A Tennessee police chief had a message for fellow law enforcement: turn in your badge if ‘you don’t have an issue’ with George Floyd’s death

Insider -U.S.

A Tennessee police chief had a message for fellow law enforcement: turn in your badge if ‘you don’t have an issue’ with George Floyd’s death

Celia Ferandez, cfernandez@insider.com         
David Roddy has been a member of the Chattanooga Police Department for 24 years.
David Roddy has been a member of the Chattanooga Police Department for 24 years.

  • After the video of George Floyd’s arrest and his subsequent death went viral on Monday, a Tennessee police chief tweeted his thoughts on Wednesday.
  • David Roddy said that officers who don’t have an issue with Floyd’s arrest should turn in their badges.
  • His tweet has since gone viral with over 159,000 retweets and 623,000 likes.

A Tennessee police chief by the name of David Roddy sent a message to his fellow officers on Twitter in response to the death of George Floyd.

On Wednesday, Chattanooga Police Department Chief David Roddy said police officers who didn’t see an issue with the graphic video that showed former Minneapolis police officer David Chauvin kneeling on Floyd’s neck as the 46-year-old repeatedly said, “I can’t breathe,” should quit the force.

“There is no need to see more video. There no need to wait to see how “it plays out”. There is no need to put a knee on someone’s neck for NINE minutes. There IS a need to DO something. If you wear a badge and you don’t have an issue with this…turn it in,” Roddy wrote.

Roddy’s tweet has since gotten over 159,000 likes and 623,000 retweets. According to the Chattanooga Police Department website, Roddy has 24 years of service under his belt.

Floyd was pronounced dead at a local hospital on Monday shortly after his arrest. Since the video starting circulating social media, Chauvin was charged on Friday with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter, and all four officers that were involved in the arrest were fired.

Footage of the arrest has also sparked outrage across the country causing protests in cities like Minneapolis, Atlanta, New York, Los Angeles, Denver, Detroit, Dallas, Washington, DC, and more.

Roddy did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.

Read the original article on Insider

Related:

The Independent

‘The names change but the colour is always black’: Protesters on what George Floyd’s killing means to them

Andrew Buncombe, The Independent                 
EPA
EPA

At the junction where a police officer was filmed kneeling on George Floyd’s neck as he gasped for air, there were shouts and cheers when it was announced the man had been charged with murder.

“Yes! Chauvin’s been charged with murder,” yelled one man. “We got one of them.”

But for the protesters gathered at 38th St and Chicago Ave, in the south of Minneapolis, any celebrations over the charging of 44-year-old white police officer Derek Chauvin, were short-lived.

People demanded that all four officers involved in the incident that led to the death of Mr Floyd be brought to justice. And what was all this with third-degree murder? He meant to kill him, people insisted It should be first-degree.

There was also agreement that until all four men were charged, the protests – both the peaceful and those that saw a police station and other buildings set ablaze – would continue.

“I can’t say I agree with burning down buildings useful to our community,” said 19-year-old student Tsunami Douglas, claiming there were reports that police had set some buildings alight. “But people have had enough.”

Her friend, Twyla Mowll, 18, said as a young person of colour growing up in south Minneapolis, they would never call the police as nobody knew how it would play out.

“Police officers are trained to serve the people,” she added. “That does not involve shooting or killing, When people have to be protected from the police, there is no point. There needs to be a new system.”

As Hennepin County attorney Mike Freeman announced the charges against Mr Chauvin, further details emerged of the incidents in which Mr Floyd’s throat was stepped on, as he lay on the floor close to Cup Foods grocery, the spot now marked with flowers and photographs.

The charge sheet claimed Mr Chauvin had his knee on Mr Floyd’s neck for eight minutes and 46 seconds. The complaint said that included nearly three minutes after the man had stopped moving and talking.

“Police are trained that this type of restraint with a subject in a prone position is inherently dangerous,” it said.

An officer allegedly put his knee on George Floyd’s throat for more than eight minutes (Andrew Buncombe )
An officer allegedly put his knee on George Floyd’s throat for more than eight minutes (Andrew Buncombe )

 

Amid the anger and dismay, one reaction few if any mentioned was surprise.

This was something that happened all the time, or at least every summer, residents said. “There needs to be a revolution,” said a 20-year-old woman called Macy, who said she was visiting her parents from New York.

“The only reason we got this murder charge was because of the burning of the buildings. So we cannot afford to let that stop,” she said.

“The white people are getting scared. They feel threatened. But America does not want to confront its past. Even Germany examined its Nazi past. Nobody will talk about slavery.”

The other three officers have been named Thomas Lane, Tou Thao and J Alexander Kueng. Mr Freeman, the prosecutor said he considered there could be charges brought against them as well, but declined to suggest what they might be.

At the spot where people took turns to speak on a microphone to the crowd, people demanded all four men were responsible for what had happened. They said none of the officers had stepped in to stop what was being done by their colleague.

“If someone like me is present where there’s a crime, I’d be charged as an accomplice,” said Sadi, a woman who asked to give one name and who said she was in her mid-40’s.

Asked how a system in which young black men repeatedly die at the hands of police could be changed, she said: “We need white people to be allies. We need them to care about this. But we have a racist as president.”

As the banners and placards on display grow, George Floyd joins a mounting list of young African American men – and some women – who have been killed in encounters with the police – Michael Brown in Ferguson, Freddie Gray in Baltimore, and Eric Garner in New York, to name just as few.

In Minneapolis, a 24-year-old black man named Jamar Clark was shot dead by police in 2015. The following year, officers killed Philando Castile, a 32-year-old black man killed by a Minnesota police officer during a traffic stop.

“This happens all the time, but people are saying enough is enough,” said Yasmeen Abdulla, a 26-year-old medical student who lives in the neighbourhood. “People have been dying in police brutality. They want justice.”

He said while the names of the police’s victims varied, there was one constant. He said: “The names are different but they are always the same colour.”

