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Hometown: Green Mountains
Home country: US
Member since: Tue Feb 5, 2013, 04:27 PM
Number of posts: 11,426

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So far 2019 has set 33 records for heat, but none for cold (NewScientist)


This seems like a pretty powerful argument against those troglodytes and venal businessmen/politicians that argue "everything is just fine".

North America is in the grip of a polar vortex, bringing freezing weather from North Dakota to Ohio. The cold snap has prompted predictably icy comments from climate change deniers. But the global picture tells a different story.

So far, no weather stations have recorded all-time cold records in 2019 – which is unprecedented at this stage of the year, according to weather records compiler Maximiliano Herrera.

In contrast, 33 stations in the southern hemisphere have recorded all-time highs. Among them were Noona in New South Wales, where the temperature at night remained above 35.9°C on 17 January – the hottest night in Australia’s history. Reunion and Christmas Island also experienced all-time hottest temperatures.

Mathematical models predict that in a stable climate, the number of hot and cold records should be equal, and new records occur less frequently over time.

In 2018, 430 stations worldwide saw all-time high temperatures and 40 saw all-time lows. Despite what many in the US are experiencing now, this ratio is as clear a sign as any that the planet is getting hotter.

NYT Krugman: The Real Governments of Blue America


Officially, a big part of the federal government shut down late last month. In important ways, however, America’s government went AWOL almost two years earlier, when Donald Trump was inaugurated.

After all, politicians supposedly seek office in order to get stuff done — to tackle real problems and implement solutions. But neither Trump, who spends his energy inventing crises at the border, nor the Republicans who controlled Congress for two years have done any of that. Their only major legislative achievement was a tax cut that blew up the deficit without, as far as anyone can tell, doing anything to enhance the economy’s long-run growth prospects.

Meanwhile, there has been no hint of the infrastructure plan Trump promised to deliver. And after many years of denouncing Obamacare and promising to provide a far better replacement, Republicans turned out to have no idea how to do that, and in particular no plan to protect Americans with pre-existing conditions.

Why can’t Republicans govern? It’s not just that their party is committed to an ideology that says that government is always the problem, never the solution. Beyond that, they have systematically deprived themselves of the ability to analyze policies and learn from evidence, because hard thinking might lead someone to question received doctrine.

And Republicans still control the Senate and the White House. So even when (if?) the shutdown ends, it will be at least two years before we have a government in Washington that’s actually capable of, or even interested in, governing.

But not everything is on hold. For America has a federal system, and the 2018 elections set the stage for a wave of actual governance — of real efforts to solve real problems — at the state and local levels.

Justice Louis Brandeis famously described the states as the laboratories of democracy; right now they’re the places where we’re seeing what it looks like when elected officials try to do what they were elected to do, and actually govern. If we’re lucky, two years from now that attitude may re-establish itself in the nation’s capital.

Maybe the "states rights" repugs have actually pushed us into an effective way forward.

Seems like the repugs can't do much right except to Mitch and Bone about what others do

Donald Trump: The Moscow Candidate


Just an example of how our outside-of-the-beltway citizens see what's happening with the (R)s and their Chosen Leader.

Searching “Trump 1987,” yields, among other things, an account from Politico that appeared in 2017. It’s very interesting; reminding us that on his first visit to Moscow, he seems to have been cosseted by the KGB. This has probably been mentioned many times before but deserves special attention in light of this weekend’s revelations.

In the same search, I came across a curious piece from the Hollywood Reporter claiming that, in 1988, Trump was angling for Reagan to appoint him ambassador to the Soviet Union. I offer the link here with no idea how valid the assertion may be.

The New York Times provides an exhaustive timeline of intersections between Trump-world and Russia. Of course it ends in December 2018, well-before the new bombshells hit, but covering Donald Trump’s indiscretions seems to be a never-ending job.

Another good read comes from New York Magazine, “What if Donald Trump has been a Russian Asset since 1987?” It even has a pictorial chart!

