This community lost 5 million gallons of clean, drinkable water a day — all because of an abandoned golf course
Laurelle Stelle – August 31, 2023
Jackson, Mississippi, experienced frequent water shortages and contamination for years, all while a leaking water main poured five million gallons per day into a nearby stream until finally being repaired.
According to The New York Times, the leak was located under a golf course at the Colonial Country Club and had been there since 2016. It affected one of the two main pipes carrying water from the local treatment plant to the rest of the city, where the pressure was so strong that water from the leak shot into the air like a geyser and carved a swimming pool-sized pit in the ground.
Not only did the country club leak lose enough to supply 50,000 people with water every day, but it was only one of many large leaks affecting Jackson’s aging water system. The New York Times reports that the city’s two water plants were built in the 1910s and 1980s, meaning that many of the pipes the city relies on are over 100 years old and could break at any time.
Why does it matter?
Jackson residents have been experiencing problems with their water for years, according to the Times. They receive frequent “boil notices” — warnings that the tap water is unsafe and should be boiled before use — and at times receive no tap water at all. Many residents stockpile bottled water to prepare for the next crisis. Being without clean drinking water is bad enough, but experiencing these shortages while clean water is being poured out on the ground is especially alarming.
As temperatures rise across the globe, Jackson isn’t the only part of the U.S. experiencing water shortages. California and other western states have been facing a years-long drought, while pollution has affected the water supply in towns like Dimock, Pennsylvania. These shortages lead to increased water costs and may have long-term effects on agriculture that could drive up food prices.
What is being done to fix it?
Until recently, poor management has prevented any real improvement in Jackson, which is why the Justice Department ordered the city to bring in an outside manager for the water department in 2022, the Times reports. Repairs are finally underway, starting with the Colonial Country Club leak and aided by a recent infusion of federal funds.
Tropical Storm Idalia is nearing Florida. Residents are being urged to wrap up their preparations
Laura Bargfeld – August 28, 2023
TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — Florida residents loaded up on sandbags and evacuated from homes in low-lying areas along the Gulf Coast as Tropical Storm Idalia intensified Monday and forecasters predicted it would hit in days as a major hurricane with potentially life-threatening storm surges.
“You should be wrapping up your preparation for #TropicalStormIdalia tonight and Tues morning at the latest,” the National Weather Service in Tampa Bay said Monday on X, formerly known as Twitter.
As the state prepared, Idalia thrashed Cuba with heavy rain, especially in the westernmost part of the island, where the tobacco-producing province of Pinar del Rio is still recovering from the devastation caused by Hurricane Ian almost a year ago.
Authorities in the province issued a state of alert, and residents were evacuated to friends’ and relatives’ homes as authorities monitored the Cuyaguateje river for possible flooding. As much as 10 centimeters (4 inches) of rain fell in Cuba on Sunday, meteorological stations reported.
Idalia is expected to start affecting Florida with hurricane-force winds as soon as late Tuesday and arrive on the coast by Wednesday. It is the first storm to hit Florida this hurricane season and a potentially big blow to the state, which is also dealing with lingering damage from last year’s Hurricane Ian.
“Just got to prepare for these things, hope for the best, and prepare for the worst and, you know, hunker down, as they say,” said Derek Hughes as he waited to load up his car with sandbags at a city park in Tampa.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis declared a state of emergency in 46 counties, a broad swath that stretches across the northern half of the state from the Gulf Coast to the Atlantic Coast. The state has mobilized 1,100 National Guard members, who have 2,400 high-water vehicles and 12 aircraft at their disposal for rescue and recovery efforts.
Tampa International Airport and St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport said they would close on Tuesday, and the Sunrail commuter rail service in Orlando was being suspended.
DeSantis warned of a “major impact” to the state, noting the potential for Idalia to become a Category 3 hurricane.
“The property — we can rebuild someone’s home,” DeSantis said during a news conference Monday. “You can’t unring the bell, though, if somebody stays in harm’s way and does battle with Mother Nature.”
DeSantis said the Florida Department of Transportation would waive tolls on highways in the Tampa area and the Big Bend starting at 4 a.m. Tuesday to help ease any burden on people in the path of the storm.
Large parts of the western coast of Florida are at risk for storm surges and floods. Evacuation notices have been issued in 21 counties with mandatory orders for some people in eight of those counties. Many of the notices were for people in low-lying and coastal areas, for those living in structures such as mobile and manufactured homes, recreational vehicles and boats, and for people who would be vulnerable in a power outage.
Pasco and Levy counties, located north of Tampa, both ordered mandatory evacuations for some residents. In Levy County, officials said residents of Cedar Key must be off the island by Tuesday evening because storm surges would make bridges impassable.
