Monday, July 30, 2018

Mars terraforming not possible using present-day technology
July 30, 2018 by Bill Steigerwald, NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center
July 30, 2018
Study: Babies exposed to alcohol through breast milk have lower cognitive scores
There were 17 major wildfires burning across California, consuming a combined 200,000 acres as of Sunday, said Jonathan Cox, battalion chief and information officer with Cal Fire.
"We've had 17 fires before," Cox said. "But these are impacting communities — and they're large fires, not small."
By Sunday afternoon, about 12,000 firefighters from within the state had responded. An additional 800 personnel — soldiers and helicopter crews — had been deployed by the California National Guard. And 150 fire engines were on the way from other parts of the country, Cox said.
"There's a finite number of [firefighting] resources in California, and obviously we're employing them at the highest priority incidents where the threat to lives and structures is the highest," Cox said.
California will be receiving help from crews from at least a dozen other states, including Florida and New Jersey.
July 30, 2018
How the Carr Fire morphed into a towering, deadly "fire tornado"
The death toll from the Greek wildfire has reached 91 following the inferno that ripped through a coastal area east of Athens, according to fire officials. Another 25 remain missing after Europe’s deadliest forest fire in more than a century.
The vast majority of victims died in the fire itself, though a number drowned in the sea while fleeing the flames.
Public Release: 26-Jul-2018
Adherence to healthy diets associated with lower cancer risk
Public Release: 27-Jul-2018
Artificial intelligence can predict your personality ... simply by tracking your eyes
Findings show that people's eye movements reveal whether they are sociable, conscientious or curious, with the algorithm software reliably recognising four of the Big Five personality traits: neuroticism, extroversion, agreeableness, and conscientiousness.

Findings show that people's eye movements reveal whether they are sociable, conscientious or curious, with the algorithm software reliably recognising four of the Big Five personality traits: neuroticism, extroversion, agreeableness, and conscientiousness.
Public Release: 30-Jul-2018
A large study examining media reporting of suicide found significant associations between reporting details and suicide deaths, underscoring the need for responsible reporting.
Public Release: 28-Jul-2018
E-cigarettes and tobacco product use linked to increased risk of oral cancer
Public Release: 30-Jul-2018
Fear of litigation is a key factor in decision to perform C-sections
Public Release: 30-Jul-2018
Video recordings spotlight poor communication between nurses and doctors
Communication breakdown among nurses and doctors is one of the primary reasons for patient care mistakes in the hospital.
One barrier to good communication is that the hospital hierarchy puts nurses at a power disadvantage, and many are afraid to speak the truth to doctors, Manojlovich said.
The recordings showed that nurses didn't directly request what they wanted or express their needs. They communicated indirectly, which confused physicians, who often ignored the nurses' requests and moved on to the next agenda item rather than ask for clarification.
The study also found that because doctors and nurses approach patient care from vastly different angles, achieving understanding isn't easy.
Public Release: 30-Jul-2018
The pungent compound 6-gingerol, a constituent of ginger, stimulates an enzyme contained in saliva - an enzyme which breaks down foul-smelling substances. It thus ensures fresh breath and a better aftertaste. Citric acid, on the other hand, increases the sodium ion content of saliva, making salty foods taste less salty.
A new study led by a team of Western University neuroscientists has debunked claims that getting better at a brain training game can translate to improved performance in other, untrained cognitive tasks.
This study, published in the journal Neuropsychologia, set out to test whether hours of 'brain training' in one game could give someone an edge in a second game that uses the same area of the brain. If that result was found, it would lend credence to claims that 'brain-training' apps can improve working memory, which is vital for learning and retaining information and in staving off memory loss.
But researchers found such transference simply didn't happen: participants' high scores in the first game (the one they trained on) didn't improve performance in the second game, and were equivalent to scores attained by the 'untrained' control group.
Stojanoski concludes, there are other, proven ways to improve memory and brain health: "Sleep better, exercise regularly, eat better, education is great - that's the sort of thing we should be focused on. If you're looking to improve your cognitive self, instead of playing a video game or playing a brain training test for an hour, go for a walk, go for a run, socialize with a friend. These are much better things for you."
Public Release: 30-Jul-2018
Homelessness in infancy linked to poor health outcomes for children and mothers

July 25, 2018
Late July is the hottest time of year for much of the country. In the midst of this summer heat, we calculated the number of extremely hot days each year in 244 cities across the country and found that 73 percent experience more extremely hot days than they did a half-century ago.
On average, compared with a half-century ago, there is an additional month of temperatures above 100°F in Austin and above 95°F in Houston. Cities in the Southeast have seen surges in extreme summer heat, too. Augusta, Shreveport, and Tallahassee all have an additional three weeks worth of days above 95°F compared to 50 years ago.
Both rural and urban locations have been getting hotter as the world warms from increasing greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, but cities are further made hotter by the urban heat island effect.
April 17, 2018
Rising temperatures, drought, and weather disasters can threaten people’s health. Nobody is exempt. But …
Perera: “The health of children is disproportionately affected by climate change.”
Frederica Perera is director of the Columbia Center for Children’s Environmental Health. She says children are vulnerable because their immune systems are not mature. And, their rapidly growing bodies are more sensitive to damage from disease and environmental contaminants.
In particular, children are more likely than adults to die from diarrheal disease, which is expected to become more common in some areas as the climate warms.
And some children are at more risk than others.
Perera: “It is the children living in low income countries and communities who are most affected.”
Low-income communities often lack the resources to effectively prevent and treat illness. What’s more, climate change-related food shortages can lead to malnourishment, which puts children at greater risk of other health problems.
April 12, 2018
A warmer climate could make your dog sick
Canine heartworm disease is caused by long worms that live in a dog’s heart and blood vessels. It can be fatal. And a warming climate could make this disease more common.
Heartworm is transmitted by mosquitoes. So it’s most common in warm, moist areas such as the southeastern United States.
But as the climate changes, other parts of the country may see more mosquitoes, and the mosquito season may get longer.
Ebel: “That could happen because of temperature. It could happen because of changes in rainfall.”
Greg Ebel is a professor at Colorado State University. He says temperature also affects mosquitoes’ ability to carry heartworm in the first place.
Ebel: “There’s a certain number of days that are required for that parasite to develop inside a mosquito, and if there aren’t enough days in the summer where the temperature exceeds a certain temperature, then the worm won’t develop in the mosquito and it can’t be transmitted.”
So as the climate warms, more mosquitoes are likely to be carriers. And it’s increasingly important to protect your dog. Many vets now recommend giving preventative medication year-round – even in some places where heartworm used to only be a summertime threat.
April 2, 2018
Coal-burning power plants emit air pollution that harms people’s health. So, when a plant in Tongliang, China, was scheduled to close in 2004, researchers wondered how the change in air quality would affect the health of children born in the surrounding city.
Frederica Perera is the director of the Columbia Center for Children’s Environmental Health. She studied two groups of children from Tongliang: one born two years before the power plant closed, and one born a year after the closure.
Perera: “We compared not only the birth outcomes but also the neurodevelopmental outcomes in the children who were assessed at two years of age.”
The findings were significant. Perera says children born before the coal plant closed had higher rates of delayed motor development than children born after the plant closed. And their umbilical cord blood had lower levels of a protein critical to brain development.
May 25, 2018
Climate change? There are emojis for that.
The icon set includes wildfires, power plants, and melting glaciers.
March 9, 2018
A climate-themed album sobers and inspires
'Fossil Fuel Kid' wrestles with our complicity in climate change.
In his songs, DeWald describes his fear of climate change. He also acknowledges that his own actions, like driving a car, have contributed to global warming – and he wrestles with that feeling of complicity.
He wants to help people process their feelings about the issue.
Ultimately, DeWald expresses his hope for a future shaped by people who fight global warming.

