…maybe it’s just me…but if anything’s sacred I’d be ok with it being the day of rest…though they do say a change is as good as a rest…so could we maybe have a bit of that?
Multiple people killed, dozens injured in separate shootings across America
Gunfire erupted in Houston, Philadelphia, Portland, Oregon, Sacramento, California, and Washington, D.C. The youngest victim was 6 years old.https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/4-dead-22-injured-separate-shootings-across-america
Fans at a baseball game at National Park in Washington scrambled for safety Saturday night after gunfire erupted outside the venue.https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/nationals-fans-flee-safety-after-gunfire-erupts-outside-park
…but…well…not this sort?
Twenty-six people were hospitalized with breathing problems or skin irritation after they were exposed to bleach and sulfuric acid on Saturday afternoon at Six Flags Hurricane Harbor Splashtown, a water park in Spring, Texas, the authorities said.26 People Hospitalized After Chemical Exposure at Texas Water Park [NYT]
More than 30 shoppers were injured Saturday when a suspect sprayed a strong repellent inside a Miami-area store, police said.https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/more-30-injured-repellent-attack-inside-miami-area-store
…although…there’s certainly a lot of change that isn’t remotely restful
For the third year in a row, residents of northeastern Siberia are reeling from the worst wildfires they can remember, and many are left feeling helpless, angry and alone.
Last year, wildfires scorched more than 60,000 square miles of forest and tundra, an area the size of Florida. That is more than four times the area that burned in the United States during its devastating 2020 fire season. This year, more than 30,000 square miles have already burned in Russia, according to government statistics, with the region only two weeks into its peak fire season.
Scientists say that the huge fires have been made possible by the extraordinary summer heat in recent years in northern Siberia, which has been warming faster than just about any other part of the world. And the impact may be felt far from Siberia. The fires may potentially accelerate climate change by releasing enormous quantities of greenhouse gases and destroying Russia’s vast boreal forests, which absorb carbon out of the atmosphere.
Last year, the record-setting fires in the remote Siberian region of Yakutia released roughly as much carbon dioxide as did all the fuel consumption in Mexico in 2018, according to Mark Parrington, a senior scientist at the Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service in Reading, England.Northeastern Siberia is a place where people take Arctic temperatures in stride. But 100-degree days are another matter entirely. [NYT]
Smoke and heat from a huge wildfire in south-eastern Oregon are creating giant “fire clouds” over the blaze – dangerous columns of smoke and ash that can reach up to six miles (10km) in the sky and are visible from more than 100 miles (160km) away.
Authorities have put these clouds at the top of the list of the extreme fire behavior they are seeing amid the Bootleg fire, the largest wildfire burning in the US. The inferno grew on Friday to about 377 sq miles (976 sq km), an area larger than New York City, and was raging through a part of the American west that is enduring a historic drought.
Meteorologists this week also spotted a bigger, more extreme form of fire cloud – ones that can create their own weather, including “fire tornadoes”.
Extreme fire behavior, including the formation of more fire clouds, was expected to persist on Friday and worsen into the weekend. There are currently at least 70 wildfires burning in the western United States and dozens more in Canada.
Devastatingly high temperatures are also expected to bake the west through the weekend, from the central Rockies into southern Canada, as the region braces for the fourth heatwave in five weeks. Forecasts estimate that highs across the region will be 20 to 30F higher than average for this time of year. By Monday, Bozeman, Montana may see temperatures reaching up to 107F (41.6C) – the hottest temperature the city has ever recorded.https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2021/jul/16/bootleg-fire-oregon-fire-clouds-pyrocumulus
The West has been beset by historic drought and heat waves this year exacerbated by climate change, but among the small towns that have been threatened by the Bootleg Fire — Sprague River, Beatty, Bly — there is little talk of global warming. Instead, residents vent about the federal government’s water policies and forest management. They blame liberal environmentalists for hobbling the logging industry and Mexican marijuana farmers for sucking up the area’s water.
But despite the harm from fires and drought, many in this part of southern Oregon don’t place the blame on a changing climate. About 70 percent of Klamath County voted for former president Donald Trump in the past election, and residents often echo his skepticism on the topic.
“Global warming?” Lawrence said as he sat drinking coffee with three friends on Wednesday morning around a table at the back of the Sycan Store in Bly.