“Once the storm surge comes in, help may not be available to reach you,” the county said in a public advisory.
The National Hurricane Center in Miami issued a hurricane warning Monday from Longboat Key in the Sarasota area to the Holocene River, up past Tampa Bay.
Many school districts along the Gulf Coast said they would be closed Tuesday and Wednesday. Several colleges and universities said they would close their campuses on Tuesday, including the University of Florida in Gainesville.
“They told us that our dorm building, especially, is prone to flooding,” said Erin Amiss, a student at Eckerd College in St. Petersburg.
MacDill Air Force Base, located on Tampa Bay, is preparing to evacuate several aircraft and began a mandatory evacuation Monday morning for personnel who live in local counties, the Air Force said in a statement.
Tampa resident Grace Cruz, who has lived in the state for more than 40 years, put away patio furniture, filled her car up with gas and loaded up on sandbags. She worried about the tens of thousands of new residents to Florida who had never before experienced a hurricane, and she had some advice for them.
“If you’re planning to get away, you start ahead of time because of the traffic,” Cruz said. “No kidding. It’s horrible.”
As Gulf Coast residents packed up their cars or hauled out generators in case of power outages, state officials warned about potential fuel contamination at dozens of gas stations.
President Joe Biden spoke to DeSantis on Monday morning, telling the Florida governor that he had approved an emergency declaration for the state, the White House said in a news release. DeSantis is running for the Republican presidential nomination in 2024.
Southwest Florida is still recovering from Hurricane Ian, which was responsible last year for almost 150 deaths. The Category 5 hurricane damaged 52,000 structures, nearly 20,000 of which were destroyed or severely damaged.
At 11 p.m. EDT Monday, Tropical Storm Idalia was about 10 miles (16 kilometers) off the western tip of Cuba, with maximum sustained winds of 70 mph (110 kph), the hurricane center said. Idalia was moving north at 8 mph (13 kph). On Tuesday, it was expected to turn northeast at a faster pace, reaching Florida’s western coast as a dangerous major hurricane on Wednesday.
After moving across Florida, Idalia is forecast to blow through Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina.
So far this year, the U.S. East Coast has been spared from cyclones. But in the West earlier this month, Tropical Storm Hilary caused widespread flooding, mudslides and road closures in Mexico, California, Nevada and points north.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration recently said the 2023 hurricane season would be far busier than initially forecast, partly because of extremely warm ocean temperatures. The season runs through Nov. 30, with August and September typically the peak.
Associated Press writers Sarah Brumfield in Silver Spring, Maryland; Cristiana Mesquita in Havana; Mike Schneider in St. Louis, Missouri; and Lisa Baumann in Bellingham, Washington, contributed to this report.
Trump and His Co-Defendants in Georgia Are Already at Odds
Richard Fausset and Danny Hakim – August 27, 2023
Even as former President Donald Trump and his 18 co-defendants in the Georgia election interference case turned themselves in one by one at an Atlanta jail this past week, their lawyers began working to change how the case will play out.
They are already at odds over when they will have their day in court, but also, crucially, where. Should enough of them succeed, the case could split into several smaller cases, perhaps overseen by different judges in different courtrooms, running on different timelines.
Five defendants have already sought to move the state case to federal court, citing their ties to the federal government. The first one to file — Mark Meadows, Trump’s chief of staff during the 2020 election — will make the argument for removal Monday, in a hearing before a federal judge in Atlanta.
Federal officials charged with state crimes can move their cases to federal court if they can convince a judge that they are being charged for actions connected to their official duties, among other things.
In the Georgia case, the question of whether to change the venue — a legal maneuver known as removal — matters because it would affect the composition of a jury. If the case stays in Fulton County, the jury will come from a bastion of Democratic politics where Trump was trounced in 2020. If the case is removed to federal court, the jury will be drawn from a 10-county region of Georgia that is more suburban and rural — and somewhat more Trump-friendly. Because it takes only one not-guilty vote to hang a jury, this modest advantage could prove to be a very big deal.
The coming fights over the proper venue for the case are only one strand of a complicated tangle of efforts being launched by a gaggle of defense lawyers now representing Trump and the 18 others named in the 98-page racketeering indictment. This past week, the lawyers clogged both state and federal court dockets with motions that will also determine when the case begins.
Already, one defendant’s case is splitting off as a result. Kenneth Chesebro, a lawyer who advised Trump after the 2020 election, has asked for a speedy trial, and the presiding state judge has agreed to it. His trial is now set to begin Oct. 23. Another defendant, Sidney Powell, filed a similar motion Friday, and a third, John Eastman, also plans to invoke his right to an early trial, according to one of his lawyers.