Every Single Worker Has Covid at One U.S. Farm on Eve of Harvest

Bloomberg – Business

Every Single Worker Has Covid at One U.S. Farm on Eve of Harvest

Mike Dorning and Jen Skerritt             
Every Single Worker Has Covid at One U.S. Farm on Eve of Harvest
Every Single Worker Has Covid at One U.S. Farm on Eve of Harvest

(Bloomberg) —

All of the roughly 200 employees on a produce farm in Tennessee tested positive for Covid-19 this month. In New Jersey, more than 50 workers had the virus at a farm in Gloucester County, adding to nearly 60 who fell ill in neighboring Salem County. Almost 170 were reported to get the disease at a tomato and strawberry greenhouse complex in Oneida, New York.

The outbreaks underscore the latest coronavirus threat to America’s food supply: Farm workers are getting sick and spreading the illness just as the U.S. heads into the peak of the summer produce season. In all likelihood, the cases will keep climbing as more than half a million seasonal employees crowd onto buses to move among farms across the country and get housed together in cramped bunkhouse-style dormitories.

The early outbreaks are already starting to draw comparisons to the infections that plunged the U.S. meat industry into crisis over the past few months. Analysts and experts are warning that thousands of farm workers are vulnerable to contracting the disease.

Aside from the most immediate concern — the grave danger that farmhands face — the outbreaks could also create labor shortages at the worst possible time. Produce crops such as berries have a short life span, with only a couple of weeks during which they can be harvested. If a farm doesn’t have enough workers to collect crops in that window, they’re done for the season and the fruit will rot. A spike in virus cases among workers may mean shortages of some fruits and vegetables at the grocery store, along with higher prices.

“We’re watching very, very nervously — the agricultural harvest season is only starting now,” said Michael Dale, executive director of the Northwest Workers’ Justice Project in Portland, Oregon, and a lawyer who has represented farm workers for 40 years. “I don’t think we’re ready. I don’t think we’re prepared.”

Unlike grain crops that rely on machinery, America’s fruits and vegetables are mostly picked and packed by hand, in long shifts out in the open — a typically undesirable job in major economies. So the position typically goes to immigrants, who make up about three quarters of U.S. farm workers.

A workforce of seasonal migrants travels across the nation, following harvest patterns. Most come from Mexico and Latin America through key entry points like southern California, and go further by bus, often for hours, sometimes for days.

There are as many as 2.7 million hired farm workers in the U.S., including migrant, seasonal, year-round and guest-program workers, according to the Migrant Clinicians Network. While many migrants have their permanent residence in the U.S., moving from location to location during the warmer months, others enter through the federal H2A visa program. Still, roughly half of hired crop farmworkers lack legal immigration status, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

These are some of the most vulnerable populations in the U.S., subjected to tough working conditions for little pay and meager benefits. Most don’t have access to adequate health care. Many don’t speak English.

Without them, it would be nearly impossible to keep America’s produce aisles filled. And yet, there’s no one collecting national numbers on how many are falling sick.

“There is woefully inadequate surveillance of what’s happening with Covid-19 and farm workers,” said Erik Nicholson, a national vice president for the United Farm Workers. “There is no central reporting, which is crazy because these are essential businesses.”

On the Tennessee farm where workers caught the virus, only a very few showed any symptoms. After an initial worker tested positive for Covid-19, all employees at Henderson Farms in Evensville were given tests out of an “abundance of caution,” revealing the infection had spread among all of them. The workers are now all in isolation at the farm, where they live and work.

“We take our responsibility to protect the essential workers feeding the nation through the pandemic seriously,” Henderson Farms Co. said in a statement. “In addition to continuing our policy of providing free healthcare, we have implemented additional measures to support workers directly impacted by Covid-19, including those in isolation as per the latest public health guidelines. We are working closely with public health officials in Rhea County, Tennessee, to ensure we can continue to deliver our high standard of care as we support our workers and our community through these unprecedented times.”

Critical Months

May and June mark the start of a critical few months when migrant workers head to fields in North America and Europe to plant and gather crops. Travel restrictions amid the pandemic are already creating a labor squeeze. In Russia, the government is calling on convicts and students to fill in the labor gap on berry and vegetable farms. In the U.K., Prince Charles took to Twitter to encourage residents to #PickForBritain. Farmers in western Europe usually rely on seasonal workers from eastern Europe or northern Africa.

In Canada, migrant workers often come from Jamaica, Guatemala and Mexico. They’re typically housed on farms, with two or four people sharing a room, depending on if there are bunk-beds, said Colin Chapdelaine, president of BC Hot House, a greenhouse farming company that grow tomatoes, peppers and cucumbers in Surrey, British Columbia.

All the houses are audited and approved by regulators with guidelines for how much kitchen and bathroom space to provide, but “Covid has kind of turned that on its head,” he said.

“It’s a precarious situation if something happens and it flows through a greenhouse and you can’t pick your crop,” Chapdelaine said. “We’re taking huge precautions to make sure everyone comes in suited and masked up. You have to do all the right things and still hope for the best.”

In the U.S., migrant farm workers primarily come from Mexico and Latin America.

President Donald Trump has sought to maintain the flow of foreign workers to U.S. farms during the pandemic, waiving interview requirements for some guest workers when consular offices shut down and exempting them from a temporary immigration ban. But so far, the administration hasn’t created rules to protect the workers. Democratic Representative Jimmy Panetta of California and 71 other members of Congress urged in a letter last week that the next coronavirus relief package include funding dedicated to combating spread of the virus among farm workers.

Even before infections started to creep up, there weren’t enough workers, causing harvest issues in parts of the U.S. Some prices started to move up. A 2-pound package of strawberries is fetching about 17% more than it was last year, and a pint of cherry tomatoes is 52% higher, USDA data as of May 22 show.

So far, though, the price impact has been limited. As restaurants shuttered during virus lockdowns, many farmers lost a key source of produce demand, creating some supply gluts.

Now, stay-at-home restrictions are easing in all 50 states, and some restaurants are opening back up. Meanwhile, labor shortages could get worse as illness among farm workers deepens.

“The cost will go up, and there will be a little bit less available,” said Kevin Kenny, chief operating officer of Decernis, an expert in global food safety and supply chains. “You really will see some supply issues coming.”

Perishable crops that require more hands on labor to pick are the most at-risk of disruptions, including olives and oranges, Kenny said.

