of apple juice, grape juice and carrots had detectable lead more often than the regular versions. Researchers could determine how frequently contamination occurred, but not at what levels.


A third of the world now faces deadly heatwaves as result of climate change

Oliver Milman
June 19, 2017

Nearly a third of the world’s population is now exposed to climatic conditions that produce deadly heatwaves, as the accumulation of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere makes it “almost inevitable” that vast areas of the planet will face rising fatalities from high temperatures, new research has found.

Climate change has escalated the heatwave risk across the globe, the study states, with nearly half of the world’s population set to suffer periods of deadly heat by the end of the century even if greenhouse gases are radically cut.

“For heatwaves, our options are now between bad or terrible,” said Camilo Mora, an academic at the University of Hawaii and lead author of the study.
The best strategies to keep bodies cool in a heatwave, according to researchers
Read more

High temperatures are currently baking large swaths of the south-western US, with the National Weather Service (NWS) issuing an excessive heat warning for Phoenix, Arizona, which is set to reach 119F (48.3C) on Monday.

The heat warning extends across much of Arizona and up through the heart of California, with Palm Springs forecast a toasty 116F (46.6C) on Monday and Sacramento set to reach 107F (41.6C).

The NWS warned the abnormal warmth would “significantly increase the potential for heat-related illness” and advised residents to drink more water, seek shade and recognize the early symptoms of heat stroke, such as nausea and a racing pulse.

Mora’s research shows that the overall risk of heat-related illness or death has climbed steadily since 1980, with around 30% of the world’s population now living in climatic conditions that deliver deadly temperatures at least 20 days a year.

The proportion of people at risk worldwide will grow to 48% by 2100 even if emissions are drastically reduced, while around three-quarters of the global population will be under threat by then if greenhouse gases are not curbed at all.

“Finding so many cases of heat-related deaths was mind blowing, especially as they often don’t get much attention because they last for just a few days and then people moved on,” Mora said.

“Dying in a heatwave is like being slowly cooked, it’s pure torture. The young and elderly are at particular risk, but we found that this heat can kill soldiers, athletes, everyone.”


This time period includes the European heatwave of 2003, which fueled forest fires in several countries and caused the River Danube in Serbia to plummet so far that submerged second world war tanks and bombs were revealed. An estimated 20,000 people died; a subsequent study suggested the number was as high as 70,000.

A further 10,000 died in Moscow due to scorching weather in 2010. In 1995, Chicago suffered a five-day burst of heat that resulted in more than 700 deaths.

However, most heat-related deaths do not occur during such widely-covered disasters. Phoenix, for example, suffered an unusually hot spell last June that resulted in the deaths of at least four people. Hyperthermia, an excess of body heat, can lead to heat stroke and a potential inflammatory response that can kill.

Mora said the threshold to deadly conditions caries from place to place, with some people dying in temperatures as low as 23C [73.4F]. A crucial factor, he said, was the humidity level combined with the heat.

“Your sweat doesn’t evaporate if it is very humid, so heat accumulates in your body instead,” Mora said. “People can then suffer heat toxicity, which is like sunburn on the inside of your body. The blood rushes to the skin to cool you down so there’s less blood going to the organs. A common killer is when the lining of your gut breaks down and leaks toxins into the rest of your body.”


“The impact of global climate change is not a specter on the horizon. It’s real, and it’s being felt now all over the planet,” said Amir AghaKouchak, UCI associate professor and co-author of that study.

“It’s particularly alarming that the adverse effects are pummeling the world’s most vulnerable populations.”


Oh, Lovely: The Tick That Gives People Meat Allergies Is Spreading

Megan Molteni
June 17, 2017

First comes the unscratchable itching, and the angry blossoming of hives. Then stomach cramping, and—for the unluckiest few—difficulty breathing, passing out, and even death. In the last decade and a half, thousands of previously protein-loving Americans have developed a dangerous allergy to meat. And they all have one thing in common: the lone star tick.

Red meat, you might be surprised to know, isn’t totally sugar-free. It contains a few protein-linked saccharides, including one called galactose-alpha-1,3-galactose, or alpha-gal, for short. More and more people are learning this the hard way, when they suddenly develop a life-threatening allergy to that pesky sugar molecule after a tick bite.