Soon after Chesebro set in motion the possibility of an October trial, Trump, obviously uncomfortable with the idea of going to court so soon, informed the court that he intended to sever his case from the rest of the defendants. Ordering separate trials for defendants in a large racketeering indictment can occur for any number of reasons, and the judge, Scott McAfee, has made clear the early trial date applied only to Chesebro.
Trump’s move came as no surprise. As the leading candidate for the Republican presidential nomination, he is in no hurry to see the Georgia matter, or the other three criminal cases against him, go to trial. In the separate federal election interference case Trump faces in Washington, D.C., his lawyers have asked that the trial start safely beyond the November 2024 general election — in April 2026.
In Georgia, the possibility that even a portion of the sprawling case may go to trial in October remains up in the air. The removal efforts have much to do with that.
There is a possibility that if one of the five defendants seeking removal is successful, then all 19 will be forced into federal court. Many legal scholars have noted that the question is unsettled.
“We are heading for uncharted territory at this point, and nobody knows for sure what is in this novel frontier,” Donald Samuel, a veteran Atlanta defense attorney who represents one of the defendants in the Trump case, Ray Smith III, wrote in an email. “Maybe a trip to the Supreme Court.”
The dizzying legal gamesmanship reflects the unique nature of a case that has swept up a former president, a number of relatively obscure Georgia Republican activists, a former publicist for Kanye West and lawyer-defendants of varying prominence. All bring their own agendas, financial concerns and opinions about their chances at trial.
And, of course, one of them seeks to regain the title of leader of the free world.
Some of the defendants seeking a speedy trial may believe that the case against them is weak. They may also hope to catch prosecutors unprepared, although in this case, Fani Willis, the district attorney, has been investigating for 2 1/2 years and has had plenty of time to get ready.
Another reason that some may desire a speedy trial is money.
Willis had originally sought to start a trial in March, but even that seemed ambitious given the complexity of the case. Harvey Silverglate, Eastman’s lawyer, said he could imagine a scenario in which a verdict might not come for three years.
“And Eastman is not a wealthy man,” he said.
Silverglate added that his client “doesn’t have the contributors” that Trump has. “We are going to seek a severance and a speedy trial. If we have a severance, the trial will take three weeks,” he predicted.
How long would a regular racketeering trial take? Brian Tevis, an Atlanta lawyer who negotiated the bond agreement for Rudy Giuliani, Trump’s former personal lawyer, said that “the defense side would probably want potentially a year or so to catch up.”
“You have to realize that the state had a two-year head start,” he said. “They know what they have. No one else knows what they have. No discovery has been turned over. We haven’t even had arraignment yet.”
In addition to Meadows, Jeffrey Clark, a former Justice Department official, is already seeking removal, as is David Shafer, former head of the Georgia Republican Party; Shawn Still, a Georgia state senator; and Cathy Latham, former chair of the Republican Party in Coffee County, Georgia. Trump is almost certain to follow, having already tried and failed to have a state criminal case against him in New York moved to federal court.
The indictment charges Meadows with racketeering and “solicitation of violation of oath by public officer” for his participation in the Jan. 2, 2021, call in which Trump told the Georgia secretary of state that he wanted to “find” enough votes to win Georgia. The indictment also describes other efforts by Meadows that prosecutors say were part of the illegal scheme to overturn the 2020 election.
Meadows’ lawyers argue that all of the actions in question were what “one would expect” of a White House chief of staff — “arranging Oval Office meetings, contacting state officials on the president’s behalf, visiting a state government building and setting up a phone call for the president” — and that removal is therefore justified.
Prosecutors contend that Meadows was, in fact, engaging in political activity that was not part of a chief of staff’s job.
The issue is likely to be at the heart of Trump’s removal effort as well: In calling the secretary of state and other Georgia officials after he lost the election, was he working on his own behalf, or in his capacity as president, to ensure that the election had run properly?
Anthony Michael Kreis, an assistant law professor at Georgia State University, said the indictment may contain an Easter egg that could spoil Trump’s argument that he was intervening in the Georgia election as part of his duty as a federal official.
The indictment says that the election-reversal scheme lasted through September 2021, when Trump wrote a letter to Georgia’s secretary of state asking him to take steps to decertify the election.
Trump, by that point, had been out of federal office for months.
“By showing the racketeering enterprise continued well beyond his time in office,” Kreis said in a text message, “it undercuts any argument that Trump was acting in a governmental capacity to ensure the election was free, fair and accurate.”
Two Justices Clash on Congress’ Power Over Supreme Court Ethics
Adam Liptak – August 27, 2023
WASHINGTON — As a young lawyer in the Reagan White House, John Roberts was tartly dismissive of the Supreme Court’s long summer break, which stretches from the end of June to the first Monday in October.
