Russian official says Ukraine carried out drone attack on Black Sea fleet HQ
July 31, 2022
(Reuters) – A senior official in Russian-annexed Crimea accused Ukraine on Sunday of carrying out a drone attack ahead of planned celebrations to mark Navy Day, injuring five and forcing the cancellation of festivities.
The accusation comes hours before Russian President Vladimir Putin is due to oversee Navy Day celebrations in his hometown of St Petersburg and approve Russia’s naval doctrine as Moscow presses on with its military intervention in Ukraine.
“An unidentified object flew into the courtyard of the fleet’s headquarters,” Mikhail Razvozhayev, governor of Sevastopol, home to Russia’s Black Sea fleet, wrote on the Telegram messaging app.
“According to preliminary information, it is a drone.”
He said Ukraine had decided to “spoil Navy Day for us”.
The Ukrainian defence ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Razvozhayev said that five employees of the fleet headquarters had been injured in the incident and that the Federal Security Service (FSB) was investigating its circumstances.
“All celebrations have been cancelled for security reasons,” Razvozhayev said. “Please remain calm and stay home if possible.”
Navy Day is an annual Russian holiday during which its fleets stage naval parades and honour its sailors.
Russia annexed Crimea from Ukraine in March 2014, prompting a major row with the West which deepened over Moscow’s role in an insurgency of pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine.
(Reporting by Reuters; Editing by Kirsten Donovan)
Mark Evely, Program Director and Assistant Professor of Mortuary Science, Wayne State University – July 31, 2022
Upwards of 2.8 million people die every year in the United States. As a funeral director who heads a university mortuary science program, I can tell you that while each individual’s life experiences are unique, what happens to a body after death follows a broadly predictable chain of events.
In general, it depends on three things: where you die, how you die and what you or your family decide on for funeral arrangements and final disposition.
In death’s immediate aftermath
Death can happen anywhere: at home; in a hospital, nursing or palliative care facility; or at the scene of an accident, homicide or suicide.
A medical examiner or coroner must investigate whenever a person dies unexpectedly while not under a doctor’s care. Based on the circumstances of the death, they determine whether an autopsy is needed. If so, the body travels to a county morgue or a funeral home, where a pathologist conducts a detailed internal and external examination of the body as well as toxicology tests.
Once the body can be released, some states allow for families to handle the body themselves, but most people employ a funeral director. The body is placed on a stretcher, covered and transferred from the place of death – sometimes via hearse, but more commonly these days a minivan carries it to the funeral home.
State law determines who has the authority to make funeral arrangements and decisions about the remains. In some states, you can choose during your lifetime how you’d like your body treated when you die. In most cases, however, decisions fall on surviving family or someone you appointed before your death.
Preparing the body for viewing
In a 2020 consumer survey conducted by the National Funeral Directors Association, 39.4% of respondents reported feeling it’s very important to have the body or cremated remains present at a funeral or memorial service.
To prepare for that, the funeral home will usually ask whether the body is to be embalmed. This process sanitizes the body, temporarily preserves it for viewing and services, and restores a natural, peaceful appearance. Embalming is typically required for a public viewing and in certain other circumstances, including if the person died of a communicable disease or if the cremation or burial is to be delayed for more than a few days.
When the funeral director begins the embalming process, he places the body on a special porcelain or stainless steel table that looks much like what you’d find in an operating room. He washes the body with soap and water and positions it with the hands crossed over the abdomen, as you’d see them appear in a casket. He closes the eyes and mouth.
Next the funeral director makes a small incision near the clavicle, to access the jugular vein and carotid artery. He inserts forceps into the jugular vein to allow blood to drain out, while at the same time injecting embalming solution into the carotid artery via a small tube connected to the embalming machine. For every 50 to 75 pounds of body weight, it takes about a gallon of embalming solution, largely made up of formaldehyde. The funeral director then removes excess fluids and gases from the abdominal and thoracic cavities using an instrument called a trocar. It works much like the suction tube you’ve experienced at the dentist.
Next the funeral director sutures any incisions. He grooms the hair and nails and again washes the body and dries it with towels. If the body is emaciated or dehydrated, he can inject a solution via hypodermic needle to plump facial features. If trauma or disease has altered the appearance of the deceased, the embalmer can use wax, adhesive and plaster to recreate natural form.
Lastly, the funeral director dresses the deceased and applies cosmetics. If the clothing provided does not fit, he can cut it and tuck it in somewhere that doesn’t show. Some funeral homes use an airbrush to apply cosmetics; others use specialized mortuary cosmetics or just regular makeup you might find at a store.
Toward a final resting place
If the deceased is to be cremated without a public viewing, many funeral homes require a member of the family to identify him or her. Once the death certificate and any other necessary authorizations are complete, the funeral home transports the deceased in a chosen container to a crematory. This could be onsite or at a third-party provider.
Cremations are performed individually. Still in the container, the deceased is placed in the cremator, which produces very high heat that reduces the remains to bone fragments. The operator removes any metal objects, like implants, fillings and parts of the casket or cremation container, and then pulverizes the bone fragments. He then places the processed remains in the selected container or urn. Some families choose to keep the cremated remains, while others bury them, place them in a niche or scatter them.
When earth burial is chosen, the casket is usually placed in a concrete outer burial container before being lowered into the grave. Caskets can also be entombed in above-ground crypts inside buildings called mausoleums. Usually a grave or crypt has a headstone of some kind that bears the name and other details about the decedent.