“Yeah, right,” one of the others muttered.https://www.washingtonpost.com/climate-environment/2021/07/17/bootleg-fire-oregon-heat-wave/
…you’d think it might be enough to sway some of those people when the world around them is literally on fire…but if not then there’s at least a possibility it might light a different sort of fire under some others
Decades of climate activism have gotten millions of people into the streets but they haven’t turned the tide on emissions, or even investments. Citing a 2019 study in the journal Nature, Malm observes that, measuring by capacity, 49 percent of the fossil-fuel-burning energy infrastructure now in operation was installed after 2004. Add in the expected emissions from projects in some stage of the planning process and we are most of the way toward warming the world by 2 degrees Celsius — a prospect scientists consider terrifying and most world governments have repeatedly pledged to avoid. Some hoped that the pandemic would alter the world’s course, but it hasn’t. Oil consumption is hurtling back to precrisis levels, and demand for coal, the dirtiest of the fuels, is rising.
Still, violence is often deployed, even if counterproductively, on behalf of causes far less consequential than the climate crisis. So skepticism of the practical benefits of violence does not fully explain its absence in a movement this vast and with consequences this grave. To that end, Malm quotes the writer John Lanchester, who asked, in 2007, whether the absence of eco-violence was because “even the people who feel most strongly about climate change on some level can’t quite bring themselves to believe in it.”
This question does not apply only to violence. It applies to quieter questions of political strategy and policy demands, and it is often asked of the climate movement. “It has become fashionable to call for a World War II-style mobilization to fight climate change,” wrote Ted Nordhaus, the founder of The Breakthrough Institute, in an essay questioning whether climate activists believed their own rhetoric. “But virtually no one will actually call for any of the sorts of activities that the United States undertook during the war mobilization — rationing food and fuels, seizing property, nationalizing factories or industries, or suspending democratic liberties.”It Seems Odd That We Would Just Let the World Burn [NYT]
It’s true that there is a discordance between the pitch of the rhetoric on climate and the normalcy of the lives many of us live. I don’t see that as a revelation of political misdirection so much as a constant failure of human nature. We are inconsistent creatures who routinely court the catastrophes we most fear. We do so because we don’t feel the pain of others as our own, because there are social constraints on our actions and imaginations, because the future is an abstraction and the pleasures of this instant are a siren. That is true with our health and our finances and our loves and so of course it is true with our world.
…& it could be argued that some change demands unrest
Democrats have produced the biggest headlines recently on the charged issue of voting rights. What they’ve yet to produce is an effective strategy to counteract the work Republican state legislators are doing to limit access and inject partisanship into the election process. More and more for Democrats, it looks like a long battle ahead.https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/democrats-are-making-headlines-on-voting-rights-but-little-more-to-counter-restrictive-efforts-by-republicans/2021/07/17/story.html
From the president to the vice president to the Texas quorum breakers, Democrats are relying on rhetoric and visibility to make their case to expand and defend voting rights. Meanwhile, Republicans are applying the muscle they enjoy in state capitals to change laws. For now, this is a formula that gives Republicans the upper hand.
Today, as American democracy enters a midlife crisis, the Supreme Court has often been heralded as democracy’s guardian. Decisions dating from 1954’s Brown v. Board of Education are seen by many as essential responses to the tyranny of the majority. Yet it appears that the court has reverted to its older ways. In 2013, a justice sneered at Congress’s nearly unanimous reauthorization of the Voting Rights Act, calling it the “perpetuation of a racial entitlement.” He was soon joined by four of his colleagues in the Shelby County decision, which treated a central provision of the Voting Rights Act as beyond Congress’s power to enact “appropriate” legislation. And in its Brnovich decision this month, the court stuck a second dagger into the act, calling it too “radical” to be enforced as written.
In the wake of these decisions — as before — Jim Crow laws are reemerging. By declining to enforce federal laws because it disagrees with Congress about whether they’re constitutionally appropriate, the Supreme Court has functioned as an antidemocratic institution that produces antidemocratic results.
[…]when the Supreme Court decides not to enforce a federal law, the justices in the majority effectively declare that their view is superior to everyone else’s. Even if the president, more than 500 members of Congress and four justices interpret the Constitution as permitting a law, if five justices disagree, then the law is not enforced. This was the scenario in 2013, when five members of the court held that a key section of the Voting Rights Act wasn’t “appropriate legislation.”
Yet no democratic procedure requires the justices to think of themselves as political equals with people who disagree with them. And while later generations of justices can revisit and overturn any of the court’s precedents, everyone else has the formal power to overrule the court only if two-thirds of both houses of Congress and three-quarters of the 50 states approve a constitutional amendment.