In Florida, oranges are “literally dying on the vines” as not enough migrants can get into the country to pick the crops and things like processed juice will probably cost more in the coming months, he said.

When the virus spread among America’s meat workers, plants were forced to shutter as infections rates topped 50% in some facilities. Prices surged, with wholesale beef and pork more than doubling, and grocers including Kroger Co. and Costco Wholesale Corp. rationed customer purchases. Even Wendy’s Co. dropped burgers from some menus. After an executive order from Trump, plants have reopened, but worker absenteeism is restraining output. Hog and cattle slaughter rates are still down more than 10% from last year.

The produce industry could see similar problems because workers face some of the same issues. They sometimes work shoulder to shoulder. They are transported to and from job sites in crowded buses or vans. They often come from low-income families and can’t afford to call in sick or are afraid of losing their jobs, so they end up showing up to work even if they have symptoms.

“A lot of people are concerned that the summer for farm workers will be like the spring for meat packers,” said David Seligman, director of Towards Justice, a nonprofit law firm and advocacy organization based in Denver.

There’s “a lot of worker fear because of the asymmetry of power in this industry,” Seligman said. “We’re hearing anecdotal reports. Gathering information about farm workers is very hard because of how scared and how isolated they are.”

There are some key differences between the two industries. For one, farm workers spend most of their time outside, and some research has shown that the virus is less likely to be spread outdoors. Meanwhile, meat workers are piled into cold, damp factories where infectious diseases are particularly hard to control.

In other ways, farm workers are more exposed. Living conditions can be even more cramped, with close-together bunks and communal cooking and bathroom facilities that make physical distancing extremely difficult.

Plus, the workers move around so much, meaning increased chances of exposure for themselves and more chances that sick individuals can spread the illness to other communities.

In Oregon, a farm worker often may move a half dozen times during the summer, working for new growers and housed in new labor camps as they shift from harvesting cherries to strawberries to blueberries to pears, said Dale of the Northwest Workers’ Justice Project.

Nely Rodriguez is a former farm worker who is now an organizer with the Coalition of Immokalee Workers in Immokalee, Florida, a major tomato growing area. She said that some farms are taking steps to protect migrants, such as having buses make more trips so workers won’t be as cramped and requiring them to wear masks, as well as providing more hand-washing stations and sanitizer.

Lisa Lochridge, a spokeswoman for the Florida Fruit and Vegetable Association, also pointed to increased measures to protect workers and said some employers even set aside separate housing to be used for a quarantine area if necessary. Cory Lunde, of the Western Growers Association, said farm owners are staggering start times, disinfecting buses and increasing distances between workers, both in the field and in packing facilities and offices.

But protection measures can be spotty, said Rodriguez of the Coalition of Immokalee Workers. There aren’t yet any farm specific Covid-19 safety protocols from the federal government.

Developing Guidance

The USDA is “diligently working” with the the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration “to develop guidance that will assist farmworkers and employers during this time,” the agency said in an emailed statement.

“Additionally, considering the seasonal and migratory nature of the workforce, we are working to identify housing resources that may be available to help control any spread of Covid-19,” the USDA said.

Harvests take place at different times across the country, depending on the weather and the crop. That means when gathering finishes in an early state like Florida, workers will travel into areas such as Georgia, North Carolina, Indiana and New Jersey, said Rodriguez of the Coalition of Immokalee Workers. They’ll often make the journey on old school buses rented by employers, sitting for 7 or 8 hours at a time with 45 people crammed in.

“If there is a bunch of farm workers here that are sick, they can essentially spread this virus to other rural communities,” Rodriguez said.

Many farm workers come from indigenous communities in southern Mexico and don’t speak English or Spanish as their first language, so they don’t have adequate information on the pandemic in a language they can understand, said Bruce Goldstein, president of Farmworker Justice, a national advocacy group.

They typically don’t have easy access to coronavirus tests, and many are undocumented so they are concerned about reporting illnesses, he said.

“They’re marginalized in Mexico. They’re similarly marginalized here,” Goldstein said. “People like that are incredibly vulnerable to Covid-19.”