“Only Supreme Court justices and schoolchildren,” he wrote in 1983, “are expected to and do take the entire summer off.”
On the other hand, the young lawyer wrote, there is an upside to the break: “We know that the Constitution is safe for the summer.”
These days, members of the court find time to quarrel about the Constitution even in the warm months. The primary antagonists lately have been Justices Samuel Alito Jr. and Elena Kagan.
Last summer, they clashed over whether decisions like the one eliminating the constitutional right to abortion threatened the court’s legitimacy.
In recent months, the two justices have continued to spar, though on a different subject: whether Congress has the constitutional authority to regulate aspects of the court’s work.
The question is timely, of course, as news reports have raised ethical questions about, among other things, luxury travel provided to Alito and Justice Clarence Thomas. Those reports have led to proposed legislation to impose new ethics rules on the court.
Alito, in an interview published in The Wall Street Journal last month, appeared to object, saying that “Congress did not create the Supreme Court.”
He added, “I know this is a controversial view, but I’m willing to say it. No provision in the Constitution gives them the authority to regulate the Supreme Court — period.”
A few days later, at a judicial conference in Portland, Oregon, Kagan took the opposite view, though she cautioned that the Journal had not reproduced the question that had prompted Alito’s answer. She indicated, graciously, that he could not have meant what he seemed to say.
“Of course Congress can regulate various aspects of what the Supreme Court does,” she said, ticking off a list of ways in which lawmakers can act. Congress sets the court’s budget. It can increase or shrink the size of the court, and it has over the years done both. It can make changes to the court’s jurisdiction.
Indeed, the Constitution provides that the court has appellate jurisdiction “with such exceptions, and under such regulations as the Congress shall make.”
All of this is unsurprising, Kagan said.
“It just can’t be that the court is the only institution that somehow is not subject to any checks and balances from anybody else,” she said, adding, “I mean, we are not imperial.”
On the broader question of whether Congress may regulate some aspects of the court’s activities, Kagan seemed to have the better of the argument. She did not offer an opinion on the narrower question of whether Congress may impose a code of ethics on the justices, but she said the court remained free to act.
“Regardless of what Congress does, the court can do stuff,” Kagan said, adding, “We could decide to adopt a code of conduct of our own that either follows or decides in certain instances not to follow the standard codes of conduct.”
In remarks at an awards ceremony in May, Roberts said that work remained underway. But he added it was a job for the court, not Congress.
“I want to assure people that I am committed to making certain that we as a court adhere to the highest standards of conduct,” he said. “We are continuing to look at things we can do to give practical effect to that commitment, and I am confident that there are ways to do that consistent with our status as an independent branch of government and the Constitution’s separation of powers.”
It was not clear, though, that consensus among the justices was on the horizon, Kagan said.
“It’s not a secret for me to say that we have been discussing this issue,” she said. “And it won’t be a surprise to know that the nine of us have a variety of views about this, as about most things. We’re nine freethinking individuals.”
Congress has enacted laws that apply to the justices, including ones on financial disclosures and recusal. In a way, the most telling ethics legislation came from the first Congress, in 1789, requiring all federal judges, including Supreme Court justices, to take an oath promising “that I will administer justice without respect to persons, and do equal right to the poor and to the rich, and that I will faithfully and impartially discharge and perform all the duties incumbent on me.”
If Congress can take all of those actions, it would seem to be free to enact a code of ethical standards, Amanda Frost, a law professor at the University of Virginia, wrote in a 2013 law review article.
“The Supreme Court is not an isolated institution intended to operate entirely free from the political branches — to the contrary, it has always depended on the political branches to lay out the parameters governing its exercise of judicial power,” Frost wrote, adding, “Congress’s authority over judicial ethics is less surprising once one realizes that Congress has long assumed the power to regulate many important aspects of the court’s daily activities.”
Nordstrom closes San Francisco store on grim note amid naked mannequins, empty display cases
Jessica Garrison – August 27, 2023
Nordstrom’s San Francisco flagship, which for decades occupied crucial real estate at the San Francisco Centre mall on Market Street, closed its doors Sunday.
The last days of the high-end store known for its shoes and its service were grim; ABC7 on a recent visit captured images of empty display cases and stacks of naked mannequins and interviewed an employee — whose worn black sneakers were the only part of him in the shot to protect his identity — speaking darkly about crime in the city’s once-vibrant shopping district.
During the store’s last hours on Sunday afternoon, the pattern appeared to break. An employee answering the phone said they were too busy with customers to talk.
