9 Questions for an Obesity Researcher Who Says Calorie Counting Isn’t the Answer

Bicycling

9 Questions for an Obesity Researcher Who Says Calorie Counting Isn’t the Answer

Donna Raskin – December 1, 2022

three cyclists riding uphill alongside a mountain
9 Questions for an Obesity ResearcherBrian Barnhart

In the October issue of Obesity: A Medical Journal, Barbara Corkey, Ph.D., its former editor-in-chief and emeritus professor of medicine and biochemistry at Boston University published an editorial called “En attendant Godot: Waiting for the Answer to Obesity and Longevity.”

In the piece, she addressed the problematic reality that since the 1970s, the number of Americans with obesity has increased. Experts now agree that gaining and losing weight is less an individual responsibility than previously believed and that diet and exercise “have virtually no lasting impact on weight loss,” Corkey wrote.

In fact, she and other obesity experts agree that rather than each person trying to diet their way to an ideal weight, the solution lies in examining and changing food production systems, as well as other institutions. It now appears that our health issues around weight might stem from the same industries that are contributing to climate change, including industrial farming, according to many experts who contributed to a report published in The Lancet in 2019.

Despite this, many Americans—including many athletes—believe weight is entirely the responsibility of a given individual and not part of a global “syndemic,” as The Lancet report writers called it, meaning when two or more biological factors work together to worsen a disease.

Bicycling talked to Corkey about how to reframe your approach to your weight—and what obesity really means for your health.

two cyclists taking a break on a gravel path discussing things
Brian Barnhart

Bicycling: Why does obesity put people at risk for other diseases?

Barbara Corkey: The answer is tricky. One of the things we know about people who struggle with being overweight or obese is that their body improperly handles eating and the storage of calories. For example, fasting insulin levels should be very low, but they are often very high in people who are going to have other health problems.

Metabolic misinformation can create havoc in the body: You feel hungry when you’re not, you hold onto fat when you don’t need to. The system has been misinformed. However, such metabolic defects do not occur in everyone. You can be overweight and not have those defects, just as you can be thin and have them, but you are more likely to have metabolic health issues if you are overweight.

The weight itself can also have some negative effects, such as on joints or lung capacity.

Bicycling: Should BMI continue to be used as a heath metric?

BC: The answer, in my opinion, is both yes and no. It’s not very precise. There are caveats. It’s like blood sugar measurements: If you’ve just eaten a big meal and your blood sugar level is high, then the number makes sense, but if you fasted and your blood sugar level is high, then you likely have a metabolic defect. One piece of information doesn’t automatically mean you have a disease.

Bicycling: We still see a lot of people who think weight is a matter of calories in versus calories out. How does this thinking hurt people living with obesity?

BC: First of all, it’s complete nonsense. There is no evidence at all that most people intentionally overeat. It doesn’t happen without an interruption of some sort in the metabolic system. It rarely happens in the entire natural world nor did it happen with the vast majority of even humans before 1970. The concept that suddenly everyone lost their willpower is a silly idea.

In my opinion, that misinformation about hunger and satiety is the reason the problem has gotten worse over the last few decades. We’re not saying it doesn’t matter what you eat, because you cannot gain weight without eating, but we’re not defying the laws of nature. It’s not up to you to become overweight or obese—something else is going on, even if you are actually overeating, because that behavior is just one step in the cycle of the problem.

Bicycling: Would you say that dieting is actually one of the habits that causes obesity?

BC: No. I think that dieting is a desperate effort to become more acceptable because we’re so bigoted and mean to people who have extra weight. Professor Rudy Leibel [a diabetes researcher and professor at Columbia University] has done some studies in which he has taken normal weight people and both overfed and underfed them. His goal was to find out what the body does in a controlled environment. In both cases, everyone’s bodies worked hard to maintain the original weight.

We are biologically programmed to maintain whatever weight our body thinks is our right weight. If you diet and then go back to eating the way you used to eat, you’ll regain the weight you lost and maybe more.

Many people have dysfunctional responses to some foods. In fact, a large percentage of certain populations appear to be genetically predisposed to insulin resistance and diabetes, and that’s even before we begin to add in high levels of processed foods without understanding how a healthy body responds to the added ingredients.

Bicycling: What do you think when you read about diet fads, which many people want to start in the New Year in order to lose weight quickly?

BC: Honestly, my first thought is about money and how much money we spend on diets. When the AIDS epidemic began, our government responded well to that and made available funding to try to solve the problem. When I did the last calculation, the United States spent $2,000 per person for AIDS to find a solution. At the same time, we spent under $1 per person to deal with obesity and that’s because we thought anyone can be the right weight if they just try hard enough.

The truth is, we’re not solving this problem because we’re not investing in understanding it and, instead, we leave individuals to deal with it on their own or to rely on unproven systems that make a profit.

Bicycling: It’s complicated for people to take food guidance, such as myplate.gov or the food pyramid and turn it into a shopping list. What is some real-life advice that will help people cook and shop so they can eat more healthfully?

BC: Shopping for real food is a good beginning—go for things you could potentially grow or raise in your backyard, whether it’s fruitsvegetables, or meats. Ideally, those foods are also advertised as being free from antibiotics.

Then, it’s essential to make a weekly menu and to shop once a week. Find recipes that you like that take 15 minutes or less to prepare. It takes longer than that to go to McDonald’s. You can have steak or fish with simple vegetables, and it doesn’t take a half-hour to make these things.

Every week, I make a large salad with a lot of raw vegetables and no dressing. I take some out each night, add dressing and mix in new things (fruit, nutscheese) for variety.

Bicycling: You mentioned culinary medicine in your editorial. What does that mean to you?

BC: If someone sees a doctor with an illness and instead of giving them a drug, they help them to change their eating plan, taking into account what people like, that’s culinary medicine.

Americans aren’t actually eating “real food,” but rather processed creations that are high in calories and low in nutrition. The 10 most abundantly consumed foods in the United States are grain-based desserts, yeast breads, chicken and chicken-mixed dishes, soda, energy drinks and sports drinks, pizza, alcoholic beverages, pasta and pasta dishes, Mexican mixed dishes, beef and beef-mixed dishes, and dairy-based desserts.

The list clearly excludes all fruits and vegetables in their native state, while including very few protein-based foods. In many cases, changing eating habits will change health. Not in all cases, of course, but culinary medicine should be part of the treatment.

Bicycling: Do you think high amounts of exercise, such as cycling and running, help with weight management?

BC: Well, first of all, we know perfectly well that exercise is beneficial especially as you age, although there are things that are not under your control, which include that you just can’t always do what you used to do. We slow down with age, even the most fit among us. Exercise is wonderful and to be encouraged, but it has not been shown to help with weight loss on its own.

How much do you need to earn annually to afford a house in Los Angeles?

Los Angeles Times

How much do you need to earn annually to afford a house in Los Angeles?

Salvador Hernandez – December 1, 2022

MISSION HILLS, CA - October 11, 2022 - A home for sale in the Mission Hills area of Los Angeles Tuesday, Oct. 11, 2022 in Mission Hills, CA.(Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times)
A home for sale in the Mission Hills area of Los Angeles on Oct. 11. (Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times)

The annual income needed to buy a home in Los Angeles skyrocketed past $220,000, a recent study found, with higher mortgage rates and inflation cutting deeper into household incomes.

That means the ability to own a home is a goal inching further and further away from more families and households in Los Angeles, where the median annual household income in 2020 was just over $65,000.

According to the residential real estate firm Redfin, the yearly salary needed now to buy a median-priced home in the city and comfortably make the mortgage payment is now $221,592, up nearly 41% from last year.

In Los Angeles, the high cost of housing has also played a role in making it the most overcrowded large U.S. county.

Across the U.S., home buyers need to earn $107,281 a year, or 45.6% more, in 2022 compared with the previous year to buy a typical home, the study conducted by Redfin found.

Rising mortgage rates are the leading factor for the higher housing cost, according to the study, which found that from February 2020 to October 2022, the monthly payment for a family buying a median-priced home increased about 70%.

