Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Not just Amazon: 60 big companies paid $0 in taxes under Trump law

Kristin Myers
Yahoo FinanceApril 12, 2019

Big businesses are faring better than ever under the Trump era tax law, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA).

According to analysis from the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy (ITEP), 60 Fortune 500 companies avoided paying all federal income tax in 2018 (with their total average effective tax rate being roughly -5%).

That’s more than three times the number of companies that avoided paying corporate taxes on average from 2008 to 2015. During that period, 18 companies managed to pay 0% or less (with their total average effective tax rate over 8 years being roughly -4%).

“There are a lot of breaks and loopholes that allow a company not to pay,” Steve Wamhoff, ITEP’s Director of Federal Tax Policy, told Yahoo Finance. “People, when they think of tax reform, think the government is going to fix the tax code and get rid of breaks and loopholes and get rid tax dodging. What we got at the end of 2017 was not that. It was the opposite of that. The Tax Cuts and jobs act left a lot of special breaks and loopholes in place and created some new ones.”


Of all 60 companies paying taxes for 2018, the first full year under the TCJA, Amazon (AMZN) topped the list with the largest portion of income. In 2018, Amazon paid $0 in taxes on record profit of $11 billion. 2018 was the second year in a row that the e-commerce giant was able to avoid paying taxes.

Amazon is joined on the list by other big companies raking in big profits, including Delta Airlines (DAL), Chevron (CVX), Netflix (NFLX), and General Motors (GM).

“Instead of paying $16.4 billion in taxes at the 21 percent statutory corporate tax rate,” ITEP noted, “these companies enjoyed a net corporate tax rebate of $4.3 billion.”

Under TCJA, Trump’s new tax law cuts the corporate tax rate from 35% to 21%. And some big businesses that did end up paying tax in 2018 paid far less than that.


At least 11 people, including an amusement park mascot, have died across Japan in an unexpected heat wave

Alexandra Ma


At least 11 people, including a theme park mascot, have died due to an unexpected heat wave sweeping Japan.

An additional 5,664 people around the country were taken to hospital with heat-related medical issues last week, the Japanese government said Tuesday, according to the Kyodo news agency.

Temperatures unexpectedly rose after the end of the country's rainy season, with most of the country's monitoring posts recording highs of over 30 degrees Celsius (86 degrees Fahrenheit), according to the Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA).

The city of Nagoya, central Japan, is due a high of 37 C (98.6 F) on Thursday and Friday, according to the JMA.


Trump’s pick for managing federal lands doesn’t believe the government should have any

By Steven Mufson
July 31 at 10:53 AM

President Trump’s pick for managing federal lands doesn’t think the federal government should have any.

This week, Trump’s Interior Secretary David Bernhardt signed an order making the Wyoming native William Perry Pendley the acting director of the Bureau of Land Management. Pendley, former president of the Mountain States Legal Foundation, was a senior official in Ronald Reagan’s administration.

The appointment comes as a critical time for the BLM, which manages more than a tenth of the nation’s land and oversees the federal government’s oil, gas and coal leasing program. Two weeks ago, Interior officials announced the department would reassign 84 percent of the bureau’s D.C. staff out West by the end of next year. Only a few dozen employees, including Pendley, would remain in Washington.

After more than two and-a-half years in office, Trump has yet to nominate a permanent director for BLM. By placing Pendley in charge of the agency, Bernhardt has installed a longtime crusader for curtailing the federal government’s control of public lands.

In the three decades since serving under Reagan, Pendley has sued the Interior Department on behalf of an oil and gas prospector, sought to undermine protections of endangered species such as the grizzly bear, and pressed to radically reduce the size of federal lands to make way for development.


Greenland is melting in a heatwave. That's everyone's problem

By Sheena McKenzie, CNN
Updated 5:51 AM ET, Wed July 31, 2019

Extreme heat bowled over Europe last week, smashing records in its wake. Now, the heatwave that started in the Sahara has rolled into Greenland -- where more records are expected to crumble in the coming days.

That means the heatwave is now Greenland's problem, right? Not quite. When records fall in Greenland, it's everyone's problem.

Greenland is home to the world's second-largest ice sheet. And when it melts significantly -- as it is expected to do this year -- there are knock-on effects for sea levels and weather across the globe.


What happens in Greenland will be felt across the world.

Box said that this year's melt is flooding the North Atlantic with freshwater, which could affect the weather in northwestern Europe. The result could be stronger storms, he added, citing flooding in the UK in 2015 and 2016.

"Whatever happens in Greenland radiates its impact down," he said.


It will still be some time before the full "meltiness" of 2019 is measured. But it's already poised to rival the proportions of 2012 -- and we haven't even reached the end of summer.

In July alone, Greenland's ice sheet lost 160 billion tons of ice, according to Clare Nullis, spokeswoman for the UN World Meteorological Organization. That's roughly the equivalent of 64 million Olympic-sized swimming pools, she told reporters on Friday.

One of the most remarkable things about the 2019 heatwave is not just the number of records it broke across Europe -- but the margin by which it did so, she said.

"Normally when you get a temperature record broken, it's by a fraction of a degree," said Nullis. "What we saw yesterday was records being broken by two, three, four degrees -- it was absolutely incredible."


According to Nullis, intense heatwaves such as the one bringing up temperatures in Greenland "carry the signature of man-made climate change."

It's a view shared by a group of European scientists, including scholars at the University of Oxford, who earlier this month concluded in an analysis published in World Weather Attribution that recent French heatwaves had been made five times more likely because of climate change.
The researchers also said that the world is "very likely" to see more extreme heatwaves in the future due to climate change.

NPR again ignores most important topic of climate disruption

Wed. July 31, 2019

Npr made a single mention of climate change in a list of topics brought up in the 1st Democratic debate last night, which I wasn't home to watch. Same as yesterday, they didn't mention it at all when talking about the debate tonight.

CNN asked our readers to submit their top debate topic for CNN’s Democratic presidential debates Tuesday and Wednesday.

With nearly 50,000 responses, climate crisis was the top topic, followed by the economy and health care.

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

2019 Earth Overshot Day was July 29

By Earth Overshoot Day, we will have used more from nature
than our planet can renew in the whole year

Earth Overshoot Day marks the date when humanity’s demand for ecological resources (fish and forests, for instance) and services in a given year exceeds what Earth can regenerate in that year. We keep growing this deficit by liquidating the Earth’s natural capital and accumulating waste, primarily carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Andrew Simms originally conceived the concept of Earth Overshoot Day while working at the UK think tank New Economics Foundation.

Climate change made Europe's heatwave at least five times more likely

Change in ° F = 9/5 * change in ° C = 1.8 * change in ° C

So when you see a reference to a change in ° C, the change in ° F is almost twice as big.

July 2, 2019
By Adam Vaughan

Climate change made last week’s deadly heatwave in Europe at least five times more likely, according to a rapid analysis.

The team of European researchers who conducted the work also found humanity’s warming of the planet made the heatwave about 4°C [7.2°F] hotter than it would otherwise have been. The findings came as new data showed that the average European temperature last month was the hottest ever for June.

The intense heatwave affected large areas of Europe, setting temperature records in Germany, Austria, Spain, the Czech Republic, Switzerland and the Netherlands. France saw the hottest temperatures, including an all-time high of 45.9°C [114.6F] near the city of Nîmes, a level more typical of Death Valley, California. Manure self-ignited in Spain, causing a wildfire.


While the researchers were very confident in the heatwave being made at least five times more likely, they said the real world temperature data shows the probability could have been increased by as much as 100 times.

Geert Jan van Oldenborgh of the Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute says although five times is the minimum, the true figure “could be much higher.” Up to 100 times is a possibility but should not be taken too seriously, the team says, because of the difficult of modelling clouds, the interaction between atmosphere and soil, and reproducing such extreme, record-breaking temperatures in models.

Compared to a heatwave in June in 1901, last week’s one was about 4°C hotter. “This is a strong reminder again, that climate change is happening here and now,” said Friederike Otto of the University of Oxford.

Highest temperature ever recorded in the UK

Change in ° F = 9/5 * change in ° C = 1.8 * change in ° C

So when you see a reference to a change in ° C, the change in ° F is almost twice as big.

By Michael Le Page
July 30, 2019

As the world warms, yet another all-time national heat record has been set. The 38.7°C [101.66°F] recorded in Cambridge Botanic Garden on 25 July during the recent European heatwave has now been confirmed to be the highest temperature ever recorded in the UK.