The store’s closing has prompted yet another round of hand-wringing about the future of downtown San Francisco. Since the pandemic sent tech workers home by the thousands, with some never to return, foot traffic in the area has plummeted. Stores have closed in droves. The retail vacancy rate in the city was 6% in the first quarter of 2023, the highest in the city since 2006, according to data from Cushman & Wakefield, a commercial real estate services firm.
In announcing the closure of Nordstrom this spring, Jamie Nordstrom, the company’s chief stores officer, said “the dynamics of the downtown San Francisco market have changed dramatically over the past several years, impacting customer foot traffic to our stores and our ability to operate successfully.”
But critics of San Francisco’s political leaders have jumped on the closure as yet another result of the city’s progressive Democratic leadership.
Incidentally, the headquarters of X are just a few blocks west of the now-shuttered Nordstrom, and Chief Executive Elon Musk recently tweeted that he planned to stay. He took a dig at the city in making the announcement, though.
“The city is in a doom spiral, with one company after another left or leaving,” he said. “We will not. … San Francisco, beautiful San Francisco, though others forsake you, we will always be your friend.”
Though San Francisco’s mayor, London Breed, has frequently been at odds with Musk in recent months, on this she expressed a similar sentiment.
After Nordstrom announced its closure in May, Breed held a news conference in Union Square to announce funding to revitalize some streets in the area.
Earlier this month, she also announced that the city was studying the idea of turning the struggling mall that Nordstrom is abandoning into a soccer stadium.
“We know we need to combat the issues around crime and public safety and affordability and transportation,” Breed told the San Francisco Chronicle. “But I am optimistic about the future, because what we are seeing in San Francisco is something like nothing else before. We have the possibility to be whatever we want to be.”
Through Philanthropy and Activism, Bob Barker Fought Animal Cruelty
Chris Cameron – August 27, 2023
Bob Barker, the longtime host of television game show “The Price Is Right” who died Saturday, made animal welfare advocacy a hallmark both of his career in show business and his life after retirement.
Over decades as the host of the longest-running game show in American television history, Barker, beginning in the 1980s, used his bully pulpit to remind millions of viewers to “help control the pet population; have your pet spayed or neutered.”
In one instance in 1996, he powered through his announcement even as an excited contestant clung at his arm, unable to contain her joy at having just won $51,676, or $99,602 when adjusted for inflation.
He continued that tradition for more than 20 years, until his very last show on June 15, 2007.
“There are just too many cats and dogs being born,” he explained in an interview with The New York Times in 2004. “Animals are being euthanized by the millions simply because there are not enough homes for them. In the United States, there is a dog or cat euthanized every 6.5 seconds.”
Barker supported a wide range of efforts to fight what activists saw as rampant animal cruelty in American society.
As one of the most prominent allies of the movement in Hollywood, he became a strict vegetarian, stopped dyeing his hair because the products were tested on animals and quit his job as host of the Miss USA and Miss Universe pageants because their organizers refused to remove fur coats from the prize packages.
“I am so proud of the trailblazing work Barker and I did together to expose the cruelty to animals in the entertainment industry,” Nancy Burnet, a fellow animal welfare activist who had been overseeing his care, said in a statement Saturday.
Barker put $25 million into founding the DJ&T Foundation, which finances clinics that specialize in spaying and neutering. The foundation was named after Barker’s wife, Dorothy Jo, and his mother, Matilda Valandra, who was known as Tilly.
Estimates show that the number of dogs and cats euthanized in shelters has been reduced to a fraction of what it was in the 1990s, at least partially attributable to “the drive to sterilize pet dogs and cats,” according to a 2018 study.
Barker also donated $5 million to the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society at the urging of its founder Paul Watson, who used the money to buy a ship named for Barker for use in the organization’s anti-whaling campaigns.
“He said he thought he could put the Japanese whaling fleet out of business if he had $5 million,” Barker said of Watson in an interview with The Associated Press. “I said, ‘I think you do have the skills to do that, and I have $5 million, so let’s get it on.’”
Ingrid Newkirk, the president of animal rights group PETA, said in a statement Saturday that Barker had a “profound commitment to making the world a kinder place.”
Newkirk added, “To us — and to so many animals around the world — Bob will always be a national animal rights treasure.”
Barker’s efforts were born from a lifelong affinity for animals.
“I always had a pack of dogs with me,” he said in 2004, recalling his upbringing in the small town of Mission on the Rosebud Sioux Indian Reservation in South Dakota. “There were a lot of dogs in Mission. Not many people, but a lot of dogs.”
His dedication to opposing animal cruelty continued well into his retirement, as Barker continued to donate to organizations such as PETA, which named its West Coast headquarters in Los Angeles for Barker after he made a $2.5 million donation in 2012 for renovations.