Exactly how might Trump have given service to Russian handlers over the years, even before reaching the White House suggests some additional data points. Trump has been a public fountain of misinformation through much of his adult life.

Remember the Central Park Five? What prompted the stingy mogul to invest $85,000. in advertising to gin up hatred for these wrongly accused young African American men and advocate for their execution? This, from a man who is notoriously un-philanthropic and won’t even pay his bills on time. Why did he appear to care so uncharacteristically much?

One can’t help musing that this would have been an ideal way to introduce a future candidate to the hate lobby.

This was followed by accusations that President Obama wasn’t born in the U.S. and the repeated suggestion that, if the accusation was true, his presidency was illegitimate.

He let that insulting calumny hover out there in the hate realm, without an apology, long after it had been effectively debunked.

Then, leading up to the 2016 election, he repeatedly attacked the integrity of the electoral process. Most people just assumed he was making excuses for why he would most likely lose the election, but what if this was part of Putin’s plan to delegitimize the U.S. democratic process?

Anyway, it’s quite a pattern; and Trump himself doesn’t display the cunning or even the simple attention necessary to sustain such a prolonged assault on our norms. It is far more likely that he is simply the corrupt vessel through which Putin has delivered poison to the very roots of American democracy.

What my father's death taught me about 'Being Mortal' - Kevin O'Connor


Having been a fan of Atul Gawande's books and viewpoints on life, medicine, and dying, I thought this piece was very good.

This was supposed to be a simple story about Atul Gawande — a New England surgeon turned author of the nationally best-selling book “Being Mortal” — born of an unexpected meeting in the fall of 2017.

“The conversation I felt like I was having was, do we fight, or do we give up?” I heard him say on public radio the weekend before. “And the reality was that it’s not do we fight, or do we give up? It’s what are we fighting for? People have priorities, besides just surviving no matter what. You have reasons you want to be alive. What are those reasons?”

Then my father was diagnosed with fast-spreading cancer and died soon after, turning this into something personal.

Most people don’t want to think, let alone talk, about mortality, starting with health care providers who often view saving lives as the only measure of success. That’s why Gawande — believing physicians and patients need to acknowledge and address reality — wrote “Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End.”


“Accepting that life can be shorter than we want is very difficult,” Gawande concludes. “It’s easy for all of us, patients and doctors, to fall back on looking for what more we can do, regardless of what we might be sacrificing along the way. You know, people have priorities besides just living longer. You’ve got to ask what those priorities are.”

For in the end, “Being Mortal” isn’t about how to die, but how to live.

Guardian: Ontario is under one-man rule. Who will stop Doug Ford?


The rightwing premier has trampled on democratic norms. The province urgently needs electoral reform to prevent a repeat.

Last year, while Conservative MPs in London held a confidence vote on Theresa May’s leadership, in Ontario, Conservative MPPs (Members of Provincial Parliament) were competing with each other to be the first to leap up and give rousing standing ovations each time the populist premier, Doug Ford, or one of his cabinet ministers spoke in the house.

Six months ago, running on a rightwing populist platform that was long on rhetoric but short on specifics, Doug Ford, the elder brother of former Toronto mayor Rob Ford, was elected with a majority Conservative government. Ford has hit the ground running. Claiming a strong mandate for his non-existent platform, Ford has eliminated environmental, worker and consumer protections, cut public services, cut education funding, and teed up public assets for a mass selloff. These typically neoconservative policies are concerning, but what’s truly frightening about Ford’s reign is the way he is concentrating power in his own office and is trampling over the democratic norms of Ontario’s parliament.
Under Ford, a majority government is translating into a four-year elected tyranny. The glimmer of hope in all of this is that people are starting to mobilise and there is renewed interest in replacing first-past-the-post elections with proportional representation, a move that would prevent a repeat of the one-man rule Ontario is currently suffering.

Sounds like the same virus that is infecting the dump(R)s has crossed the northern border. I bet oranganus is jealous of ford's powers.

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