Yep, one bite from the lone star tick—which gets its name from the Texas-shaped splash of white on its back—is enough to reprogram your immune system to forever reject even the smallest nibble of perfectly crisped bacon. For years, physicians and researchers only reported the allergy in places the lone star tick calls home, namely the southeastern United States. But recently it’s started to spread. The newest hot spots? Duluth, Minnesota, Hanover, New Hampshire, and the eastern tip of Long Island, where at least 100 cases have been reported in the last year. Scientists are racing to trace its spread, to understand if the lone star tick is expanding into new territories, or if other species of ticks are now causing the allergy.


This time, it wasn’t a plate of pork chops they shared; it was a new cancer drug called cetuximab. The drug worked, but curiously, patients that lived in the southeast were 10 times as likely to report side effects of itching, swelling, and a dangerous drop in blood pressure.

Platts-Mills teamed up with cetuximab’s distributor, Bristol-Myers Squibb, and began comparing patient blood samples. He discovered that all the patients who experienced an allergic reaction had pre-existing antibodies to alpha-gal, and cetuximab was full of the stuff, thanks to the genetically modified mice from which it was derived.


as far as anyone can tell, alpha-gal syndrome seems to be the only allergy that affects all people, regardless of genetic makeup. “There’s something really special about this tick,” says Jeff Wilson, an asthma, allergy, and immunology fellow in Platts-Mills’ group. Usually a mix of genes and environmental factors combine to create allergies. But when it comes to the lone star tick it doesn’t matter if you’re predisposed or not. “Just a few bites and you can render anyone really, really allergic,” he says.


As for a cure? There’s not much science has to offer on that front, besides Epipens and veggie burgers.

Study shows Earth’s killer heat worsens

The Washington Times is right-wing, which makes their article even more notable.

Too hot to handle: Study shows Earth’s killer heat worsens
By SETH BORENSTEIN - Associated Press - Monday, June 19, 2017

Killer heat is getting worse, a new study shows.

Deadly heat waves like the one now broiling the American West are bigger killers than previously thought and they are going to grow more frequent, according to a new comprehensive study of fatal heat conditions. Still, those stretches may be less lethal in the future, as people become accustomed to them.

A team of researchers examined 1,949 deadly heat waves from around the world since 1980 to look for trends, define when heat is so severe it kills and forecast the future. They found that nearly one in three people now experience 20 days a year when the heat reaches deadly levels. But the study predicts that up to three in four people worldwide will endure that kind of heat by the end of the century, if global warming continues unabated.

“The United States is going to be an oven,” said Camilo Mora of the University of Hawaii, lead author of a study published Monday in the journal Nature Climate Change .

The study comes as much of the U.S. swelters through extended triple-digit heat. Temperatures hit records of 106, 105 and 103 in Santa Rosa, Livermore and San Jose, California on Sunday, as a heat wave was forecast to continue through midweek. In late May, temperatures in Turbat, Pakistan, climbed to about 128 degrees (53.5 degrees Celsius); if confirmed, that could be among the five hottest temperatures reliably measured on Earth, said Jeff Masters, meteorology director of Weather Underground.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

]How the press is helping Republicans keep their health care bill secret

Heard about this on public radio. Looked at various commercial news sites, saw nothing about the health care bill, much less that it is being written in secret, and most members of the Senate, much less the public, won't be allowed to see it before it comes up for a vote. But they did report on Carrie Fisher's autopsy report.

A search found an article on msnbc, which people wouldn't find unless they already knew about it and did a search. did have reference on their main page to this article

Republicans are doing everything they can to keep their healthcare bill a secret


Trump-Era Political Violence Deterring Democratic Candidates

‘I got 31 death threats because of your website’: Maher guest blisters Breitbart editor for publishing fake news
Trump Repealed Regulation Protecting Workers From Wage Theft

Laundry Pods Can Be Fatal for Adults with Dementia

Climate Change May Spark More Lightning Strikes, Igniting Wildfires

I just spent a lot of time trying to find out the number of recorded lightning strikes per year, could only find information on deaths caused by lightning strikes, which is not the same since we have more safety devices now.

I found the National Lightning Detection Network, for the U.S., which has a database, but I don't have time to try to see if I can get the information I want.