The UK’s Met Office checked the instrument and site before confirming the record, which is why it has taken a few days to confirm.

New all-time national records were also set on 25 July in Germany (42.6°C/108.68°F), Belgium (41.8°C), Luxembourg (40.8°C) and the Netherlands (40.7°C). Many more places across Europe also recorded the highest temperatures ever for those locations.


The July heatwave in Europe came just a few weeks after a June heatwave set records. Many other parts of the world have also had record heat.

So far this year 11 countries have recorded their hottest ever temperatures, according to weather records compiler Maximiliano Herrera. None have recorded coldest ever temperatures.

None of the new heat records are likely to last long. The world has so far warmed around 1°C [1.8°F] and is currently on track to warm 3 or 4°C [7.2°F] by 2100. As the warming continues, heatwaves will continue to become ever more extreme.

Isolated And Struggling, Many Seniors Are Turning To Suicide

July 27, 2019


Across the country, suicide rates have been on the rise, and that rise has struck the nation's seniors particularly hard. Of the more than 47,000 suicides that took place in 2017, those 65 and up accounted for more than 8,500 of them, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Men who are 65 and older face the highest risk of suicide, while adults 85 and older, regardless of gender, are the second most likely age group to die from suicide.


What's particularly worrying, say experts like Reed, is that when seniors attempt suicide, they are far more likely to die than those who are younger.

Research has found that one out of four senior citizens that attempt suicide dies, compared to one out of 200 attempts for young adults. While the precise reasons for these figures remain unclear, experts suggest seniors are frailer and thus more vulnerable to self-inflicted injury. They can also be more isolated, which makes rescues more difficult, and perhaps even plan their attempts more carefully.


There are myriad reasons that elderly adults are more susceptible to the nation's 10th leading cause of death.

One of the most prevalent is loneliness. ...

Research has shown that bereavement is "disproportionately experienced by older adults" and can often trigger physical or mental health illnesses like "major depression and complicated grief." ...


Aging can also present transitions that are difficult to cope with. Approximately 80% of older adults live with a chronic disease – such as arthritis, diabetes and high blood pressure — and 77% have at least two, according to The National Council on Aging.

As senior citizens lose the ability to complete once routine daily tasks, depression can set in. Physical ailments might end a senior's ability to drive, read, engage in conversation or other activities that allow a person to stay independent or find meaning.


NPR ignoring climate disruption

July 30, 2019 Tues.

Listening to NPR talk about the Democratic debates tonight and tomorrow night seems to show the influence of Koch donations to NPR. No mention at all of climate change, much less Jay Inslee.
They also had an ad about how good NPR is at giving information about various topics, and they included climate change, which anybody who listens regularly knows is a farce.

'Unprecedented': more than 100 Arctic wildfires burn in worst ever season

Edward Helmore
Fri 26 Jul 2019 20.08 BST
Last modified on Mon 29 Jul 2019 11.00 BST

The Arctic is suffering its worst wildfire season on record, with huge blazes in Greenland, Siberia and Alaska producing plumes of smoke that can be seen from space.

The Arctic region has recorded its hottest June ever. Since the start of that month, more than 100 wildfires have burned in the Arctic circle. In Russia, 11 of 49 regions are experiencing wildfires.

The World Meteorological Organization (WMO), the United Nations’ weather and climate monitoring service, has called the Arctic fires “unprecedented”.


In Alaska, as many as 400 fires have been reported.


Starvation deaths of 200 reindeer in Arctic caused by climate change, say researchers

Agence France-Presse
Tue 30 Jul 2019 03.07 BST

About 200 reindeer have been found dead from starvation in the Arctic archipelago Svalbard, an unusually high number, the Norwegian Polar Institute has said, pointing the finger at climate change.


Ashild Onvik Pedersen, the head of the census, said the high degree of mortality was a consequence of climate change, which according to climate scientists, is happening twice as fast in the Arctic as the rest of the world.
Life in the fastest warming place on earth

“Climate change is making it rain much more. The rain falls on the snow and forms a layer of ice on the tundra, making grazing conditions very poor for animals,” she said.

In winter, Svalbard reindeer find vegetation in the snow using their hooves, but alternating freezing and thawing periods can create layers of impenetrable ice, depriving the reindeers of nourishment.


Author of Christian relationship guide says he has lost his faith

Harriet Sherwood Religion correspondent
Mon 29 Jul 2019 10.31 BST

The American author of a bestselling Christian guide to relationships for young people has announced that his marriage is over and he has lost his faith.

Joshua Harris, whose biblical guide to relationships I Kissed Dating Goodbye sold nearly 1m copies around the world after it was published in 1997, has also apologised to LGBT+ people for contributing to a “culture of exclusion and bigotry”.


Last year, Harris disavowed the ideas in I Kissed Dating Goodbye, saying in a statement: “I no longer agree with its central idea that dating should be avoided. I now think dating can be a healthy part of a person developing relationally and learning the qualities that matter most in a partner.

“To those who read my book and were misdirected or unhelpfully influenced by it, I am sincerely sorry.”

This month he announced on Instagram that he and his wife were separating after 21 years of marriage because “significant changes have taken place in both of us”.

Another Instagram message posted nine days later said he had “undergone a massive shift in regard to my faith in Jesus”.


'People are dying': how the climate crisis has sparked an exodus to the US

July 29, 2019

At sunrise, the misty fields around the village of Guior are already dotted with men, women and children sowing maize after an overnight rainstorm.

After several years of drought, the downpour brought some hope of relief to the subsistence farmers in this part of eastern Guatemala.

But as Esteban Gutiérrez, 30, takes a break from his work, he explains why he is still willing to incur crippling debts – and risk his life – to migrate to the United States.

“My children have gone to bed hungry for the past three years. Our crops failed and the coffee farms have cut wages to $4 a day,” he says, playing nervously with the white maize kernels in a plastic trough strapped to his waist.

“We hope the harvest will be good, but until then we have only one quintal [46kg] of maize left – which is barely enough for a month. I have to find a way to travel north, or else my children will suffer even more.”


“Over the past six years, the lack of rainfall has been our biggest problem, causing crops to fail and widespread famine,” said the climate scientist Edwin Castellanos, the dean of the research institute at Guatemala’s Universidad del Valle.

The current run of hot, dry years follows a decade or so of unusually prolonged rains and flooding due to the other phase of the cycle known as La Niña, caused by colder Pacific waters.

“Normal, predictable weather years are getting rarer,” added Castellanos.

On the ground, the impact has been devastating. In 2018, drought-related crop failures directly affected one in 10 Guatemalans, and caused extreme food shortages for almost 840,000 people, according to the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).

As a result, entire families have been migrating in record numbers: since October 2018, more than 167,000 Guatemalans travelling in family groups have been apprehended at the US border, compared with 23,000 in 2016.

Those who remain, often depend on money sent home by emigres, especially in rural areas, which received more than half the $9.2bn of remittances sent to Guatemala in 2018.


Guatemala has the sixth-highest malnutrition rate in the world with at least 47% of children suffering chronic malnourishment. Malnutrition rates are even higher among the country’s 24 indigenous communities, rising to over 60% in Camotán.

Since 2016, at least 800 children under the age of five in Camotán and the neighbouring municipality Jocotán have been diagnosed with acute malnourishment, according to health centre officials. (Underreporting means the real number is likely to be significantly higher.)


Families face an impossible choice: stay and risk starvation, or gamble everything on the perilous migrant trail. “They risk their lives if they stay – and if they go,” said Lantán.


Trump's friend tried to profit from Middle East nuclear deal, lawmakers say

Tue 30 Jul 2019 02.16 BST

A billionaire friend of Donald Trump pursued a plan to buy Westinghouse Electric Corp – even as he lobbied Trump to become a special envoy and promote the company’s work on nuclear power in Saudi Arabia, a congressional report released on Monday.

While Tom Barrack failed in both efforts, the report provides fresh evidence of the ease with which some corporate and foreign interests have gained access to the US president and other senior members of his administration.

Documents obtained by the Democratic-led House oversight committee raise “serious questions about whether the White House is willing to place the potential profits of the President’s friends above the national security of the American people and the universal objective of preventing the spread of nuclear weapons”, the report said.


Equifax breach: How to find out if your data was comprised, and get a free $125

See link below for instructions.

Dillon Thompson
,•July 29, 2019

If you were one of the 147 million Americans affected by the 2017 Equifax breach, you've finally got some money coming your way.