For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com

Coronovirus – Life (& Living) or Death

Life (& Living) or Death

Gabriel Martin, Opinion         May 7, 2020
Politics and screaming lunatics aside, you have your re-open crowd and you have your stay-at-home crowd. Generally speaking, of course, most people have a fairly strong opinion either way.
The stay-at-home people believe in taking the pandemic very seriously, and it usually helps if they have a living situation which isn’t too much at odds with lock-down orders to begin with (i.e. they already worked from home/their job now allows them to work from home, they have food and comfortable living conditions, etc).
Those who want to re-open the economy and lift the orders seem to see the negative effects of the lock-down as far outweighing any possible threat from the virus. In my friends list, it usually means people in rural areas, not yet heavily affected by illness. The general consensus is that problems like loss of wages, lack of food access, missed rent, businesses going bankrupt, shops permanently closing, poverty and pending homelessness, are all more dangerous than the illness. (Also, in a more vague sense, some talk of possible depression and/or suicide rates going up.)
It is a pretty callous stance for stay-at-homers to just casually dismiss every single one of these realistic and practical concerns. As if anyone who wants to re-open is an ignorant, financially driven, asshole.
It is equally insensitive for re-openers to pompously flaunt their misplaced bravado in the face of a very serious threat, and belittle and ridicule those who feel they are doing the right thing to keep those they love safe and alive, by following the necessary orders.
Here’s the thing though: you shouldn’t have to pick a side and fight and yell at the other side, telling them how ignorant and delusional they are. The government should have the ability to solve both of those problems simultaneously.
The entire reason for a government’s existence in any society is to solve problems and protect their citizens in an emergency situation. Sometimes this means military defense, sometimes it means gathering and stockpiling vital resources, natural disaster relief, etc. In this case, it means protection from the illness and the security of life’s necessities, while the battle is ongoing. This is the system’s primary job at the moment, the very definition of its function, and it is failing miserably.
If a government only works well when everything is running smoothly, but falls apart during an emergency situation, then you have to wonder ‘what are you actually here for, exactly?’
So now, as citizens of the same inept government, we have to fight and argue with one another over what to do, because the government has put us in a position where too many people have to make a choice between living in crushing poverty or dying from an illness.
The answer to the problem can be seen in other countries that are not failing their people: You stay at home and guess what? None of those other bad things happen to you. Rent and mortgages are frozen, you continue to receive wages, you will not be fired, your business will still be there when it’s all over, free food is delivered to your door, if you get sick you will receive your care at no cost to you, government services are in place to assist you and your neighbors, so that a very effective lock-down can happen and the infection rate drops very quickly. You still have your home, job, food, car, etc. and the efficiency of the quarantine means you spent a few weeks inside instead of depressing and endless months. Now, orders can be relaxed because the remaining infected have been identified and quarantined and strict testing infrastructure is in place to help keep it from a resurgence.
These things aren’t happening in the U.S. because every system that could help make it happen has been stripped, dismantled, and defunded so that those tax payer dollars could be funneled right into various private bank accounts. There simply is no money to do what needs to be done.
For decades and decades the amount of your tax money available to this country for emergencies and necessary life-saving programs has dwindled, and dwindled, and dwindled…. while the bulk of that lost money has been shifted straight up to the highest of the elite, where they sit on it and put it in tax free accounts in other countries, hoarding it and never putting it back into the country. It’s a slow and steady siphoning effect that has sucked the country dry and is now literally killing people.
Look at the wage gap. Look at the trillions in debt the country is now in. Look at the poverty level and the unemployment. Even in the best of times over the last few decades, most jobs couldn’t even pay a living wage. The general populous makes less and less, while the stock market goes up and any programs or systems put in place to help the average person are killed and that money goes straight to corporate contracts and subsidies.
So, now what happens when there is a crisis? SORRY. We don’t have the money. It’s not there when we need it. Why? Not sure exactly, maybe ask Boeing… or Amazon… or your bank. Well, we can go further in debt and borrow a metric shit ton of money for a stimulus bill to keep the economy happy but, GUESS WHAT?!? Most of that is going to those same corporations and you get a few scraps, but not much else. We have to keep big business happy over any other concern. That’s what’s best for everyone, right?
SORRY, there are no systems in place to help, we killed those. Unnecessary. There is no money, a handful of people have most of that now and they don’t seem too eager to give any of it back.
Because the government couldn’t perform even its most basic function, (preparing for an emergency and protecting its citizens when there was one) now we have to fight among one another over who is right: those who love poverty or those who love illness.
We’re so busy fighting each other, we don’t bother turning back around to the government and saying “Hold on now… What the actual fuck?!?”
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‘A risk for the future’: How warming oceans are disrupting America’s seafood supply

Yahoo Finance

‘A risk for the future’: How warming oceans are disrupting America’s seafood supply

Yvette Killian, Producer Yahoo Finance         May 12, 2020

Recorded temperatures in the Atlantic Ocean are increasing at an “alarming” rate, according to one scientist, and forcing fisherman to confront a seafood industry primed for disruption.

Scientists at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) in Massachusetts recorded 2017 as the warmest year on record for water temperatures in the Northeast. Glen Gawarkiewicz, a senior scientist at the institution, said 2019 was equally “disturbing,” adding that over the past seven years, water temperatures off southern New England have increased by nine degrees Fahrenheit, faster than any region outside of the Arctic.

“The ocean is changing pretty rapidly,” Gawarkiewicz said. “Typically temperature variations might be two degrees Fahrenheit there, and fish are probably sensitive at about one degree Fahrenheit there. So it’s almost an order of magnitude more that you normally need to get some kind of change.”

With 2020 already shaping up to be one of the warmest years on record, there is growing concern about the sustainability of the fishing practices that have dominated this region for generations. Scientists say lobster, a mainstay in waters off of Cape Cod, are moving further north into deeper waters, while warm-water fish are moving in. The dramatic shifts are re-shaping the ecosystem here, potentially putting the traditional food-supply in jeopardy.

“Certainly many of the locally caught seafoods in New England are iconic,” Gawarkiewicz said. “I think it is a risk for the future there.”

SANDWICH, MA - JULY 17: A lobster is removed from a trap at the Sandwich Marina in Sandwich, MA on July 17, 2019. Melting arctic ice is pumping fresh water into the ocean around Greenland and weakening an ancient current that pulses cold water down the East Coast. With that cold water spigot turned down, a surge of warm water that travels north from the tropics is increasingly encroaching on the Gulf of Maine, the basin of the Atlantic whose southern boundary is marked by the Cape. For thousands of years, this frigid, 36,000-square-mile bathtub was home to countless cold-water creatures. But in recent years, it has been warming faster than 99 percent of the worlds oceans. Species that are able, including lobsters, are seeking more hospitable waters, touching off a great undersea migration. To the millions of us who visit Cape Cod once or twice a summer, the effects of climate change can seem subtle, if we see them at all: A breach in the dunes. A crack in the pavement. But once you know how to see what is shifting, changing and washing away, it is impossible to ignore. (Photo by John Tlumacki/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)View photos. A lobster is removed from a trap at the Sandwich Marina in Sandwich, MA on July 17, 2019. (Photo by John Tlumacki/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)

Fears about that risk of warming climates have only been magnified by the coronavirus outbreak. As lawmakers look to craft economic policy to lead countries out of this pandemic, researchers, as well as citizens concerned with the fallout from greenhouse-gas emissions, have urged governments to adapt sustainable solutions, to avoid exacerbating a public health crisis with a climate crisis. The sudden shutdown, caused by stay-at-home restrictions are expected to reduce CO2 emmissions by 8% this year, strengthening the case for collective, global action.

Diversification a necessity

For his part, Gawarkiewicz believes that the region needs to diversify economically — meaning expanding beyond traditional catches like American lobster and supplementing with other, non-traditional species, like the Jonah crab.

“Jonah Crabs used to almost be like trash. People would throw them away,” said Bobby Colbert, a longtime fisherman who, along with his brother Denny, operates a fleet of boats out of Sandwich, Massachusetts, on Cape Cod, and has been fishing the mid-Atlantic waters for 35 years.

The market for Jonah Crabs has spiked, growing from only about 1 million pounds being caught in 1990 to 19 million pounds last year, according to Aubrey Ellerston, a researcher with the Commercial Fisheries Research Foundation.