Home prices have also remained relatively steady, meaning that those who can still afford a home need to readjust their budgets, while others have been priced out.

“High rates are making buyers rethink their priorities, as many of them can no longer afford the home they want in the location they want,” said Chelsea Traylor, a Redfin agent.

The biggest spike has been in Florida, where the average mortgage payment increased more than 73% in North Port, where an annual salary of $131,535 is now needed to afford a home. The salary needed to buy a median home increased to $128,892 in Miami as well, a rise of more than 63% in a single year.

In 93 metro areas analyzed by Redfin, the agency found all of them needed at least a 30% salary increase to buy a median-priced home. Prospective home buyers in at least half those areas needed to make a minimum of $100,000 a year.

Redfin’s study compared median monthly mortgage payments in October 2022 and October 2021, and considered an affordable monthly payment to be no more than 30% of the home buyer’s income.

The study also found that although some areas in California — like the Bay Area — had “smaller-than-average” increases in income requirements, the state is still home to five of the most expensive places to own a home.

In San Francisco, the salary needed to buy a median-priced home soared to more than $402,000 and, in San Jose, a salary of more than $363,000 was needed to make the monthly mortgage payments. In Anaheim, home buyers needed about $254,000 a year, followed by Oakland, with a required salary of $247,559, and Los Angeles.

Only women who suffered in Russian prisons can know Brittney Griner’s agony

AZ Central – The Arizona Republic

Only women who suffered in Russian prisons can know Brittney Griner’s agony

Phil Boas, Arizona Republic – December 1, 2022

The story of Brittney Griner may ultimately turn out to be an historic marker that shows just how completely ignorant Americans were of their world in the early 21st century.

It may show how the people of this country were so removed from history and hard facts we could not comprehend the story of a Phoenix pro basketball player taken prisoner by the Russians.

This is not a story about a woman who did the crime and now must do the time.

If you believe that, you’re not only a fool, you’re a mean and ignorant lout.

Nor is this the story of U.S. indifference to women of color or LGBTQ people, or some sign we need to reform America’s draconian marijuana laws.

If you believe that, you’re indecent. You’re exploiting someone else’s suffering to advance your politics.

The Brittney Griner story is really an old story, a soul crushing tale of how historic events are indifferent to the agony of a single human being.

Brittney Griner could spend her life in prison
WNBA star and two-time Olympic gold medalist Brittney Griner stands in a cage at a court room prior to a hearing, in Khimki just outside Moscow on July 26, 2022.
WNBA star and two-time Olympic gold medalist Brittney Griner stands in a cage at a court room prior to a hearing, in Khimki just outside Moscow on July 26, 2022.

We all know Griner’s predicament could end tomorrow with a U.S.-Russian prisoner swap. But what few are saying and must know is that it might never end, that Brittney Griner is caught in the awakening gears of a changing world and could conceivably spend the rest of her life in captivity.

Even before the Russians seized upon her as a bargaining chip exactly one week before its Feb. 24 invasion of Ukraine, people were writing and speaking about what she is facing.

They are the only people who truly understand Brittney Griner. They’re women, they’re mostly Russian, and they have endured one of the worst penal systems on earth − the Russian gulag.

After Griner’s sentence:Russian media plays the international victim card

They know that what is in store for her is utterly hair-raising – a misery that few civilized people will ever know or comprehend.

Wait a minute, you say. The gulag? Isn’t that a relic of Soviet communism and Alexander Solzhenitsyn and “One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich”?

No.

The Russian gulag lives. And Brittney Griner is trapped in its gear train.

Human rights violations, torture are common

“Our prison system was never reformed,” said “Nadya” Tolokonnikova, a member of the Russian punk band and activist group Pussy Riot and one of Griner’s fiercest advocates.

In March 2012, “Nadya” was arrested with other members of her band after protesting 40 seconds against Vladimir Putin’s Russia at Moscow’s Cathedral of Christ the Savior. She was sentenced to two years in prison.

“There was no period after gulag time,” she told the Oxford Union Society. There was talk of reforming Russian prisons, but “they never did it. That’s why we still live in barracks. Still live like slaves. One hundred women are sharing three toilets, and you can imagine what kind of mayhem (that causes) in the morning. It’s no fun.”

Jan Strzelecki, writing in 2019 for The Centre for Eastern Studies, noted that “most Russian penal colonies and prisons were built back in Stalinist times. Despite several attempts to reform the prison system in Russia, they still resemble the Soviet Gulag: human rights violations and torture are common.”

If Russian prisons are bad, Griner is getting the worst of it.

She is serving her nine-year sentence in IK-2, part of a notorious system of Russian penal colonies near Mordovia, a region about 300 miles east of Moscow, The (London) Guardian reports. “The prisons were built in the early 1930s as part of the gulag system of the Stalin era and together make up one of the largest penal complexes in Europe.”

Griner was sent to Russia’s ‘worst’ penal colony

Griner was arrested and later convicted of possessing vape cartridges with tiny amounts of marijuana. Yet, that is immaterial. Her sentence is a sham, because there is no Russian justice system.

In 2016, the acquittal rate in Russia’s criminal courts was a “merciless” 0.36%, reports the news-commentary site Riddle. The prison where Griner is serving her sentence cares nothing about justice or human dignity.

When Pussy Riot learned where Griner was headed, it tweeted out to its 243,000 followers, “Brittney Griner was transported to IK-2 Mordovia, the WORST penal colony in Russia.”

“Nadya” Tolokonnikova told MSNBC, “I’m terrified that Brittney Griner was moved to IK-2. … I was protesting terrible conditions in my penal colony, but I know (about) every chief official who works at IK-2 and I know exactly what human rights abuses they perform on a daily basis and the kinds of tortures that they use against prisoners.”

It has become a common phrase among Russian inmates that “If you haven’t served time in Mordovia, you know nothing about prison.”

Gelena Alekseyeva, a former government minister in Saratov, a port city on the Volga, served 3½ years in Mordovia for abetting commercial bribery.

“When the girls find out that they’re going to Mordovia, they cut their wrists, do everything possible: get sick, swallow nails, just so they don’t have to go there,” she told RadioFreeEurope.

Prisoners are punished psychologically

In a September 2013 letter, Pussy Riot’s “Nadya” described how Russian internment is not just a prison of walls and barbed wire.

It’s a prison of forgotten history, of remote geography; a prison of the mind and of physical deprivation; a prison of concentric circles that surround each inmate and make their lives a living hell.

The female wards of Mordovia are caught in a “medieval” system that most of the rest of the world left behind many decades ago.

To demonstrate that point, “Galena” told the story of the cats.

In Russian prisons cats are common because the places are overrun with vermin. “Mice lived with us. Rats lived with us in the industrial zone. Before you went into the bathroom, you needed to knock – there were special poles for that. So that the rats would scatter, you understand.”

To attack the problem, the prisons introduced cats to kill the rats. But the cats would reproduce and create their own problem, she told RadioFreeEurope. The Russians solved that by gathering up the kittens and throwing them into a sack and then into a furnace.

Starved for companionship, Russian women inmates grow fond of the cats. “There is nothing more dear to the inmates than these kittens and cats. But they can also be used for punishment. So, if you sewed badly today then we will burn the cats! They don’t punish one or two people − they punish a whole brigade.”

They also engage in slave labor

The sewing is a reference to the day labor of Russian women prisoners. In her letter on prison conditions, “Nadya” wrote, “My brigade in the sewing shop works 16 to 17 hours a day. From 7.30 am to 12.30 am. At best, we get four hours of sleep a night. We have a day off once every month and a half. We work almost every Sunday.”

The sewing machines are “ancient” and dangerous, she wrote. “Your hands are pierced with needle marks and covered in scratches, your blood is all over the work table, but still, you keep sewing.”

“Galena” explained how the old industrial sewing equipment makes it very easy to make a mistake.

“The saw cuts the fabric along a chalk line continuously. God forbid, if the saw cuts somewhere else [and not on the chalk line], then all 100 cuts are ruined. I can say that fingers on the saw are chopped off, cut, blood flows. This is definitely unsafe, requiring some training.”