The credit reporting agency reached a $700 million settlement with government officials last week, agreeing to pay as much as $425 million of that money to consumers affected by the data breach.

Determining the full amount of money Equifax owes you may be a little more complicated, but getting a quick $125 could take less than a minute.


Monday, July 29, 2019

Wealthy parents give up custody of kids to get need-based college aid

By Jodi S. Cohen and Melissa Sanchez
ProPublica Illinois

Dozens of suburban Chicago families, perhaps many more, have been exploiting a legal loophole to win their children need-based college financial aid and scholarships they would not otherwise receive, court records and interviews show.

Coming months after the national "Varsity Blues" college admissions scandal, this tactic also appears to involve families attempting to gain an advantage in an increasingly competitive and expensive college admissions system.

Parents are giving up legal custody of their children during their junior or senior year in high school to someone else -- a friend, aunt, cousin or grandparent. The guardianship status then allows the students to declare themselves financially independent of their families so they can qualify for federal, state and university aid, a ProPublica Illinois investigation found.

"It's a scam," said Andy Borst, director of undergraduate admissions at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. "Wealthy families are manipulating the financial aid process to be eligible for financial aid they would not be otherwise eligible for. They are taking away opportunities from families that really need it."


A hacker gained access to 100 million Capital One credit card applications and accounts

By Rob McLean, CNN Business
Updated 9:26 PM ET, Mon July 29, 2019

In one of the biggest-ever data breaches, a hacker gained access to more than 100 million Capital One customers' accounts and credit card applications earlier this year.

The compromised data includes 140,000 Social Security numbers, 1 million Canadian Social Insurance numbers and 80,000 bank account numbers, in addition to an undisclosed number of people's names, addresses, credit scores, credit limits, balances, and other information, according to the bank and the US Department of Justice.

Paige Thompson, 33, was arrested in connection with the breach, the Justice Department said Monday. The department alleges that Thompson "posted on the information sharing site GitHub about her theft of information from the servers storing Capital One data."

Thompson had previously worked as a tech company software engineer and was able to gain access by exploiting a misconfigured web application firewall, the DOJ said.


Thursday, July 25, 2019

Europe's heatwave: Eurostar trains breaks down as records tumble in Belgium, Netherlands and Germany

James Rothwell
,The Telegraph•July 24, 2019

Eurostar trains broke down, tigers in zoos were fed chicken ice cubes, and France warned that Notre-Dame was at the risk of collapse on Wednesday, as Europe sweltered under a record-breaking heatwave.

For the second time in a month, a high pressure system drew scorching air from the Sahara desert, breaking heat records for Belgium, the Netherlands and Germany, while France risked doing the same.

In the Netherlands, the temperature reached 39.1C, breaking the previous record of 38.6C set in August 1944, while in Belgium, the mercury struck 38.9C, beating the previous high of 36.6C from June 1947 in records dating back to 1833.

In Germany the temperature soared to 40.5C in western Geilenkirchenthe, surpassing the previous record of 40.3 (104.5)

In Paris, the chief architect of historical monuments warned that the intense heat risked bringing down Notre-Dame cathedral, which was ravaged by a fire in April.


The June 26-28 blast of heat in France was 4C [7.2F] hotter than an equally rare June heatwave would have been in 1900, the World Weather Attribution (WWA) team said this month.

One study by the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology said the deadly, weeks-long heatwave across northern Europe in 2018 would have been statistically impossible without climate change.


FBI Director: White-Supremacist Violence Accounts for Majority of Domestic-Terrorism Arrests Since Last October

I find this even more significant because it comes from a Trump appointee.

Mairead McArdle
,National Review•July 23, 2019

FBI director Christopher Wray told Congress on Tuesday that the majority of domestic-terrorism arrests since last October have been linked to white supremacy.

“I will say that a majority of the domestic-terrorism cases that we’ve investigated are motivated by some version of what you might call white-supremacist violence, but it does include other things as well,” the FBI chief said in testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee.


Wednesday, July 24, 2019

U.S. Soldiers Falling Ill, Dying in the Heat as Climate Warms

By David Hasemyer
Jul 23, 2019


In 2008, 1,766 cases of heat stroke or heat exhaustion were diagnosed among active-duty service members, according to military data. By 2018, that figure had climbed to 2,792, an increase of almost 60 percent over the decade. All branches of the military saw a rise in heat-related illnesses, but the problem was most pronounced in the Marine Corps, which saw the rate of heat strokes more than double from 2008 to 2018, according to military data.

The troops who died of heat exposure are among the most extreme examples of how a warming world poses a threat to military personnel, both at home and abroad.

The rising heat exacerbates challenges the military is facing in some of the world's most destabilized regions and endangers individual service members — and, by extension, U.S. security and preparedness, the Pentagon concluded in recent studies on climate change risks. Health impacts from heat have already cost the military as much as nearly $1 billion from 2008 to 2018 in lost work, retraining and medical care. The warming of the planet "will affect the Department of Defense's ability to defend the nation and poses immediate risks to U.S. national security," a recent Department of Defense report said.


The investigation found that despite acknowledging the risks of climate change, the military continues to wrestle with finding a sustainable, comprehensive strategy for how to train in sweltering conditions. The military's investigative reports, often heavily redacted, show evidence of disregard for heat safety rules that led to the deaths of service members. The reports document a poor level of awareness of the dangers of heat illness and the decisions of commanders who pushed troops beyond prudent limits in extremely hot conditions.


One challenge in getting commanders to treat the heat threat as an urgent priority is that global warming is an increasingly taboo topic in the military under President Donald Trump, who has called climate change a hoax. In testimony before Congress, generals and admirals continue to flag climate change broadly as a threat to national security. But Trump's stance makes it difficult for leaders at some levels to frame the heat problem as an urgent climate change threat, according to interviews with retired officers, defense academics and current military personnel.

"No one is going to talk about climate change because of the political aspect and who is in the White House," a military official, who asked to remain anonymous, said. "It's a career killer to talk about something in opposition to that of the administration."


Heat has been responsible for more deaths in the United States over the last 30 years than any other natural hazard—more than floods, hurricanes or cold. Climate change is making the heat worse. Globally, the average annual temperature is now about 1.8 degrees Fahrenheit above the temperature of the late 19th Century, and the last three years have been the warmest years on record for the globe, according to the National Climate Assessment, a multiagency federal report.


About 60 percent of the Southeast's major cities are already experiencing worsening heat waves — a higher percentage than in any other region in the country — according to the National Climate Assessment. During the most recent 10 years, average summer temperatures were the hottest on record.

If greenhouse gas emissions continue on the current path, global average temperatures could rise 8.5 degrees Fahrenheit by the end of the century, the assessment found. The resulting extreme heat could lead to tens of thousands of premature deaths every year across the United States.


Thanks to climate change, parts of the Arctic are on fire. Scientists are concerned

Morgan Hines, USA TODAY Published 12:27 p.m. ET July 23, 2019 | Updated 3:42 p.m. ET July 23, 2019

It's the opposite of hell freezing over: Satellite images are showing areas of the Arctic catching fire.

From eastern Siberia to Greenland to Alaska, wildfires are burning. While it isn't uncommon for these areas to see wildfires, there is cause for concern now, Thomas Smith, an assistant professor in environmental geography at the London School of Economics, told USA TODAY.

"The magnitude is unprecedented in the 16-year satellite record," said Smith. "The fires appear to be further north than usual, and some appear to have ignited peat soils."


If what scientists were seeing from the satellite images were just regular bursts of flames, it wouldn't be as concerning.

Peat fires smolder, like a cigarette might, for long periods of time. They ignited at the end of June, Smith said, and it appears that they're still burning.

The reason it's concerning is because of what the peat fires emit: greenhouse gases.

"The fires are burning through long-term carbon stores (peat soil) emitting greenhouse gases, which will further exacerbate greenhouse warming, leading to more fires," Smith said.

Climate change is making wildfires in the Arctic far more likely to occur, Smith said.

Mark Parrington, a senior scientist in the Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service at the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts, agreed.

"We know the Arctic has been warming at about twice the rate of the global average," Parrington told USA TODAY. "What this means is that, following ignition, the environmental conditions have been ideal for the fires to grow and continue."


Tuesday, July 23, 2019

7 senators regret pushing Al Franken to resign, as new reporting casts doubt on key allegation

Christopher WilsonSenior Writer
,Yahoo News•July 22, 2019

Seven Democratic senators have said they regret calling on former Minnesota Sen. Al Franken to resign over accusations of sexual harassment.