“It’s a huge economy now on our East Coast,” she said, “and it supports hundreds of fishing families and allows lobstermen to diversify and reduce their dependence on lobstering.”

MARTHA'S VINEYARD, MENEMSHA, MASSACHUSETTS, UNITED STATES - 2013/10/20: Shack, lobster traps and boats in fishing village. (Photo by John Greim/LightRocket via Getty Images)View photos. MARTHA’S VINEYARD, MENEMSHA, MASSACHUSETTS, UNITED STATES – 2013/10/20: Shack, lobster traps and boats in fishing village. (Photo by John Greim/LightRocket via Getty Images)

How temperatures affect lobster

Historically, lobster “landings” — the industry word for “catches” — have been primarily been in shallow waters closer to shore. But warming oceans are sending lobsters, and those who catch them, farther out.

“It’s been well documented that bottom water temperature really impacts American lobster. So it affects their growth, maturity, their egg extrusion and development. So many females are trying to seek cooler waters to protect egg development,” explained Ellerston.

According WHOI’s research, the rise in ocean temperatures is also bringing non-native species into the waters off New England. “One of the most dramatic examples recently was in January of 2017. There were juvenile black sea bass that were caught near Block Island, south off the coast of Rhode Island,” said Gawarkiewicz, adding, “that had never happened before.”

The changes in ocean temperatures and a drive for more data have created an unlikely alliance between fishers and scientists. Fishermen, once concerned about restrictions placed on them through government intervention, are now working alongside scientists in a mutually beneficial arrangement — to preserve the industry.

“Fishermen do talk about it a lot. And a lot of fishermen are like, ‘Yeah, they’re trying to get us. They’re going to close us down.’ Well that’s not the whole thing,” Colbert said. “We’re working at it together, how do we keep it around? I mean, we’re creating a food source so we want to protect that.”

Colbert remains optimistic about the fishing industry, despite shifts in the supply chain brought on by warming ocean waters. He thinks fishers will adapt to changing conditions as good stewards of the sea — partly as a matter of necessity.

“I think the generation that we have fishing now is more concerned about the resources and protecting it, but also knowing it’s how we make a living,” he said. “It has be sustainable, because I mean, we want to pass something on to the next generation.”

Yvette Killian is a producer for Yahoo Finance’s On The Move.

Wisconsin is starting to resemble a failed state

The Guardian

Wisconsin is starting to resemble a failed state

Nathan Robinson                  May 19, 2020
<span>Photograph: Tannen Maury/EPA</span>
Photograph: Tannen Maury/EPA

 

A failed state is one that can no longer claim legitimacy or perform a government’s core function of protecting the people’s basic security. Lately, the Wisconsin supreme court seems to be doing its level best to make its state qualify for “failed” status. Multiple decisions have both undermined the government’s legitimacy and endangered the people.

First, there was the primary. Because voting in person is clearly risky during a pandemic, several states delayed their primaries to make sure everyone was able to mail in a ballot instead of having to go to a polling place. Not so Wisconsin. The state’s Democratic governor signed an executive order for an all mail-in election but was thwarted by the Republican legislature. Then the governor issued an order postponing the election. Republicans challenged it, and the Wisconsin supreme court sided with them. The primary went forward, but was a disaster: there were “long lines in Milwaukee, where only five polling places in the whole city were open” and more than 50 people appear to have contracted coronovirus as a result. Ensuring that people can vote without risking their lives is a basic duty of government, one at which Wisconsin failed.

But the Wisconsin supreme court’s latest decision is even worse. The conservative majority overturned the state’s “stay-at-home” order, immediately leading bars to be flooded with patrons . Even as public health officials stress the danger in suddenly lifting restrictions, justices presented it as a freedom issue, with one writing that the “comprehensive claim to control virtually every aspect of a person’s life is something we normally associate with a prison, not a free society governed by the rule of law”. Public opinion is generally against the anti-lockdown protests, but if a conservative minority has power, the “letting a deadly virus spread unchecked = freedom” perspective will triumph.

Courts are the least democratic branch of government to begin with; judges are like robed “philosopher kings” with the power to overturn measures overwhelmingly favored by the people. (Sometimes that’s a good thing, but decisions as to what to let stand and what to overturn are almost always political.) Once a single party dominates at court, it simply has veto power over the entire democratic process.

The court’s conservative majority has shown no hesitation in imposing its ideology on the state. As Akela Lacy reported in the Intercept, they have been denying the rights of unionized workers, ruling consistently against criminal defendants, and even overturning a rule banning people from carrying weapons on public buses.

Wisconsin’s Republicans have succeeded in capturing power in the state even without having to capture popular approval. As Michael Li of the Brennan Center documents, the state has been heavily gerrymandered, meaning Republicans can exercise power without having to win majority support:

“[G]errymandered maps make it virtually impossible for them to ever lose their legislative majority. Wisconsin’s maps were crafted with such micro-precision that even if Democrats managed to win a historically high 54% of the two-party vote – a level they’ve reached only once in the last 20 years — Republicans would still end up with a solid nine-seat majority in the state assembly. In fact, Wisconsin’s maps are so gerrymandered that Republicans can win close to a supermajority of house seats even with a minority of the vote. Analyses of the maps in the lawsuit challenging the maps showed that Republicans are a lock to win 60% of statehouse seats even if they win just 48% of the vote.”

In a supposedly democratic country, this should be an outrage. How can a government claim legitimacy if it does not require the people’s support? But this is true far beyond Wisconsin. Republican rule is minority rule; as we know, thanks to our archaic electoral college system Donald Trump, like George W Bush, was able to win the election without winning the most votes, and the undemocratic Senate is Republican-dominated. The Republican agenda is unpopular, meaning that in order to impose it, institutions have to be crafted that will prevent the population from exercising its will. The easier it is for the masses to participate, the more difficult it is for Republicans to protect the 1%, who really should be winning exactly 1% of the vote. (Donald Trump admitted that if voting were easy enough Republicans would never win another election.)

What respect do people owe a government that cannot protect them and cannot claim democratic legitimacy? Very little. The more that Wisconsin Republicans act to impose their will unilaterally without regard to the safety or will of the people, the less we should treat Wisconsin as a functional government.