Climate Change May Spark More Lightning Strikes, Igniting Wildfires

By Jane J. Lee, National Geographic
PUBLISHED November 15, 2014

Add this to rising seas, more intense hurricanes, and more frequent thunderstorms: Climate change will also spark more lightning.

The frequency of lightning flashes could rise by an estimated 50 percent across the continental U.S. over the next century, researchers report Thursday in the journal Science. That's bad news for wildfires across the country.

Lightning triggers about half the wildfires in the continental U.S., says lead study author David Romps, an atmospheric scientist at the University of California, Berkeley. (Learn "Why Big, Intense Wildfires Are the New Normal.")

A warmer atmosphere can hold more moisture, says Romps. And moisture is one of the key ingredients for triggering a lightning strike.

Increased lightning will also affect greenhouse gases in our atmosphere, he says, though that could be both a good and a bad thing.

The bad: More lightning means more ozone, which is a potent greenhouse gas, Romps says.

But on the positive side, lightning also produces compounds called nitrogen oxides, which indirectly reduce levels of methane, another powerful greenhouse gas, says Romps.


At least 62 killed in forest fire still raging in Portugal

My heart goes out to the victims and their families.

Sun Jun 18, 2017 12:34pm EDT
By Rafael Marchante and Andrei Khalip

PEDROGAO GRANDE, Portugal (Reuters) - A huge forest fire raging since Saturday in central Portugal has killed at least 62 people, most of them dying in their cars as they tried to flee, the government said on Sunday,

"The dimension of this fire was such that we don't have memory of such a human tragedy," Prime Minister Antonio Costa said in Pedrogao Grande, the mountainous region about 200 km (125 miles) northeast of Lisbon.

Most victims were caught in their vehicles on the road while fleeing flames that were destroying their homes. The prime minister said the death toll could rise as firefighters inspected charred remains of some buildings in remote villages.

Police said a lightning strike on a tree probably caused the blaze on Saturday in a region hit by an intense heat wave and dry, gusty winds, which has fanned the flames.

The prime minister said the emergency services acted as fast as they could but acknowledged that some of the efforts like alerting the population might have been hindered because the blaze had ruined phone lines and communications towers.

"What happened was cables and communications towers were destroyed by the fire, even their first replacements melted," he said. "But nothing compromised the firefighting efforts."


More than 600 firefighters were still battling the flames on Sunday. Several local highways were shut for safety reasons. [Just now heard on the radio more than 1700 firefighters are battling this fire.]

The authorities said very low smoke clouds prevented helicopters and fire planes dropping water on the flames efficiently for most of the day.



The head of Portugal's judiciary police told reporters the fire was started by natural causes.
"We have been able to determine that the origin of the fire was caused by dry thunderstorms," José Maria Almeida Rodrigues said, according to the Portuguese state-run news agency Lusa.



Portugal, where summer wildfires are common, has been experiencing a heat wave for several days, with temperatures climbing above 100 degrees Fahrenheit, or 40 degrees Celsius.


“We know fire behavior has changed and continues to change, yet we continue to be surprised every time, when we shouldn’t be,” said Don Whittemore, a former assistant fire chief in Colorado who has studied wildfire behavior. “The notion that firefighters will be able to put out, suppress or make safe a wildfire is becoming less and less of a reliable notion.”


A dry thunderstorm is a thunderstorm that produces thunder and lightning, but most or all of its precipitation evaporates before reaching the ground,[1] and dry lightning is the term which is used to refer to lightning strikes occurring in this situation.

[It sounds like global warming will increase the occurrence of dry thunderstorms, and thus wild fires caused by lightning, because the precipitation will evaporate before reaching the ground.]


Suzanne Goldenberg
Thursday 13 November 2014

Lightning strikes will increase due to climate change

[I'll make a separate post about the increase in lightning strikes from global warming.

Energy Department Turns Off the Lights at Overseas Climate Office

The Office of International Climate and Technology worked on clean energy with other countries.
June 16, 2017

As if withdrawing from the Paris Accords wasn’t enough, the Trump administration just went one better and closed an office dedicated to international cooperation on climate change and clean energy tech. The Office of International Climate and Clean Energy might have been small — all of its 11 employees have been given pink slips — but it had an important function. According to its still extant website, the office was “the focal point for international climate change and clean energy activities.” The site goes on to say that the office “also develops and implements international climate and clean energy initiatives consistent with administration policy objectives.” Secretary of Energy Rick Perry was at a premiere event, The Clean Energy Ministerial, when the president announced the decision to drop the Paris agreement.