Sunday, July 29, 2018

Healing songs

Everything is beautiful

Get Together

He Ain't Heavy, He's My Brogher

[Also, global warming is increasing the number of such algae blooms, and Rick Scott has worked against action on GW.]
July 29, 2018
Florida's great green algae disaster - we asked for it ... us and Rick Scott
This governor has undermined our natural resources for eight straight years. The data is trackable.
Under Jeb Bush and Charlie Crist, the state opened 1,000 to 1,500 cases a year to crack down on bad environmental actors.
Under Rick Scott, the number is closer to 250.
“There is little to no enforcement,” said Jerry Phillips. “To call it a ‘major decline’ would be putting it lightly.”
Phillips runs the Florida division of Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, the group that tracked the decline. The report concluded: “… the impact of Governor Scott’s policies has been to essentially eliminate serious environmental enforcement in Florida.”
Hello, blue-green slop.
July 25, 2018
Blue-green algae in Florida St. Lucie River sending people to emergency rooms
Fifteen people treated Monday and Tuesday by Martin Health System emergency rooms, clinics and primary care doctors for symptoms consistent with algae toxins reported they had contact with the St. Lucie River within the previous seven days.
Romano suspects only a handful of the people who have reactions to the algae seek professional medical help.
"I don't run to the doctor every time I have symptoms if I feel they're going to pass," he said. "So I figure there are a lot more people out there who we aren't seeing."
Microcystin, a common toxin produced by blue-green algae, can cause nausea and vomiting if ingested and rash or hay fever symptoms if touched or inhaled. Drinking water with the toxins can cause long-term liver disease.
Other long-term effects, including neurological diseases such as Alzheimer's, Parkinson's and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as ALS or Lou Gehrig's disease, are suspected.

[Totally hilarious. The Koch's helped to bring the current situation about. Remembering the old saying: The only thing worse than not getting what you want is getting what you want.]
July 29, 2018
Top officials for the influential Koch political network, which has pledged to spend as much as $400 million this midterm cycle, decried the Trump administration's approach on trade policy this weekend at a biannual meeting of donors in Colorado Springs.
"The divisiveness of this White House is causing long-term damage. When in order to win on an issue somebody has to lose, it makes it very difficult to unite people," Brian Hooks, a top Koch official, told reporters at a briefing Saturday.

July 29, 2018
Complicated, high-risk deliveries in the United States often end tragically. An American woman is three times as likely to die from childbirth as a woman in Canada, and six times as likely as a woman in Scandinavia.
California is leading the charge to reverse the nationwide trend: Since 2006, California has cut its rate of women dying in childbirth by more than half. And it's a state whose impact could make a big difference: One in eight infants born in the United States is born there.
July 29, 2018
It was trade publication, the Bookseller, that first noted the rise of what it called the “brainy backlist”. It also highlighted a concomitant fall in the sales of the books that had been such a staple of publishers’ catalogues – celebrity biographies. We are turning away from glitzy but disposable stories of fame and excess and towards more serious, thoughtful, quiet books that help us understand our place in the world. Analysts at the Bookseller parsed data from Nielsen BookScan, and saw over the past five years a dramatic rise in the sales of “long-tail” nonfiction titles, often works on politics, economics, history or medicine that attempted to synthesise or challenge received thinking on the subject. Kiera O’Brien, charts and data editor at the Bookseller, and one of the authors of the initial study, is convinced the publishing landscape has changed over the past few years. “It’s a rare thing for nonfiction to carry on selling like this,” she says. “Often fiction will, when there’s a film adaptation or something like that, but nonfiction tends to be very much of its time. Now it feels like we’ve broken that mould.”
July 23, 2018
Poring over four decades of satellite data, climate scientists have concluded for the first time that humans are pushing seasonal temperatures out of balance - shifting what one researcher called the very "march of the seasons themselves."
Ever-mindful of calculable uncertainty and climate deniers, the authors give "odds of roughly 5 in 1 million" of these changes occurring naturally, without human influence.
While warming is famously global, summers in the troposphere are heating faster than winters, in a way physics would dictate if greenhouse gases were the culprit.
The satellite data and computer models for seasonal temperature change used by the study agree with each other even more closely than they do when gauging average annual temperature.
Santer sees the work as an uncomfortable reminder of the overall climate trend.
"The piling on of evidence is worrying me," he said. "This is the kind of stuff you don't want to be right about."
July 27, 2018
A Democratic senator seeking reelection this fall appears to be the first identifiable target of Russian hacking in the 2018 midterm race. In a new story on the Daily Beast, Andrew Desiderio and Kevin Poulsen reported that Democratic Missouri Senator Claire McCaskill was targeted in a campaign-related phishing attack. That clears up one unspecified target from last week’s statement by Microsoft’s Tom Burt that three midterm election candidates had been targeted by Russian phishing campaigns.
July 26, 2018
The Daily Beast reported that the hackers targeted Senate staffers through phishing emails, falsely telling them that their Microsoft Exchange passwords had expired and sending them to a mock-up of the Senate’s Active Directory Federation Services login page.
Microsoft seized one of the fake sites in October and redirected traffic from the domain to its own server. This allowed the company to see who was sent to the mock site.
Burt said that Microsoft had blocked the attempted breaches, and the Daily Beast reported that the attempts against McCaskill's team were ultimately unsuccessful.
Tokyo-based cybersecurity group Trend Micro told The Hill earlier this year that it had identified websites designed to look like the U.S. Senate’s internal email system and that they were part of an email-harvesting operation.
The sites were reportedly created by the Russian hacking group known as “Fancy Bear,” which is linked to the 2016 DNC hack. The Daily Beast reported that the techniques used by the Fancy Bear hackers were similar to those used on McCaskill’s staff.
The Daily Beast noted that the attempted breach against McCaskill took place in August 2017, around the time Trump took a trip to Missouri, where he urged attendees at a rally to vote McCaskill out of office.
July 30, 2018
Hackers from around the world had the rare opportunity to crack election-style voting machines this weekend in Las Vegas -- and they didn't disappoint.
After nearly an hour and a half, Carsten Schürmann, an associate professor with IT-University of Copenhagen, successfully cracked into a voting machine at Las Vegas' Defcon convention on Friday night, CNET reports.
Schürmann penetrated Advanced Voting Solutions' 2000 WinVote machine through its Wi-Fi system. Using a Windows XP exploit from 2003, he was able to remotely access the machine, CNET reports.
July 27, 2018
Using state public records laws, ProPublica has obtained police reports and call logs concerning more than 70 of the approximately 100 immigrant youth shelters run by the U.S. Health and Human Services department’s Office of Refugee Resettlement. While not a comprehensive assessment of the conditions at these shelters, the records challenge the Trump administration’s assertion that the shelters are safe havens for children. The reports document hundreds of allegations of sexual offenses, fights and missing children.
The recently discontinued practice of separating children from their parents has thrust the youth shelters into the national spotlight. But, with little public scrutiny, they have long cared for thousands of immigrant children, most of them teenagers, although last year 17 percent were under 13. On any given day, the shelters in 17 states across the country house around 10,000 adolescents.
“If you’re a predator, it’s a gold mine,” said Lisa Fortuna, director of child and adolescent psychiatry at Boston Medical Center. “You have full access and then you have kids that have already had this history of being victimized.”

tags: child abuse
July 29, 2018
Fire officials in Greece raised the death toll from a wildfire that raged through a coastal area east of Athens to 91 and reported that 25 people were missing Sunday, six days after Europe's deadliest forest fire in more than a century.
July 29, 2018
The death toll from a Northern California wildfire rose to five with the discovery of human remains believed to be those of a missing elderly woman and her two great-grandchildren, even as fire crews battled on to quell flames that have devastated entire neighborhoods.

More than 38,000 people remained under evacuation orders on Sunday in and around the city of Redding, about 160 miles (257 km) north of the state capital Sacramento, from a blaze that has destroyed more than 500 buildings and continued to rage largely unchecked into a seventh day.