  • Nathan Robinson is the editor of Current Affairs and a Guardian US columnist

Biggest Power Demand Plunge Since Great Depression Is Reshaping Markets

Bloomberg – Business

Biggest Power Demand Plunge Since Great Depression Is Reshaping Markets

Mark Chediak, Chris Martin and Rachel Morison       
Biggest Power Demand Plunge Since Great Depression Is Reshaping Markets
Biggest Power Demand Plunge Since Great Depression Is Reshaping Markets

 

(Bloomberg) — The global plunge in electricity demand will drag on long after nations lift stay-at-home orders, leading to the biggest annual drop since the Great Depression and fundamentally reshaping power markets.

As economies struggle to recover, worldwide electricity consumption will decline 5% in 2020, the most in more than eight decades, according to the International Energy Agency. In the U.S. last week, government analysts projected the nation’s biggest drop on record. And in Europe, analysts say a full recovery could take years.

The prolonged slowdown will increase economic pressure on older, uneconomic power plants — especially those that burn coal — and help speed the transition toward cleaner and cheaper wind and solar. It will also contribute to the biggest annual decline in greenhouse gasses from energy ever recorded.

“This unprecedented drop in demand is foreshadowing the grid of the future,” said Steve Cicala, an economics professor at the University of Chicago. The world is “getting an early look at what high penetrations of renewables will do.”

Lower demand is pitting generators against each other in a fight to produce the cheapest power possible. Wind and solar farms have an upper hand in many regions because they don’t need to buy fuel. Natural gas, which is trading near historic lows, remains competitive. Coal power, which is more expensive, is shouldering the majority of the cuts as generators scale back.

“Renewables will be the biggest beneficiaries,” said Joshua Rhodes, a research fellow at the University of Texas at Austin Energy Institute.As coal and oil use ebb, energy emissions are set to drop by a record 8% this year, according to the IEA.

While wind and solar are producing a larger share of power, they’re not unscathed. Power auctions are being suspended in France, Brazil, Saudi Arabia and elsewhere, sapping the need for additional clean-energy projects. For the first time in two decades, the number of new wind and solar farms globally is set to decline this year, the IEA said in a report Wednesday.Read More: U.S. Power Demand to be ‘Profoundly’ Hit as Lockdowns Spread

Some of the steepest drops in electricity consumption will be in Europe, where 2020 demand is forecast to fall 8%, according to the IEA.  In Germany, companies including RWE AG and Uniper SE are running coal generators less and relying more on gas plants. Electricite de France SA warned low demand will mean output from its nuclear reactors will fall by more than a fifth this year.

A similar dynamic is playing out in the U.S. retail power sales across the 50 states will sink 4.5% this year, the most since the U.S. Energy Information Administration began keeping records in 1949. Coal is on pace for the first time ever to produce less electricity nationwide than renewable energy.

In Asia, power consumption is forecast to rebound faster. Nations where industrial production accounts for a large chunk of the economy, such as China and India, also had some of the strictest lockdowns — a combination that hammered demand, according to BloombergNEF analyst Ali Asghar. While the IEA sees demand in China, the world’s top energy user, falling this year, official estimates put consumption in May already above last year’s levels and on course to grow as much as 3% in 2020.

Eventually, global demand for power will resume growing as nations turn more to electricity to power cars, heat homes and more, analysts said. But for now, the power sector faces a long, slow recovery.

“I don’t think we are going to turn everything on tomorrow,”  Melissa Lott, a senior research scholar at Columbia University’s Center on Global Energy Policy. “I don’t see how that happens.”

For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com

He opposed public lands and wildlife protections. Trump gave him a top environment job

The Guardian – Politics

He opposed public lands and wildlife protections. Trump gave him a top environment job

Jimmy Tobias                            
<span>Photograph: Matthew Brown/AP</span>
Photograph: Matthew Brown/AP

 

In July 2017, William Perry Pendley, a crusading conservative attorney, delivered a speech to a group of rightwing activists in North Carolina in which he was completely candid about his ideological commitments.

He accused “the media” of selling “their soul to the greens”. And after criticizing the Endangered Species Act, he made light of killing endangered species.

“This is why out west we say ‘shoot, shovel and shut up’ when it comes to the discovery of endangered species on your property,” he said, according to an audio recording of the event obtained by the Guardian. “And I have to say, as a lawyer, that’s not legal advice,” he added, as some in his audience quietly snickered at the reference to the illegal extermination, and the burial, of endangered animals.

It has been almost three years since he gave those remarks, and Pendley is now the acting director of the Bureau of Land Management, or BLM, a powerful agency that oversees more than 240m acres of federal land belonging to the American people, manages mineral resources and is required to comply with environmental laws like the Endangered Species Act.

Pendley has helped turn BLM into what one high-level employee, who asked to remain anonymous for fear of reprisals, called “a ghost ship” in which “suspicion”, “fear” and “low morale” abound, despite the best efforts of career civil servants to support each other.

As Pendley and his superiors at the interior department press ahead with an effort to move BLM’s headquarters from Washington DC to Grand Junction, Colorado, the agency has hemorrhaged staff members and lost critical institutional memory, which many critics believe was the true purpose of the relocation effort all along.

“A skeleton crew is left” at BLM headquarters, said the employee. “So few people were able to move west that a lot of people retired early and a lot of people took other jobs, so my ballpark estimate is there is only about 20% of permanent employees left” at headquarters. As a result, the agency is failing to fulfill its most basic duties, like responding to public records requests and conducting oversight of state and regional operations, the staffer added.

Environmental and government watchdog groups are now responding with a lawsuit that calls into question the legitimacy of Pendley’s position. Last week a pair of environmental nonprofits sued the interior department, alleging that by repeatedly tapping Pendley as the BLM’s acting director, rather than officially nominating him for the position, the interior secretary has skirted the Senate confirmation process usually required for high-level executive branch appointments, and has violated federal law.

“The illegitimate Pendley appointment is particularly troublesome because he has forcibly moved the BLM Headquarters from Washington DC, to remote western Colorado,” said Peter Jenkins, a senior counsel at Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, one of the groups that sued. “In doing so he uprooted the lives of scores of seasoned BLM staff and disrupted this already strained agency.”