Some cemeteries have spaces dedicated to environmentally conscious “green” burials in which an unembalmed body can be buried in a biodegradable container. Other forms of final disposition are less common. As an alternative to cremation, the chemical process of alkaline hydrolysis can reduce remains to bone fragments. Composting involves placing the deceased in a vessel with organic materials like wood chips and straw to allow microbes to naturally break down the body.
I’ve seen many changes over the course of my funeral service career, spanning more than 20 years so far. For decades, funeral directors were predominantly male, but now mortuary school enrollment nationwide is roughly 65% female. Cremation has become more popular. More people pre-plan their own funerals. Many Americans do not have a religious affiliation and therefore opt for a less formal service.
Saying goodbye is important for those who remain, and I have witnessed too many families foregoing a ceremony and later regretting it. A dignified and meaningful farewell and the occasion to share memories and comfort each other honors the life of the deceased and facilitates healing for family and friends.
Wildfires in West explode in size amid hot, windy conditions
Julie Watson and Rebecca Boone – July 30, 2022
SAN DIEGO (AP) — Wildfires in California and Montana exploded in size overnight amid windy, hot conditions and were quickly encroaching on neighborhoods, forcing evacuation orders for over 100 homes Saturday, while an Idaho blaze was spreading.
In California’s Klamath National Forest, the fast-moving McKinney fire, which started Friday, went from charring just over 1 square mile (1 square kilometer) to scorching as much as 62 square miles (160 square kilometers) by Saturday in a largely rural area near the Oregon state line, according to fire officials. The fire burned down at least a dozen residences and wildlife was seen fleeing the area to avoid the flames.
“It’s continuing to grow with erratic winds and thunderstorms in the area and we’re in triple digit temperatures,” said Caroline Quintanilla, a spokeswoman at Klamath National Forest.
California Gov. Gavin Newsom declared a state of emergency Saturday as the fire intensified. The proclamation allows Newsom more flexibility to make emergency response and recovery effort decisions and access federal aid.
It also allows “firefighting resources from other states to assist California crews in battling the fires,” according to a statement from the governor’s office.
Meanwhile in Montana, the Elmo wildfire nearly tripled in size to more than 11 square miles (about 28 square kilometers) within a few miles of the town of Elmo. Roughly 200 miles (320 kilometers) to the south, Idaho residents remained under evacuation orders as the Moose Fire in the Salmon-Challis National Forest charred more than 67.5 square miles (174.8 square kilometers) in timbered land near the town of Salmon. It was 17% contained.
A significant build-up of vegetation was fueling the McKinney fire, said Tom Stokesberry, a spokesman with the U.S. Forest Service for the region.
“It’s a very dangerous fire — the geography there is steep and rugged, and this particular area hasn’t burned in a while,” he said.
A small fire was also burning nearby, outside the town of Seiad, Stokesberry said. With lightning predicted over the next few days, resources from all over California were being brought in to help fight the region’s fires, he said.
McKinney’s explosive growth forced crews to shift from trying to control the perimeter of the blaze to trying to protect homes and critical infrastructure like water tanks and power lines, and assist in evacuations in California’s northernmost county of Siskiyou.
Deputies and law enforcement were knocking on doors in the county seat of Yreka and the town of Fort Jones to urge residents to get out and safely evacuate their livestock onto trailers. Automated calls were being sent to land phone lines as well because there were areas without cell phone service.
Over 100 homes were ordered evacuated and authorities were warning people to be on high alert. Smoke from the fire caused the closure of portions of Highway 96.
The Pacific Coast Trail Association urged hikers to get to the nearest town while the U.S. Forest Service closed a 110-mile (177-kilometer) section of the trail from the Etna Summit to the Mt. Ashland Campground in southern Oregon.
Oregon state Rep. Dacia Grayber, who is a firefighter, was camping with her husband, who is also in the fire service, near the California state line when gale-force winds awoke them just after midnight.
The sky was glowing with strikes of lightening in the clouds, while ash was blowing at them, though they were in Oregon, about 10 miles (about 16 kilometers) away. Intense heat from the fire had sent up a massive pyrocumulonimbus cloud, which can produce its own weather system including winds and thunderstorms, Grayber said.
“These were some of the worst winds I’ve ever been in and we’re used to big fires,” she said. “I thought it was going to rip the roof top tent off of our truck. We got the heck out of there.”
On their way out, they came across hikers on the Pacific Coast Trail fleeing to safety.
“The terrifying part for us was the wind velocity,” she said. “It went from a fairly cool breezy night to hot, dry hurricane-force winds. Usually that happens with a fire during the day but not at night. I hope for everyone’s sake this dies down but it’s looking like it’s going to get worse.”
In western Montana, the wind-driven Elmo fire forced evacuations of homes and livestock as it raced across grass and timber, according to The National Interagency Fire Center, based in Idaho. The agency estimated it would take nearly a month to contain the blaze.
Smoke shut down a portion of Highway 28 between Hot Springs and Elmo because of the thick smoke, according to the Montana Department of Transportation.
Crews from several different agencies were fighting the fire on Saturday, including the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes Fire Division. Six helicopters were making drops on the fire, aided by 22 engines on the ground.
In Idaho, more than 930 wildland firefighters and support staff were battling the Moose fire Saturday and protecting homes, energy infrastructure and the Highway 93 corridor, a major north-south route.
A red flag warning indicated that the weather could make things worse with the forecast calling for “dry thunderstorms,” with lightning, wind and no rain.
In Hawaii, fire crews and helicopters have been fighting flames Saturday evening on Maui near Paia Bay. The Maui County Emergency Management Agency said roads have been closed and have advised residents and travelers to avoid the area. It is unclear how many acres have burned. A red flag warning is in effect Sunday.