In a new story in the New Yorker, investigative reporter Jane Mayer found a number of holes in the story of Franken’s primary accuser.


When Mayer asked Franken if he regretted resigning, he replied, “Oh, yeah. Absolutely,” and expressed the wish that he had appeared before a Senate Ethics Committee hearing. While Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York has faced much of the blame from donors for being one of the first Democrats to call for him to step down, Franken criticized Minority Leader Chuck Schumer for “not insisting to his caucus that an investigation was under way, and that due process required facts before a verdict.”


According to Mayer’s story, parts of Tweeden’s accusations don’t hold up. Tweeden asserted that Franken wrote a skit expressly to allow him to kiss her,


But Mayer found that exact skit was performed on previous USO tours, and two actresses who had previously performed it with Franken said they had done the same scene without incident.


California wildfires burn 500% more land because of climate change

By Jordan Evans, CNN and Brandon Miller, CNN Meteorologist
Updated 9:14 AM ET, Wed July 17, 2019

Climate change caused the increase in size of wildfires occurring across California in the last 50 years, according to a new study published in this week's journal Earth's Future.

Since the early 1970s, California wildfires have increased in size by eight times, the study says, and the annual burned area has grown by nearly 500%.

"Human-caused warming has already significantly enhanced wildfire activity in California, particularly in the forests of the Sierra Nevada and North Coast, and will likely continue to do so in the coming decades," the authors of the paper wrote.


The cause of the increase is simple. Hotter temperatures cause drier land, which causes a parched atmosphere.

"The clearest link between California wildfire and anthropogenic climate change thus far has been via warming-driven increases in atmospheric aridity, which works to dry fuels and promote summer forest fire," said the report.

"It is well established that warming promotes wildfire throughout the western US, particularly in forested regions, by enhancing atmospheric moisture demand and reducing summer soil moisture as snowpack declines."

Williams told CNN that human-caused warming of the planet has caused the vapor pressure deficit to increase by 10% since the late 1800s, meaning that more evaporation is occurring. By 2060, he expects this effect to double.

"This is important because we have already seen a large change in California wildfire activity from the first 10%. Increasing the evaporation has exponential effects on wildfires, so the next 10% increase is likely to have even more potent effects," he said.


tags: extreme weather, severe weather

Colorectal cancer cases on the rise among younger adults: study

AFP Relax News
•July 22, 2019

New US research has found that rates of colorectal cancer in American adults under the age of 50 are increasing.

Carried out by researchers at The University of Texas at Austin, the new study looked at information gathered from the National Cancer Database registry, which includes more than 70 percent of new cancer cases in the United States, to look at trends in colorectal cancer cases since 1970.

The findings, published in CANCER, a peer-reviewed journal of the American Cancer Society, showed that the number of American adults diagnosed with colorectal cancer under age 50 has continued to increase over the past decade, rising from 10 percent in 2004 to 12.2 percent in 2015.

Moreover, 51.6 percent of those under 50 were diagnosed with more advanced stages of colorectal cancer (stage III/IV) compared to 40 percent of those over the age of 50.

African American and Hispanic adults under 50 also showed higher rates of colorectal cancer than non-Hispanic whites under 50.

Rates of colorectal cancer diagnosis in young adults have also increased across income levels, although the highest rate of diagnoses were found in the top income category.


Dr. Goodgame noted that the cause of the increasing rates of colorectal cancer in those under 50 is still unclear, although he points out that new research suggests that it could be due to a combination of increases in body weight and changes in gastrointestinal bacteria.

Previous research has also linked colorectal cancer to too much sedentary time, in particular watching TV, too much alcohol, too much processed meat, and a lack of exercise.

A balanced healthy diet, in particular one which includes nuts and plenty of whole grains, increasing physical activity, and drinking little alcohol has been linked to a lower risk.


In some states, republicans see the recall as way back to power

Note : GOP is the republican party

If they can get their own people in power, they might be able to gerrymander the states so that republicans are elected even when a majority of voters vote for Democrats.
,Associated Press•July 21, 2019

Republicans frustrated by losing their grip on political power in some Western states have begun deploying a new weapon: the recall.

Once reserved for targeting corrupt or inept elected officials, the recall has become part of the toolkit for Republicans seeking a do-over of election results. One GOP strategist in Colorado has put a name to it — "recall season."


Republicans have been mounting recall efforts against Democratic state lawmakers and governors at an unprecedented rate over the past two years in a handful of Western states, at the same time their political fortunes in those states have been declining.


The Colorado Republican Party started months ago offering training sessions for what GOP consultant Ben Engen calls "recall season."

Proponents can use the process to time an election and shape the electorate on their own terms, when most voters aren't paying attention, said Engen, a Denver-based consultant who conducted some of those sessions.

For example, a petition drive can be timed to produce a special recall election during the winter holidays — taking advantage of lower turnout by unaffiliated voters who have helped turn Colorado, once a swing state, into Democratic-leaning territory, Engen said in an interview.

"There's a drop-off in turnout from presidential to midterm elections, and the same thing between midterms and off-year elections," Engen said. "Initiators of a recall can use the timing to maximize that enthusiasm gap."


"The strategists see that a recall may be the best chance of winnowing down the electorate in such a way as to sneak through a seat," agreed Jason Bane, a Denver-based Democratic operative. "They need something that goes under the radar for it to work."



More racial diversity in U.S. police departments unlikely to reduce shootings: study

The media skew reporting of these shootings because it gets attention, and helps divide people, making it harder for us to work together against the power elite who fund the news media.

By Alex Dobuzinskis
,Reuters•July 22, 2019

White police officers in the United States are no more likely to shoot dead minorities than black or Hispanic officers, undercutting the idea that increasing racial diversity in police departments would reduce those shootings, a study released on Monday said.

The report from researchers at Michigan State University and the University of Maryland at College Park was published on Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

It follows a number of police shootings of unarmed black men over the last few years that have triggered protests and stirred concerns about police use of force against minorities.

"Those kinds of cases, they get a lot of attention and it's right that they get a lot of attention because they're really tragic cases," said Joseph Cesario, associate professor of psychology at Michigan State University and the senior author of the report.

"But they aren't representative of what most police shootings are like," Cesario said.


In the vast majority of cases, the person killed was armed and posed a threat or had opened fire on officers, Cesario said.

"We find no evidence of anti-Black or anti-Hispanic disparities across shootings, and White officers are not more likely to shoot minority civilians than non-White officers," the authors wrote.

Instead, the authors found variances between local crime rates played a key role in predicting who was most likely to be killed by police.

In areas with high rates of violent crime by blacks, police were more than three times more likely to shoot dead a black person than a white person, the study found.

But the reverse was also true, with white people more likely to be shot by police in places where whites committed many crimes, the study found.


Monday, July 22, 2019

Phishing Emails Have Become Very Stealthy. Here Are 5 Ways to Spot Them

A friend got caught by a phishing Facebook message a few days ago.
Read the following link for more info on how to recognize phishing emails.

By Neill Feather

Phishing scams are nothing new. In fact, we've all heard about the "Nigerian prince" phishing emails that have been showing up in inboxes for years.

Unfortunately, phishing attacks continue to increase exponentially in volume, and are considered a serious threat to both companies and individual internet users since they can result in devastating financial losses. In addition, phishing emails can be much harder to recognize than many business owners think.

Cybercriminals have resorted to increasingly sophisticated phishing strategies as of late to get recipients to open, click, and share malicious code. And these tactics are paying off handsomely. Business email compromise (BEC) scams are more successful than ever, with losses reaching $2.7 billion in 2018.

Here are some common phishing trends that business owners should know about and tips for educating employees about them:

What are phishing scams?

Phishing scams typically consist of emails that seem harmless but are actually intended to trick users into sharing sensitive information. This is often accomplished by encouraging the user to click on a malicious link or attachment. Phishing emails get their name because the hackers are "fishing" for your personal information.


Whirlpool recalls fire-risk tumble dryers, years after fault was discovered

By Rob Picheta, CNN
Updated 6:35 AM ET, Mon July 22, 2019\

Home appliance maker Whirlpool has launched a recall of hundreds of thousands of tumble dryers from UK homes, years after it emerged they are at risk of catching fire.
The move was mandated by the UK government last month and follows the discovery that around 500,000 Hotpoint, Indesit, Creda, Swan and Proline-branded dryers produced between 2004 and 2015 were affected by the fault.
The US-based Whirlpool said anyone with an affected dryer should unplug it immediately.
The problem first came to light in November 2015 when it emerged that the heating elements of some dryers could cause fires when they came into contact with excess lint, but Whirlpool initially chose not to issue a general recall.