Miss a quota and not only you, but your entire brigade of prisoners is punished. This breeds anger and resentment.

“Prisoners are always on the verge of breaking down, screaming at each other, fighting over the smallest things. Just recently a young woman got stabbed in the head with a pair of scissors because she didn’t turn in a pair of pants on time.”

Prisons turn prisoner against prisoner

Those who disobey orders can be sent outdoors into the Russian winter.

“Nadya” told of one woman from a brigade of disabled and elderly prisoners who was punished this way for an entire day. Her frostbite was so bad “they had to amputate her fingers and one of her feet.”

One of the age-old techniques of Russian prisons is to turn prisoner against prisoner.

In their book “Before and After Prison: Women’s Stories,” a group of Russian sociologists explained that the heavy surveillance in Russian women’s prisons is enhanced by a less formal system of snitching.

“The system of squealing and earning high marks with the management for snooping on others, which was originally created in the Gulag [Soviet-era labor camps], has effectively survived until the present day,” St. Petersburg sociologist Yelena Omelchenko told The Moscow Times.

The result is an inmate population that doesn’t trust one another and routinely acts out in retribution.

“Women are cruel, and they are extremely nasty to each other, vicious as hell,” said Yulia, a prisoner whose story is included in the book. “If you are ill, or weak or old, they will be sure to exploit you, humiliate you, harass you, sometimes just for fun.

“… We were working in a sewing workshop in the colony, and some vicious inmates would cut the items that the girls in my team made so that we would fail to fulfill the plan.”

It’s all designed to dispirit inmates

That cruelty starts at the very beginning.

When Veronika Krass entered prison IK-14 in Mordovia in 2014, her eyes were drawn to the words on the entrance wall.

“Welcome To Hell.”

“When someone enters the colony, there’s a lineup in the yard,” she told RadioFreeEurope. “Everyone yells, ‘Fresh meat has arrived.’ The (new) inmates react of course to this − they are afraid.”

Soon they will be caught up in a system that deprives them of privacy, self-respect, food and their own humanity.

“The food and hygiene were unspeakable,” wrote “Nadya.” “It was a degrading and humiliating experience, and a great trauma for everyone who went through it.

Food consisted of rotten “slimy blackened” potatoes, stale bread and watered-down milk and rancid porridge, she said.

Know what Griner is facing before you speak

In her prison, “Galina” said, “It was awful, and really felt like barracks. And there was only one toilet room − with two toilets in it − per one detachment of three hundred people, who had a total of half an hour in the morning to use this toilet. It was surreal. […] We hardly ever had hot water, and the toilets, if they broke, would not be repaired. It was a concentration camp.”

Wrote “Nadya” in her letter, “Life in the colony is constructed in such a way as to make the inmate feel like a filthy animal who has no rights.”

“When the pipes get clogged, urine bursts forth from the washrooms and feces fly. We have learned to clean the sewage pipes ourselves, but the results do not last long: the pipes get backed up again. The colony does not have a cable for cleaning pipes. We can wash our clothes once a week, in a small room with three faucets from which cold water drips.”

In women’s prisons, toilets and showers do not have partitions. The sociologist Omelchenko said the “devastating lack of personal space” was intentional. “Whether you are eating or working or sleeping or showering, and even when you are using the toilet, you are exposed to others.”

“When I discovered, during the course of my research, how they renovated a toilet in one colony, I was stunned,” Omelchenko recalled. “In front of a row of holes in the ground − not separated by partitions − they placed a large mirror. I am still not fully convinced that the person who was responsible for that interior design solution was not in fact a moral sadist.”

Before you condemn Brittney Griner for breaking Russian law or before you use her story to score cheap political points, you need to understand what she is facing.

You need to know that the one man who holds the key to her release, a tyrant name Vladimir Putin, is also the man most responsible for the barbaric conditions in which she now lives.

Phil Boas is an editorial columnist for The Arizona Republic. 

Winter holidays bring more heart attack deaths than any other time of year

New Media Wire

Winter holidays bring more heart attack deaths than any other time of year

November 30, 2022

(NewMediaWire) – November 30, 2022 – DALLAS The joy of the winter holiday season is often marred for many as research shows that more people die from heart attacks during the last week of December than at any other time of the year. The American Heart Association, the world’s leading voluntary organization focused on heart and brain health for all, says being aware of this annual phenomenon and taking a few important, heart-healthy steps may save lives.

“The holidays are a busy, often stressful, time for many of us. Routines are disrupted; we may tend to eat and drink more and exercise and relax less. We’re getting too little sleep and experiencing too much stress. We also may not be listening to our bodies or paying attention to warning signs, thinking a trip to the doctor can wait until after the new year,” said American Heart Association Chief Clinical Science Officer Mitchell S.V. Elkind, M.D., M.S., FAHA. “While we don’t know exactly why there are more deadly heart attacks during this time of year, it’s important to be aware that all of these factors can be snowballing contributors to increasing the risk for a deadly cardiac event.”

Scientific research finds an uptick in cardiac events during the winter holiday season. A study published in Circulation, the flagship journal of the American Heart Association, reported that more cardiac deaths occur on December 25 than on any other day of the year; the second largest number of cardiac deaths occurs on December 26, and the third largest number occurs on January 1.

Winter weather has been noted as a trigger for increased heart attack risk due to restricted blood flow though constricted vessels causes by cold temperatures. However, another study published in Circulation found that even in the mild climate of Los Angeles County, about a third more heart attack deaths occur in December and January than in June through September. These findings were supported by a study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association by researchers in New Zealand, where the December holidays fall during that area’s summer season.

“Research also shows that the biggest increases in these holiday heart attack deaths are among people who are not in a hospital. This highlights the importance of recognizing symptoms and seeking immediate medical care. Don’t ignore heart attack warning signs because you don’t want to spoil the holidays, the consequences could be much worse,” Elkind said. “It also calls attention to the need for increased awareness of knowing how to perform hands-only CPR. You could be out holiday shopping, enjoying an office party or spending time at a family gathering and witness someone having a heart attack and going into cardiac arrest. Starting CPR immediately and calling 9-1-1 could be the difference in life or death in those situations. Hands-only CPR is something nearly everyone can learn and do.”

Elkind notes that while it’s important to live heart-healthy all year long, there are a few tips you should gift yourself and your loved ones as we approach the holiday season:

  • Know symptoms and take action: Heart attack signs vary in men and women and it’s important to recognize them early and call 9-1-1 for help. The sooner medical treatment begins, the better the chances of survival and preventing heart damage.
  • Celebrate in moderation Eating healthfully during the holidays doesn’t have to mean depriving yourself, there are still ways to eat smart. Look for small, healthy changes and swaps you can make so you continue to feel your best while eating and drinking in moderation, and don’t forget to watch your salt intake.
  • Plan for peace on earth and goodwill toward yourself: Make time to take care of yourself during the busy holiday. Reduce stress from family interactions, strained finances, hectic schedules and other stressors prevalent this time of year, including traveling.
  • Keep moving: The American Heart Association recommends at least 150 minutes of physical activity per week and this number usually drops during the hustle and bustle of the holidays. Get creative with ways to stay active, even if it’s going for a family walk or another fun activity you can do with your loved ones.
  • Stick to your meds: Busy holidays can cause you to skip medications, forgetting them when away from home or not getting refills in a timely manner. Here is a medication chart to help stay on top of it, and be sure to keep tabs on your blood pressure numbers.

The American Heart Association has more on ways to live heart-healthy during the holidays and all year long at heart.org.

World Cup 2022: U.S. players consoled Iranian players following group stage win

Yahoo! Sports

World Cup 2022: U.S. players consoled Iranian players following group stage win

Tyler Greenwalt – November 30, 2022

Lost in the tenseness of the United States’ 1-0 win over Iran Tuesday is what happened in the moments after the final whistle sounded.

American players embraced their opponents, both on the pitch and with support online, following the victory that sent the U.S. to the Round of 16 while sending the Iranians back home.