The Carr Fire, the deadliest and most destructive of nearly 90 wildfires burning from Texas to Oregon, has charred 89,194 acres (36,095 hectares) of drought-parched vegetation since erupting last Monday.
More than 5,012 structures were threatened by the fire, officials said. The flames destroyed 17 structures and damaged 135.
Nov. 3, 2017
On Thursday, House Republicans issued a fact sheet about their new tax cut plan that referred to Americans earning $450,000 a year as “low- and middle-income”—even though that income level would put those taxpayers in the top 0.5 percent of all individual Americans.
The median household income in the United States is $59,039, after all.
The GOP made the announcement as part of the rollout of the tax cut plan, saying they would cut tax rates from 39.6 percent to 35 percent for those $450,000-earning middle-class members
There is no formal definition of the American middle class, but the Tax Policy Center puts its “middle quintile” between $48,300 and $85,600 a year.
July 12, 2018
in the U.S., almost 52% of fast food workers are on public assistance. They can't make enough money to live on. Many thousands of workers are at the poverty line while CEOs are wealthy. It's effectively a subsidy from government to these corporations.
According to an AFL-CIO analysis of public filing data, last year the average S&P 500 CEO made 361 times more than the average U.S. worker.
Compare that to pay ratios in Europe, where a CEO-equivalent in the U.K. makes 94 times the compensation of the average employ, and that's the high end. In Sweden, home to some large companies, the ratio is 40. These countries also have public accessibility to healthcare and post-secondary education.
July 19, 2018
Russia has sharply reduced its holdings of United States Treasury bonds, with Russian ownership recently moving to an 11-year low.
Russia's ownership of US bonds declined from $96.1 billion in March to $48.7 billion in April and then to just $14.9 billion in May, according to the most recent data available, the Russian news website RT and the finance blog Wolf Street reported this week.
On Tuesday, the US Treasury released a list of the top 33 investors in US debt. Russia was among the top 10 in 2010 with ownership of $176.3 billion but in May ranked below Chile. The country began unloading its US debt as President Barack Obama raised sanctions against Russia in 2011 and has since intensified its sales.
Elvira Nabiullina, the head of the Central Bank of Russia, said the reduction was due to an assessment of financial, economic, and geopolitical risks, RT reported . Nabiullina said the gold purchases were helping to diversify Russia's wealth.

Heat waves can be deadly for workers and will drain the US economy

Extreme heat has already killed several outdoor workers this summer.
By Umair Irfan Updated Jul 29, 2018, 10:25am EDT

As temperatures surge around the world, many cities and countries are breaking heat records. Massive wildfires have ignited in Europe and the United States amid the scorching weather, destroying thousands of acres of wilderness. Hundreds have died this year between the heat and fires.

But the recent hot weather is dangerous in more subtle ways, and is an ominous signal of what increasing average temperatures and climate change portend for some of the most vulnerable who must endure the heat to earn a living. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, more than 15 million people in the United States have jobs that require them to be outdoors at some point, and rising temperatures are proving dangerous for them.

In Georgia, Miguel Angel Guzman Chavez, a 24-year-old farmworker, died of heatstroke while working the field last month when the heat index reached 105 degrees Fahrenheit. Earlier this month, 52-year-old Cruz Urias-Beltran was found dead in a cornfield in Nebraska after temperatures topped 100°F. Postal worker Peggy Frank died in her mail truck near Los Angeles on July 6, when the temperature reached 117°F. She was 63.

For farmworkers, delivery personnel, and construction crews, high temperatures can also mean heat exhaustion and related maladies. Between 1992 and 2016, excessive heat killed 783 US workers and seriously injured 69,374, according to the BLS.


According to the Environmental Protection Agency, the United States will lose 1.8 billion labor hours across the workforce in the year 2100 due to extreme temperatures under a business-as-usual climate change scenario. That adds up to $170 billion in lost wages.

But laborers aren’t the only ones vulnerable to heat. Researchers at the London School of Economics found that urban areas also pay a price for high temperatures, even among indoor office workers. They found that in London, a warm year could cost the city’s economy upward of 2.3 billion euros in productivity. Workers make more mistakes and act more slowly as temperatures rise above their optimal range. You can also see this effect in factories.


Almost 80% of US workers live from paycheck to paycheck. Here's why

Robert Reich
July 29, 2018

The official rate of unemployment in America has plunged to a remarkably low 3.8%. The Federal Reserve forecasts that the unemployment rate will reach 3.5% by the end of the year.

But the official rate hides more troubling realities: legions of college grads overqualified for their jobs, a growing number of contract workers with no job security, and an army of part-time workers desperate for full-time jobs. Almost 80% of Americans say they live from paycheck to paycheck, many not knowing how big their next one will be.

Blanketing all of this are stagnant wages and vanishing job benefits. The typical American worker now earns around $44,500 a year, not much more than what the typical worker earned in 40 years ago, adjusted for inflation. Although the US economy continues to grow, most of the gains have been going to a relatively few top executives of large companies, financiers, and inventors and owners of digital devices.

America doesn’t have a jobs crisis. It has a good jobs crisis.

When Republicans delivered their $1.5tn tax cut last December they predicted a big wage boost for American workers. Forget it. Wages actually dropped in the second quarter of this year.

Not even the current low rate of unemployment is forcing employers to raise wages. Contrast this with the late 1990s, the last time unemployment dipped close to where it is today, when the portion of national income going into wages was 3% points higher than it is today.


Two fundamental forces have changed the structure of the US economy, directly altering the balance of power between business and labor. The first is the increasing difficulty for workers of joining together in trade unions. The second is the growing ease by which corporations can join together in oligopolies or to form monopolies.


antitrust enforcement has gone into remission. The US government has essentially given a green light to companies seeking to gain monopoly power over digital platforms and networks (Google, Apple, Amazon, Facebook); wanting to merge into giant oligopolies (pharmaceuticals, health insurers, airlines, seed producers, food processors, military contractors, Wall Street banks, internet service providers); or intent on creating local monopolies (food distributors, waste disposal companies, hospitals).

This means workers are spending more on such goods and services than they would were these markets more competitive. It’s exactly as if their paychecks were cut. Concentrated economic power has also given corporations more ability to hold down wages, because workers have less choice of whom to work for. And it has let companies impose on workers provisions that further weaken their bargaining power, such as anti-poaching and mandatory arbitration agreements.


Another consequence: corporations and wealthy individuals have had more money to pour into political campaigns and lobbying, while labor unions have had far less. In 1978, for example, congressional campaign contributions by labor Political Action Committees were on par with corporate PAC contributions. But since 1980, corporate PAC giving has grown at a much faster clip, and today the gulf is huge.

It is no coincidence that all three branches of the federal government, as well as most state governments, have become more “business-friendly” and less “worker-friendly” than at any time since the 1920s.


The more recent shift in bargaining power from workers to large corporations – and consequentially, the dramatic widening of inequalities of income, wealth, and political power – has had a more unfortunate and, I fear, more lasting consequence: an angry working class vulnerable to demagogues peddling authoritarianism, racism, and xenophobia.

How climate disruption increases extreme weather

Laurel Wamsley
July 29, 2018

Dramatic weather events happened this past week in many parts of the Northern Hemisphere. There were wildfires in Greece, Scandinavia, and the Western U.S. Flooding followed record rainfalls in the Northeast. And dangerous heat waves settled over the Southwest, Japan, and the U.K.

If it continues like this, 2018 could end up being one of the hottest years on record.

When the news is full of stories on extreme weather, it's hard not to wonder: Is this what climate change looks like?

Climate scientists say yes — though it's complicated.

Take wildfires, for example.

"We see five times more large fires today than we did in the 1970s," says Jennifer Balch, professor in geography and director of Earth Lab at the University of Colorado Boulder.


"Fire season is about three months longer than it was just a few decades ago," she says. "We've seen a 2-degree Fahrenheit increase across the Western U.S. Snowpack is melting earlier, and what that's doing is essentially opening up the window for fires to happen over a much longer period of time."

Last year was the costliest fire season ever, with damages exceeding $18 billion dollars.

Overall, weather and climate disasters in the U.S. caused more than $300 billion in damages in 2017, shattering previous records. Though that's not all climate — those increased costs are partly the result of development and sprawl.