Shocked customer outraged by company’s insensitive ‘hurricane sale’ offer: ‘Why would someone order [that]?’
Leo Collis – August 27, 2023
Hurricane Hilary has been causing chaos since forming off Mexico’s southern Pacific coast, submerging the town of Santa Rosalia in Mexico and leading many residents in California to evacuate their homes.
But one business saw this as an opportunity to push a “hurricane sale,” and customers were shocked at the brazen attempt to turn the disaster into profit.
In a post on Reddit, one user screenshotted an email app notification after receiving a message from Cromulent Records in California that promised 33% off LPs since SoCal customers were “trapped in the house.”
“Trapped in the house?” one user replied. “I was trapped in a house that succumbed to rising flood waters. Being ‘trapped’ is no fun. … Stick your sale up your money grubbing a**!”
“Why would someone order something to a house that might not exist in a week,” another added.
According to the Associated Press, one person in Mexico drowned in a vehicle swept away by an overflowing stream during severe rainfall, and 850 people were evacuated from the Baja coast by Mexico’s navy as Hurricane Hilary approached.
Meanwhile, many have seen their homes and livelihoods damaged in the heavy rain and flooding.
In California, Hilary arrived August 20, bringing unprecedented rainfall to the Death Valley National Park — an area known for drought. According to CBS, the 2.2 inches of rainfall that day alone was close to the area’s annual average of 2.24 inches. It broke the previous daily rainfall record in the area of 1.7 inches.
The BBC reported nearly 26 million people in southwestern United States were under flood watch, with Hilary later classified as a Category 1 storm as it swept north.
The impact of hurricanes are likely to become more severe as global heat levels rise. According to Earth Justice, rising temperatures make hurricanes more powerful as “storm systems draw their energy from warm ocean water.”
With that in mind, reducing the extent to which planet-heating pollution is released into the atmosphere will be vital to limiting the impact of future extreme weather events.
Stool should typically look like a sausage or snake. But what your stool (poop) looks like can change from time to time. Sometimes, stool can be narrower than usual. There are various reasons why your stool may have a smaller diameter. Some causes, like constipation, might be less concerning, while others, like cancer, may be more severe. A healthcare provider can determine what is causing the change in stool shape and provide any needed treatment.
What Causes Narrow Stools?
Depending on factors like what you eat or what conditions you have, you might experience some variation in the shape of your stool.
Constipation is a condition that makes it so that you have infrequent bowel movements, difficulty making a bowel movement, or both. The regular shape of your stool can change when you’re constipated, causing it to look narrower than usual after you strain to get it out.- ADVERTISEMENT -https://s.yimg.com/rq/darla/4-11-1/html/r-sf-flx.html
Constipation is very common. It’s usually caused by a lack of fiber in your diet, though some medications and conditions like Parkinson’s disease can also contribute to constipation.
Producing stool that is hard, dry, and difficult to pass
Experiencing stomach bloating
Straining during a bowel movement
Irritable Bowel Syndrome
Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a group of digestive symptoms that can cause stomach pain as well as diarrhea, constipation, or both. IBS can occur because of a problem with the movement of the intestines, an issue with the intestinal nerves, or a problem with how the brain controls intestinal functions. Even though there is an issue with the functioning of the intestines, there aren’t any structural abnormalities in your intestines.
Healthcare providers diagnose IBS from your symptoms. IBS can lead to a change in your stool’s appearance, including making it narrower than usual. Other symptoms of IBS are:
The feeling of having had an incomplete bowel movement
You may even experience symptoms that do not seem to be related to the intestines, like fatigue and difficulty sleeping.
The lining of the intestine wall is usually smooth. When pouches develop in the wall of the intestine, it is known as diverticular disease. These small balloon-like pouches usually form from weakened areas of the intestine muscles. When the pouches become inflamed repeatedly, it can lead to scarring that narrows the inside of the intestines. The narrowing of the intestines can make it difficult for stool to come out, potentially causing narrow stools.
Changes in bowel habits, such as diarrhea or constipation
Symptoms that get worse after eating and better after a bowel movement
Pain that gets worse when someone places pressure on your stomach
Symptoms that come and go or remain constant
Colorectal cancer develops in the tissues of your colon or rectum. At first, you might not experience any symptoms. As the disease progresses, you might start having some symptoms. One symptom of colorectal cancer is narrowed stool. The stool can become so narrow that it is sometimes described as pencil-thin.
Anal stenosis is a rare condition that happens when the anal canal becomes narrow from scarring. This condition usually happens after surgeries hemorrhoid removal, also known as a hemorrhoidectomy, or other surgeries of the anus. Other causes of anal stenosis are chronic diarrhea, long-term laxative use, trauma, radiotherapy, tuberculosis, and other infections.