Antonee Robinson consoled fellow defensemen Abolfazl Jalali and Ramin Rezaeian, while Josh Sargent, DeAndre Yedlin and Timothy Weah knelt with Saeid Ezatolahi immediately after the game ended.

Image
Love this. USA beat #Iran but Josh Sargent & DeAndre Yedlin console Saeid Ezatolahi. Tim Weah, who also came over, sums it up: “we grew up differently. He is still my family, he is still my brother and I love him the same way as the guys I grew up with.”

This transcended traditional post-game sportsmanship or the proverbial handshake. It looked like genuine human connections.

Weah explained the emotions in an interview with Fox Sports’ Martin Rogers and later posted on his Instagram story how much he respected the Iranian team and the pride they showed for their country.

“I think the United States and Iran have had so many issues politically and I just wanted to show that we are all human beings and we all love each other,” Weah said. “I just wanted to spread peace and love and show him we come from different backgrounds, we grew up differently. He is still my family, he is still my brother and I love him the same way as the guys I grew up with.”

The Iranian team appeared to be under a lot of pressure at the World Cup as nationwide protests have rocked the country over the government’s treatment of women, especially following the death of Mahsa Amini, a young woman who was arrested for allegedly wearing a hijab too loosely and who later died in police custody. The team voiced its support for the Iranian people before its match with England and then refused to sing their country’s national anthem at the match.

Tensions rose even higher before the players even hit the field. U.S. Soccer faced backlash after it altered the Iranian flag in support of the protests in Iran, which led to and politically charged news conference for head coach Gregg Berhalter and midfielder Tyler Adams. Berhalter apologized for the alteration and said he “had no idea about what U.S. Soccer put out.” Iran also reportedly threatened the families of Iranian players as well if they didn’t “behave” against the U.S., according to CNN.

But when the game ended, the players just wanted to share a bit of humanity with each other.

“I just really feel for any team,” Sargent told Fox Sports. ” … Everybody is human, obviously. We’ve all been working our asses off to get to this important point of our lives. This is the pinnacle of everybody’s career. I know it is not an easy situation when you lose.”

Antonee Robinson was one of the American players to console his opponent after their World Cup match with Iran. (Photo by Claudio Villa/Getty Images)
Antonee Robinson was one of the American players to console his opponent after their World Cup match with Iran. (Photo by Claudio Villa/Getty Images)

Oath Keepers’ Rhodes guilty of Jan. 6 seditious conspiracy

Associated Press

Oath Keepers’ Rhodes guilty of Jan. 6 seditious conspiracy

Lindsay Whitehurst, Alanna Durkin Richer and Michael Kunzelman

November 30, 2022

FILE - Stewart Rhodes, founder of the citizen militia group known as the Oath Keepers speaks during a rally outside the White House in Washington, on June 25, 2017. Rhodes was convicted Tuesday, Nov. 29, 2022, of seditious conspiracy for a violent plot to overturn Democrat Joe Biden’s presidential win, handing the Justice Department a major victory in its massive prosecution of the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh, File)
Stewart Rhodes, founder of the citizen militia group known as the Oath Keepers speaks during a rally outside the White House in Washington, on June 25, 2017. Rhodes was convicted Tuesday, Nov. 29, 2022, of seditious conspiracy for a violent plot to overturn Democrat Joe Biden’s presidential win, handing the Justice Department a major victory in its massive prosecution of the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh, File)
Attorneys for Oath Keepers leader Stewart Rhodes, James Lee Bright, center left, and Edward Tarpley, left, speak to members of the media outside the Federal Courthouse following a verdict in the Rhodes trial in Washington, Tuesday, Nov. 29, 2022. Rhodes was convicted of seditious conspiracy for a violent plot to overturn Democrat Joe Biden's presidential win, handing the Justice Department a major victory in its massive prosecution of the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
Attorneys for Oath Keepers leader Stewart Rhodes, James Lee Bright, center left, and Edward Tarpley, left, speak to members of the media outside the Federal Courthouse following a verdict in the Rhodes trial in Washington, Tuesday, Nov. 29, 2022. Rhodes was convicted of seditious conspiracy for a violent plot to overturn Democrat Joe Biden’s presidential win, handing the Justice Department a major victory in its massive prosecution of the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
FILE - This artist sketch depicts the trial of Oath Keepers leader Stewart Rhodes, left, as he testifies before U.S. District Judge Amit Mehta on charges of seditious conspiracy in the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol, in Washington, Nov. 7, 2022. Rhodes was convicted of seditious conspiracy on Nov. 29. (Dana Verkouteren via AP, File)
 This artist sketch depicts the trial of Oath Keepers leader Stewart Rhodes, left, as he testifies before U.S. District Judge Amit Mehta on charges of seditious conspiracy in the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol, in Washington, Nov. 7, 2022. Rhodes was convicted of seditious conspiracy on Nov. 29. (Dana Verkouteren via AP, File)
A federal jury convicted five members of the Oath Keepers on a variety of charges Tuesday in connection with the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol. (AP Graphic)
A federal jury convicted five members of the Oath Keepers on a variety of charges Tuesday in connection with the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol. (AP Graphic)
A man holding a sign that reads "Stop Hating Each Other Because You Disagree" refuses to move from behind The attorneys for Oath Keepers leader Stewart Rhodes Edward Tarpley, right, and James Lee Bright, center, as they speak to members of the media outside the Federal Courthouse following a verdict in the Stewart Rhodes trial in Washington, Tuesday, Nov. 29, 2022. Rhodes was convicted of seditious conspiracy for a violent plot to overturn Democrat Joe Biden's presidential win, handing the Justice Department a major victory in its massive prosecution of the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
A man holding a sign that reads “Stop Hating Each Other Because You Disagree” refuses to move from behind The attorneys for Oath Keepers leader Stewart Rhodes Edward Tarpley, right, and James Lee Bright, center, as they speak to members of the media outside the Federal Courthouse following a verdict in the Stewart Rhodes trial in Washington, Tuesday, Nov. 29, 2022. Rhodes was convicted of seditious conspiracy for a violent plot to overturn Democrat Joe Biden’s presidential win, handing the Justice Department a major victory in its massive prosecution of the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
U.S. Capitol Police Sgt. Harry Dunn leaves federal court following a verdict in the Rhodes trial in Washington, Tuesday, Nov. 29, 2022. Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes was convicted Tuesday of seditious conspiracy for a violent plot to overturn Democrat Joe Biden's presidential win, handing the Justice Department a major victory in its massive prosecution of the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
U.S. Capitol Police Sgt. Harry Dunn leaves federal court following a verdict in the Rhodes trial in Washington, Tuesday, Nov. 29, 2022. Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes was convicted Tuesday of seditious conspiracy for a violent plot to overturn Democrat Joe Biden’s presidential win, handing the Justice Department a major victory in its massive prosecution of the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

WASHINGTON (AP) — Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes was convicted Tuesday of seditious conspiracy for a violent plot to overturn President Joe Biden’s election, handing the Justice Department a major victory in its massive prosecution of the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection.

A Washington, D.C., jury found Rhodes guilty of sedition after three days of deliberations in the nearly two-month-long trial that showcased the far-right extremist group’s efforts to keep Republican Donald Trump in the White House at all costs.

Rhodes was acquitted of two other conspiracy charges. A co-defendant — Kelly Meggs, who led the antigovernment group’s Florida chapter — was also convicted of seditious conspiracy, while three other associates were cleared of that charge. Jurors found all five defendants guilty of obstruction of an official proceeding: Congress’ certification of Biden’s electoral victory.

The verdict, while mixed, marks a significant milestone for the Justice Department and is likely to clear the path for prosecutors to move ahead at full steam in upcoming trials of other extremists accused of sedition.

Rhodes and Meggs are the first people in nearly three decades to be found guilty at trial of seditious conspiracy — a rarely used Civil War-era charge that can be difficult to prove. The offense calls for up to 20 years behind bars.