Andreas Prein is a research scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colorado. He studies how extreme weather — especially thunderstorms and heavy downpours — might change in the future.

"What we see from climate change is that you lose a lot of these very moderate and light rainfall storms and replace it with very intense storms," he says. Over the last 50 years, the number of really big rainstorms has increased by as much as 70 percent.


Some aspects of climate change are pretty certain, he says. Temperatures are rising. Rainstorms and heat waves are getting more intense. These are the long-predicted results of increased greenhouse gas emissions.

To a certain degree, that we've had so much extreme weather this past week is a coincidence: fires, heat waves, and rainstorms happen every summer.

But climate change makes this kind of extreme weather more common, researchers say – and it's a trend that's expected to continue as the planet keeps getting warmer.

Saturday, July 28, 2018

This Summer’s Heat Waves Could Be the Strongest Climate Signal Yet

Please read the whole article and considering donating so they can continue reporting on climate disruption

By Bob Berwyn, InsideClimate News
Jul 28, 2018

'In many places, people are preparing for the past or present climate. But this summer is the future.'
By Bob Berwyn, InsideClimate News
Jul 28, 2018

Earth's global warming fever spiked to deadly new highs across the Northern Hemisphere this summer, and we're feeling the results—extreme heat is now blamed for hundreds of deaths, droughts threaten food supplies, wildfires have raced through neighborhoods in the western United States, Greece and as far north as the Arctic Circle.

At sea, record and near-record warm oceans have sent soggy masses of air surging landward, fueling extreme rainfall and flooding in Japan and the eastern U.S. In Europe, the Baltic Sea is so warm that potentially toxic blue-green algae is spreading across its surface.

There shouldn't be any doubt that some of the deadliest of this summer's disasters—including flooding in Japan and wildfires in Greece—are fueled by weather extremes linked to global warming, said Corinne Le Quéré, director of the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research at the University of East Anglia.

"We know very well that global warming is making heat waves longer, hotter and more frequent," she said.


The challenges created by global warming are becoming evident even in basic infrastructure, much of which was built on the assumption of a cooler climate. In these latest heat waves, railroad tracks have bent in the rising temperatures, airport runways have cracked, and power plants from France to Finland have had to power down because their cooling sources became too warm.


Penn State climate scientist Michael Mann said this summer's extreme weather fits into a pattern he identified with other researchers in a study published last year. The jet stream's north-south meanders have been unusually stationary, leading to persistent heat waves and droughts in some areas and days of rain and flooding in others, he said. "Our work last year shows that this sort of pattern ... has become more common because of human-caused climate change, and in particular, amplified Arctic warming."


In Europe, scientists on Friday released a real-time attribution study of the heat wave that has baked parts of northern Europe since June. They found that global warming caused by greenhouse gas pollution made the ongoing heat wave five times more likely in Denmark, and twice as likely in Ireland.


"Near the Arctic, it's absolutely exceptional and unprecedented. This is a warning," said French heat wave expert Robert Vautard, who worked on the study for World Weather Attribution. The group previously determined that global warming made last summer's "Lucifer" heat wave in southern Europe 10 times more likely.

"In many places, people are preparing for the past or present climate. But this summer is the future," he said.


Crop damage is being reported in parts Norway through Sweden, Denmark and the Baltics. Depending on conditions during the next month, more widespread crop failures could raise global food prices.


Isaksen is finalizing some studies that find heat is penetrating between 30 and 50 meters deep into the ground through cracks in the rocky mountains around Norway's fjords. Instead of just a thin skin of permafrost melting, those mountains could fall apart in large chunks when autumn rains start, threatening coastal communities with tsunamis.


Although climate scientists are reluctant to link any one particular fire to climate change, there is plenty of scientific evidence showing how heat-trapping greenhouse gases contribute to increased fire danger.

"Weather is a product of the climate system. We are drastically altering that system, and all the weather we observe now is the product of that human-altered climate system. One result is an increase in the frequency, size and severity of large fire events," University of California, Merced researcher Leroy Westerling wrote on Twitter.


Tyndall Centre Director Le Quéré said she faulted some media for failing to connect global warming to the current global heat wave. "This signal is very clear," she said, adding that some of the early stories about the deadly fire in Greece almost seemed to downplay a link to climate change.


To prepare for the new normal, people must act in the next five to 10 years, said environmental scientist Cara Augustenborg, chairperson of Friends of the Earth Europe.


"We've had several years now where airport runways have melted on extremely hot days," she continued. "That's something we need to factor in to future construction as it's a problem that won't go away."

Society also needs to think about food security, she said.

"That's what I really lose sleep over," she said. "Our available arable land is declining now as our global population is booming. It doesn't take much in the way of extreme weather to have a major impact on food supplies."

tags: extreme weather, severe weather

Links & comments

Trump is complaining that the Fed's plans to raise interest rates to fight inflation will hurt the recovery. This is true. Most of the recessions during my work life were caused by this. But I also note that is raising these extremely low interest rates to a more normal level would slow or reverse the economic recovery, he is inadvertently admitting that much or all of the economic recovery is due to these low interest rates, not just his own actions.
And note that economic growth is expressed as a percentage. The same amount of growth will be a larger percent increase than the same amount of growth from a better point. So the current growth is not as remarkable as might seem. And this rate cannot be sustained.
July 27, 2018
AP FACT CHECK: Trump falsely claims historic turnaround
TRUMP: “We’ve accomplished an economic turnaround of historic proportions.” — remarks Friday at the White House.
THE FACTS: Trump didn’t inherit a fixer-upper economy.
July 28, 2018
Fueled by an incendiary combination of scorching temperatures, dry air and unpredictable winds, the deadly Carr Fire has doubled in size to 80,906 acres — almost the size of the city of Philadelphia. The wildfire has forced thousands to flee, torched 500 buildings and killed two firefighters trying to contain it.
The National Weather Service issued a Red Flag Warning Friday, saying fire-favorable conditions would exist until at least 8 a.m. Monday. The fire was so strong it was producing wind gusts of up to 50 mph and fire whirlwinds — tornado-like funnels of fire, ash and combustible gas. Smoke from the Carr Fire could be seen from space.
Although the death toll remains at two, there is still an untallied number of people who authorities fear may have been unable to escape the fire.
The weather was counteracting firefighters’ efforts to make a dent in the blaze. Forecasts for the weekend said temperatures could approach 110 degrees on Saturday and Sunday, the Weather Service said. The humidity hovered around 5 to 10 percent, wind gusted to 30 mph in some canyons that were on fire.
Complicating matters for firefighters was the fact that they were fighting a battle on multiple fronts.
The Ferguson Fire, which forced officials to close the Yosemite Valley through at least the weekend, has burned across nearly 50,000 acres since mid-July and was 29 percent contained as of Saturday morning, fire officials said.
The Cranston Fire in Riverside County had burned across 12,300 acres and was 16 percent contained, officials said.
July 28, 2018
An Egyptian court sentenced 75 people to death on Saturday, including top figures of the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood group, for their involvement in a 2013 sit-in, state media reported. The Cairo Criminal Court referred the sentences to the Grand Mufti -- the country's top theological authority -- for his non-binding opinion as is the norm in capital cases. Though non-binding, the formality gives a window of opportunity for a judge to reverse an initial sentence.
Of the 75 defendants referred to the Mufti, 44 are jailed and 31 are at large. The court normally hands down the maximum sentence for fugitives but a re-retrial is typically held after they are caught.