An interior department spokesperson defended Pendley’s record.

<span class="element-image__caption">The Trump administration rolled back key provisions of the Endangered Species Act, a law credited with saving the gray wolf, bald eagle and grizzly bear.</span> <span class="element-image__credit">Photograph: Karen Bleier/AFP via Getty Images</span>The Trump administration rolled back key provisions of the Endangered Species Act, a law credited with saving the gray wolf, bald eagle and grizzly bear. Photograph: Karen Bleier/AFP via Getty Images

 

“Mr Pendley brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to the department and is committed to carrying out the administration’s priorities and achieving the BLM’s … mission for the betterment of the American people,” said Conner Swanson, the spokesperson. “Mr Pendley has provided a steady hand in facilitating important matters, from the BLM headquarters move west to its response to Covid-19.” Swanson has said that the lawsuit against Pendley is “baseless”.

Pendley, a tall man with a handlebar mustache and a penchant for cowboy boots, has remarked in the past that his “personal opinions are irrelevant” to his job at BLM.

“I have a new job now. I’m a zealous advocate for my client. My client is the American people and my bosses are the president of the United States and [interior] secretary [David] Bernhardt,” Pendley said during an appearance at the conference of the Society of Environmental Journalists in Fort Collins, Colorado, last year. “What I thought, what I wrote, what I did in the past is irrelevant. I have orders, I have laws to obey, and I intend to do that.”

Pendley has long opposed public lands and wildlife protections. After serving in the Reagan administration in the 1980s, he became the president of the Mountain States Legal Foundation (MSLF), a conservative litigation organization funded by conservative and industry groups including the Charles Koch Foundation and Exxon Mobil, according to research from the watchdog groups Documented and Accountable.US.

Under Pendley’s leadership, the firm was a persistent foe of federal land agencies, getting involved in dozens of cases on behalf of industry groups and private landowners to challenge environmental protections implemented by the interior department.

Pendley became something of a fixture among the anti-government set, writing numerous books extolling rebellion against public lands and the federal government. He has expressed sympathy in the past for the Bundy family, whose militant agitation against federal land ownership included the armed takeover of the Malheur national wildlife refuge in 2016.

He has compared climate change to unicorns because “neither exist”. And in a 2016 National Review article, he laid out a case that argued for the near-total abolition of federal public lands across the nation.

Given his long history of legal advocacy on behalf of extractive industries, Pendley brought with him a 17-page recusal list of past clients, employers and investments when he took control of the BLM in 2019. The list included groups such as the American Exploration & Mining Association and the Petroleum Association of Wyoming. It has been nearly impossible for the public to know whether Pendley has abided by his recusal list, however, because the BLM has failed to release his detailed official calendar to the public.

Though Pendley has long been a committed conservative, he has not always had kind words for Donald Trump. In a 2016 op-ed in the Daily Caller, for instance, he said then-candidate Trump “is not fit to pull off Reagan’s boots”.

Apart from Pendley’s role in moving BLM’s headquarters to Colorado, the agency under his leadership has also repeatedly proposed land management plans that heavily promote the energy industry. In March, for instance, conservationists in Montana came out aggressively against a BLM resource management plan that they believe is far too friendly to corporate oil and gas interests, according to the Billings Gazette.

In a statement issued earlier this year, Representative Raúl Grijalva, the chairman of the House natural resources committee, expressed his concerns over Pendley.

“Anyone who wants our land management agencies to be functional in the future needs to recognize the seriousness of what Secretary Bernhardt, acting director Pendley, and their subordinates are doing.”

Trump seizes on pandemic to speed up opening of public lands to industry

The Guardian – Business

Trump seizes on pandemic to speed up opening of public lands to industry

Jeremy Miller, The Guardian        April 30, 2020
<span>Photograph: Alamy</span>
Photograph: Alamy

 

The Trump administration has ratcheted up its efforts amid the coronavirus pandemic to overhaul and overturn Obama-era environmental regulations and increase industry access to public lands.

The secretary of the interior, David Bernhardt, has sped efforts to drill, mine and cut timber on fragile western landscapes. Meanwhile, the EPA, headed by the former coal lobbyist Andrew Wheeler, has weakened critical environmental laws and announced in March that it would cease oversight of the nation’s polluters during the Covid-19 crisis.

The rollbacks appear to follow a playbook put forth by influential conservative thinktanks, urging the White House to use the pandemic as justification for curtailing, or eliminating, environmental rules and oversight. President Trump should have “the ability to suspend costly regulations without extensive process”, according to a recent report by the Heritage Foundation.

Critics, such as Melyssa Watson, executive director of the Wilderness Society, accuse the administration of using the pandemic as a smokescreen to further its pro-industry agenda. “From rolling back EPA’s pollution standards, to pushing for more oil and gas drilling and stifling the public review process, the federal government is fast-tracking rollbacks that deserve public scrutiny,” she said.

While millions of acres of public lands across the country have been shuttered to visitors, they remain open to oil and gas companies. And despite plummeting oil prices, the Bureau of Land Management has announced no plans to cancel, or even scale back, upcoming auctions that would make hundreds of thousands of acres of public lands across the western US available to energy companies.

One of the most controversial sales would offer up 150,000 acres in southern Utah to energy companies. Some of the parcels are located within a half-mile of Canyonlands national park. The bureau did not respond to requests for comment.

Environmentalists, however, say that the push to drill near the iconic red rock landscapes of Arches and Canyonlands is not only destructive but also unnecessary in light of an oil glut that has swamped storage capacity, driving oil prices last week into negative territory for the first time in history.

“The idea that it would be ‘critical’ work to speed up oil production on public lands while the planet drowns in oil tells you all you’d ever want to know about the corruption, both intellectual and actual, of the Trump administration,” said the climate activist and author Bill McKibben.

In addition to ramping up oil and gas development on public lands, the Department of Energy announced plans last week to “revitalize” the US uranium mining and processing industry. Such a scheme, say environmentalists, puts uranium-rich Grand Canyon national park and Bears Ears national monument at extreme risk.