Sunday, July 21, 2019

Lies spread faster than the truth

Soroush Vosoughi1, Deb Roy1, Sinan Aral2,*
Science 09 Mar 2018:
Vol. 359, Issue 6380, pp. 1146-1151


Falsehood diffused significantly farther, faster, deeper, and more broadly than the truth in all categories of information, and the effects were more pronounced for false political news than for false news about terrorism, natural disasters, science, urban legends, or financial information. We found that false news was more novel than true news, which suggests that people were more likely to share novel information. Whereas false stories inspired fear, disgust, and surprise in replies, true stories inspired anticipation, sadness, joy, and trust. Contrary to conventional wisdom, robots accelerated the spread of true and false news at the same rate, implying that false news spreads more than the truth because humans, not robots, are more likely to spread it.


False political news (Fig. 1D) traveled deeper (Fig. 3A) and more broadly (Fig. 3C), reached more people (Fig. 3B), and was more viral than any other category of false information (Fig. 3D). False political news also diffused deeper more quickly (Fig. 3E) and reached more than 20,000 people nearly three times faster than all other types of false news reached 10,000 people


Four economic ideas disproven by reality.

By Jared Bernstein Jul 19, 2019, 8:00am EDT


The natural rate of unemployment that AOC questioned is one such idea (more on that below). There are three others worth singling out:

that globalization is a win-win proposition for all, an idea that has deservedly taken a battering in recent years;

that federal budget deficits “crowd out” private investments; and

that the minimum wage will only have negative effects on jobs and workers.

Economists and policymakers have gotten these ideas wrong for decades, at great cost to the public. Especially hard hit have been the most economically vulnerable, and these mistakes can certainly be blamed for the rise of inequality. It’s time we moved on from them.


Today, decades of high-quality research (much of it initiated by the late, great economist Alan Krueger) have introduced a much more nuanced view about the true impacts of minimum-wage hikes. But years of economists’ opposition to the policy have left us with a national minimum wage of $7.25 per hour, a level far too low to support the many families that depend on the minimum wage. (Another myth was that only teenagers earned the minimum; David Cooper’s work shows the main beneficiaries of higher minimum wages are working adults.)


Pegging the “natural rate” too high, ignoring the harm from exposure to international competition, austere budget policy, low and stagnant minimum wages — all of these misunderstood economic relationships have one thing in common.

In every case, the costs fall on the vulnerable: people who depend on full employment to get ahead; blue-collar production workers and communities built around factories; families who suffer from austerity-induced weak recoveries and under-funded safety nets, and who depend on a living wage to make ends meet. These groups are the casualties of faulty economics.

In contrast, the benefits in every case accrue to the wealthy: highly educated workers largely insulated from slack labor markets, executives of outsourcing corporations, the beneficiaries of revenue-losing tax cuts that allegedly require austere budgets, and employers of low-wage workers.

In this regard, there is a clear connection between each one of these mistakes and the rise of economic inequality.

I cannot overemphasize the importance of recognizing who benefits and who loses from these economic mistakes, because that difference is why these mistakes persist. Every one of the wrong assumptions described here benefits conservative causes, from reducing the bargaining clout of wage earners, to strengthening the hand of outsourcers and offshorers, to lowering the labor costs of low-wage employers. These economic assumptions are thus complementary to the conservative agenda and that, in and of themselves, makes them far more enduring than they should be based on the facts.


Saturday, July 20, 2019

Earthquakes repeatedly striking proposed US nuclear waste site

Not very surprising, since the Yuka mountains were formed by explosive volcanic eruptions.

Emma Snaith
,The Independent•July 19, 2019

Repeated earthquakes could risk releasing deadly radioactivity into the earth if plans for a nuclear waste site in go ahead in Nevada’s desert, the state’s governor has warned.

Tens of thousands of tons of highly radioactive used nuclear reactor fuel are due to be transferred from 35 US states to a new facility in the Mojave Desert.

The Yuka Mountain nuclear waste repository is set to store this material deep within the earth.

But a series of recent earthquakes in the Mojave Desert has raised concerns about the safety of storing radioactive waste at the facility.

On 4 July, a 7.1 magnitude earthquake ruptured the earth in the desert, which stretches across the California-Nevada border.

The force of the quake cracked buildings, sparked fires, damaged roads and caused several injuries in southern California. It was followed by a 6.4-magnitude temblor two days later.

In the wake of the earthquakes, the governor of Nevada Steve Sisolak said he was committed to “fighting any continued federal effort to use Nevada as the nation's nuclear dumping ground".


A prisoner was 'likely innocent' for 25 years, and prosecutors knew the whole time

Ryan W. Miller
,USA TODAY•July 18, 2019

A Philadelphia man more than 25 years into a life sentence has been freed after prosecutors admitted they had evidence at the time that showed the man was "likely innocent" for a murder.

Chester Hollman III, 48, was freed Monday from a state prison in Luzerne County. A formal dismissal of the charges against him is expected later this month.


In 1993, Holman was convicted of killing of University of Pennsylvania student Tae-Jung Ho near Rittenhouse Square in 1991, but the district attorney's office said authorities had evidence that pointed to other suspects, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported.


Nearby, Hollman was in a car matching the description along with a neighbor. That neighbor became a key witness in Hollman's trial when she testified that she had been riding with the man and two others when she saw two of them get out of the car and heard a gunshot, the Inquirer reported.

However, in 2012, the neighbor testified that her original statements were coerced. A since-retired police detective who took the neighbor's testimony has denied it was coerced.

Police also received a tip less than a day after the shooting that pointed to another viable suspect. Assistant District Attorney Patricia Cummings accused former police and prosecutors of suppressing evidence.

"It was pretty clear to us that unfortunately the police department and the district attorney’s office actually had evidence in their possession back at the time of trial," Cummings, who oversees Philadelphia's Conviction Integrity Unit, told reporters.

"Had they disclosed that to the defense, like they’re constitutionally and ethically required to do, Mr. Hollman might not have ever stood trial, quite frankly."

Heat Wave Kills 2, Forces Cancellation of NYC Triathlon; Subway Lines Halted

By Ron Brackett and Pam Wright
July 20, 2019

The heat wave continuing to impact more than half the residents in the United States Saturday has killed two people in Maryland, forced the cancellation of the New York City Triathlon and stopped seven NYC subway lines.

About a third of New York City's subway lines were suspended for about a third of its subway lines during Friday's hot evening commute, the Associated Press reports.

A computer system failure stranded scores of passengers underground.


Two people — a man in Prince George's County and a woman in Worcester County — died this week of heat-related illnesses, according to the Maryland Department of Health. Altogether, four people have died of heat-related illnesses this month.


In some areas, the heat was so intense that roads buckled. A stretch of Interstate 229 was closed in Sioux Falls when the roadway rose up and snapped under the Western Avenue bridge, according to the Associated Press.

Extreme heat has caused roads to buckle in Wichita, Kansas, where the temperature reached 100 degrees Wednesday, the Wichita Eagle reported.Extreme heat has caused roads to buckle in Wichita, Kansas, where the temperature reached 100 degrees Wednesday, the Wichita Eagle reported.


Police in Hays, Kansas, also reported cracked and buckled asphalt there.


tags: extreme weather

Friday, July 19, 2019

Many of the deadliest cancers receive the least amount of research funding

News Release 18-Jul-2019
Northwestern University

Many of the deadliest or most common cancers get the least amount of nonprofit research funding, according to a new Northwestern Medicine study that examined the distribution of nonprofit research funding in 2015 across cancer types.

Colon, endometrial, liver and bile duct, cervical, ovarian, pancreatic and lung cancers were all poorly funded compared to how common they are and how many deaths they cause, the study found. In contrast, breast cancer, leukemia, lymphoma and pediatric cancers were all well-funded, respective to their impact on society.


The study also explored factors that may influence which cancers receive more public support over others. Cancers that are associated with a stigmatized behavior, such as lung cancer with smoking or liver cancer with drinking, were all poorly funded.

"Shame and discomfort with talking about our bowels and 'private parts' may be reducing funding for diseases like colon or endometrial cancer," Kamath said.


Relaxed salt regulations linked to 9,900 cases of cardiovascular disease and 1,500 cancer cases

News Release 18-Jul-2019
Imperial College London

A relaxation of UK industry regulation of salt content in food has been linked with 9,900 additional cases of cardiovascular disease, and 1,500 cases of stomach cancer.