Friday, July 27, 2018

Racist Russian propaganda is still going viral on conservative Facebook pages
April 19, 2018
May 1, 2018
Popular conservative meme pages on Facebook affiliate themselves with an extremist militia movement
July 22, 2018
In the long slog of recovery, traditional "good-paying jobs" have vanished in the US rust-belt towns that voted heavily for Trump.
The National Employment Law Project found in 2012 that 58% of the jobs regained in the US since the recession were in low-wage occupations, paying less than $14 an hour. Millions of mid-wage jobs had disappeared. In Britain, unemployment is low but again, the jobs that have come back are largely semi-skilled and poorly paid.
Inequality has widened dramatically in the past generation: in the US the richest 1% held 20% of the national income by 2016, while the lower 50% had just 13%. The trend, while less dramatic, is similar in Europe. And most research shows it's the poorest workers whose wages and job prospects are hurt by an influx of migrants.
July 27, 2018
In Siberia, melting permafrost is releasing nematodes — microscopic worms that live in soil — that have been suspended in a deep freeze since the Pleistocene. Despite being frozen for tens of thousands of years, two species of these worms were successfully revived, scientists recently reported in a new study.
Their findings, published in the May 2018 issue of the journal Doklady Biological Sciences, represent the first evidence of multicellular organisms returning to life after a long-term slumber in Arctic permafrost, the researchers wrote.

Thursday, July 26, 2018


In case you don't already now, it is easy to do conversions in Google search, don't know about other search engines.
Eg., to convert Celsius to Fahrenheit, search for:
c to f
July 19, 2018
Income inequality has risen in every state since the 1970s and, in most states, it has grown in the post–Great Recession era. From 2009 to 2015, the incomes of the top 1 percent grew faster than the incomes of the bottom 99 percent in 43 states and the District of Columbia. The top 1 percent captured half or more of all income growth in nine states. In 2015, a family in the top 1 percent nationally received, on average, 26.3 times as much income as a family in the bottom 99 percent.
July 25, 2018
The 'Guerrilla' Wikipedia Editors Who Combat Conspiracy Theories
July 25, 2018
Lowering blood pressure to recommended levels can prevent dementia and the memory and thinking problems that often show up first, researchers reported Wednesday.
People whose top blood pressure reading was taken down to 120 were 19 percent less likely to develop mild cognitive impairment, the loss of memory and brain processing power that usually precedes Alzheimer’s, the study found. And they were 15 percent less likely to eventually develop cognitive decline and dementia.
June 8, 2018
One of Russia’s principal foreign-policy goals for decades has been to split the United States from is allies. Whether by accident or by design, President Trump appears intent on bringing that dream to fruition.
July 23, 2018
The Trump administration will seek to revoke California’s authority to regulate automobile emissions — including its mandate for electric-car sales — in a proposed revision of Obama-era standards, according to three people familiar with the plan.
The proposal, expected to be released this week, amounts to a frontal assault on one of former President Obama’s signature regulatory programs to curb greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to climate change. It also sets up a high-stakes battle over California’s unique ability to combat air pollution and, if finalized, is sure to set off a protracted courtroom battle.
[What about states rights, which republicans love when it's for the sake of hurting people?]
July 15, 2018
A coalition of more than 500,000 U.S. physicians says the Donald Trump administration’s move to suspend billions of dollars in payments to insurers under the Affordable Care Act hurts patients with “chronic health conditions and pre-existing conditions.”
The payments, funded by contributions from health insurers, “are not from taxpayer dollars” and “help protect patients by allowing insurers to compete without cherry-picking healthy consumers over those with chronic illnesses and pre-existing conditions,” say coalition members that include the American Academy of Family Physicians, the American Academy of Pediatrics, American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, American College of Physicians, American Osteopathic Association and the American Psychiatric Association.
“The suspension of risk adjustment payments could lead to significant premium increases across the country –resulting in families, especially those with chronic health conditions and pre-existing conditions, losing their health care coverage due to insurer departures from the market or the inability to afford coverage,” the doctor coalition says. “This decision contradicts the administration’s pledge to provide individuals and families with more options to secure affordable health care coverage.”
Online shopping scams involve scammers pretending to be legitimate online sellers, either with a fake website or a fake ad on a genuine retailer site.
Warning signs
A product is advertised at an unbelievably low price, or advertised to have amazing benefits or features that sound too good to be true.
The other party insists on immediate payment, or payment by electronic funds transfer or a wire service. They may insist that you pay up-front for vouchers before you can access a cheap deal or a give-away.
The social media based store is very new and selling products at very low prices. The store may have limited information about delivery and other policies.
An online retailer does not provide adequate information about privacy, terms and conditions of use, dispute resolution or contact details. The seller may be based overseas, or the seller does not allow payment through a secure payment service such as PayPal or a credit card transaction.
July 17, 2018
In Helsinki on Monday, US President Donald Trump touted the "direct, open, deeply productive dialogue" he had with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
And experts warn Putin played Trump like a fiddle.
That was the broad consensus of national-security and intelligence veterans following a bizarre press conference during which Trump stood next to Putin and spent more time denigrating his political opponents and intelligence agencies than he did a hostile foreign power.
Glenn Carle, a longtime former CIA spy, said he wasn't the least bit surprised by Trump's actions because "it's becoming more and more clear that Trump is either a witting or unwitting Russian asset."
"People say this is so mystifying, but it's not," Carle said. "Intelligence assets become convinced to be spies for multiple reasons. It might start with kompromat or financial hooks, and the asset may be convinced he is acting as a patriot until he becomes accustomed to his role."
One former senior intelligence official, who requested anonymity because they are not directly involved in the proceedings, emphasized that they "absolutely" believe Putin has something on Trump.
"There are four possibilities," this person told Business Insider. "One is that Trump is not very smart. The second is that he's lazy and incurious. The third is that he is acting this way toward Russia because of some financial desire, like building a Trump Tower in Moscow. The fourth is that the Russian leader has something serious on him, from either a business or personal standpoint.
"My money is on the latter two," they said.
"You have to look at these comments objectively," said a former senior FBI official who requested anonymity to speak freely. "And when you put it together with Trump's statements, his affinity toward Putin, his willingness to concede to Russia, his cold shoulder toward the US's closest allies ... at some point you have to start thinking the unthinkable, which is that the president of the United States may have been compromised by Russia."
July 25, 2018
Lobbyists spent more than $2 billion trying to influence Congress on climate change from 2000 to 2016, with fossil-fuel industry groups outspending environmental groups by 10-1,  according to a new study by a Drexel University professor.
July 25, 2018
The Media’s Failure to Connect the Dots on Climate Change
[I wonder of fossil fuel companies are manipulating the ratings somehow?]
July 25, 2018
Multiple fires in different areas outside the capital of Athens seemed to ignite at once, leading investigators to probe whether they were deliberately set.
"Fifteen fires were started simultaneously on three different fronts in Athens," government spokesman Dimitris Tzanakopoulos told reporters.
July 23, 2018
Greek fires blamed on 'culture of arson'
Anti-terror squads were already questioning 32 suspects yesterday afternoon, as the Greek government offered rewards of up to \u20AC1 million (£675,000) for information.
The money appeared to be a concerted attempt to challenge what seems the routine of setting fires every summer.
Dimitris Karavellas, the Greek World Wildlife Fund's director, said yesterday: "It is a culture of arson."
He said Greeks "still consider the forest as an area of land for development" and criticised the country's failure to establish a land registry that sets out which areas are protected from development.
"We are the only country in the EU that doesn't have a land registry," he said. "We get situations where there are forest fires one year and nothing but houses a couple of years later."
Costas Karamanlis, the prime minister, has announced that all burned trees would be replanted to counter the threat of mass development.
Authorities believe most of the fires were deliberate, with reports of the Mafia paying arsonists to clear land wanted for profitable development.
July 24, 2018
Ivanka Trump is shuttering her clothing line in order to focus on her role as senior adviser in her father's White House, the company announced Tuesday.
The closure of Ms. Trump's business, which was first reported by the The Wall Street Journal, will reduce its entanglements in President Donald Trump's "America First" agenda and protectionist trade practices. According to a report, workers at one of the Chinese factories of Ivanka Trump's clothing line were paid $62 a week. Her business employs 18 people.
Critics uncovered records of Chinese trademark approvals for Ivanka Trump products that showed the applications were approved after President Trump conceded to Chinese demands to lift a ban on the ZTE electronics manufacturing company that had been put in place following allegations it was involved in stealing American trade secrets.
Ms. Trump had put her company, IT Collection LLC, in a trust to help alleviate conflict-of-interest concerns. But because she is a public figure, those concerns were unavoidable. She wore items from her company's collection during appearances in her White House role, granting free advertising to her personal company from her public role, potentially running afoul of rules that bar government employees from using their public office for private gain or endorsements.
Ivanka Trump wore a $10,000 bracelet from her collection during an interview with CBS's "60 Minutes" and one of her vice presidents of sales sent a "style alert" to journalists encouraging them to share it.