Meanwhile, crews made significant progress in battling another major blaze in California that forced evacuations of thousands of people near Yosemite National Park earlier this month. The Oak fire was 52% contained by Saturday, according to a Cal Fire incident update.
As fires raged across the West, the U.S. House on Friday approved wide-ranging legislation aimed at helping communities in the region cope with increasingly severe wildfires and drought — fueled by climate change — that have caused billions of dollars in damage to homes and businesses in recent years.
The legislative measure approved by federal lawmakers Friday combines 49 separate bills and would increase firefighter pay and benefits; boost resiliency and mitigation projects for communities affected by climate change; protect watersheds; and make it easier for wildfire victims to get federal assistance.
The bill now goes to the Senate, where California Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein has sponsored a similar measure.
In his new book published Thursday, “Hothouse Earth: An Inhabitant’s Guide,” Bill McGuire argues that, after years of ignoring warnings from scientists, it is too late to avoid the catastrophic impacts of climate change.
The University College London Earth sciences professor pointed to a record-breaking heatwave across the UK this month and dangerous wildfires that destroyed 16 homes in East London as evidence of the rapidly changing climate. McGuire says weather will begin to regularly surpass current extremes, despite government goals to lower carbon emissions.
“And as we head further into 2022, it is already a different world out there,” McGuire told The Guardian. “Soon it will be unrecognizable to every one of us.”
His perspective — that severe climate change is now inevitable and irreversible — is more extreme than many scientists who believe that, with lowered emissions, the most severe potential impacts can still be avoided.
McGuire did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.
Many climate scientists, McGuire said, are much more scared about the future than they are willing to admit in public. He calls their reluctance to acknowledge the futility of current climate action “climate appeasement” and says it only makes things worse.
Instead of focusing on net-zero emission goals, which McGuire says won’t reverse the current course of climate change, he argues we need to adapt to the “hothouse world” that lies ahead and start taking action to try to stop material conditions from deteriorating further.
“This is a call to arms,” McGuire told The Guardian: “So if you feel the need to glue yourself to a motorway or blockade an oil refinery, do it.”
Las Vegas, NM declares emergency, with less than 50 days of clean water supply left
Nadine El – Bawabn – July 29, 2022
The city of Las Vegas has declared an emergency over its water supply after the Calf Canyon-Hermits Peak Fire, the largest wildfire in New Mexico history, contaminated the Gallinas River. The city relies solely on water from the river, which has been tainted with large amounts of fire-related debris and ash, according to city officials.
New Mexico Gov. Michelle Grisham said in a tweet that $2.25 million in state funding has been made available to ensure residents receive access to safe drinking water.
The city is currently relying on reservoirs which, at the current consumption rate, contain less than 50 days worth of stored water, according to Las Vegas Mayor Louie Trujillo.
The large amounts of ash and turbidity in the river have prevented the city from being able to pull water from it, as the city’s municipal water treatment facility is not able to treat the contaminated water, according to the mayor.
Related video: NASA releases startling image of Lake Mead shrinkage
0:04 1:48 NASA releases startling image of Lake Mead shrinkage for some 40 million Americans. Scroll back up to restore default view.
The fire resulted in the loss of federal, state, local, tribal and private property including thousands of acres of the watershed for the Gallinas River, the primary source of municipal water for the city and surrounding areas, according to the emergency declaration.
The Gallinas River has resulted in thousands of acres of scorched forest, flooding, ash and fire debris.
Fourth phase of Ukraine war with Russia could be decisive — if US sends more weapons | Opinion
Max Boot – July 29, 2022
Phase 1, beginning on Feb. 24, was Russia’s pell-mell attempt to take Kyiv. That resulted in failure thanks to terrible Russian logistics (remember the 40-mile convoy?) and a skillful Ukrainian defense making use of handheld weapons such as Stingers and Javelins supplied by the West.
Phase 2 began in mid-April, when Russian dictator Vladimir Putin concentrated his forces on Luhansk province in the eastern Donbas region. That phase, characterized by relentless Russian artillery bombardment, ended in early July with the retreat of Ukrainian forces from Luhansk.
In the third phase of the war, Ukrainian troops are holding a strong defensive position in neighboring Donetsk province (also part of Donbas) and effectively hitting back with High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems and other longer-range weapons supplied by the West. The HIMARS, in particular, have been a game changer by allowing the Ukrainians to destroy more than 100 high-value targets such as Russian ammunition depots and command posts.
A Ukrainian battalion commander told The Post that since the HIMARS strikes began, Russian shelling has been “10 times less.” Another Ukrainian officer told the Wall Street Journal: “It was hell over here. Now, it’s like paradise. Super quiet. Everything changed when we got the HIMARS.” President Volodymyr Zelensky says Ukrainian fatalities are down from between 100 and 200 a day to 30 a day.
If Ukraine is able to fight back so effectively with only 12 HIMARS (soon to be 16), imagine what it could do with dozens more and, better still, Army Tactical Missile Systems (ATACMS), which use the same platform but have nearly quadruple the range. These rocket systems should be supplemented by Western tanks and fighter aircraft. If the West were to supply all these weapons, Ukraine could mount a counteroffensive to take back lost land in the south and east and help end the war.
No third world war
The Biden administration is slowly supplying more HIMARS and, for the first time, is even discussing the provision of Western fighter aircraft (after nixing a Polish plan to send MiG-29s in March). But ATACMS appear to be off the table because, as national security adviser Jake Sullivan explained last week, the administration does not want to head “down the road towards a third world war.” Ukraine isn’t even allowed to use its HIMARS to end the shelling of its second-largest city, Kharkiv, because the Russian artillery batteries are located on Russian soil.