Saturday, June 17, 2017

May Continues a Ridiculous Warm Streak for the Planet

Brian Kahn By Brian Kahn
May 15, 2017

Another month is in the global temperature record books. While May just missed setting a record, the data is another reminder that climate change is making the world hotter and pushing it into a new state.

This May was the second-warmest May on record, according to NASA data released on Thursday. The planet was 1.6°F (0.88°C) warmer than normal last month, trailing 2016 by just a 10th of a degree.

Widespread hot spots stretched from pole to pole, showing no corner of the globe is untouched by the impact of rising carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere. Temperatures soared up to 13.8°F (7.1°C) above normal in parts of Antarctica while a wide swath of heat cooked northern Africa and western Europe.


warmer-than-normal conditions have become the new normal. The NASA data uses 1951-1980 as the average temperature measuring stick. You’d have to look back to July 1985 to find a cooler than normal month.

Using 1881-1910 as a measuring stick is a more telling measure of how much the climate has changed. Using that baseline means you’d have to go all the way back to December 1964 to find a month that was chillier than normal.


Thursday, June 15, 2017

How we learn

Americans learn only from catastrophe and not from experience.

Theodore Roosevelt 

Informative links

Wind and solar accounted for more than 10 percent of U.S. electricity generation for the first time in March

Parents convicted in baby's death linked to alternative diet

Labor shortages? Blame corporate America

President Trump’s proposed cuts to the State Department and U.S. development aid would endanger American troops and make the country “less safe” from terrorism, a group of senior retired military officers are warning Congress

Mastermind of lottery fraud will tell how he rigged jackpots

As a prosecutor, Kamala Harris’s doggedness was praised. As a senator, she’s deemed ‘hysterical.’
I noticed on at least one of the questions that Sessions obviously did not want to give a straight answer to, he launched into a long speech on wanting to protect Americans from crime. It sounded like he was making a campaign speech. I thought he was trying to make up to his base for the next time he ran for office.
Another motivation was pointed out in the article:
"Each member of the committee had a limited number of minutes to question Sessions"
So he was undoubtedly also trying to run off the timer for that questioner.

New evidence that all stars are born in pairs

U.N. says 300 civilians killed in U.S.-led air strikes in Raqqa since March

Flint water crisis: 5 officials face manslaughter charges

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

A new report claims the Russians compromised 39 states—nearly twice as many as previously reported.

New intel on Russia's attempt to influence the 2016 presidential election reveals hackers managed to break into dozens of states' voting systems and tried to delete info in at least one of them, Bloomberg reports. [by Michael Riley and Jordan Robertson, June 13, 2017]

Three people with direct knowledge of the US investigation into Russian election meddling told Bloomberg hackers infiltrated 39 states' voting systems—about twice as many as previously reported. Hackers also tried and failed to delete or tweak info in Illinois's software, which might have served as a test run for a larger disruptive attack, the sources said.


The new report from Bloomberg makes clear that even states which had no relationship with the company were compromised—a total of roughly four out of every five across the country were hacked.

The attack—which went down in the summer and fall of 2016—alarmed former president Barack Obama and his administration. According to NBC, he contacted Russia through a secure back channel to pass along evidence of the hack. Then in December, the administration slapped down sanctions on Russia in retaliation for the cyber attack.


While Russian officials have denied the country targeted the US elections, former FBI director James Comey avowed under oath during last week's Senate Intelligence Committee hearing that "the Russians interfered in our election" and that they "will be back."


Trump officials pressed State Department staffers for plans to lift Russia sanctions: report

By Max Greenwood - 06/01/17

Trump administration officials pressed State Department staffers to develop plans for removing sanctions against Russia almost immediately after President Trump took office in January, Yahoo News reported Thursday.

In turn, according to Yahoo News, State Department employees sought to convince lawmakers to codify the sanctions, which were put in place by former President Barack Obama in response to Russia's military intervention in Ukraine and the Kremlin's efforts to interfere in the 2016 presidential election.