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Crop failure and bankruptcy threaten farmers as drought grips Europe

Please help The Guardian continue investigative reporting w/o a paywall, w/o being beholden to big business.

Arthur Neslen
Fri 20 Jul 2018 08.11 EDT
Last modified on Fri 20 Jul 2018 17.21 EDT

Farmers across northern and central Europe are facing crop failure and bankruptcy as one of the most intense regional droughts in recent memory strengthens its grip.

States of emergency have been declared in Latvia and Lithuania, while the sun continues to bake Swedish fields that have received only 12% of their normal rainfall.

The abnormally hot temperatures – which have topped 30C [86F] in the Arctic Circle – are in line with climate change trends, according to the World Meteorological Organization. And as about 50 wildfires rage across Sweden, no respite from the heatwave is yet in sight.

Lennart Nilsson, a 55-year-old cattle farmer from Falkenberg near Malmo and co-chair of the Swedish Farmers Association, said it was the worst drought he had experienced.


The picture is little different in the Netherlands, where Iris Bouwers, a 25-year-old farmer, said the parched summer had been a “catastrophe” for her farm.


If anything, the situation is even worse in Poland, Belarus and the Czech Republic, where vegetation stress has taken hold. In parts of Germany, some farmers are reportedly destroying arid crops.
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Read more

After June was declared the second warmest on record, the European commission pledged to help farmers with a raft of measures, including the temporary suspension of “greening” obligations partly intended to prevent climate change.
[So problems caused by climate disruption result in cutbacks on efforts to combat climate disruption!]


The European Drought Observatory (EDO) has described the drought as “an extensive and severe anomaly” affecting Scandinavia, Scotland, Ireland, the Baltics, the Netherlands and northern Germany.

A spokeswoman for the EU’s Joint Research Centre, which oversees the EDO, said farmers should prepare to adapt to a warmer climate with “diversification or change of crop types and varieties, but also a more efficient use of water”.

All water-related sectors “should be preparing sustainable adaptation measures towards an increase of drought frequency and intensity in the future”, she said.

Trump moving forward to end California's authority to set clean-air standards, mandate electric-car sales

So much for states rights.

By Ryan Beene, Jennifer A. Dlouhy and John Lippert and Ari Natter
Jul 23, 2018

The Trump administration will seek to revoke California’s authority to regulate automobile emissions — including its mandate for electric-car sales — in a proposed revision of Obama-era standards, according to three people familiar with the plan.

The proposal, expected to be released this week, amounts to a frontal assault on one of former President Obama’s signature regulatory programs to curb greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to climate change. It also sets up a high-stakes battle over California’s unique ability to combat air pollution and, if finalized, is sure to set off a protracted courtroom battle.

The proposed revamp would also put the brakes on federal rules to boost fuel efficiency into the next decade, said the people, who asked to not be identified discussing the proposals before they are public.


Why is real wage growth anemic? It’s not because of a skills shortage

Posted July 19, 2018 at 11:30 am by Heidi Shierholz and Elise Gould

Despite an unemployment rate at 4.1 percent or less since last October, wage growth has been anemic. In fact, over the last year, the average real wage of private sector workers saw no growth at all. While the total lack of growth in inflation-adjusted (real) wages over the last year is due in part to an increase in energy prices that is likely temporary, the slow real wage growth we’ve seen in recent years is mostly driven by nominal wages failing to rise quickly even in the face of low unemployment.

Some have posited that our far-less-than-stellar wage growth right now could be due to workers not having the skills employers need. But that idea has the logic backwards. When employers can’t find workers with the skills they need at the wages they are offering, they will raise wages in order to attract qualified workers—if employers can’t find the workers they need among the unemployed, they will offer higher wages in an attempt to poach needed workers from other firms, who will then raise wages in an attempt to keep their workers, and so on. In other words, if there are skills shortages, we should see signs of faster wage growth for workers with needed skills. This fast wage growth for skilled workers should push up average wages, not weigh them down. Since we continue to see anemic average wage growth, not just slow wage growth for select groups of workers, it’s clear that there is not a widespread shortage of the types of workers (i.e., those with the right skills) that employers need.

But we certainly hear widespread employer complaints about not being able to find workers. Why? One reason is monopsony power in the U.S. labor market. There is a lot of evidence that many firms have monopsony power, either because of a limited number of buyers of labor or other sources beyond labor market concentration. When firms have monopsony power, they are able to pay workers less than what their work is “worth,” i.e. less than their marginal product.


So when a firm with the power to set wages below a workers’ marginal product complains about not being able to find workers at the wages they are offering, it’s useful to remember that they are choosing to keep wages low in order to increase profits—which remain high as a share of corporate sector income—and could get more workers by simply raising wages. And importantly, when firms with monopsony power complain about not being able to find workers, it is not adequate evidence of a skills shortage.


Remember, while labor shortages may be a negative for firms, they are a clear win for workers, since they lead to wage increases. Right now there is scant legitimate evidence of anything but isolated concerns about scarce labor, but in today’s environment of unusually weak wage growth, somewhat more widespread labor shortages that put upward pressure on wages would in fact be a welcome development.

Crop failure and bankruptcy threaten farmers as drought grips Europe

Please contribute to The Guardian so they can continue their investigative reporting w/o using a paywall.

Arthur Neslen
Fri 20 Jul 2018 08.11 EDT
Last modified on Fri 20 Jul 2018 17.21 EDT

Farmers across northern and central Europe are facing crop failure and bankruptcy as one of the most intense regional droughts in recent memory strengthens its grip.

States of emergency have been declared in Latvia and Lithuania, while the sun continues to bake Swedish fields that have received only 12% of their normal rainfall.

The abnormally hot temperatures – which have topped 30C in the Arctic Circle – are in line with climate change trends, according to the World Meteorological Organization. And as about 50 wildfires rage across Sweden, no respite from the heatwave is yet in sight.

Lennart Nilsson, a 55-year-old cattle farmer from Falkenberg near Malmo and co-chair of the Swedish Farmers Association, said it was the worst drought he had experienced.

“This is really serious,” he said. “Most of south-west Sweden hasn’t had rain since the first days of May. A very early harvest has started but yields seem to be the lowest for 25 years – 50% lower, or more in some cases – and it is causing severe losses.”


The picture is little different in the Netherlands, where Iris Bouwers, a 25-year-old farmer, said the parched summer had been a “catastrophe” for her farm.


If anything, the situation is even worse in Poland, Belarus and the Czech Republic, where vegetation stress has taken hold. In parts of Germany, some farmers are reportedly destroying arid crops.
Sign up to the Green Light email to get the planet's most important stories
Read more

After June was declared the second warmest on record, the European commission pledged to help farmers with a raft of measures, including the temporary suspension of “greening” obligations partly intended to prevent climate change.
[So climate disruption contributes to this, and their response is to pull back on fight it!]


The European Drought Observatory (EDO) has described the drought as “an extensive and severe anomaly” affecting Scandinavia, Scotland, Ireland, the Baltics, the Netherlands and northern Germany.

A spokeswoman for the EU’s Joint Research Centre, which oversees the EDO, said farmers should prepare to adapt to a warmer climate with “diversification or change of crop types and varieties, but also a more efficient use of water”.

All water-related sectors “should be preparing sustainable adaptation measures towards an increase of drought frequency and intensity in the future”, she said.