This strategic calculus makes no sense. Does Sullivan really believe that Putin will launch World War III if the United States supplies rockets with a range of about 180 miles but will hold off as long as we’re supplying only rockets with a range of about 50 miles? Or that the provision of HIMARS, NASAMS air-defense systems, 155mm howitzers, Phoenix Ghost drones, Javelins and Stingers isn’t too provocative — but fighter aircraft and tanks would be?
President Biden is right not to send U.S. forces into direct combat with the Russians, but everything else should be fair game, from ATACMS to F-16s to Abrams tanks. The Soviets didn’t hesitate to supply North Korea and North Vietnam with fighter aircraft to shoot down U.S. warplanes. (Soviet pilots even flew for North Korea.) Why shouldn’t we return the favor?
At the beginning of the war in Ukraine, some feared that Putin was acting so irrationally that he might resort to nuclear weapons. But if the past five months have taught us anything, it is that, while the Butcher of Bucha is evil, he is not suicidal or irrational.
Putin pulled back from Kyiv when it was revealed to be a losing cause and made sensible, if brutal, use of Russian artillery in Luhansk. Putin has basically ignored rumored Ukrainian strikes on military targets inside Russia. He hasn’t attacked Poland, which has become the main staging ground for weapons to Ukraine. He hasn’t lashed out since Finland and Sweden set about joining NATO, thereby putting more NATO troops on Russia’s border.
This is of a piece with Putin’s history. He is a classic bully who picks on the weak (Georgia, Ukraine, the Syrian rebels) while shying away from direct confrontations with the strong (the United States, NATO). Putin is rational enough to realize that if his military is having trouble handling Ukraine, it would have no chance in a war with the Atlantic alliance.
The United States matches Russia in nuclear forces and far exceeds it in conventional capabilities. Biden is in a far stronger position than Putin, but he is acting as if he were weaker. Stop letting Putin deter us from doing everything we can to aid Ukraine. Putin should be more afraid of us than we are of him.
The war has already proved costly to Russia: It has lost about 1,000 tanks, and roughly 60,000 soldiers have been killed or wounded. There won’t be much left of the Russian military if the Ukrainians are armed with lots more HIMARS and ATACMS, along with tanks and fighter aircraft. The fourth phase of the war could prove decisive — but only if the United States finally makes a commitment to help Ukraine win.
Max Boot is a Washington Post columnist, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations and the author of “The Road Not Taken: Edward Lansdale and the American Tragedy in Vietnam.”
We created scorching ‘heat islands’ in East Coast cities. Now they’re becoming unlivable
Joyce Chu, Eduardo Cuevas and Ricardo Kaulessar – July 27, 2022
Thelma Mays couldn’t breathe.
On a blazing summer day, she began gasping for air inside her Petersburg, Virginia, apartment, and was forced to call 911. If she’d been able to look out her window to see the ambulance pull up at Carriage House, an income-based complex for the elderly, she wouldn’t have been able to see a single tree. Just the other side of the sprawling brick building.
When it is too hot to go outside on city streets, the indoors can be just as dangerous for her lung condition, if she gulps refrigerated air for a precious few minutes in front of the AC vent. Mays, 78, has chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and a quick shift in humidity or temperature can trigger a respiratory emergency.
These days in central Virginia, trapped on the edge of a hotter-than-normal part of an often-overlooked majority Black city, escalating heat and weather patterns are putting Mays and others under health and financial stress. It’s pressure not yet being felt equally in wealthier, majority white suburban areas of the state with landscaped gardens and plentiful indoor cool spaces.
Mays was transported to the emergency room that day.
Doctors worked for hours to stabilize her breathing, giving her IV steroids to help her lungs function.
Stranded on an urban heat island, many don’t survive
The Carriage House apartment complex has a few small trees by the sidewalk, none big enough to provide cover for a single person.
By contrast, Walnut Hill — one of the wealthiest and most tree-lined parts of the city — was more than 13 degrees cooler in the shade. Large trees create an arching canopy over the streets. Nearly every house has wide lawns skirted by mature shade-providing trees. Even in the sun, it was 6 degrees cooler than in Old Towne.
Old Towne is the hottest area in Petersburg based on 2021 heat-mapping.
Even on hot days, Mays uses her walker to reach the other side of the street where she can sit under the shade of a couple of small trees by a parking lot. She hates being cooped up in her apartment.
Blocks of shops and long treeless stretches of asphalt and concrete trap the heat in Old Towne. On a sweltering July afternoon, we recorded field temperatures at a scorching 101 degrees. Unlike in the West, this level of heat on the East Coast is often accompanied by moisture in the air.
A difference of a few degrees in extreme heat can affect the body’s ability to regulate its temperature. Some emergency rooms will put out extra gurneys in anticipation of more patients who’ll come in with syncope, respiratory illnesses or heart failure.
Thelma Mays recovered and her granddaughter drove her home. Others in her situation are not so lucky.
Heat death in East Coast cities
We looked at heat islands during an extensive USA TODAY Network reporting project called “Perilous Course,” a collaborative examination of how people up and down the East Coast are grappling with the climate crisis. Journalists from more than 30 newsrooms from New Hampshire to Florida are speaking with regular people about real-life impacts, digging into the science and investigating government response, or lack of it.
Death on a heat island is not as visible or cinematic as the dramatic images of homes crushed by a hurricane, belongings washed away and trees bent by the wind. The elderly and young children fall victim to excessive heat in their homes or inside of cars, away from the public eye and the flashy news headlines.