“There was serious consideration by the White House to unilaterally rescind the sanctions,” Fried told Yahoo News, saying he eventually contacted lawmakers, including Senate Foreign Affairs Committee ranking member Ben Cardin (D-Md.), in an effort to codify the sanctions, which would complicate efforts by Trump to lift them.


Informative links

Fevers During Pregnancy May Raise Autism Risk, Study Shows

The “But That’s Just the Old Testament!” Cop-Out

Apple's Tim Cook: 'Don't listen to trolls, and for God's sake don't become one'

The Annie E. Caseu Foundation report on state trends in child well-being

He carried out the death penalty as a governor. Hopes others put it to rest.

DynCorp workers accused of bilking State Department out of millions in Iraq

NASA Creates Extremely Accurate Map for August's Total Solar Eclipse

French President Macron Wants American Researchers to Help 'Make Our Planet Great Again' By Moving to France

Bangladesh Landslides, Triggered by Torrential Rainfall, Kill 68

Dust Bowl-ification of U.S. Southwest leads to 8-fold jump in Valley Fever cases
New research directly links the rise in Valley Fever to the rise in dust storms, which in turn is driven by climate change.

South Florida Storms Trigger Flooding; Dozens of Flights Canceled in Miami

Record Heat Brings First Serious Air Pollution Episode of 2017 to Northeast, Midwest

Dr. Jeff Masters · June 13, 2017

The first major heat wave of the summer for the Midwest and Northeast U.S. set numerous daily record highs on Monday, and also brought the worst ozone air pollution of the year to much of the region. Ground level ozone, which is created from chemical reactions between volatile organic carbon (VOC) compounds and nitrogen oxides, is created more readily at warmer temperatures. Monday’s record heat helped these chemical reactions occur faster, resulting in ozone pollution that topped out in the “Unhealthy” range along the coasts of Connecticut, New York and Maine. The heat was accompanied by light winds, which allowed pollution levels to build. These concentrations were as much as 50% higher than the federal standard for hazardous level of ozone, and were capable of causing increased risk of stroke, heart attack and breathing problems for sensitive groups. Even people not unusually sensitive to air pollution could see adverse health effects from pollution levels this high. The other main pollutant of concern, tiny particles known as PM2.5 (those that are less than 2.5 microns or 0.0001 inch in diameter)--which cause over 80,000 premature deaths each year in the U.S.—was not as big of a concern on Monday, since PM2.5 levels stayed below the federal standard.
Hundreds of premature deaths likely from this week’s air pollution

Death certificates never list air pollution as the cause of death. Nevertheless, air pollution is a huge and silent killer: between 91,000 and 100,000 air pollution deaths per year occur in the U.S., according to separate studies done in 2016 by the World Bank and the Health Effects Institute (a U.S. non-profit corporation funded by the EPA and the auto industry). Air pollution deaths are calculated using epidemiological studies, which correlate death rates with air pollution levels. Air pollution has been proven to increase the incidence of death due to stroke, heart attack and lung disease. Since these causes of death are also due to other factors—such as lifestyle and family history—we typically refer to air pollution deaths as premature deaths. A premature air pollution-related death typically occurs about twelve years earlier than it otherwise might have, according to Caiazzo et al., 2013.

Approximately 12,000 of these premature U.S. air pollution deaths each year are from high ozone. Since this week’s high ozone levels are affecting a very large population of tens of millions of people, I expect that the death toll from ozone air pollution this week will be several hundred people. Tuesday, June 13 is going to be another day with poor air quality in the Northeast and Midwest United States, and air pollution action days have been declared for Chicago, Philadelphia, and New York City, as well as parts of New Jersey, Rhode Island, and Massachusetts. Cooler temperatures and increased winds will affect the region on Wednesday and Thursday, causing pollution levels to fall, fortunately.


Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Heat Wave Setting Record Highs in the Midwest and Northeast Early This Week

Linda Lam
Published: June 13, 2017

A weather pattern change has ushered in summerlike heat and record temperatures for the Midwest and Northeast early this week.

For many in the East, this taste of summer is a welcome sight, given the recent cool and wet pattern that dominated the region in early June.

This rise in temperatures across the Midwest and Northeast is due to a change in the upper-level weather pattern.