Indeed, it’s difficult to explain why, in a democracy, the constitutional interpretation of five justices should be superior to the constitutional interpretation of the elected officials who appointed and confirmed them.https://www.washingtonpost.com/outlook/2021/07/16/supreme-court-anti-democracy/
The only honest answer is that the justices are supposed to be antidemocratic. As Justice Robert Jackson wrote in 1943, “The very purpose of a Bill of Rights was to withdraw certain subjects from the vicissitudes of political controversy, to place them beyond the reach of majorities and officials and to establish them as legal principles to be applied by the courts.” Other scholars have joined him in accepting the “countermajoritarian difficulty” of judicial review. This perspective concedes that judicial review is antidemocratic — yet necessary for democracy to function properly.
But there is little historical reason to believe there is anything intrinsically correct about the Supreme Court’s constitutional interpretations. No expertise on the planet can determine whether Congress’s 1875 ban on racial discrimination, its 1965 expansion of voting rights, or its 2010 expansion of health insurance is “appropriate” or providing for the “general Welfare.” Resolving those questions requires the same trade-offs among competing principles that a democracy makes when it decides to enact any law. Our democracy suffers when an unelected group of lawyers take away our ability to govern ourselves.
…& that’s when you’re dealing with people who supposedly exhibit good judgement to the extent that it’s literally their job for life…whereas for most of us online you might say it was more by way of a hobby…not that that goes for everyone…it’s a full-time job for some
The vast majority of Covid-19 anti-vaccine misinformation and conspiracy theories originated from just 12 people, a report by the Center for Countering Digital Hate (CCDH) cited by the White House this week found.https://www.theguardian.com/world/2021/jul/17/covid-misinformation-conspiracy-theories-ccdh-report
…& let’s face it
This account of Carlson’s years-long focus on racial grievance, and his rise to the top of the conservative media ecosystem, is based on a review of his books, broadcasts and writings over nearly three decades, as well as interviews with current and former associates, subjects of his on-air attacks and others who have observed his career.
What emerges is a portrait of an ambitious television personality who came of age in privilege — having grown up in an upper-class enclave and attended private schools — but who, by his own telling, is a victim.How Tucker Carlson became the voice of White grievance [WaPo]
Night after night, Carlson stokes resentment among his audience of nearly 3 million — which gave him the highest-rated cable news show in the most recent quarter — and the millions more who absorb his viral outbursts on social media. He blasts liberals, throttles Republican leaders whom he sees as insufficiently devoted to battling the “woke” left, and generally sets the parameters for the far-right anti-elitism that defines today’s GOP.
Carlson has used his influence to spread unfounded claims that have been embraced by many Republican leaders. He has echoed Trump’s falsehood that the election was “rigged.” He promoted the baseless notion that FBI agents were behind the storming of the Capitol. And although he has described himself as “pretty pro-vaccine,” Carlson has questioned the efficacy of vaccination against the coronavirus, saying, “maybe it doesn’t work and they’re simply not telling you that” — leading President Biden’s chief medical adviser Anthony S. Fauci to rebut his “crazy conspiracy theory.”
…when you stack some of this stuff up
Thursday marks a turning point in internet history. For the first time, the U.S. surgeon general has declared the barrage of misinformation spreading on social media a public health hazard. In an advisory, Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy calls on technology companies to “take responsibility for addressing the harms” their social media products impose on consumers by prioritizing the early detection of misinformation, providing researchers with meaningful access to data, and protecting public health professionals from harassment.
For social media companies, misinformation is like secondhand smoke, spreading falsehoods to millions before the truth can be known.Facebook, Twitter and other social media companies need to be treated like Big Tobacco [NBC]
As researchers of the internet and the dangerous effects of disinformation campaigns, we urge policymakers to embrace the surgeon general’s advisory and treat social media as a consumer product. We ask them to fund research on the true costs of misinformation and create public interest obligations for social media, like the way radio stations are required to routinely make local announcements, so that timelines and news feeds are required to provide timely, accurate and local knowledge and information.
“They’re killing people,” Biden said when asked what his message was to social media platforms like Facebook on the spread of false and misleading claims about the virus and the safety of vaccines that prevent it.https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/white-house/they-re-killing-people-biden-blames-facebook-other-social-media-n1274232
…some of the rhetoric can’t be on the level
Facebook refuted the criticism Friday, saying 2 billion people have viewed the science that vaccination works on the platform, and that more than 3.3 million Americans used its vaccination finder tool.