Researchers from Imperial College London and the University of Liverpool analysed the salt intake of the population in England over thirteen years to compare the effect of changes in regulations on how much salt manufacturers can use in their products.


Salt intake has been linked to an increase in cardiovascular disease - including heart attacks and stroke - as well as to an increased risk of stomach cancers. Adults are advised to eat no more than 6g (one teaspoon) a day, or 3g a day for children. However, adults in England are thought to eat an average of 8g a day and two in three people consume too much salt - with most of this coming from processed foods such as bread, processed meats and ready meals.


The researchers also found this additional disease burden hit the UK economy, as well as the nation's health. They estimated that relaxing the food industry regulations cost the economy around £160millon from 2011-2017. That included healthcare costs of extra heart attacks, strokes and cancer cases, and the loss of productivity due to workplace absences.


Rising CO2, climate change projected to reduce availability of nutrients worldwide

News Release 18-Jul-2019
International Food Policy Research Institute

One of the biggest challenges to reducing hunger and undernutrition around the world is to produce foods that provide not only enough calories but also make enough necessary nutrients widely available. New research finds that, over the next 30 years, climate change and increasing carbon dioxide (CO2) could significantly reduce the availability of critical nutrients such as protein, iron, and zinc, compared to a future without it. The total impacts of climate change shocks and elevated levels of CO2 in the atmosphere are estimated to reduce growth in global per capita nutrient availability of protein, iron, and zinc by 19.5%, 14.4%, and 14.6%, respectively.


While higher levels of CO2 can boost photosynthesis and growth in some plants, previous research has also found they reduce the concentration of key micronutrients in crops. The new study finds that wheat, rice, maize, barley, potatoes, soybeans, and vegetables are all projected to suffer nutrient losses of about 3% on average by 2050 due to elevated CO2 concentration.

The effects are not likely to be felt evenly around the world, however, and many countries currently experiencing high levels of nutrient deficiency are also projected to be more affected by lower nutrient availability in the future.


Thursday, July 18, 2019

The lesson from the ruins of Notre Dame: don’t rely on billionaires

Aditya Chakrabortty
July 18, 2019

You remember the story, of course you do. One of the most ancient and holy buildings on Earth, Notre Dame cathedral in Paris, goes up in flames. As pictures of the inferno are beamed around the world, adjectives rain down: it is atrocious, disastrous, diabolical.

Barely has the fire been put out before some of the richest people in France rush to help rebuild it. From François-Henri Pinault, the ultimate owner of Gucci, comes €100m (£90m). Not to be outdone, the Arnault family at Louis Vuitton put up €200m. More of the wealthy join the bidding, as if a Damien Hirst is going under the hammer. Within just three days, France’s billionaire class has coughed up nearly €600m. Or so their press releases state.


Weeks go by, then months, and Notre Dame sees nothing from the billionaires. The promises of mid-April seem to have been forgotten by mid-June. “The big donors haven’t paid. Not a cent,” a senior official at the cathedral tells journalists. Far humbler sums are sent in, from far poorer individuals. “Beautiful gestures,” says one charity executive, but hardly les grands prix.

That prompts a newswire story, after which two of the wealthy donors, the Arnault and Pinault families, stump up €10m each. Followed by silence. Questions I put this week to the various donors and charities went largely unanswered. (Perhaps their offices are busy or emptied out by the summer holidays.)


Meanwhile, the salaries of 150 workers on site have to be paid. The 300 or so tonnes of lead in the church roof pose a toxic threat that must be cleaned up before the rebuilding can happen. And pregnant women and children living nearby are undergoing blood tests for possible poisoning. But funding such dirty, unglamorous, essential work is not for the luxury-goods billionaires. As the Notre Dame official said last month, they don’t want their money “just to pay employees’ salaries”. Heaven forfend! Not when one could endow to future generations the Gucci Basilica or a Moët Hennessy gift shop, so you, too, can enjoy the miracle of sparkling wine, or a nave by L’Oréal (tagline: Because Jesus is Worth It).

For the super-rich, giving is really taking. Taking power, that is, from the rest of society. The billionaires will get exclusive access to the “vision” for the reconstruction of a national landmark and they can veto those plans, because if they don’t like them they can withhold their cash. Money is always the most powerful casting vote, and they have it. Never mind that much of this cash actually comes from the public, as French law grants a whopping 66% tax relief on any donation – the power is entirely private. The annual cap on such contributions doubtless constitutes a prudent reason for the big donors to stagger their generosity.


In her recent award-winning book, to be published in English next year as The Price of Democracy, Cagé calculates that 600 wealthy people in France gave between €3m and €4.5m to Macron’s election campaign. In other words, 2% of all donors made up between 40 % and 60% of all En Marche funding. Within a few months, the new president cut taxes on the wealthy, giving his richest donors “a return of nearly 60,000% on their investment”. Just as with Notre Dame – a tiny deposit, a lot of influence and one hell of a payout.


Watching a couple hours of TV a day can have major effects on your brain. So what would happen if you quit cold turkey?

Fast Company | Stephanie Vozza


The average adult watches 2.8 hours per day of television, according to the American Time Use survey from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Another study puts this number higher, at four hours and 15 minutes each day.


A lot of research has been done around TV viewing and children, and Adam Lipson, a neurosurgeon with IGEA Brain & Spine, says one of the best studies is from Tohoku University in Japan. “They noted thickening of the frontopolar cortex, which is related to verbal reasoning ability, and also correlated with a drop in IQ in proportion to the number of hours of television watching,” he says. “In addition, they noted thickening in the visual cortex in the occipital lobe, and in the hypothalamus, which may correlate with aggression.”

Studies involving adults have tied television watching to Type 2 diabetes, depression, and even crime, adds Lipson. “Many of the studies report adverse effects with television watching greater than one hour per day,” he says. “There have been EEG studies that demonstrate that television watching converts the brain from beta wave activity to alpha waves, which are associated with a daydreaming state, and a reduced use of critical thinking skills.”


“TV increasingly traffics in violent programming to keep the viewer in a state of constant fear,” says Wheeler Winston Dixon, Ryan professor of film studies at the University of Nebraska. “TV also acts as a pacifier, a sort of virtual escape, but it is one that never satisfies, and only leaves the viewer wanting more of the same emptiness.”


Yet, TV isn’t all bad, says Braverman. “There are tons of programs that challenge brain, such as shows about history,” he says. “Life is not about learning every second. TV is a tremendous potential source if properly handled. The problem is that it’s a difficult instrument to control. Some things have more destructive qualities, and TV is one of them. Just like sugar is a deceitful food, TV is a deceitful presentation of life.”

Braverman has a formula for how much is okay: “Everybody needs an hour of aerobic exercise every day,” he says. “If you work out for an hour, you can watch TV for an hour. Work out for two hours, and you can watch for two hours. Never watch more television than the amount of time you exercise.”


Earth Experiences Hottest June Ever on Record in 2019

Updated from NOAA web site on July 18, 2019

By TWC India Edit Team
July 16, 2019


As per the data released by the American space agency NASA on Monday, the global average land-ocean temperatures were 0.93°C above the normal temperature (taking 1951 to 1980 as base years). Such high temperatures have never been observed on Earth in recorded history since 1880. June of 2016 was the second-highest at 0.82°C above normal temperatures. A strong El Niño in 2015-16 was behind the high temperatures that year.

Despite being a weak El Niño year, the margin with which this year’s June temperatures have breached the 2016 levels is a cause of concern for the climate community. As the push to declare climate emergency is gaining pace across the globe, the record temperatures of June is likely to feed the movement.
Of course, there have been many El Niños in the past, weak and strong, so if that were the only factor, we wouldn't keep having record highs.


One of many impacts of warmer average temperatures, as illustrated by the IPCC reports, is the higher occurrence of extreme weather events such as tropical cyclones, heatwaves, floods and droughts. In 2018, there were 70 tropical cyclones all over the world, while the long term average is just 53. The extreme rainfall episodes after a long dry spell have become a common occurrence in India this June and July leading to flash floods and extensive losses of life and property.



The month of June was characterized by warmer-than-average temperatures across much of the world. The most notable warm June 2019 temperature departures from average were observed across central and eastern Europe, northern Russia, northeastern Canada, and southern parts of South America, where temperatures were 2.0°C (3.6°F) above the 1981–2010 average or higher. Record warm temperature departures from average during June 2019 were present across parts of central and eastern Europe, Asia, Africa, South America, the north Indian Ocean, and across parts of the Pacific and Atlantic oceans.