Hurricanes are short-lived phenomena which are often predicted weeks in advance. Heat’s different. It can come as a heat wave, which can last for days and have no set, predictable spatial boundaries. It enhances conditions on the ground which absorb the heat.
“A heat wave is very hard to define in space and time,” said Hoffman. “It’s not something that you can see on the map; it is something that you feel in the outdoors. So, we have a crisis of communication around heat.”
Climate change has exacerbated the intensity of heat waves, the number of excessive heat days per year and the length of these heat waves. The average length of a heat wave season in 50 big cities studied is now around 70 days, compared to 20 days back in the 1960s. In less than one lifetime, the heat wave season has tripled.
In some places, summer can feel like one long heat wave.
The warming climate has been tied to increased mortality around the world. In a large-scale study that examined heat in 43 countries, including the U.S., researchers found that 37 percent of heat-related deaths could be attributed to the climate crisis.
Extreme heat can be more dangerous for those in the Northeastern United States.
“What becomes really dangerous in these more northern cities is that they haven’t yet adopted air conditioning very widely yet,” Hoffman said. “And especially in lower income and communities of color or immigrant communities, prevalence of air conditioning utilization is very low.”
Three of the country’s nine least-air-conditioned cities are in the Northeastern states — Providence, Rhode Island; Hartford, Connecticut; and Buffalo, New York, according to U.S. Census bureau data and a USA TODAY report.
In Florida, researchers have been measuring the impact of heat islands.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has conducted studies in West Palm Beach and Jacksonville, sometimes using volunteers to capture data. Its studies have indicated that low-income neighborhoods in Florida have less ability to cope with the damaging results of manmade heat islands.
A nonprofit research group called Climate Central found that Jacksonville’s heat island was potentially raising the overall average temperature of the entire city by as much as 6 degrees.
The “feels like” temperature or heat index can make a major difference for people living in humid places like Florida.
On 58th Street in West Palm Beach on a block barren of shade trees it reached 93.9 degrees near noon on July 22 with a relative humidity of 58%. That means it felt like 106 degrees.
“My electric bill was almost two-fold in June from what it was in March,” said 27-year-old Varun Parshad. “I try to be more disciplined with the temperature settings.”
Six miles to the southwest, the National Weather Service’s official gauge at Palm Beach International Airport registered 88 degrees with a lower feels-like temperature of 100 degrees.
The difference between 58th Street and the airport is significant enough when meteorologists and emergency officials have to make heat-related decisions, and it’s something some cities are recognizing as they plan for a warmer future.
No matter what part of the East Coast you’re in, things are getting hotter and more dangerous.
Extreme heat affects low-income communities and people of color on a greater scale due to structural inequities. From 2005 to 2015, the number of emergency room visits increased by 67% for Black people, 63% for Hispanic people and 53% for Asian Americans, compared to 27% for whites.
The conditions for heat to become deadly in certain places were set into motion decades ago by people who were very aware of race. As Hoffman himself would discover, those intentional decisions led to unintentional consequences in the present.
Discrimination made East Coast neighborhoods worse
In Petersburg, to the west of Thelma Mays’ apartment, there is an empty lot that dates back to colonial America and has housed a trading post, tobacco stemmery and Civil War prison in a town that had the highest percentage of African Americans of any in the Confederacy.
The block that remains has grass and some shady trees, and money has been spent on history signage and the stabilization of a crumbling wall. But there are not municipal improvements that give anyone who lives nearby many options to sit and use the shady space during the suffocating summer.
Hundreds of miles north from Thelma Mays’ apartment, there’s another woman who can’t stay indoors when the sun comes up in summer.
Several streets in Brianna Rodriguez’s Nodine Hill neighborhood in Yonkers, New York, are named for trees. But few trees actually line the sidewalks, and there aren’t many parks.
“I couldn’t just stay in my room,” she said about the July 4 holiday weekend. Unable to afford AC units, Rodriguez’s family goes outside instead, to try to find a park to cool off.
When they have to be inside, three industrial fans normally used to quickly dry paint circulate air toward the center of Rodriguez’s living room in Yonkers. But even on full blast, they can’t cool the 18-year-old, her mom, stepdad and their dog inside their third-floor apartment.
There isn’t much shade throughout the working-class Black and Latino neighborhood. Rodriguez avoids certain streets she knows would be too hot between rows of taller apartment buildings and scalding pavement and asphalt.
The characteristics of the neighborhood Rodriguez lives in — residential areas with little or no parks or tree-shade, often bordered by industrial areas, warehouses or bisected by highways and overpasses — are the material remnants of an economic rating system nearly a hundred years old that disincentivized mortgage loans and devalued property.
The creation of “undesirable” economic districts by the government and banks isolated parts of the city populated by non-white people. Those “redlined districts” and the neglect of those areas that followed created the conditions which studies are now proving to be dangerous for human health amid the climate crisis that has already arrived.
Maps of city heat islands are a deadly mirror of redlined neighborhoods
In July 2017, Jeremy Hoffman set out to map Richmond, Virginia, using a new heat-tracking methodology developed by his colleague Vivek Shandas.
Someone told Hoffman that his heat map looked a lot like a map of Richmond’s redlined districts, which Hoffman didn’t know much about at that time. When he compared them, they looked almost identical.
He went to Baltimore, Boston and Washington, D.C., to gather temperatures. The results of the heat maps again matched up with the redlined maps of each city.
That next summer, Hoffman gathered surface temperatures through satellite imaging in each of the 250 redlined cities to see if the heat islands correlated with previously redlined areas, available through historical maps.