“Enriching special interests with taxpayer resources so they can plunder national treasures like Bears Ears and the Grand Canyon will harm our land, water and public health,” said America Fitzpatrick, a spokeswoman for the Wilderness Society. “To do so in the face of a global pandemic is an abuse of public trust.”

The water demands of the uranium industry are significant. Depending on the method of extraction, a mine can require hundreds, even thousands, of gallons per minute. Those requirements are particularly onerous considering that the largest uranium deposits are found in some of the most water-starved parts of the country.

Another rule change takes aim at the western forests. In March, the BLM announced a proposal that would allow the BLM and US Forest Service to destroy large parcels of piñon and juniper forests across the western US with minimal environmental review.

Other recent Trump administration actions threaten air and water quality and herald a drastic increase in carbon emissions. At the end of March, the Department of Transportation and Environmental Protection Agency announced plans to roll back Obama-era automobile fuel efficiency standards that would have increased the average fuel efficiency of the American vehicle fleet by more than 6 miles per gallon. Referred to by the EPA as “the largest deregulatory initiative of this administration”, the reduction in fuel efficiency standards will result in close to a billion additional tons of carbon emissions per year.

Days earlier, the EPA announced that it would suspend enforcement of environmental regulations during the Covid-19 outbreak, allowing industrial firms – from oil refineries to small manufacturers – to self-monitor and avoid penalties for violations if they can prove that those violations somehow resulted from the pandemic.

“The Covid-19 pandemic is a nationwide phenomenon,” the EPA administrator, Andrew Wheeler, wrote in a letter to Congress. “Diverting EPA staff time to respond to individual questions about routine monitoring and reporting requirements would hinder EPA’s ability to focus on continued protection of human health and the environment.”

Others see it differently: “This is an open license to pollute,” said the former EPA administrator and current National Resources Defense Council president Gina McCarthy. “The administration … is taking advantage of an unprecedented public health crisis to do favors for polluters that threaten public health.”

Opinion: McConnell’s threat is a warning for Social Security and Medicare

MarketWatch -Brett Arends’s ROI

Opinion: McConnell’s threat is a warning for Social Security and Medicare

By Brett Arends            April 30, 2020

Repudiating state retirement obligations is just the beginning

U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell: Bankruptcy before pension bailouts. SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell sparked a political firestorm last week when he said U.S. states should file for bankruptcy, if need be, rather than taking federal aid, which could amount to states scaling back or pulling the plug on their pension obligations.

“There’s not going to be any desire on the Republican side to bail out state pensions by borrowing money from future generations,” McConnell told conservative talk show host Hugh Hewitt last week. “I would certainly be in favor of allowing states to use the bankruptcy route,” he added.

So, the big retirement news of the moment is that the top Republican in Congress would prefer that public pensions default on their obligations to retirees. What’s more, he made the remarks on exactly the same day that Social Security and Medicare trustees warned their funds are going to be depleted before most middle-aged people ever see a nickel.

But the state pension systems are small potatoes compared with the real retirement story: Social Security and Medicare.

And McConnell was speaking just as the trustees of those two systems warned that they, too, are running out of money and will need a lot of extra cash. Just don’t call it a “bailout.”

Without extra money, Social Security will exhaust its trust funds in 15 years, the trustees warn. Medicare’s Hospital Insurance fund will be exhausted in just six.

Either taxes will have to be raised, the money will have to be borrowed, or Social Security and Medicare benefits will have to be cut. Without additional funds, the cuts to monthly Social Security checks would come to around 25% per person, the trustees warn. The average Social Security benefit is $1,400 a month. Cutting that by 25% would take it down to $1,150.

Even before the coronavirus crisis, the federal budget was a sea of red ink, The trump administration was already forecasting about $5 trillion in extra deficit spending between 2020 and 2025. The Congressional Budget Office was warning in January it expected the national debt to exceed $30 trillion by 2030. In 2016 it was $13 trillion.

McConnell’s office could not immediately be reached for comment.

The senate majority leader is already on record calling for ”adjustments” to Social Security and Medicare.

“I make no apologies,” he has said. “These very, very popular entitlement programs at some point are gonna have to be adjusted.”

If McConnell is re-elected this fall, his next senate term will last until 2026. If the GOP retains its majority he would in position to continue as majority leader at a time when the funding crisis over Social Security and Medicare may come to a head.

McConnell may paint federal spending in California, Illinois and New York as a “bailout” or “aid.” But those states make huge contributions to the federal budget every year. According to the Internal Revenue Service, Californians paid $457 billion in federal taxes in 2018, New Yorkers $281 billion and Illinoisans $161 billion.

The figure from Kentucky, McConnell’s state: Just $35 billion.

The average resident of Illinois paid 63% more in federal taxes than the average resident of Kentucky.

The Rockfeller Institute says Kentucky is the third biggest moocher off the federal taxpayer, getting back $2.40 in federal spending for every $1 it pays in taxes. The only states that get back more are Virginia and Maryland—in other words, suburbs of Washington, D.C.

McConnell’s campaign is currently boasting about all the federal aid he’s getting for the state.

“ICYMI: Kentucky Receives Billions To Combat Coronavirus,” his re-election site  says. “Thanks To Sen. McConnell, Billions In Relief Lifts Every Corner Of Kentucky,” it adds. And it continues:

“As our nation grapples with the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic, Sen. Mitch McConnell has worked to ensure Kentucky has the resources necessary to fight against this terrible disease…He recently announced that Kentucky families, workers, hospitals, and businesses will receive more than $2.7 billion in relief funds to combat this virus with even more to come for states and local communities across the U.S..”

Critics note that pension systems in states such as Illinois are subject to abuse, fraud, waste and worse.

Yet as the Utility Workers’ Union of America points out, pensions are not “gifts” from employers or taxpayers. “[T]hey are deferred compensation won at the bargaining table.”

A spokesman for the Illinois State Employees’ Retirement System admits that 2.5% of beneficiaries, or just under 2,000 out of around 75,000, collect more than $100,000 a year. But most of the recipients are teachers, police officers, firefighters and other middle-class individuals. While teachers’ have their own system, the average pension paid by SERS to everyone else is $38,826.

And if politicians are going to try and squeeze retirees making that, they’ll squeeze pretty much anybody.