It could embolden investigators, whose work has expanded beyond those who attacked the Capitol to focus on others linked to Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 election. U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland recently named a veteran prosecutor, Jack Smith, to serve as special counsel to oversee key aspects of a probe into efforts to subvert the election as well as a separate investigation into the retention of classified documents at Trump’s Florida estate, Mar-a-Lago.

Garland said after the verdict that the Justice Department “is committed to holding accountable those criminally responsible for the assault on our democracy on January 6, 2021.”

“Democracy depends on the peaceful transfer of power. By attempting to block the certification of the 2020 presidential election results, the defendants flouted and trampled the rule of law,” Steven M. D’Antuono, assistant director in charge of the FBI Washington Field Office, said in an emailed statement. “This case shows that force and violence are no match for our country’s justice system.”CAPITOL SIEGEJan. 6 panel interviews ex-Secret Service agent Tony OrnatoJury deliberates for 2nd day in Oath Keepers sedition case2 Illinois sisters get probation after Capitol riot pleasMontana man gets 3 years in prison for role in Capitol riot

Using dozens of encrypted messages, recordings and surveillance video, prosecutors made the case that Rhodes began shortly after the 2020 election to prepare an armed rebellion to stop the transfer of presidential power.

Over seven weeks of testimony, jurors heard how Rhodes rallied his followers to fight to defend Trump, discussed the prospect of a “bloody” civil war and warned the Oath Keepers may have to “rise up in insurrection” to defeat Biden if Trump didn’t act.

Defense attorneys accused prosecutors of twisting their clients’ words and insisted the Oath Keepers came to Washington only to provide security for figures such as Roger Stone, a longtime Trump ally. The defense focused heavily on seeking to show that Rhodes’ rhetoric was just bluster and that the Oath Keepers had no plan before Jan. 6 to attack the Capitol.

Rhodes intends to appeal, defense attorney James Lee Bright told reporters. Another Rhodes lawyer, Ed Tarpley, described the verdict as a “mixed bag,” adding, “This is not a total victory for the government in any way, shape or form.”

“We feel like we presented a case that showed through evidence and testimony that Mr. Rhodes did not commit the crime of seditious conspiracy,” Tarpley said.

On trial alongside Rhodes, of Granbury, Texas, and Meggs, were Kenneth Harrelson, another Florida Oath Keeper; Thomas Caldwell, a retired Navy intelligence officer from Virginia; and Jessica Watkins, who led an Ohio militia group.

Caldwell was convicted on two counts and acquitted on three others, including seditious conspiracy. His attorney, David Fischer, called the verdict “major victory” for his client and a “major defeat” for the Justice Department. He also said he would appeal the two convictions.

Jury selection for a second group of Oath Keepers facing seditious conspiracy charges is scheduled to begin next week. Several members of the Proud Boys, including the former national chairman Enrique Tarrio, are also scheduled to go to trial on the sedition charge in December.

In an extraordinary move, Rhodes took the stand to tell jurors there was no plan to attack the Capitol and insist that his followers who went inside the building went rogue.

Rhodes testified that he had no idea that his followers were going to join the mob and storm the Capitol and said he was upset after he found out that some did. Rhodes said they were acting “stupid” and outside their mission for the day.

Prosecutors said the Oath Keepers saw an opportunity to advance their plot to stop the transfer of power and sprang into action when the mob started storming the Capitol. The Capitol attack was a “means to an end” for the Oath Keepers, Assistant U.S. Attorney Kathryn Rakoczy told jurors in her closing argument.

‘We the People’ at heart of White House holiday decorations

Associated Press

‘We the People’ at heart of White House holiday decorations

Darlene Superville – November 28, 2022

Cross Hall of the White House is decorated for the holiday season during a press preview of holiday decorations at the White House, Monday, Nov. 28, 2022, in Washington. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)
Cross Hall of the White House is decorated for the holiday season during a press preview of holiday decorations at the White House, Monday, Nov. 28, 2022, in Washington. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)
The Green Room of the White House is decorated for the holiday season during a press preview of holiday decorations at the White House, Monday, Nov. 28, 2022, in Washington. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)
The Green Room of the White House is decorated for the holiday season during a press preview of holiday decorations at the White House, Monday, Nov. 28, 2022, in Washington. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)
The East Colonnade of the White House is decorated for the holiday season during a press preview of holiday decorations at the White House, Monday, Nov. 28, 2022, in Washington. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)
The East Colonnade of the White House is decorated for the holiday season during a press preview of holiday decorations at the White House, Monday, Nov. 28, 2022, in Washington. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)
The White House Christmas Tree is on display in the Blue Room of the White House during a press preview of holiday decorations at the White House, Monday, Nov. 28, 2022, in Washington. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)
The White House Christmas Tree is on display in the Blue Room of the White House during a press preview of holiday decorations at the White House, Monday, Nov. 28, 2022, in Washington. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)
A gingerbread replica of the White House and a sugar cookie replica of Independence Hall are on display in the State Dining Room of the White House during a press preview of holiday decorations at the White House, Monday, Nov. 28, 2022, in Washington. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)
A gingerbread replica of the White House and a sugar cookie replica of Independence Hall are on display in the State Dining Room of the White House during a press preview of holiday decorations at the White House, Monday, Nov. 28, 2022, in Washington. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)
Depictions of Willow, bottom left, and Commander, the Biden family's cat and dog, are part of decorations in the Vermeil Room of the White House during a press preview of holiday decorations at the White House, Monday, Nov. 28, 2022, in Washington. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)
Depictions of Willow, bottom left, and Commander, the Biden family’s cat and dog, are part of decorations in the Vermeil Room of the White House during a press preview of holiday decorations at the White House, Monday, Nov. 28, 2022, in Washington. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)
Cross Hall and the Blue Room of the White House are decorated for the holiday season during a press preview of holiday decorations at the White House, Monday, Nov. 28, 2022, in Washington. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)
Cross Hall and the Blue Room of the White House are decorated for the holiday season during a press preview of holiday decorations at the White House, Monday, Nov. 28, 2022, in Washington. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)
Former President Barack Obama's portrait is on display alongside decorations in the Grand Foyer of the White House during a press preview of holiday decorations at the White House, Monday, Nov. 28, 2022, in Washington. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)
Former President Barack Obama’s portrait is on display alongside decorations in the Grand Foyer of the White House during a press preview of holiday decorations at the White House, Monday, Nov. 28, 2022, in Washington. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)
The Blue Room of the White House is decorated for the holiday season during a press preview of holiday decorations at the White House, Monday, Nov. 28, 2022, in Washington. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)
The Blue Room of the White House is decorated for the holiday season during a press preview of holiday decorations at the White House, Monday, Nov. 28, 2022, in Washington. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)
Ornaments containing self-portraits of students from across the country hang from a tree in the State Dining Room of the White House during a press preview of holiday decorations at the White House, Monday, Nov. 28, 2022, in Washington. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

WASHINGTON (AP) — “We the People” is Jill Biden’s holiday theme with White House decorations designed for “the people” to see themselves in the tree ornaments, mantel displays, mirrors and do-it-yourself creations that have turned the mansion’s public spaces into a winter wonderland.

“The soul of our nation is, and has always been, ‘We the People,’” the first lady said at a White House event honoring the volunteers who decorated over Thanksgiving weekend. “And that is what inspired this year’s White House holiday decoration.”

“The values that unite us can be found all around you, a belief in possibility and optimism and unity,” Jill Biden said. “Room by room, we represent what brings us together during the holidays and throughout the year.”

Public rooms are dedicated to unifying forces: honoring and remembering deceased loved ones, words and stories, kindness and gratitude, food and traditions, nature and recreation, songs and sounds, unity and hope, faith and light, and children.

A burst of pine aroma hits visitors as they step inside the East Wing and come upon trees adorned with mirrored Gold Star ornaments bearing the names of fallen service members.

Winter trees, woodland animals and glowing lanterns placed along the hallway help give the feeling of walking through snow.

Likenesses of Biden family pets — Commander and Willow, the dog and cat — first appear at the end of the hallway before they are seen later in the Vermeil Room, which celebrates kindness and gratitude, and the State Dining Room, which highlights children.