An upper-level trough, or southward dip in the jet stream, has dug into the Pacific Northwest, allowing a strong upper-level ridge of high pressure, or northward bulge in the jet stream, to build east of the Rockies.

The heat that has built underneath the aforementioned ridge of high pressure broke or tied several daily record highs in the Great Lakes and Northeast on Monday. This included Atlantic City, New Jersey (94 degrees), Allentown, Pennsylvania (92 degrees - tied), Harrisburg, Pennsylvania (92 degrees - tied), Lansing, Michigan (95 degrees - tied), Worcester, Massachusetts (90 degrees - tied), Providence, Rhode Island (95 degrees), New York City (93 degrees - tied), Newark, New Jersey (97 degrees), Cleveland (93 degrees - tied), Albany, New York (95 degrees), Washington D.C. (95 degrees - tied), and Bridgeport, Connecticut (93 degrees).

While not a record, Chicago reached 95 degrees Monday, which was the first time Chicago had been that hot since Sept. 10, 2013.

Additional records were set in the Plains, Midwest and East during the past weekend. For a full listing, see the bottom of this article.


Dust Bowl-ification of U.S. Southwest leads to 8-fold jump in Valley Fever cases

Joe Romm
Jun 12, 2017

The infection rate of Valley Fever in the Southwest United States has gone up a stunning 800 percent from 2000 to 2011, as dust storms have more than doubled.

New research directly links the rise in Valley Fever to the rise in dust storms, which in turn is driven by climate change. Valley Fever, which the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention calls “a fungal lung infection that can be devastating,” is caused by inhaling soil-dwelling fungus. When the soil dries out and turns to dust, the wind can make the fungus airborne.

“Dust storms are found to better correlated with the disease than any other known controlling factor,“ a new study led by NOAA scientists concluded.

Moreover, the scientists emphasize that “this study provides direct evidence that dust storms in the southwestern United States have become more frequent in the past decade.”

Climate scientists have long predicted — and are now finally observing — the drying out of the Southwest from climate change. My 2011 literature review in Nature called this “Dust-Bowlification,” a term the new study picks up.

In recent years, multiple studies studies have confirmed that warming-driven climate change is already drying the American Southwest and other parts of the globe, spurring dust storms.

A 2016 study found that the semi-arid Southwest has begun to enter a “drier climate state,” which matches findings from a 2015 study documenting an expansion of the entire world’s dry and semi-arid climate regions in recent decades as a result of human-caused climate change.


Climate change is having a very immediate health effect on Americans — well beyond the alarming rise of Valley Fever. It has helped spread dengue fever in 28 states and is creating conditions for brain-eating parasites and a host of “neglected tropical diseases” to thrive.

But the biggest concern about modern Dust-Bowlification is the tremendous challenge of “feeding some 9 billion people by mid-century in the face of a rapidly worsening climate.” This is why climate action is so urgent and vital.


You wouldn't know it from the press but moderate Muslims do denounce terrorism.

By Mary Kate Cary, Dec. 18, 2015, at 6:00 a.m.

How many times since 9/11 – when nearly 3,000 Americans were killed by radical Muslims – have we asked each other where the moderate Muslims are? Where are the imams denouncing the violence committed in the name of Islam? We asked the same after the attacks on the Little Rock recruiting office, after Fort Hood, after the Islamic State group beheadings of Americans overseas. After the Boston Marathon bombing and Mumbai and Madrid and London and Paris. After San Bernardino.

You'd never know it from the media, but Muslim leaders have denounced terrorism committed in the name of Islam over and over again. Apparently covering terrorist attacks drives more ratings than reporting on press conferences afterward – so the media doesn't bother. It's not surprising that many Americans have come to believe that perhaps there just are no moderate Muslims.


Scam alert: Trump's $1tn 'infrastructure plan' is a giveaway to the rich

I suggest reading the whole article at the following link.

Robert Reich
June 10, 2017

At a roundtable discussion with state transportation officials on Friday, Donald Trump said America’s ageing roads, bridges, railways, and water systems were being “scoffed at and laughed” at. He pledged that they “will once again be the envy of the world”.

This seems to be a core theme for Trump: America’s greatness depends on others envying us rather than scoffing and laughing at us.
[While his tweets and actions causes the world to laugh at us.]