Besides narrow stools, other symptoms of anal stenosis are:
Painful bowel movements
An inability to pass stool
Bleeding with bowel movements
When to See a Healthcare Provider
Having stool that’s typically normal but occasionally narrow is not usually something to worry about. However, you’d want to see a healthcare provider if your narrow stool lasts for more than two weeks or if your stool continuously gets thinner, especially to the point that’s it’s pencil-thin.
Other signs that may indicate you should have an evaluation are:
Unexplained weight loss
A feeling as though there is a mass in your rectum
No bowel movement in three days
Abdominal bloating and pain
A feeling as though your bowel isn’t emptying
If you are experiencing any concerning symptoms and have certain risk factors that make you more likely to develop colorectal cancer, it is even more critical to see a healthcare provider. These risk factors include being older, having a history of polyps, having inflammatory bowel disease, and having a family history of colon cancer.
Healthcare providers usually diagnose narrow stools based on your symptoms and a physical exam. Depending on what symptoms you are experiencing and your risk factors for certain conditions, there may be a need for further diagnostic testing, like imaging scans.
Your healthcare provider may perform the following tests:
Digital rectal exam: Healthcare providers insert a gloved finger into your rectum. The purpose of this exam is so your healthcare provider can feel for any irregularities, like masses, in the area.
Complete blood cell count (CBC): A CBC is a blood test that can help detect certain conditions like infections, anemia, cancers, and diseases that affect the immune system.
Imaging tests: Some scans, like an abdominal ultrasound or an abdominal X-ray, can show intestinal problems.
Endoscopy: An endoscopy is a type of test where a healthcare provider will guide a tube with a camera on it through your intestines. There are different types of endoscopies used for which part of the body needs exploration. A flexible sigmoidoscopy can give providers a view of your rectum and lower colon while a colonoscopy can view your entire colon. The procedures can be used to check for tumors or polyps, and a biopsy can be taken from the intestines to check for cancer.
Fecal occult blood test: This test will help detect any bleeding in your intestines that the human eye can not see. It can help diagnose different intestinal disorders, such as ulcers, colitis, and colorectal cancer.
A healthcare provider may also use different criteria and charts to help classify symptoms. For instance, the Rome criteria help healthcare providers diagnose IBS. The requirements to meet the criteria include having had abdominal pain for at least one day a week in the last three months, along with two or more signs of additional symptoms that occur with abdominal pain.
Meanwhile, the Bristol stool chart is an assessment tool covering the seven different stool types. It helps healthcare providers diagnose intestinal problems such as constipation and diarrhea.
How to Get Your Stool Back to Normal
Treatment will vary based on the exact cause of your narrow-shaped stool. For example, if constipation is causing the stool change, you can try increasing your fiber intake. This can include eating whole grains, legumes, berries, apples, vegetables, and nuts. You should also drink more water to help your stool become softer. If you need additional help to relieve your constipation, talk with your healthcare provider about medications like stool softeners or laxatives.
If IBS is causing the narrow stools, you can try managing your IBS. This might include eating smaller, more frequent meals and eating meals more slowly. You can also avoid foods that cause gas and bloating, like cabbage and beans. You can consider implementing a low-FODMAP diet since the diet avoids certain carbohydrates that increase gas. Certain foods and stress can make IBS symptoms worse, so you’ll want to take note of foods or situations that induce symptoms and try to avoid them if possible. Increasing physical activity may help keep you regular too.
Diverticular disease, colorectal cancer, and anal stenosis need to be managed by a healthcare provider. Treatment would depend on which condition you have and how advanced the disease is. Diverticular disease may benefit from probiotics, fiber supplements, or anti-inflammatory medications. Colorectal cancer may require surgery, radiation, or chemotherapy. Anal stenosis might need surgery.
A Quick Review
Narrow stool is not usually a concern when it happens occasionally. The temporary change in stool shape might be due to constipation or irritable bowel syndrome. If the stool stays narrow or continues to get narrower, you should contact a healthcare provider. Stool that is very thin might be a sign of colorectal cancer. Narrow stool may also be a sign of diverticular disease or anal stenosis. A healthcare provider can determine what is causing your stool to be narrow and provide proper treatment, if necessary.
China’s mounting economic woes prompted US President Joe Biden to call the Asian economy a “ticking time bomb”.
And now, a lesser-known, but no less ominous, economic threat is rearing its head: China’s colossal hidden-debt problem.