“Cities don’t happen by accident,” Hoffman said. “Our neighborhoods don’t happen by accident. Everything is a decision that’s been made. Every single second of your daily life in a city is the integrated outcome of all the historical planning policies and decisions that were made before that.”
A harsh but telling example: Maps made by the Home Owners’ Loan Corporation described Nodine Hill, then heavily Italian, as “hazardous,” a September 1937 form said. Its detrimental influences, the form said, were aging buildings and the “character of occupants.”
On average, a person of color lives in a census tract with higher surface urban heat island intensity than non-Hispanic white people in all but six of the 175 largest urbanized areas in the U.S., according to a 2021 study published in the science journal Nature Communications.
Black residents had the most exposure to heat islands, researchers said, followed by Hispanic people.
The underlying conditions for heat islands were set decades ago by the economic isolation of redlining. Climate change just catalyzed these places to make them even more dangerous to human life.
Absorbing the history of heat
As a young child, Rodriguez didn’t play on the swings at her Nodine Hill elementary school on the hottest days, though they were her favorite part of the playground.
At recess, she skirted School 23’s playground, built on a black rubber mat over concrete, and joined hundreds of students huddled under a few trees. The sun glared directly down on the swings’ metal links, making them too hot to hold onto.
“I had always felt that it was hotter,” Rodriguez said on a recent Friday afternoon in the shadow of her old school, a large brick building for pre-K-8 students built in 1918. “It was just evident to me.”
Temperatures were in the 90s on July 1, 2022. But Rodriguez felt it was even hotter in Nodine Hill. The neighborhood is just a mile uphill from the Hudson River, which provides daily breeze for those along the water.
School 23’s playground was nearly empty a week after classes ended. A few teens sat by one of the basketball hoops in the shade. Rodriguez’s gold necklace with her middle name, Brooklyn, glinted in the sun.
On hot days, without shade or greenspace that can cool neighborhoods, fewer people are outside in Southwest Yonkers. Instead, many cluster indoors to keep cool.
Upscale neighborhoods are edged with trees and parks with shaded pathways. In Southwest Yonkers, where Nodine Hill is located, residential areas are edged with unwanted facilities, congested roadways, sewage and wastewater treatment plants, according to Brigitte Griswold, executive director of Groundwork Hudson Valley, an environmental justice nonprofit that’s studied the local effects of redlining.
Resulting air pollution contributes to higher rates of asthma and heart disease in these communities, she added.
Griswold said the self-imposed isolation impedes people from checking on each other during a heat wave.
“It’s kind of a double-edged sword,” she said. “The heat itself prevents that social cohesion from happening. And then that breaks down community resilience to respond to the very thing that is driving people apart.”
Growing development brings more heat
The little growth that has come from the end of redlining is not always welcome or healthy. In these spaces, where land is cheaper and zoning fluid, manufacturing sites, energy plants and big box stores have sprung up.
New Jersey resident Tanisha Garner knows more buildings in her neighborhood mean more heat.
Garner, a Newark native who has lived in an area called the Ironbound for the past four years, said at least 10 projects are being planned for the area — and that they will be built with materials that absorb and radiate heat.
The Ironbound area got its name from the metalworking factories and railroad tracks in the area. For over a hundred years, this eastern section of Newark was home to all kinds of industrial activity. It was also an area redlined back in the late 1930s, classified as “dangerous” and marked by the federal government to be excluded from mortgage eligibility.
Many of those industries are long gone. Others have taken their place. A waste-to-energy incinerator, a sewage treatment plant, a metal plating shop and numerous warehouses. The area has been subject to some of the worst pollution in the state.
Garner thinks these development projects take out greenery and open space and fill them with buildings that help amplify the heat in her neighborhood.
“What creates that heat island? Is it the structure of the building, is it a lack of trees, is it the lack of balance between nature and construction?” Garner said. “When you look at the Ironbound, you can see there is an imbalance.”
During a tour of her neighborhood in July, Garner pointed out some of the areas designated for development.
One of those areas encompasses Freeman and Ferry streets, the future site of a six-story, 280-unit complex to be built at the site of the historic Ballantine Brewery, starting this summer. The current area has no trees lining the sidewalk. A rendering of the proposed project shows numerous trees surrounding the building. Will it be enough to offset the potential heat effect of such a huge structure?
A temperature check of that block at 11:20 a.m. registered 95.7 degrees, six degrees more than the city’s temperature of 89 degrees at that time, according to the website Weather Underground.
Heat island as zombie apocalypse
In July 2020, Brianna Rodriguez took her handheld FLIR thermal camera and pointed the bullseye at School 23’s black rubber mat where she once played. It was 88 degrees in Yonkers that day, she noted. Down on the mat, it was 127 degrees.
The infrared camera captured yellow and orange colors around the mat, signaling more surface heat, as opposed to blue and purple meaning cool.
She jotted the reading down in her journal, as part of Groundwork Hudson Valley’s green team, composed of Yonkers teens interested in sustainability and climate change. They were completing an exercise developed by Shandas, where they pretended the heat was a zombie apocalypse affecting her neighborhood. Where it was yellow and orange on the camera, there were more zombies.
The image of her playground looked like the surface of the sun.
Ultimately, potential solutions for minimizing the deaths from heat islands should be a lot easier than protecting a city from zombies. Shandas, a chronicler of the “heat dome” phenomenon that settled over Portland, Oregon, with deadly results in its hottest neighborhoods last summer, said immediate action can be taken with lifesaving results.
Cities can open more cooling centers during hot days to give residents respite from the heat.
Property managers can do checks on apartments when indoor temperatures soar above 90 degrees.