To be sure, America is in dire need of vast investments in infrastructure. The country suffers from overflowing sewage drains, crumbling bridges, rusting railroad tracks, outworn roads, and public transportation systems rivaling those of third-world nations.

The American Society of Civil Engineers, giving America’s overall infrastructure a grade of D-plus, says we would need to spend $3.6tn by 2020 to bring it up to par.


Worse, its underlying principle is deeply flawed. It boils down to a giant public subsidy to developers and investors, who would receive generous tax credits in return for taking on the job.

Which means the rest of us would have to pay higher taxes or get fewer services in order to make up for the taxes the developers and investors would no longer pay.


The public would also pay a second time. The developers would own the roads and bridges and other pieces of infrastructure they finance. They’d then charge members of the public tolls and fees to use them.

In place of public roads and bridges, we’d have private roads and bridges. Think of America turning into giant, horizontal-like Trump Tower wherever you looked.

These tolls and fees won’t be cheap. They’d have to be set high in order to satisfy the profit margins demanded by the developers and the investors who back them.

Worst of all, we’d get the wrong kind of infrastructure. Projects that will be most attractive to developers and investors are those whose tolls and fees bring in the biggest bucks – giant mega-projects like major new throughways and new bridges.

Developers and investors won’t be interested in the thousands of smaller bridges, airports, pipes, and water treatment facilities across the country that are most in need of repair.


They won’t be attracted to the highest priority for our infrastructure: better maintenance of what we already have. With improved maintenance, it wouldn’t be necessary to completely rebuild.

But investors and developers want to build anew. They can’t reap big rewards from maintenance.


Monday, June 12, 2017

Informative links

He was an ardent WikiLeaks supporter. Then he got to know Julian Assange.

Muslim women gather on Westminster Bridge to condemn ‘abhorrent’ attack

The House just passed the biggest bank deregulation bill in a generation

How Trump Made Wage Theft Routine

Man jailed for 35 years in Thailand for insulting monarchy on Facebook

67-year old woman distracted by cellphone plunges down open cellar door

Once Again, Climate Change Cited as Trigger for Conflict

A new report identifies 12 "epicenters" worldwide where changing climate could spark conflict
By Adam Aton, ClimateWire on June 9, 2017

The national security establishment needs to prepare for a series of global crises sparked by climate change, a group of experts wrote in a report released today.

The analysis by the Center for Climate and Security identifies 12 “epicenters” where climate change could stress global security, possibly igniting conflicts around the world.

American diplomats and military planners have already started grappling with some of these problems—but the links between them do not get enough attention, the experts said. And it is an open question whether the Trump administration confronts those challenges or tries to ignore them.

Many of the risk epicenters stem from resource shortages and dislocated populations, but the experts also consider an increased likelihood of nuclear war, more pandemics and tensions in the Arctic.

Any one of those factors is enough to cause serious problems, but together they threaten to undermine the international order, said Francesco Femia, one of the authors of the report, titled “Epicenters of Climate and Security: The New Geostrategic Landscape of the Anthropocene.”

“The humanitarian effects of [climate change] are massive,” he said. “But what we’re saying is that those humanitarian consequences are likely to spill over into broader security problems that speaks to the heart of how the world organizes itself.”

For instance, island nations like the Maldives could sink under the waves as sea levels rise.

That would present a crisis for the international community, which has never dealt with a disappearing state and has no legal norms for resettling climate refugees, the report notes.

Water problems could also pose challenges on the ground.


In the coming years, water shortages might also lead to interstate war, said Marcus King, a professor at George Washington University’s Elliott School of International Affairs who authored the chapter on weaponizing water. Egypt has already threatened Ethiopia with air strikes over damming the Nile River.


The legitimacy of many nation-states rests on whether they can deliver basic necessities, Femia said, but it took a while for national security experts to account for that.


Defense Secretary James Mattis, Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson have all acknowledged the hazards of climate change. Whatever chilling effect the White House might project onto the climate issue, those senior officials have given some cover to the career officials in their agencies, Femia said.

“That chilling effect is there,” he said, but for the most part, career officials have adapted to it semantically rather than substantively. The Defense Department, for example, hasn’t stopped adapting Navy bases to rising sea levels.