This mainly refers to a mountain of liabilities accumulated by the country’s local governments, mostly to fund regional infrastructure projects such as building roads and bridges. An analysis by the Chinese media outlet Caixin Global estimated the outstanding obligations of the so-called local government financing vehicles, or LGFVs, at close to a staggering $10 trillion.
The Chinese government deems such debt a form of off-the-books lending and as such, the market is opaque. Here, Insider demystifies the shadow sector and explains the significance of LGFVs to the wider Chinese economy.
What are China’s LGFVs?
These funding bodies were set up by China to facilitate financing for regional infrastructure projects. Originally established to support infrastructure projects such as highways, airports, and energy installations, the LGFVs were designed to provide funding outside of the official government constraints.
The notion of “hidden debt” was defined by China’s State Council in 2018 as any borrowing that does not form a part of on-budget government spending – in essence, off-the-books financing.
The LGFV sector has grown exponentially since the 2008 global financial crisis, when the Chinese government made efforts to ensure that the nation’s infrastructure and public services segments expand fast enough to sustain its remarkable economic growth, according to Bloomberg.
Figures from Bloomberg and the International Monetary Fund estimate the total value of LGFV debt as more than $9 trillion – not far from the Caixin assessment. The local governments’ bonds alone total at about $2 trillion, and any defaults would rock the Asian nation’s $60 trillion financial system, according to Bloomberg.
In 2023, the LGFVs’ hidden debt climbed above 50% of China’s GDP for the first time, IMF data show.
Why does this matter?
For months, China’s local administrations have struggled to turn their financing vehicles profitable – increasing pressure on the national government to prop up the ailing sector via costly interventions.
As risks tied to the sector mount, banks are unwilling to lend more, investors are turning their backs on bonds, and viable projects are harder to come by, according to several anonymous employees interviewed by Bloomberg.
As a result, the local governments have been struggling to generate enough income or raise funding to meet the costs of servicing their debt.
“The most important variable impacting China’s economic growth over the next two years will be the success or failure of local government debt restructuring,” Logan Wright, head of China markets research at Rhodium Group, told Bloomberg.
But Beijing has so far refrained from intervening in the sector, in a bid to encourage self-sufficiency.
“A collapse in local government investment would be comparable to the economic impact of the crisis in the property market,” Wright told Bloomberg.
China’s enormous property sector accounts for about 30% of the country’s overall output. Headwinds faced by the sector include heavy debt burdens and sluggish demand for new properties. This was a contributing factor in stunting the nation’s second-quarter GDP growth, which came in at 6.3%, below forecasts of up to 7.1%.
Indeed, any turmoil originating from China’s mountainous hidden debt would send shockwaves across the global economy.
Experts are witnessing a strange new phenomenon in the demand for electric cars: ‘We call it the ‘Field of Dreams’ moment’
Leo Collis – August 27, 2023
Huge price reductions and copious availability could provide a boost to the electric vehicle market, which has already seen record sales in 2023.
Cox Automotive reported Kelley Blue Book’s findings that June’s average transaction price for a new electric vehicle ($53,438) is down 20% from a peak of $66,390 in June 2022.
Kelley Blue Book tweeted about Tesla discounts as examples of falling EV prices in June.
As noted by the Financial Times, many of the price changes trace back to Tesla’s decision to slash its prices by up to $13,000 in January. This sparked a price war among manufacturers.
With Ford making the next big move by cutting the purchase price of its Mustang Mach-E, Tesla responded by making its Model S and Model X models cheaper in March.
Ford has made further price reductions, offering savings of between $6,079 and $9,979 on seven of its F-150 Lightning models, The New York Times reported in July. NYT Business
General Motors is also among the electric vehicle manufacturers making models more affordable, with price cuts to the Bolt model announced in June.
According to Cox Automotive, nearly 300,000 new electric vehicles were sold in the United States during the second quarter of 2023. That marked a record for any quarter and a nearly 50% boost from the same time last year.
Cost reductions for the raw materials needed to make batteries for electric cars, such as lithium, nickel, and cobalt, have also allowed savings to be passed on to consumers. Tesla CEO Elon Musk was among those to welcome the news, noting in a company earnings call that the lithium market had gone “absolutely insane there for a while.”
While there are positive signs in the electric vehicle market, supply is still far outstripping demand.
“The demand is not keeping up with production, which is the opposite story of a year ago,” Cox Automotive executive analyst Michelle Krebs told Grist. “We call it the ‘Field of Dreams’ moment. Automakers are building more, but not enough consumers have come to the field.”
But Krebs also observed that availability isn’t such a bad thing when compared to the wider market.
“A year ago, the average EV price was above the average luxury vehicle price. Today, as inventory and availability build, EV prices are moving closer to the industry average,” Krebs added.
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