I'm resting up from working at the polls yesterday, 15 1/2 hours.
July 23, 2018
A major pediatricians’ group is urging families to limit the use of plastic food containers, cut down on processed meat during pregnancy and consume more whole fruits and vegetables rather than processed food. Such measures would lower children’s exposures to chemicals in food and food packaging that are tied to health problems such as obesity, the group says.
July 23, 2018
The United States isn’t ready for the public health problems climate change will bring, experts warned Congress last week.
From the spread of insect-borne disease to the risks to public health centers and outpatient facilities from environmental disasters, public health professionals on Capitol Hill told congressional staffers there is much work to be done to prepare for potential health risks to the American public at the federal, state and local levels.
July 25, 2018
Flash flood watches and warnings have been issued for approximately 30 million people along the East Coast as heavy rain continues to pelt the region.
Since Saturday, parts of the mid-Atlantic have been hit with more than 10 inches of rain, causing numerous rescues and evacuations, according to the National Weather Service's Weather Prediction Center.
From eastern North Carolina to central New York, heavy rain was expected to continue on Wednesday, with parts of Pennsylvania and Maryland at risk for as much as eight inches.
[Global warming is causing more and stronger floods, because there is more moisture in the air, and it seems to be leading to more weather stalls.]

tags: severe weather, extreme weather
July 25, 2018
The number of deaths from the worst forest fires in Greece for more than a decade has risen to 80 as rescue workers intensified efforts to locate those who had gone missing.
July 25, 2018
A lone student activist on board a plane at Gothenburg airport has prevented the deportation of an Afghan asylum seeker from Sweden by refusing to sit down until the man was removed from the flight.
Her successful protest, footage of which spread rapidly across the internet, shines a spotlight on domestic opposition to Sweden’s tough asylum regime, at a time when immigration and asylum are topping the agenda of a general election campaign in which the far right is polling strongly.
After a tense standoff, during which the airport authorities declined to use force to eject Ersson, passengers broke into applause when the asylum seeker was taken off the plane.

He worked to defeat Obama would gladly take him back.

by Max Boot
July 23, 2018

How I miss Barack Obama.

And I say that as someone who worked to defeat him: I was a foreign policy adviser to John McCain in 2008 and to Mitt Romney in 2012. I criticized Obama's “lead from behind” foreign policy that resulted in a premature pullout from Iraq and a failure to stop the slaughter in Syria. I thought he was too weak on Iran and too tough on Israel. I feared that Obamacare would be too costly. I fumed that he was too professorial and too indecisive. I was left cold by his arrogance and his cult of personality.

Now I would take Obama back in a nanosecond. His presidency appears to be a lost golden age when reason and morality reigned. All of his faults, real as they were, fade into insignificance compared with the crippling defects of his successor. And his strengths — seriousness, dignity, intellect, probity, dedication to ideals larger than self — shine all the more clearly in retrospect.


What was supposedly the worst abuse of power committed by the Obama administration — the IRS investigations of conservative organizations — has been revealed as "fake news": It turns out that the IRS was also investigating liberal organizations. By contrast, evidence continues to accumulate about Trump scandals, from alleged campaign collusion with Russia to violations of the emoluments clause. Obama may have told a few fibs, like any politician, but he was not a pathological liar.


It can be depressing to think about our current predicament under a president whose loyalty to America is suspect but whose racism and xenophobia are undoubted. However, Obama's speech gave me a glimmer of optimism — and not only because he cited Mandela's “example of persistence and of hope.” He reminds me that just 18 months ago — can you believe it was so recently? — we had a president with whom I could disagree without ever doubting his fitness to lead. We can have one again.

Tuesday, July 24, 2018


by Associated Press July 23 at 8:02 PM
A spokesman for the Greek government says the death toll from two big wildfires raging on the outskirts of Athens has risen to at least 20.
Dimitris Tzanakopoulos said early Tuesday that at least 69 other people have been hospitalized with injuries. Many are in serious condition.
Greece has sought international assistance to cope with the fires near the capital, which have destroyed dozens of homes, burned cars and prompted tourists and Greeks to flee to beaches east of Athens for dramatic rescues by boats.

July 23, 2018
A scorching heat wave that has cooked Japan since the second week of July brought the country its hottest temperature ever recorded on Monday, July 23: 41.1°C (106°F) at Kumagaya. Kumagaya is located in the Saitama prefecture, about 40 miles (65 km) northwest of Tokyo. The previous all-time heat record in Japan was 41.0°C (105.8°F) in Ekawasaki on the island of Shikoku on August 12, 2013. At least 13 stations in Japan set a new all-time heat record on Monday

July 23, 2018
Extreme, potentially dangerous weather is affecting large portions of the U.S. this week, with flooding in the East and heat advisories in effect across the West. 
In the East, a powerful coastal storm brought an onslaught of rain that pounded the mid-Atlantic and Northeast, prompting flood watches and warnings from the Carolinas all the way up to New York state. The system is now stalled, lashing parts of Pennsylvania and New York with downpours, CBS News' Tony Dokoupil reports.
In the West, temperatures are expected to be even higher Tuesday, making the battle against wildfires in California all the more difficult, CBS News' Jamie Yuccas reports from Phoenix.
It is just the beginning of a heat wave that could bring the summer's hottest temperatures so far to Southern California and Arizona. The temperature hit 120 degrees in Palm Springs and Phoenix may smash its record of 114. By Tuesday, temperatures could hit 117.
Brutally hot temperatures could also impact flights in and out of Phoenix. Some commercial planes are not certified to fly if temperatures top 118 degrees. A similar heat wave last year grounded dozens of flights.

Monday, July 23, 2018


President Donald Trump is considering revoking security clearances from ex-officials including former CIA Director John Brennan, former FBI Director James Comey and former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Monday.
Sanders said Trump believes the former officials "politicized" their positions by accusing Trump of inappropriate contact with Russia, and she said in some cases they "monetized their clearances," without clarifying what she meant.
[The normal Trump game plan – accuse people of the bad stuff he does himself.]

Climate Change May Cause 26,000 More U.S. Suicides by 2050
Unusually hot days cause the suicide rate to rise, according to a study published Monday in Nature Climate Change. If a month is 1 degree Celsius warmer than normal, then its suicide rate will increase by 0.7 percent in the United States and 2.1 percent in Mexico.
It also concludes that humans can do little about this suicide-climate link beyond developing better medical care to address suicide specifically. The normal ways that people adapt to high temperatures generally—by installing air conditioners, for instance—do not seem to affect the suicide rate.
Suicide is the second most-common cause of death among Americans between 10 and 34 years of age. It is also one of the few leading causes of death in the United States where the age-adjusted mortality rate is not falling. In other words, more people are dying by suicide than used to.

Motherhood may affect a woman’s Alzheimer’s risk in unexpected ways, researchers reported Monday.
Women who had three or more children were less likely to develop dementia than women who had only one child, they found. And women who had miscarriages were more likely to develop dementia as well.
Women who started puberty later had a higher risk of developing Alzheimer's. Women who started menstruating at age 16 or later had a 31 percent higher risk compared with those who started at 13, the average age.
And those who entered menopause early, before age 45, had a 28 percent higher risk.
It might not be that having more children is better, however. Last week, a team in South Korea found that women who had five or more children had a higher risk of Alzheimer’s.

HPV is a group of 150 related viruses that can be transmitted through any form of sexual contact, whether kissing or intercourse. In most cases, the human body will get rid of it naturally, but certain high-risk types can develop into things like genital warts and cancers, including cervical, anal and throat.
But there is a vaccine, and how it works is pretty simple. It's a mimic of the virus particle; when administered into someone's muscle, it creates many more antibodies than a natural infection would, according to John Doorbar, professor of viral pathogenesis at Cambridge University.
According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, "almost every person who is sexually active will get HPV at some time in their life if they don't get the HPV vaccine."

Voter purge frenzy after federal protections lifted, new report says

by Jane C. Timm / Jul.20.2018

Nine states with a history of racial discrimination are more aggressively removing registered voters from their rolls than other states, according to a report released Friday.