Recipes contributed by the small army of volunteer decorators spruce up the China Room’s mantel. Handwritten ones — for apple crisp and pizzelle, an Italian cookie — are family recipes shared by the first lady.

Aides say she was inspired by people she met while traveling around the country and by the nation’s founding documents, the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution.

A copy of the Declaration of Independence is on display in the library, while the always-show-stopping 300-pound (136 kilogram) gingerbread White House this year includes a sugar cookie replica of Philadelphia’s Independence Hall, where the documents were signed.

The executive pastry chef used 20 sheets of sugar cookie dough, 30 sheets of gingerbread dough, 100 pounds (45 kilograms) of pastillage, 30 pounds (14 kilograms) of chocolate and 40 pounds (18 kilograms) of royal icing to create the gingerbread and sugar cookie masterpiece.

A new addition to the White House collection this year is a menorah, which is lit nightly during the eight-day Jewish festival of Hanukkah. White House carpenters built the menorah out of wood that was saved from a Truman-era renovation and sterling silver candle cups.

Some 50,000 visitors are expected to pass through the White House for the holidays, including tourists and guests invited to nearly a month’s worth of receptions. Among them will be French President Emmanuel Macron, who will meet with President Joe Biden at the White House on Thursday and be honored at a state dinner, the first of the Biden administration.

More than 150 volunteers, including two of the first lady’s sisters, helped decorate the White House during the long Thanksgiving holiday weekend.

The decorations include more than 83,000 twinkling lights on trees, garlands, wreaths and other displays, 77 Christmas trees and 25 wreaths on the White House exterior. Volunteers also used more than 12,000 ornaments, just under 15,000 feet (4,500 meters) of ribbon and more than 1,600 bells.

Some of the decorations are do-it-yourself projects that the first lady hopes people will be encouraged to recreate for themselves, aides said. They include plastic drinking cups turned into bells and table-top Christmas trees made from foam shapes and dollar store ramekins.

Groupings of snowy trees fill corners of the East Room, which reflects nature and recreation, and scenes from four national parks are depicted on each fireplace mantel: Grand Canyon, Yellowstone, Great Smoky Mountains and Shenandoah.

In the Blue Room, the official White House Christmas tree — an 18 1/2-foot (5.6-meter) Concolor fir from Auburn, Pennsylvania — is decorated to represent unity and hope with handmade renderings of the official birds from all 57 territories, states and the District of Columbia.

The State Dining Room is dedicated to the next generation — children — and its trees are decorated with self-portrait ornaments made by students of the 2021 Teachers of the Year, “ensuring that children see themselves” in the décor, the White House said.

Hanging from the fireplace in the State Dining Room are the Biden family Christmas stockings.

“We the People” are celebrated again in the Grand Foyer and Cross Hall on the State Floor, where metal ribbons are inscribed with the names of all the states, territories and the District of Columbia.

As part of Joining Forces, her White House initiative to support military families, Jill Biden was joined by National Guard leaders from across the country, as well as National Guard families. Her late son, Beau Biden, was a major in the Delaware Army National Guard.

She met before the event with children from National Guard families, telling them she wanted to hear their stories because “you have served right alongside of your parents and you deserve to have your courage, and your sacrifice, recognized, too.”

The White House noted that the holiday guide book given to visitors was designed by Daria Peoples, an African American children’s book author who lives in Las Vegas. Peoples is a former elementary school teacher who has written and illustrated a series of picture books to support children of color, including those who have experienced race-based trauma.

U.S. warns California cities to prepare for fourth year of drought

Reuters

U.S. warns California cities to prepare for fourth year of drought

Sharon Bernstein – November 28, 2022

FILE PHOTO: California farmers aim to recharge aquifers by diverting floodwaters to fallowed land
California farmers aim to recharge aquifers by diverting floodwaters to fallowed land
FILE PHOTO: California farmers aim to recharge aquifers by diverting floodwaters to fallowed land

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (Reuters) – Federal water managers on Monday urged numerous California cities and industrial users to prepare for a fourth dry year, warning of possible “conservation actions” as drought conditions continue despite early rains.

The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation said water storage is near historic lows in the reservoirs it operates in the state, which serve the Central Valley breadbasket as well as the cities of Sacramento and San Francisco.

Shasta Reservoir, the state’s largest and the capstone of the federal Central Valley Project, is currently at 31% capacity, the agency said.

While the rainy season, which generally begins in October and continues through March or April, may yet bring more precipitation, it would be prudent for cities and industrial users to prepare for the possibility that less water will be available than the agency had contracted to provide them.

“If drought conditions extend into 2023, Reclamation will find it increasingly difficult, if not impossible, to meet all the competing needs of the Central Valley Project without beginning the implementation of additional and more severe water conservation actions,” the agency said.

Initial water supply allocations for its customers would be announced in February, the agency said.

(Reporting by Sharon Bernstein; Editing by David Gregorio)

What Happened to autumn? Scientists point to climate change

Yahoo! News

What happened to autumn? Scientists point to climate change

Ben Adler, Senior Editor – November 28, 2022

A man with a shovel digs out during a snowfall of more than 6 feet.
Tom Dee of Hamburg, N.Y., digs out on Nov. 18. More than 6 feet of snow was dumped on Buffalo and surrounding suburbs that weekend. (John Normile/Getty Images)

Regarded by millions of Americans as their favorite season, autumn for many regions of the United States has traditionally been marked by the gradual transition from hot summer weather to frigid winter temperatures. But in recent years, fall seems to have all but disappeared — especially in the Northeast — and experts say climate change is partly to blame.

Throughout October of this year, a time normally associated with crisp weather and changing leaves, many parts of the Northeast saw temperatures upwards of 70 degrees Fahrenheit. And then, seemingly overnight, the weather turned much colder.

In Spokane, Wash., the warmest October on record was quickly followed in early November by the season’s first freeze and snowfall. By the end of the third week in November, snow had fallen all over upstate New York, and Buffalo, N.Y., received a record-breaking 6 feet of snow.

Pedestrians attempt to dig out cars after a snowstorm.
Pedestrians in Buffalo attempt to dig out cars on Nov. 20 after a snowstorm slammed the area. (John Normile/Getty Images)

“We’re seeing this weather whiplash here in the fall, where it can be so warm, it can have record warm temperatures, and then very quickly we can transition into a very cold period,” Judah Cohen, director of seasonal forecasting at Atmospheric and Environmental Research, told Yahoo News.

Experts such as Cohen say climate change is a factor. Weather is fluky, and it’s impossible to ascribe most individual events to climate change, but climate change is creating the conditions, starting with a longer, hotter summer, that make fall-less years more likely.

Last year, the Associated Press reported that the fall foliage season was delayed by warmer weather from Maine to Oregon, and in some places it was ruined altogether by an unusually hot, dry summer that caused leaves to die prematurely.

“Summers are growing longer,” Cohen said. “September, a lot of times, acts more like August than what you traditionally consider a fall month. Summer is definitely encroaching on the fall season.”

“It’s staying warm later, for sure,” Matthew Barlow, a professor of climate science at the University of Massachusetts Lowell, told Yahoo News. “We’ve actually looked in the Northeast for fall weather patterns, and you can see that you get summer patterns later into fall.”

A student walks past fall foliage.
A student walks past fall foliage at the University of Virginia on Nov. 7. (Ryan M. Kelly/AFP via Getty Images)

One might expect, then, that typical fall weather would just be shifted until later in the year, as it would take longer for temperatures to drop to those historically associated with winter. But there’s another wrinkle attributed to climate change that explains why winter temperatures suddenly crash onto the country, plunging millions into winterlike conditions: warmer Arctic temperatures in places like Alaska that send polar vortices southward.

“I would summarize the whipsawing from weather extremes this fall as the summation of two competing factors: ambient warming due to increasing greenhouse gases and an increase in polar vortex stretching,” Cohen said.