On Saturday, it doubled down, saying its data, collected with the help of Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Maryland, adds up to the platform appearing to outperform the Biden administration on fostering “vaccine acceptance.”https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/facebook-suggests-it-s-more-effective-biden-vaccinations
…call me a cynic…but I know which of those takes I buy
In “An Ugly Truth: Inside Facebook’s Battle for Domination,” Times writers Sheera Frenkel and Cecilia Kang describe a deleterious pattern at Facebook: Don’t bring the boss bad news or push back. Exercise willful blindness about the disaster around the corner, and then, once it arrives, manage it badly. Put the syndicate over democracy. Blame others for your mistakes, especially the unfair media. Present yourself as doing good for the world when you’re doing bad.
That perfectly captures the routine inside the Trump White House as well.https://www.nytimes.com/2021/07/17/opinion/sunday/zuckerberg-sandberg-facebook-trump.html
[Zuckerberg] wanted to stay in his hermetically sealed box playing tech visionary, Kang told me, and blame Sandberg for the fallout over Cambridge Analytica, foreign interference in the 2016 election, disinformation in the 2020 election, misinformation about Covid-19 and the vaccines. This is despite the fact that when it comes to critical issues for Facebook, such as how to handle disinformation complaints and whether to ban Trump, Zuckerberg makes all the decisions.
…& we can theorize about this stuff ’til the cows come home
Increasingly, I’ve felt that online engagement is fueled by the hopelessness many people feel when we consider the state of the world and the challenges we deal with in our day-to-day lives. Online spaces offer the hopeful fiction of a tangible cause and effect — an injustice answered by an immediate consequence. On Twitter, we can wield a small measure of power, avenge wrongs, punish villains, exalt the pure of heart.
In real life, we are fearful Davids staring down seemingly omnipotent Goliaths: a Supreme Court poised to undermine abortion and civil rights; a patch of sea on fire from a gas leak; an incoherent but surprisingly effective attack on teaching children America’s real history; the dismantling of the Voting Rights Act; a man whom dozens of women have accused of sexual assault walking free on a technicality. At least online, we can tell ourselves that the power imbalances between us flatten. Suddenly, we are all Goliaths in the Valley of Elah.
One person makes a statement. Others take issue with some aspect of that statement. Or they make note of every circumstance the original statement did not account for. Or they misrepresent the original statement and extrapolate it to a broader issue in which they are deeply invested. Or they take a singular instance of something and conflate it with a massive cultural trend. Or they bring up something ridiculous that someone said more than a decade ago as confirmation of … who knows?
Every harm is treated as trauma. Vulnerability and difference are weaponized. People assume the worst intentions. Bad-faith arguments abound, presented with righteous bluster.
And these are the more reasonable online arguments. There is another category entirely of racists, homophobes, transphobes, xenophobes and other bigots who target the subjects of their ire relentlessly and are largely unchecked by the platforms enabling them. And then, of course, there are the straight-up trolls, gleefully wreaking havoc.
It is infuriating. It is also entirely understandable. Some days, as I am reading the news, I feel as if I am drowning. I think most of us do. At least online, we can use our voices and know they can be heard by someone.
It’s no wonder that we seek control and justice online. It’s no wonder that the tenor of online engagement has devolved so precipitously. It’s no wonder that some of us have grown weary of it.Why People Are So Awful Online [NYT]
…but it’s not just online this shit is a problem
The Los Angeles County Sheriff announced that his department will not enforce a reinstated mask mandate, saying it is not backed by guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Scheduled to go into effect Saturday night, the mandate requires all residents, regardless of vaccination status, to wear masks indoors. Sheriff Alex Villanueva said that while the Los Angeles County Department of Health could enforce the order, “the underfunded/defunded Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department will not expend our limited resources and instead ask for voluntary compliance.”https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2021/07/17/los-angeles-county-sheriff-will-not-enforce-mask-mandate-saying-it-is-not-backed-by-science/
…passing the buck might be a grand tradition in some cases…but if the buck stops somewhere…I’m not sure it helps to start off passing it so fast that it develops momentum at a rate where you begin to think of terms like “terminal velocity”
Maria Van Kerkhove, a World Health Organization epidemiologist, was in her Geneva office last weekend preparing for a keynote address when a simple phrase came to mind. She had been pondering the dismaying rise in coronavirus infections globally during the previous three weeks, a reversal of promising trends in late spring. The surge came as people across much of the Northern Hemisphere were moving around again in a suddenly freewheeling summer — as if the pandemic were over.
She wrote in her notebook: “The world needs a reality check.”