After reviewing voter purges nationally from 2012 to 2016, the nonpartisan Brennan Center for Justice found that the mostly Southern jurisdictions that had once been required to get changes to voting policies pre-approved by the Justice Department had higher rates of purging than jurisdictions that were not previously subject to pre-clearance.

A key section of the 1965 Voting Rights Act, which was designed to protect minority voters from state disenfranchisement, was struck down by the Supreme Court in 2013, allowing states to begin making changes affecting voting without first getting federal approval.


In Georgia, for example, 156 of the state's 159 counties reported an increase in removal rates after the Voting Rights Act was changed. In 2016, advocates sued Georgia for making voter registration harder. In 2017, the American Civil Liberties Union sued a Georgia county and the state Secretary of State for its purge practices, too.


Voter purges — cleaning up and pruning voter rolls down to remove inaccurate information — are a normal part of all election roll maintenance. But if purges are done too aggressively or with bad information, advocates warn, they can disenfranchise eligible voters, who may not know they've been purged until they go to the polls on Election Day and are unable to vote.


Om my area, there have been some changes in precinct boundaries, and many people are not aware of them.
In Georgia, you can check your voter status, and where to vote at the following link.


2018 Global Heat So Far

Published: July 18th, 2018

With the release of the monthly global temperature analysis from NOAA today, it is a good opportunity to compare temperatures so far this year to their historical levels. And as greenhouse gases continue to accumulate in the atmosphere, the heat goes on both globally and here in the U.S.

Globally, the past four years have been the hottest four years on record, and 2018 so far is coming in as the 4th hottest. All-time record heat has peppered the Northern Hemisphere this summer.


According to the WMO, 2018 has been the hottest La Niña year on record, with La Niña years today consistently warmer than El Niño years from 30 years ago. Consensus forecasts are trending toward a new El Niño before the end of the year, meaning 2018 will probably finish as one of the 10 hottest years on record globally.


Jeff Bezos Named Richest Man in History As Amazon Workers Strike Over Pay and Conditions

By Brendan Cole On 7/17/18

ust as Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos was named the richest person in modern history, Amazon workers across Europe have gone out on strike to protest pay and work conditions.

Warehouse workers in Germany, Spain and Poland are protesting against workplace health hazards, and being required to work more hours without getting bonuses.

More than 1,800 workers in Spain walked off the job on Monday in an action that will continue until Wednesday. Thousands of workers from warehouses in Germany will go out on strike on Tuesday, while workers in Poland will work only the minimum, which may cause a slowdown.


It also comes as Bezos’s worth rose to $152 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.
This is more than the inflation-adjusted amount of $149 billion Microsoft founder Bill Gates hit in 1999 and makes Bezos richer than anyone since the first wealth ranking was published in 1982.

His net worth this year has gone up $52 billion, more than the annual GDP of more than 100 countries, including Lebanon, Macau and Slovenia. The increase this year alone is more than the entire worth of Asia’s richest person, Jack Ma, chairman of Alibaba Group Holding Ltd.


Stefanie Nutzenberger from German labor union Verdi said in a statement on its website: "The message is clear, while the online giant gets rich, it is saving money on the health of its workers."

There has been repeated criticism of Amazon’s working conditions. Warehouse workers walked out in Germany and Italy Black Friday last year, complaining of difficult conditions and reports that some staff were injured on the job and collapsed from exhaustion.

The National Council for Occupational Safety and Health named Amazon as one of the most dangerous places to work in the United States.


Earth's resources consumed in ever greater destructive volumes

Jonathan Watts
Sun 22 Jul 2018

Humanity is devouring our planet’s resources in increasingly destructive volumes, according to a new study that reveals we have consumed a year’s worth of carbon, food, water, fibre, land and timber in a record 212 days.

As a result, the Earth Overshoot Day – which marks the point at which consumption exceeds the capacity of nature to regenerate – has moved forward two days to 1 August, the earliest date ever recorded.

To maintain our current appetite for resources, we would need the equivalent of 1.7 Earths, according to Global Footprint Network, an international research organisation that makes an annual assessment of how far humankind is falling into ecological debt.


While ever greater food production, mineral extraction, forest clearance and fossil-fuel burning bring short-term (and unequally distributed) lifestyle gains, the long-term consequences are increasingly apparent in terms of soil erosion, water shortages and climate disruption.


“Our current economies are running a Ponzi scheme with our planet,” he said. “We are borrowing the Earth’s future resources to operate our economies in the present. Like any Ponzi scheme, this works for some time. But as nations, companies, or households dig themselves deeper and deeper into debt, they eventually fall apart.”

The situation is reversible. Research by the group indicates political action is far more effective than individual choices. It notes, for example, that replacing 50% of meat consumption with a vegetarian diet would push back the overshoot date by five days. Efficiency improvements in building and industry could make a difference of three weeks, and a 50% reduction of the carbon component of the footprint would give an extra three months of breathing space.


Separate scientific studies over the past year has revealed a third of land is now acutely degraded, while tropical forests have become a source rather than a sink of carbon. Scientists have also raised the alarm about increasingly erratic weather, particularly in the Arctic, and worrying declines in populations of bees and other insect pollinators, which are essential for crops.


A 15-year-old Indonesian girl who was raped by her older brother has been jailed for six months for having an abortion, an official said on Saturday.
The girl was sentenced on Thursday alongside her 17-year-old brother in a closed hearing at Muara Bulian district court on the island of Sumatra, the court spokesman Listyo Arif Budiman said.
“The girl was charged under the child protection law for having an abortion,” he said.
Her brother was sentenced to two years in jail for sexually assaulting a minor.
She was helped by her mother, who faces separate charges.
Abortions account for between 30% and 50% of maternal deaths in the country, according to a 2013 World Health Organisation report.

July 19, 2018
President Donald Trump’s requested military parade is expected to cost about $12 million, according to initial planning estimates, the Pentagon confirmed Wednesday.
The parade was initial set for Nov. 11, Veterans Day, but now will take place Nov. 10 to accomodate international celebrations on Nov. 11 set to mark the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I. The parade costs were first reported by CNN.

Doctors Interrupt Patients, Stop Listening After 11 Seconds On Average, Study Says

According to the Pew Research Center, Republican Party identification fell 3 points, to 26 percent, from 2016 to the end of 2017. The number of self-identified independents increased at the same time, from 34 percent to 37 percent, while the number of Democrats remained steady. Gallup shows a similar change: From November 2016 to November 2017, there was a 5-point drop in the number of people who called themselves Republicans, from 42 percent to 37 percent. Democratic self-identification remained unchanged at 44 percent.

Unusual weather conditions for the month of July have impacted the central and eastern states the past few days from a weather pattern not typically seen in mid-summer.
A potent southward dip in the jet stream has moved from the Midwest into the East where it will linger to begin this week and contribute to a heavy rain threat.
The National Weather Service in Tampa Bay described the unusual weather pattern best in a tweet Sunday morning: "If someone randomly showed up with this satellite image and told me to guess what month it was from...July would not be my first guess. It wouldn't be my second or third guess either."
Typically the jet stream flows in a flat west-to-east fashion near the Canadian border in July. That's why its current amplified north-to-south configuration over the eastern states is out of season.
[One of those arctic incursions we've been getting in the winter, which have been getting more frequent because of global warming. Now happening in the summer.]

July 22, 2018
A deadly heat wave is expected to continue early this week across Japan.

The remainder of July will be dominated by a resurgence of heat across the northwestern United States.
The recent reprieve from the mid-July heat wave in the Northwest has come to an end as the heat intensifying over the Southwest will also expand its grip northward.
"This stretch of heat actually looks to be longer than what was experienced in mid-July," AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Dan Pydynowski said. "After returning on Sunday, the heat could last right through next weekend."
Highs are expected to soar 5-15 degrees above normal daily through the final full week of July. That will translate into highs near 90 F in Seattle; 90s in Portland, Oregon; around 100 in Pendleton, Oregon, and Boise, Idaho; and the lower 100s in Medford, Oregon.