This is the same reason that we are seeing more extreme winter weather, such as a massive snowstorm that hit the South last January. Recent research finds the polar vortex is more frequently getting stretched out, which also brings cold air south. The reason is uncertain but appears to be related to the dramatic loss of Arctic sea ice, according to a study led by Cohen that appeared in Science magazine last year.

But while extreme winter weather gets all the attention, the same phenomenon can happen in the fall, making a week in November feel more like January.

“Climate change — but specifically the changes in the Arctic — lead to more disruptions of the polar vortex, where the polar vortex kind of stretches, or elongates, like a rubber band,” Cohen said. “And we’re definitely seeing an increase in those types of events in October through December.”

Icebergs float in the Baffin Bay near Pituffik, Greenland, on July 20, 2022, as pictured by a drone during a NASA mission along with University of Texas scientists to measure melting Arctic sea ice.
Icebergs in Baffin Bay near Pituffik, Greenland, in July, as pictured by a drone during a NASA mission to measure melting Arctic sea ice. (Kerem Yucel/AFP via Getty Images)

“I think it’s applicable to what happened this fall, because we’ve had these unusual polar-vortex-stretching events,” Cohen added. “So in October, there was this early cold weather snap and early snow. And I know places in the Southeast were having the earliest freezes ever.”

For example, Baton Rouge, La., saw its earliest freeze in history in mid-October.

“The cold snap that we’re seeing in November and extreme lake effects that we’re seeing here in western New York, that’s also associated with the stretched polar vortex event,” Cohen said, referring to the Buffalo snowstorm.

In a complementary phenomenon, the jet stream, a band of warm air flowing west to east, is also being destabilized by climate change. The jet stream is powered by the temperature differential between the Arctic and other regions, and the Arctic is warming four times faster than the rest of the Earth. As the difference in temperature decreases, a weakened jet stream is more frequently diverted southward, pulling a band of colder air above further south.

Scientists caution that the research on whether winter weather now strikes more frequently in fall, and why, isn’t as robust as the research showing that global warming is causing hot weather to last longer into the year.

A vehicle pulls over along I-190 during a snowstorm hitting the Buffalo, N.Y., area in November.
A vehicle pulls over along I-190 during the snowstorm that hit the Buffalo area in November. (Carlos Osorio/Reuters)

“It’s certainly gotten cold here in a way that’s felt sudden, but I’m not really aware of anybody who has run those numbers to get at that variability piece of it,” Barlow said. “There isn’t a consensus on that, I think, yet, on whether there’s an increased breakdown or stretching of the polar vortex, or whether the jet stream is getting wavier, at least in the North Atlantic. There definitely is some evidence of that, but I don’t think there’s a consensus.”

The good news for people who want to take advantage of autumn’s outdoor rituals is that because polar-vortex-stretching events are temporary, the warm weather can sometimes bounce back. In Rhode Island, for example, the first freeze of the year in late October was followed by temperatures climbing back up to the 60s, just in time for trick-or-treating on Halloween.

At Protests, Guns Are Doing the Talking

The New York Times

At Protests, Guns Are Doing the Talking

Mike McIntire – November 26, 2022

Kimber Glidden, who resigned as the library director for  Boundary County, Idaho after her library became a cause célèbre for conservatives, in Spokane, Wash. on Oct. 28, 2022. (Rajah Bose/The New York Times)
Kimber Glidden, who resigned as the library director for Boundary County, Idaho after her library became a cause célèbre for conservatives, in Spokane, Wash. on Oct. 28, 2022. (Rajah Bose/The New York Times)

Across the country, openly carrying a gun in public is no longer just an exercise in self-defense — increasingly it is a soapbox for elevating one’s voice and, just as often, quieting someone else’s.

This month, armed protesters appeared outside an elections center in Phoenix, hurling baseless accusations that the election for governor had been stolen from the Republican, Kari Lake. In October, Proud Boys with guns joined a rally in Nashville, Tennessee, where conservative lawmakers spoke against transgender medical treatments for minors.

In June, armed demonstrations around the United States amounted to nearly one a day. A group led by a former Republican state legislator protested a gay-pride event in a public park in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. Men with guns interrupted a Juneteenth festival in Franklin, Tennessee, handing out flyers claiming that white people were being replaced. Among the others were rallies in support of gun rights in Delaware and abortion rights in Georgia.

Whether at the local library, in a park or on Main Street, most of these incidents happen where Republicans have fought to expand the ability to bear arms in public, a movement bolstered by a recent Supreme Court ruling on the right to carry firearms outside the home. The loosening of limits has occurred as violent political rhetoric rises and police in some places fear bloodshed among an armed populace on a hair trigger.

But the effects of more guns in public spaces have not been evenly felt. A partisan divide — with Democrats largely eschewing firearms and Republicans embracing them — has warped civic discourse. Deploying the Second Amendment in service of the First Amendment has become a way to buttress a policy argument, a sort of silent, if intimidating, bullhorn.

“It’s disappointing we’ve gotten to that state in our country,” said Kevin Thompson, executive director of the Museum of Science & History in Memphis, Tennessee, where armed protesters led to the cancellation of an LGBTQ event in September. “What I saw was a group of folks who did not want to engage in any sort of dialogue and just wanted to impose their belief.”

A New York Times analysis of more than 700 armed demonstrations found that at about 77% of them, people openly carrying guns represented right-wing views, such as opposition to LGBTQ rights and abortion access, hostility to racial justice rallies and support for former President Donald Trump’s lie of winning the 2020 election.

The records, from January 2020 to last week, were compiled by the Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project, a nonprofit that tracks political violence around the world. The Times also interviewed witnesses to other, smaller-scale incidents not captured by the data, including encounters with armed people at indoor public meetings.

Anti-government militias and right-wing culture warriors such as the Proud Boys attended a majority of the protests, the data showed. Violence broke out at more than 100 events and often involved fisticuffs with opposing groups, including left-wing activists such as antifa.

Republican politicians are generally more tolerant of openly armed supporters than are Democrats, who are more likely to be on the opposing side of people with guns, the records suggest. In July, for example, men wearing sidearms confronted Beto O’Rourke, then the Democratic candidate for Texas governor, at a campaign stop in Whitesboro and warned that he was “not welcome in this town.”

Republican officials or candidates appeared at 32 protests where they were on the same side as those with guns. Democratic politicians were identified at only two protests taking the same view as those armed.

Sometimes, the Republican officials carried weapons: Robert Sutherland, a Washington state representative, wore a pistol on his hip while protesting COVID-19 restrictions in Olympia in 2020. “Governor,” he said, speaking to a crowd, “you send men with guns after us for going fishing. We’ll see what a revolution looks like.”

The occasional appearance of armed civilians at demonstrations or governmental functions is not new. In the 1960s, the Black Panthers displayed guns in public when protesting police brutality. Militia groups, sometimes armed, rallied against federal agents involved in violent standoffs at Ruby Ridge, in Idaho, and in Waco, Texas, in the 1990s.

But the frequency of these incidents exploded in 2020, with conservative pushback against public health measures to fight the coronavirus and response to the sometimes violent rallies after the murder of George Floyd. Today, in some parts of the country with permissive gun laws, it is not unusual to see people with handguns or military-style rifles at all types of protests.

For instance, at least 14 such incidents have occurred in and around Dallas and Phoenix since May, including outside an FBI field office to condemn the search of Trump’s home and, elsewhere, in support of abortion rights. In New York City and Washington, D.C., where gun laws are strict, there were none — even though numerous demonstrations took place during that same period.

Many conservatives and gun-rights advocates envision virtually no limits. When Democrats in Colorado and Washington state passed laws this year prohibiting firearms at polling places and government meetings, Republicans voted against them. Indeed, those bills were the exception.

Attempts by Democrats to impose limits in other states have mostly failed, and some form of open carry without a permit is now legal in 38 states, a number that is likely to expand as legislation advances in several more. In Michigan, where a Tea Party group recently advertised poll watcher training using a photo of armed men in camouflage, judges have rejected efforts to prohibit guns at voting locations.