Reality checks abound. Coronavirus infections are surging in places with low vaccination rates. SARS-CoV-2 is continuing to mutate. Researchers have confirmed the delta variant is far more transmissible than earlier strains. Although the vaccines remain remarkably effective, the virus has bountiful opportunities to find new ways to evade immunity. Most of the world remains unvaccinated.
And so the end of the pandemic remains somewhere over the horizon.
“We’re getting further away from the end than we should be. We’re in a bad place right now globally,” Van Kerkhove said.In this summer of covid freedom, disease experts warn: ‘The world needs a reality check’ [WaPo]
…& for some things…what is it they say about “justice delayed is justice denied”?
Now, U.S. officials say that organizing and transferring the mountain of data in what the Justice Department calls the largest criminal investigation in U.S. history is likely to cost tens of millions of dollars. Prosecutors say they hope to be able to turn over the bulk of 16,000 hours of Capitol and police footage to defendants beginning in August, and by fall to begin producing individually relevant returns from more than 6,000 grand jury subpoenas and more than 2,000 recovered smartphones, computers and other devices. They have also collected more than 300,000 public tips, including potential misidentifications that defendants might want to investigate.
The defense bar, organized by the Office of the Federal Public Defender in Washington, D.C., had hoped to rely on the government’s data system. But it learned last month that — for what prosecutors called “contractual and technical reasons” — it would have to select its own vendor and build a system to receive the data, requiring additional time.
In a further setback, a federal judge ruled Friday that prosecutors cannot share secret grand jury evidence with its contractor, undermining an effort they called “a practical necessity” and forcing investigators to go case-by-case through such material.
The timetable means that even jailed individuals at top priority are unlikely to go to trial before January or even next spring, with trials likely to start well into 2022 and continue in 2023, lawyers familiar with the investigation say.As mountain of video evidence grows, Capitol riot trials are pushed to 2022 and beyond [WaPo]
…so…while we settle in for a long haul that seems to guarantee that shit will outlive the mid-terms…it’s maybe worth noting that even comfort food may in fact not be all that comforting?
The true cost of food is even higher than you think, a new report out Thursday says.
The United States spends $1.1 trillion a year on food. But when the impacts of the food system on different parts of our society — including rising health care costs, climate change and biodiversity loss — are factored in, the bill is around three times that, according to a report by the Rockefeller Foundation, a private charity that funds medical and agricultural research.
Using government statistics, scientific literature and insights from experts across the food system, the researchers quantified things like the share of direct medical costs attributable to diet and food, as well as the productivity loss associated with those health problems. They also looked at how crop cultivation and ranching, and other aspects of U.S. food production impacted the environment. Focusing on the production, processing, distribution, retail and consumption stages of the food system (not including food service), they evaluated what it would cost to restore people’s health, wealth or environment back to an undamaged state, as well as the cost of preventing a recurrence of the problems.
Health impacts are the biggest hidden cost of the food system, with more than $1 trillion per year in health-related costs paid by Americans, with an estimated $604 billion of that attributable to diseases — such as hypertension, cancer and diabetes — linked to diet.
In calculating the financial burden of environmental problems, the researchers evaluated direct environmental impacts of farming and ranching on greenhouse gas emissions, water depletion and soil erosion. They also looked at reduced biodiversity, which lowers ecosystems’ productivity and makes food supplies more vulnerable to pests and disease. They determined the unaccounted costs of the food system on the environment and biodiversity add up to almost $900 billion per year.https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2021/07/16/true-cost-of-american-food-system/
…& whose fault is that, you might ask?
A handful of powerful companies control the majority market share of almost 80% of dozens of grocery items bought regularly by ordinary Americans, new analysis reveals.
A joint investigation by the Guardian and Food and Water Watch found that consumer choice is largely an illusion – despite supermarket shelves and fridges brimming with different brands.
In fact, a few powerful transnational companies dominate every link of the food supply chain: from seeds and fertilizers to slaughterhouses and supermarkets to cereals and beers.
The size, power and profits of these mega companies have expanded thanks to political lobbying and weak regulation which enabled a wave of unchecked mergers and acquisitions. This matters because the size and influence of these mega-companies enables them to largely dictate what America’s 2 million farmers grow and how much they are paid, as well as what consumers eat and how much our groceries cost.
It also means those who harvest, pack and sell us our food have the least power: at least half of the 10 lowest-paid jobs are in the food industry. Farms and meat processing plants are among the most dangerous and exploitative workplaces in the country.The true extent of America’s food monopolies, and who pays the price [Guardian]
…feels like it needs more songs…but I need more coffee…so that’s another thing that may have to wait?