Planting trees in heat islands can also have an immediate impact that will only grow as increasing canopy creates more shaded area, while adding oxygen to the local atmosphere.
Such changes, Shandas said, can be implemented ahead of more complex structural changes to amend building codes for cooler buildings with walls or roof construction materials that deflect heat.
Tree planting programs have been implemented in many states. But where the trees are planted matters. While thousands of trees have been planted in Newark in the last several years, the agency in charge would not say how many were planted in the Ironbound. Walking through the Ironbound’s streets, it’s hard to think that this area has been targeted for a tree-based solution.
Ultimately, Shandas explained, heat islands are manmade and can be managed.
“It goes back to a lot of conditions that have been created by human decision-making processes,” he said. “What we really want to do is try to figure out what are the ways we can unpack some of this and get ahead of it.”
Down the street from School 23, children took turns running past an open fire hydrant that sprayed water into the middle of the street. Scrambling in a ragged line, they screamed with delight as the cool water hit them. Rodriguez had done the same as a kid.
That night, as fireworks sizzled and boomed overhead, the pavement by the hydrant had long since dried in the heat. The heat of the day, held like a memory by the playground’s metal and rubber matting, slowly released into the night.
— Palm Beach Post reporter Kimberly Miller contributed to this story.
I’m a Pelvic Floor Therapist—Here’s My Advice for Staying Active When You Have Bladder Issues
Yes, you can strengthen that pelvic floor.
Kaitlin Vogel – July 25, 2022
While it’s not the most comfortable topic to discuss, bladder issues are a common health concern, particularly among women. Bladder control problems can be the result of a weak pelvic floor, which can occur for a variety of reasons: Pregnancy, childbirth, obesity and even heavy lifting in some cases.
“In the past, with any sort of bladder issue, the blanket statement was just to ‘do Kegels,’ a pelvic floor contraction to learn how to strengthen those muscles. But not everyone benefits from them, because the pelvic floor isn’t always weak when you have symptoms—it can be hypertonic or not coordinating well with other muscles,” says Dr. Kelley Koontz, PT, DPT.
“Your pelvic floor is on a team and it works with deep back muscles, deep abdominal muscles, hip muscles and the diaphragm. If something is going on with the entire team, it will likely affect your pelvic floor.”
How to Stay Active When You Have Bladder Issues
“It can be common, but not actually normal to have bladder leaking with exercising, especially if you had kids,” Dr. Koontz explains. “This is a sign of pelvic floor dysfunction and is something you don’t have to live with. It has been found that nearly half of women with urinary incontinence stop or modify their exercise due to their symptoms.”
Bladder leaking during exercise can also happen for those who have never had kids. CrossFit athletes, runners and power-lifters can all struggle with this same issue, whether they have had kids or not.
The first step is to first find out what is causing your symptoms. Is it weakness of the pelvic floor? Is it tightness of the pelvic floor? Is it because of improper bracing mechanics with lifting? Is it because of other weak or overactive muscles around the pelvis? Do you have scar tissue from either a c-section or vaginal birth that is affecting your muscle activation?
All these and more can be a cause for bladder leaking, and the answer is not always doing Kegels, says Dr. Koontz. Meeting with a pelvic health physical therapist is valuable in finding the “why” of your leaking.
Tips For a Healthy and Strong Pelvic Floor
Don’t hold it!
This can cause many different urinary health issues.
“When you hold urine, the bladder muscle thickens and cannot contract and squeeze all the pee out, which can lead to UTIs, which can weaken the pelvic floor muscles. When you go upon feeling an urge, you allow the pelvic floor muscles to lengthen and contract which keep them strong and working efficiently,” says Quiara Smith, MOT, OTR/L, Holistic and Integrative Pediatric Pelvic Health Occupational Therapist.
Be mindful of your breathing
Your breath is essential when you exercise because the pelvic floor works with your diaphragm.
“The pelvic floor moves up (contracting the muscles) when you exhale, and then it moves down (or relaxes/lengthens) with you inhale,” Dr. Koontz explains. “So, with any lifting, pair your breath, make sure you don’t ‘bear down’ on the pelvic floor, and also learn to brace your core correctly to improve symptoms.”
Smith recommends this breathing exercise:
Take two to three belly breaths after you sit on the toilet, before your urine stream starts to help relax the pelvic floor muscles and sphincter around the bladder. This allows for the diaphragm ( your breathing muscle) to move in an efficient way, which allows the pelvic floor muscles to lengthen and contract in the appropriate way.
Belly breathing/diaphragmatic breathing also allows for proper intra-abdominal pressure to help void, which helps people empty their bladder and rectum completely, which prevents downward pressure on the pelvic floor muscles and keeps them strong and working efficiently.
If you find yourself purposely not drinking more water because you don’t want more bladder symptoms (such as leaking or going to the bathroom frequently), this can actually worsen symptoms.
“Decreasing water intake makes the contents of your bladder more concentrated, irritating your bladder,” says Dr. Koontz. “Bladder irritants, such as caffeine, soda, alcohol, and sparkling water (to name a few) can worsen symptoms. When you start adding more water to your day, try to not ‘chug’ a lot of water all at once. Small and frequent sips throughout the day will help your urinary system.”
“The pelvis isn’t that big, so with any chronic constipation, it can either irritate your bladder or go into a cycle of making the muscles overactive, making controlling your bladder more difficult,” Dr. Koontz states.
Make sure you can do Kegels correctly (if you need to do them)
That means not squeezing your glute muscles, inner thigh muscles, or abdominal muscles while contracting your pelvic floor muscles, Dr. Koontz explains. Also, don’t hold a Kegel during your entire workout. This can make symptoms worse.