Gun-rights advocates assert that banning guns from protests would violate the right to carry firearms for self-defense. Jordan Stein, a spokesperson for Gun Owners of America, pointed to Kyle Rittenhouse, a teenager acquitted last year in the shooting of three people during a chaotic demonstration in Kenosha, Wisconsin, where he had walked the streets with a military-style rifle.

“At a time when protests often devolve into riots, honest people need a means to protect themselves,” he said.

Beyond self-defense, Stein said the freedom of speech and the right to have a gun are “bedrock principles” and that “Americans should be able to bear arms while exercising their First Amendment rights, whether that’s going to church or a peaceful assembly.”

Others argue that openly carrying firearms at public gatherings, particularly when there is no obvious self-defense reason, can have a corrosive effect, leading to curtailed activities, suppressed opinions or public servants who quit out of fear and frustration.

Concerned about armed protesters, local election officials in Arizona, Colorado and Oregon have requested bulletproofing for their offices.

Adam Searing, a lawyer and Georgetown University professor who helps families secure access to health care, said he saw the impact on free speech when people objecting to COVID-19 restrictions used guns to make their point. In some states, disability-rights advocates were afraid to show up to support mask mandates because of armed opposition, said Searing, who teaches public policy at Georgetown University.

“What was really disturbing was the guns became kind of a signifier for political reasons,” he said, adding, “It was just about pure intimidation.”

Armed Speech

The Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project has been tracking such incidents in the United States for the past few years. Events captured by the data are not assigned ideological labels but include descriptions and are collected from news sources, social media and independent partners such as the Network Contagion Research Institute, which monitors extremism and disinformation online.

The Times’ analysis found that the largest drivers of armed demonstrations have shifted since 2020. This year, protesters with guns are more likely to be motivated by abortion or LGBTQ issues. Sam Jones, a spokesperson for the nonpartisan data group, said upticks in armed incidents tended to correspond to “different flashpoint events and time periods, like the Roe v. Wade decision and Pride Month.”

In about one-fourth of the cases, left-wing activists also were armed. Many times, it was a response, they said, to right-wing intimidation. Other times, it was not, such as when about 40 demonstrators, some with rifles, blocked city officials in Dallas from clearing a homeless encampment in July.

More than half of all armed protests occurred in 10 states with expansive open-carry laws: Arizona, Georgia, Kentucky, Michigan, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Texas, Virginia and Washington. Three of them — Michigan, Oregon and Texas — allowed armed protesters to gather outside Capitol buildings before President Joe Biden’s inauguration, and in Michigan, militia members carrying assault rifles were permitted inside the Capitol during protests against COVID-19 lockdowns.

Beyond the mass gatherings, there are everyday episodes of armed intimidation. Kimber Glidden had been director of the Boundary County Library in Northern Idaho for a couple of months when some parents began raising questions in February about books they believed were inappropriate for children.

It did not matter that the library did not have most of those books — largely dealing with gender, sexuality and race — or that those it did have were not in the children’s section. The issue became a cause célèbre for conservative activists, some of whom began showing up with guns to increasingly tense public meetings, Glidden said.

“How do you stand there and tell me you want to protect children when you’re in the children’s section of the library and you’re armed?” she asked.

In August, she resigned, decrying the “intimidation tactics and threatening behavior.”

A Growing Militancy

At a Second Amendment rally in June 2021 outside the statehouse in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, where some people were armed, Republican speakers repeatedly connected the right to carry a gun to other social and cultural issues. U.S. Rep. Scott Perry voiced a frequent conservative complaint about censorship, saying the First Amendment was “under assault.”

“And you know very well what protects the First,” he said. “Which is what we’re doing here today.”

Stephanie Borowicz, a state legislator, was more blunt, boasting to the crowd that “tyrannical governors” had been forced to ease coronavirus restrictions because “as long as we’re an armed population, the government fears us.”

Pennsylvania, like some other states with permissive open-carry laws, is home to right-wing militias that sometimes appear in public with firearms. They are often welcomed, or at least accepted, by Republican politicians.

When a dozen militia members, some wearing skull masks and body armor, joined a protest against COVID-19 restrictions in Pittsburgh in April 2020, Jeff Neff, a Republican borough council president running for the state senate, posed for a photo with the group. In it, he is holding his campaign sign, surrounded by men with military-style rifles.

In an email, Neff said he had since left politics, and expressed regret over past news coverage of the photo, adding, “Please know that I do not condone any threats or action of violence by any person or groups.”

Across the country, there is evidence of increasing Republican involvement in militias. A membership list for the Oath Keepers, made public last year, includes 81 elected officials or candidates, according to a report by the Anti-Defamation League. Most of them appear to be Republicans.

Another nationwide militia, the American Patriots Three Percent, recently told prospective members that it worked to support “individuals seeking election to local GOP boards,” according to an archived version of its website.

More than 25 members of the Oath Keepers and Three Percenters have been charged in the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol. Those organizations, along with the Proud Boys and Boogaloo Boys, make up the bulk of organized groups in the armed-protest data, according to the Times’ analysis.

Shootings were rare, such as when a Proud Boy was shot in the foot while chasing antifa members during a protest over COVID-19 lockdowns in Olympia last year. But Jones said the data, which also tracked unarmed demonstrations, showed that although armed protests accounted for less than 2% of the total, they were responsible for 10% of those where violence occurred, most often involving fights between rival groups.

“Armed groups or individuals might say they have no intention of intimidating anyone and are only participating in demonstrations to keep the peace,” said Jones, “but the evidence doesn’t back up the claim.”

Competing Rights

In a landmark 2008 decision in District of Columbia v. Heller, the Supreme Court held that the Second Amendment conveyed a basic right to bear arms for lawful purposes such as self-defense at home. It went further in a decision in June that struck down New York restrictions on concealed-pistol permits, effectively finding a right to carry firearms in public.

But the court in Heller also made clear that gun rights were not unlimited and that its ruling did not invalidate laws prohibiting “the carrying of firearms in sensitive places.” That caveat was reiterated in a concurring opinion in the New York case.

Even some hard-line gun-rights advocates are uncomfortable with armed people at public protests. Alan Gottlieb, founder of the Second Amendment Foundation, told The Washington Times in 2017 that “if you are carrying it to make a political point, we are not going to support that.”

“Firearms serve a purpose,” he said, “and the purpose is not a mouthpiece.”

But groups that embrace Second Amendment absolutism do not hesitate to criticize fellow advocates who stray from that orthodoxy.

After Dan Crenshaw, a Republican congressman from Texas and former Navy SEAL, lamented in 2020 that “guys dressing up in their Call of Duty outfits, marching through the streets” were not advancing the cause of gun rights, he was knocked by the Firearms Policy Coalition for “being critical of people exercising their right to protest.” The coalition has fought state laws that it says force gun owners to choose between the rights to free speech and self-defense.

Regardless of whether there is a right to go armed in public for self-defense, early laws and court decisions made clear that the Constitution did not empower people, such as modern-day militia members, to gather with guns as a form of protest, said Michael Dorf, a constitutional law professor at Cornell University who has written about the tension between the rights to free speech and guns.

Dorf pointed to an 18th-century Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruling that a group of protesters with firearms had no right to rally in public against a government tax. Some states also adopted an old English law prohibiting “going armed to the terror of the people,” still on the books in some places, aimed at preventing the use of weapons to threaten or intimidate.

“Historically,” said Dorf, “there were such limits on armed gatherings, even assuming that there’s some right to be armed as individuals.”

There is no evidence that the framers of the Constitution intended for Americans to take up arms during civic debate among themselves — or to intimidate those with differing opinions. That is what happened at the Memphis museum in September, when people with guns showed up to protest a scheduled dance party that capped a summerlong series on the history of the LGBTQ community in the South.

Although the party was billed as “family friendly,” conservatives on local talk radio claimed that children would be at risk. (The museum said the planned activities were acceptable for all ages.) As armed men wearing masks milled about outside, the panicked staff canceled all programs and evacuated the premises.

Thompson, the director, said he and his board were now grappling with the laws on carrying firearms, which were loosened last year by state legislators.

“It’s a different time,” he said, “and it’s something we have to learn to navigate.”