Averaged as a whole, the June 2019 global land and ocean temperature departure from average was the highest for June since global records began in 1880 at +0.95°C (+1.71°F). This value bested the previous record set in 2016 by 0.02°C (0.04°F). Nine of the 10 warmest Junes have occurred since 2010. June 1998 is the only value from the previous century among the 10 warmest Junes on record, and it is currently ranked as the eighth warmest June on record. Junes 2015, 2016, and 2019 are the only Junes that have a global land and ocean temperature departure from average above +0.90°C (+1.62°F). June 2019 also marks the 43rd consecutive June and the 414th consecutive month [34.5 years] with temperatures, at least nominally, above the 20th century average.
And the 20th century average was already higher than it used to be.



The global ocean-only temperature for June 2019 tied with 2016 as the highest June temperature on record at 0.81°C (1.46°F) above average. Junes 2016 and 2019 are the only June global ocean-only temperature departures from average that have surpassed +0.80°C (+1.44°F). June 2019 tied with August 2015, April 2016, and June 2016 as the 10th highest monthly global ocean temperature departure from average among all months (1,674 months) on record. The 10 highest global ocean monthly temperature departures from average have all occurred since September 2015.


The average global land and ocean surface temperature during the first half of the year tied with 2017 as the second highest January–June period in the 140-year record at 0.95°C (1.71°F) above the 20th century average. January–June 2016 was warmer at +1.11°C (+2.00°F). According to NCEI's global annual temperature ranking outlook, it is virtually certain that 2019 will end among the top five warm years.


Regionally, five of six continents had a January–June temperature that ranked among the four highest such period on record, with South America having its warmest year-to-date on record. Oceania had a near-record January-June temperature.


Youtube editing

July 18, 2019

I'm glad Youtube brought back the option to use the Classic Studio, which allows us to easily trim off part of the beginning and/or end. Doing it with my video editor results in a much bigger file. Looking into it, I think when I download one of my videos from the EOP open mic, the download program compresses it, which is removed when I edit it on my computer. Using the Youtube trim function means I don't have to use up my disk space for a little problem. If I do a lot of video editing, I need to find out how to compress my videos.

Pot linked to more use of all kinds of discipline

News Release 17-Jul-2019
Marijuana use may not make parents more 'chill'
Pot linked to more use of all kinds of discipline
Ohio State University


A study of California parents found that current marijuana users administered more discipline techniques of all kinds to their children on average than did non-users. That includes everything from timeouts to, in some cases, physical abuse.


The effect of marijuana use on parenting is a relevant concern: A 2017 survey from Yahoo News and Marist College found that 54 percent of adults who use marijuana in the United States are parents. A majority of those parents have children under the age of 18. Some groups of "marijuana moms" claim that use makes them better parents.

The results of this new study suggest that marijuana users - who are nearly always (92 percent of the time) also alcohol users - are trying to control their kids more than non-users, Freisthler said.

"It appears that users may be quicker than other parents to react to minor misbehavior," she said.

"We can't tell from this study, but it may be that parents who use marijuana or alcohol don't want their children to spoil the buzz they have, or bother them when they have a hangover."


Parents who had used alcohol or marijuana in the past, but were not at the time of the research interview, also applied most types of discipline more often than did non-users.

And the more substances that parents used, the more often they disciplined their children in all types of ways, according to the study. For example, parents who reported using the most substances practiced physical abuse at a rate about 1.45 times greater than those who used only one substance.

Results showed that the annual frequency of physical abuse was 0.5 times higher among parents who used both alcohol and marijuana in the past year, compared to those who consumed only alcohol.


tags: drug abuse, child abuse

Exercise offers protection against Alzheimer's

News Release 16-Jul-2019
Massachusetts General Hospital

Higher levels of daily physical activity may protect against the cognitive decline and neurodegeneration (brain tissue loss) from Alzheimer's disease (AD) that alters the lives of many older people, researchers from Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) have found. In a paper in JAMA Neurology, the team also reported that lowering vascular risk factors may offer additional protection against Alzheimer's and delay progression of the devastating disease.


Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Most Miserable Weather Record Ever? Miami Just Tied Its Warmest Night of All-Time

Brian Donegan
Published: July 16, 2019

Miami has tied what is arguably the most miserable weather record that a city could set – the low temperature in the South Florida city didn't dip below the mid-80s Sunday morning.

Officially, at Miami International Airport, Sunday's low has gone down in the record books as 84 degrees, tying the city's all-time warmest low temperature for any month of the year, according to the National Weather Service.

An 84-degree low was also recorded in September 1897, August 1993, August 2017 (twice) and September 2017, so Sunday was the sixth occurrence of this all-time record-warm low in Miami and the first time the low was that warm in July. The previous record-warm low for July was 83 degrees on multiple occasions.


tags: extreme weather

Slow-Moving Hurricanes Like Barry Growing More Common

Dr. Jeff Masters · July 15, 2019, 12:32 PM EDT

As Tropical Storm Barry intensified into a hurricane on its three-day trek along the Gulf Coast, the storm moved at an excruciatingly slow pace—between three and nine miles per hour. The very slow motion allowed Barry to generate a larger storm surge and dump heavier rains than a faster-moving storm would have (though most of those rains happened to fall offshore this time because of Barry's unusual structure). A study published on June 3, 2019 by scientists from NASA and NOAA found that North Atlantic hurricanes like Barry have been stalling near the coast with increasing frequency in recent decades, resulting in an increase in dangerous heavy rainfall.


Barry’s 14.58” of Rain in Arkansas Breaks All-Time State Record

Dr. Jeff Masters · July 17, 2019, 11:28 AM EDT

Update: Dierks, Arkansas reported a 24-hour rainfall amount of 16.17" July 15 - 16, 2019, from Tropical Depression Barry, with an additional 0.42" falling during the previous three days, potentially from Barry. The storm total of 16.17 - 16.59" thus establishes a new all-time state record for rain from a tropical cyclone.

Rainfall from Tropical Depression Barry deluged southwest Arkansas over the past three days, with the 14.58” that fell at Murfreesboro on July 14 - 16 breaking the all-time state record for precipitation from a tropical cyclone. Barry’s heavy rains that fell over southwest Arkansas inundated multiple highways, including I-30, and prompted four high-water rescues, according to The heaviest rains from Barry have been in Louisiana, though, with 23.58” at Beauregard.


tags: extreme weather, severe weather

Woman nearly loses sight in one eye after wearing contacts in shower and pool

July 17, 2019, 5:00 PM EDT
By Shamard Charles, M.D.

You may want to think twice about showering or swimming with your contact lenses in.

A 41-year-old woman in England nearly lost her vision in one eye from an infection she got after swimming and showering while wearing contact lenses. Her case is described in a brief report published Wednesday in the New England Journal of Medicine.


Ebola outbreak in Congo declared a global health emergency

,Associated Press•July 17, 2019

The deadly Ebola outbreak in Congo is now an international health emergency, the World Health Organization announced Wednesday after a case was confirmed in a city of 2 million people .

A WHO expert committee declined on three previous occasions to advise the United Nations health agency to make the declaration for this outbreak, even though other experts say it has long met the required conditions. More than 1,600 people have died since August in the second-deadliest Ebola outbreak in history, which is unfolding in a region described as a war zone.

A declaration of a global health emergency often brings greater international attention and aid, along with concerns that nervous governments might overreact with border closures.


Those working in the field say the outbreak is clearly taking a turn for the worse despite advances that include the widespread use of an experimental but effective Ebola vaccine.


Creditors Start Asking Coastal Cities For Their Climate Plans

July 17, 2019, 4:46 PM

Financial credit rating institutions want answers from coastal cities about how they’re preparing for climate-change impacts like sea level rise and whether they can pay for their adaptation plans, the mayor of Honolulu said July 17.

Mayor Kirk Caldwell (D), who has been leading Hawaii’s capital city since 2013, said he was asked for the first time by credit raters like Moody’s Corp. and Fitch Ratings Inc. during recent presentations in San Francisco on municipal bonds about how the city is addressing climate change impacts.


For example, Moody’s Analytics in a June report found climate change impacts such as rising temperatures, intensifying extreme weather events, and sea level rise would disrupt communities, threaten infrastructure, and hurt economic productivity.


Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Slow-Moving Hurricanes Like Barry Growing More Common

Dr. Jeff Masters · July 15, 2019, 12:32 PM EDT

As Tropical Storm Barry intensified into a hurricane on its three-day trek along the Gulf Coast, the storm moved at an excruciatingly slow pace—between three and nine miles per hour. The very slow motion allowed Barry to generate a larger storm surge and dump heavier rains than a faster-moving storm would have (though most of those rains happened to fall offshore this time because of Barry's unusual structure). A study published on June 3, 2019 by scientists from NASA and NOAA found that North Atlantic hurricanes like Barry have been stalling near the coast with increasing frequency in recent decades, resulting in an increase in dangerous heavy rainfall.

The scientists said that there was not a clear mechanism explaining the observed tropical cyclone speed reduction, and that natural variability and/or human-caused climate change could be to blame. “There is some evidence that those large-scale wind patterns are slowing down in the tropics, where Atlantic storms usually start,” said Hall. “The storms are not being pushed as hard by the current that moves them along. That’s a climate change signal.”


The results of the new study agree with those of a June 2018 study by University of Wisconsin hurricane scientist Jim Kossin, A global slowdown of tropical-cyclone translation speed, which found that the forward speed of tropical cyclones has decreased globally by about 10% since 1949. As a result of their slower forward motion, these storms are now more likely to drop heavier rains, increasing their flood risk. Most significantly, the study reported a 20% slow-down in storm translation speed over land for Atlantic storms, a 30% slow-down over land for Northwest Pacific storms, and a 19% slow-down over land for storms affecting the Australia region. A storm moving 20% slower over land has the opportunity to dump up to 20% more rain atop a given point over land, increasing the flood risk for flood defense systems designed for a 20th-century climate with less extreme precipitation events. The paper concluded that “these trends have almost certainly increased local rainfall totals in these regions.” Another increased hazard slower storms bring is increased wind damage, due to an increase in the duration of damaging winds structures are exposed to.


tags: extreme weather, severe weather

Saturday, July 13, 2019

Chernobyl's power plant managers 'hid' their radiation levels so they could protect cleanup workers

Contrast this to the CEOs who, for the sake of enriching themselves, knowingly sell products that harm and even kill their customers, and who who provide their workers to work in unsafe conditions.

Chernobyl's power plant managers 'hid' their radiation levels so they could protect cleanup workers, according to former deputy director
Aria Bendix
,Business Insider•July 12, 2019

Chernobyl was one of the worst nuclear disasters the world has ever seen, resulting in widespread contamination throughout Europe.

Workers on the cleanup site immediately following the accident had to record their radiation levels using a dosimeter, or device that measures a person's dose of radiation.

The former deputy director of the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant, Alexander Kovalenko, said management officials used to hide their dosimeters in less contaminated areas so they would be permitted to stay on the job site.


The job was so high-stakes, Kovalenko said, that management officials found ways to under-report their levels of radiation in order remain on the job site.

"I was amazed at people's behavior," he said. "No one was waiting for [an] order. ... People worked not from fear, but from conscience. No one thought about punishment or rewards and money."


His personal mission became twofold: to prevent staffers from becoming "burned," or irradiated, and to stick around long enough to finish the cleanup. Because of that, he said, managers at the plant were willing to incur higher levels of radiation to protect their staff.

"We did not want to quit what we started," he said. "I, like almost everyone in management, hid the dosimeter in the 'clean zone,' [an area outside the power plant determined to have safe levels of radiation]." This ensured that Kovalenko's dosimeter showed lower doses of radiation than he was actually receiving.

The trick allowed him to continue working in the contaminated area for about five months, until he was eventually caught by monitors who traced his route.


Alaska Chokes on Wildfires as Heat Waves Dry Out the Arctic

By Bob Berwyn, InsideClimate News
Jul 11, 2019


Global warming has been thawing tundra and drying vast stretches of the far-northern boreal forests, and it also has spurred more thunderstorms with lightning, which triggered many of the fires burning in Alaska this year, said Brian Brettschneider, a climate scientist with the International Arctic Research Center who closely tracks Alaskan and Arctic extreme weather.

So far this year, wildfires have scorched more than 1.2 million acres in Alaska, making it one of the state's three biggest fire years on record to this date, with high fire danger expected to persist in the weeks ahead.

Several studies, as well as ongoing satellite monitoring, show that fires are spreading farther north into the Arctic, burning more intensely and starting earlier in the year, in line with what climate models have long suggested would happen as sea ice dwindles and ocean and air temperatures rise.


Across the state:

For the first time in the 95-year record, the year-long July-to-June average temperature for Alaska as a whole was above freezing, showing the persistence of much warmer than average temperatures over the state.

For the year to date, the Alaska statewide average temperature was 7.9°F above average, according to NOAA's latest National State of the Climate report.

During the last 67 years, Anchorage saw a total of 17 days with a temperature of 81°F or above. This year, 81 was the average temperature for a 12-day stretch in late June and early July, Brettschneider posted on Twitter.

On July 4, Anchorage hit 90°F, breaking the city's all-time record by 5 degrees.


‘A floodier future’: Scientists say records will be broken

By WAYNE PARRYJuly 10, 2019

The federal government is warning Americans to brace for a “floodier” future.

Government scientists predict 40 places in the U.S. will experience higher than normal rates of so-called sunny day flooding this year because of rising sea levels and an abnormal El Nino weather system.

A report released Wednesday by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration predicts that sunny day flooding, also known as tidal flooding, will continue to increase.


The report predicted that annual flood records will be broken again next year and for years and decades to come from sea-level rise.

“Flooding that decades ago usually happened only during a powerful or localized storm can now happen when a steady breeze or a change in coastal current overlaps with a high tide,” it read.

The nationwide average frequency of sunny day flooding in 2018 was five days a year, tying a record set in 2015.

But the East Coast averaged twice as much flooding.

The agency says the level of sunny day flooding in the U.S. has doubled since 2000.


Residents slapped with eviction notices after AP story

,Associated Press•July 11, 2019

Two mobile home residents in North Carolina were hit with eviction notices Thursday, shortly after complaining to The Associated Press about spikes in their monthly lot rental.

The notices from Florida-based company Time Out Communities were delivered two days after the residents were prominently featured in an AP story on those living in hurricane-ravaged Robeson County.


Both residents told the AP that their rent had doubled or tripled since Time Out bought the mobile home parks they live in. The rent hikes came while the county was still struggling to bounce back from hurricanes Matthew in 2016 and Florence in 2018. Residents and community activists say both hurricanes put a strain on affordable housing resources in the county.


Lesane previously told the AP he needed to save up several thousand dollars to pay for his mobile home to be moved from the land he is renting. So far, he said he saved about $800.


Company issues recall of hot dog and hamburger buns sold by Walmart, Sam's Club

,•July 11, 2019

Flowers Foods, the Georgia-based producer of packaged bakery food, has issued a voluntary recall of its hot dog and hamburger buns.

The company announced on Tuesday that it would pull more than 50 products with best-by dates of July 18 and July 19 after it discovered small pieces of hard plastic during production. Several of the recalled products are under the business's Wonder, 7-Eleven, Clover Valley, Nature's Own and Sunbeam brands.


Trump official resigns after climate change warning is blocked

Juliet Eilperin
,The Independent•July 11, 2019

A State Department intelligence official who was blocked by the White House from submitting written congressional testimony on climate change last month is resigning from his post.

Rod Schoonover - who worked in the Office of the Geographer and Global Issues' Bureau of Intelligence and Research - spoke about the security risks the US faces due to climate change before the House Intelligence Committee on 5 June.

But White House officials would not let him submit the bureau's written statement that climate impacts could be "possibly catastrophic" after the State Department refused to cut references to federal scientific findings on climate change.


One of the statements White House officials objected to was the observation, "Absent extensive mitigating factors or events, we see few plausible future scenarios where significant - possibly catastrophic - harm does not arise from the compounded effects of climate change."


The US suicide rate is up 33% since 1999

By Jacqueline Howard, CNN
Updated 7:34 AM ET, Fri June 21, 2019

The suicide rate in the United States continues to climb, with a rate in 2017 that was 33% higher than in 1999, new research finds.
Suicide rates among people 15 to 64 increased significantly during that period, rising from 10.5 per 100,000 people in 1999 to 14 per 100,000 in 2017, the most recent year with available data, according to annual research published by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's National Center for Health Statistics on Thursday.

The report noted that America's suicide rates are at the highest level since World War II.