Work on lengthening/relaxing the pelvic floor
“A tight or hypertonic pelvic floor can actually cause bladder symptoms. If you struggle with a tight pelvic floor, working on lengthening/relaxation of the pelvic floor can help,” says Dr. Koontz.
Insert diaphragmatic breathing with stretches, really focusing on your inhalation. Exercises can include happy baby, deep squat, inner thigh stretches, and child’s pose.
Greenland hit with ‘unusually extensive’ melting of ice sheet, boosting sea levels, scientists say
Saleen Martin – July 24,2022
It’s getting hotter in Greenland, and last weekend temperatures rose enough to cause 18 billion tons of the country’s ice sheet to melt over three days.
Scientists have warned about the fate of Greenland’s ice sheet and say what happened between July 15 and 17 is the latest massive melting event contributing to an increase in the global sea level.
The amount of water from the melt – about 6 billion tons a day, or 18 billion tons over the weekend – is enough to “cover West Virginia in a foot of water – 4 inches per day, roughly,” Ted Scambos, a senior research scientist at the University of Colorado’s Earth Science and Observation Center and National Snow and Ice Data Center, told USA TODAY.
Video: Sightseers capture huge chunk of Norway glacier crumbling into sea
Sightseers capture huge chunk of Norway glacier crumbling into sea
During a tour in Spitsbergen, Norway, sightseers captured a portion of the Monaco glacier breaking off and crumbling into the sea.
Much of the melting came from northern Greenland because warm air drifted over from the Canadian Arctic Archipelago, Scambos said.
There is also a high-pressure dome over Greenland. Together, they created an “unusually extensive melt event,” he said.
Temps heating up in Greenland
Temperatures vary over Greenland, but the coldest temperatures are in areas of high elevation, toward the center of the ice sheet, said William Lipscomb, a senior scientist in the National Center for Atmospheric Research’s Climate and Global Dynamics Laboratory.
Once temperatures are above freezing or 32 degrees Fahrenheit, the melting begins. Temperatures last weekend were around 60 degrees, or 10 degrees warmer than normal for this time of year, according to CNN.
“In recent years, we’ve seen a lot of heat waves in Greenland, this recent warming of it being one example,” Lipscomb told USA TODAY. “Any temperature above freezing can cause some surface melting.”
Greenland loses ‘tremendous amount of ice every year now’
In the 1980s and 1990s in Greenland, a melt event of this sort never occurred, but starting in the 2000s – especially since 2010 – the melting has been more extensive.
The melt is two times larger than normal, said Xavier Fettweis of the University of Liège. Fettweis, a polar researcher, created a model scientists use, along with satellite data, to study Greenland’s changes.
The melt is among two of the largest melts in the ice sheet history after the 2012 and 2019 melting events; in 2019, the runoff was about 527 billion tons. So far, the total melt is far below 2019 levels, but the situation is more dire over the Svalbard ice caps at the North of Norway, Fettweis said.
More melting was expected, said Scambos, of the National Snow and Ice Data Center. “This event is one of many events over the whole summer,” he said. “We can expect on the order of 100 billion tons of water going into the ocean. Greenland as a whole is losing a tremendous amount of ice every year now.”
NASA Goddard Space Flight Center ice scientist Nathan Kurtz was recently in Greenland to help better calibrate ICESat-2, one of the agency’s satellites used to monitor Greenland.
Its data has shown a loss of ice from Greenland of about 200 billion tons a year over the past two decades, Kurtz told USA TODAY. “This loss of ice contributes directly to global sea level rise, which has significant societal impacts,” he said.
Lipscomb, of the National Center for Atmospheric Research, said scientists measure the amount of water melted in units of gigatons per year, or 1 billion tons of water. Before climate change, about 600 gigatons of snowfall were coming in each year and about 300 gigatons were going out in the form of summer melting.
Now, Greenland’s ice sheet is losing nearly 300 gigatons of water each year more than it gains from snowfall, Lipscomb said. “There’s still time to avoid catastrophic sea level rise, but every year that greenhouse gas emissions continue at the present rate increases the chances of serious problems down the road.”
In some parts of the world such as Asia, seasonal water supply depend on the timing of the glacier melt.
“If the melt is happening too early, you may not be getting the water when you need it for farming,” he said. “And if the glaciers completely melt, then you won’t have the glacier melt water source at all. And that’s something people worry about for later this century as the warming continues.”
Saleen Martin is a reporter on USA TODAY’s NOW team. She is from Norfolk, Virginia – the 757 – and loves all things horror, witches, Christmas, and food.
Russians have so few troops left, they make one battalion out of three intercepted call
Kateryna Tyshchenko – July 23, 2022
A Russian serviceman says in an intercepted conversation that several battalions are being withdrawn from the combat zone due to high losses, and three battalions are to be made into one.
Source: intercepted phone call posted by the Chief Intelligence Directorate of the Ministry of Defence
Quote: “Now they’ve withdrawn the battalions, they’ll make one out of three, because … there are no people left. And then, f**k knows whether they’ll make one.”
Details: The Russian soldier complains that 2,000 reinforcements have arrived in six months, of which 500 at most are still there.
He says that psychologists will be working with the personnel for 10 days since no one wants to go back to Ukraine.
The occupier also complains about the new artillery systems being used by the Armed Forces of Ukraine.
Quote: “Two days ago it flew into the building. They fire some kind of sh*t, you hear f**k-all when it’s coming out… Just two seconds – bam. Some kind of MLRS, like a Grad or Uragan. Only it’s silent. Everything they say on TV about our losses being minimal, that’s all crap.”