‘There’s no path out of economic oblivion for Russia’:

Fortune

‘There’s no path out of economic oblivion for Russia’: New report reveals how corporate exodus has already wiped out decades of post–Cold War growth

Yvonne Lau – August 4, 2022

Over the past six months, Russia has fortified its economic defenses after Western countries pummeled it with sanctions over its invasion of Ukraine.

Despite the crackdown, the Kremlin continues to rake in billions in oil and gas revenues, which helped the ruble rally to become the world’s best-performing currency this year.

But all is not well with the Russian economy.

The Western sanctions and widespread corporate exodus from Russia since Feb. 24 have ravaged the Russian economy—and its future prospects look even bleaker, according to a new report from Yale University researchers and economists led by Jeffrey Sonnenfeld, Yale School of Management professor and senior associate dean for leadership studies. It’s now become clear that the Kremlin’s “finances are in much, much more dire straits than conventionally understood” and that the large-scale “business retreats and sanctions are catastrophically crippling the Russian economy,” the researchers wrote.

Deterioration

As of Aug. 4, over 1,000 companies, including U.S. firms like NikeIBM, and Bain consulting, have curtailed their operations in Russia. Though some businesses have stayed, the mass corporate exodus represents 40% of Russia’s GDP and reverses 30 years’ worth of foreign investment, says the Yale report.

The international retreat is morphing into a larger crisis for the country: a collapse in foreign imports and investments.

Russia has descended into a technological crisis as a result of its isolation from the global economy. It’s having trouble securing critical technology and parts. “The domestic economy is largely reliant on imports across industries…with few exceptions,” says the report. Western export controls have largely halted the flow of imported technology from smartphones to data servers and networking equipment, straining its tech industry. Russia’s biggest internet company, Yandex—the country’s version of Google—is running short of the semiconductor chips it needs for its servers.

At the same time, Russia’s “domestic production has come to a complete standstill—with no capacity to replace lost businesses, products, and talent,” the Yale report said. Russian producers and manufacturers are unable to fill the gaps left by the collapse of Western imports. Russia’s telecom sector for instance, now hopes to lean on China, India, and Israel to supply 5G equipment.

In the weeks following the Ukraine invasion, the Kremlin largely prevented a “full scale financial crisis” owing to quick and harsh measures, like restricting the movement of money out of the country and imposing a 20% emergency interest rate hike, Laura Solanko, senior adviser at the Bank of Finland Institute for Emerging Economies in Transition, an organization that researches emerging economies, told Fortunelast month. The ruble even rebounded from a March low, when it was valued at less than one U.S. cent.

Yet Russia’s financial markets are the worst-performing in the world this year, the report noted. “Putin is resorting to patently unsustainable, dramatic fiscal and monetary intervention to smooth over these structural economic weaknesses,” which has led to a government budget deficit for the first time in years and drained the Kremlin’s foreign reserves even with its continued inflow of petrodollars, the researchers wrote. The Russian government is giving subsidies to businesses and individuals to mitigate any economic shocks caused by sanctions. This “inflated level” of fiscal and social stimulus, on top of military expenditures, is “simply unsustainable for the Kremlin,” the report said.

And the ruble’s recent dramatic turnaround doesn’t indicate a strong Russian economy, but marks something far worse: the clear collapse of foreign imports. Sergei Guriev, scientific director of the economics program at Sciences Po, in France, and a research fellow at London-based think tank the Centre for Economic Policy Research, previously told Fortune that it represents a “very bad” situation for the nation.

The EU is now phasing out Russian energy, which could hit the Kremlin’s oil and gas profits. Such a scenario would severely strain the Kremlin’s finances, since Western countries have frozen half of its $300 billion in foreign reserves.

Heading toward economic oblivion

Russia’s precarious economic position means that it faces even more dire, long-term challenges ahead.

Sanctions aren’t designed to cause an immediate financial crisis or economic collapse, but are long-term tools to weaken a nation’s economy while isolating it from global markets, the report said. And the sanctions are doing exactly that for Russia.

The country is losing its richest and most educated citizens as its economy crumbles. Most estimates say that at least 500,000 Russians have fled the country since Feb. 24, with the “vast majority being highly educated and highly skilled workers in competitive industries such as technology,” the report said. Many wealthy Russians who flee are taking their money with them. One estimate is that 20% of Russia’s ultra-high-net-worth individuals have left this year. In the first quarter of 2022, official capital outflows stood at $70 billion, according to Bank of Russia estimates—but this figure is likely to be a “gross underestimate” of the actual amount of money that has left the country, the Yale team wrote.

Russian citizens are also set to become poorer, despite Putin’s minimum wage and pension income hikes. A former Putin aide predicts that the number of Russians living in poverty will likely double—and perhaps even triple, as the war continues. Russia “hasn’t seen the worst yet,” Russian political scientist Ilya Matveev, told Fortunelast month.

“There is no path out of economic oblivion as long as the allied countries remain unified in maintaining and increasing sanctions pressure against Russia,” the researchers wrote.

How Ruth Bader Ginsburg Will Have The Last Laugh on Samuel Alito

Politico

How Ruth Bader Ginsburg Will Have The Last Laugh on Samuel Alito

John F. Harris – August 4, 2022

Susan Walsh/AP Photo

Justice Samuel Alito, in drafting Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, said he and the other justices who joined him in ending a constitutional right to abortion had no ability to foresee what the political implications would be. Even if they could know, he added, justices have “no authority to let that knowledge influence our decision.”

Does Alito genuinely write his opinions with no concern at all of what the practical political consequences might be?

In overturning Roe v. Wade, a decision he said was “egregiously wrong,” Alito asserted that the place to decide the morality and legality of abortion is not the Supreme Court but the political process in 50 states.

So what does Alito think now, in the wake of Kansas voters resoundingly rejecting a proposal to remove protections for abortion rights from their state constitution?

These are not gotcha questions. Alito presumably would answer that what happened in Kansas on Tuesday is precisely the kind of democratic process that the Supreme Court “short-circuited,” as he wrote in Dobbs, when it established a national right to abortion by judicial edict even as the issue remained deeply unsettled in the society.

They are questions, however, that highlight how life is full of surprise and paradox, even for a Supreme Court justice who specializes in blustery self-assurance. Alito’s career as an advocate for social conservatism began long before he joined the court. His record is replete with deference to religious tradition and skepticism of loosening sexual mores on all fronts, including gay rights. His references to “abortionists” in the Dobbs opinion hardly conceal his personal disdain. There can be little doubt of how he would have cast his ballot if he were a Kansas voter.

Yet the Kansas result raises an arresting possibility: Alito’s long-term legacy may well be as the justice who facilitated a national consensus on behalf of abortion rights. Quite unintentionally, today’s hero of the “pro-life” movement could end up being a giant of the “pro-choice” movement.

Alito’s achievement was to take abortion out of the arena where it has been for a half-century — a place in which aggrieved advocates on both sides invoked a hypothetical world in which abortion is no longer legal — and move it to an emphatically real-world arena. In this new environment, all kinds of people who under ordinary circumstances would prefer not to have to think and argue about abortion must decide which side they are on.

There is good reason to be wary the old maxim of Fleet Street journalism — first simplify, then exaggerate — in some of the post-Kansas analysis. The impact of abortion politics on the mid-term elections remains murky. In most cases, voters will be choosing among candidates, not deciding a sharply framed referendum. Moreover, while Kansas is undoubtedly conservative, it is also a state with a Democratic governor and is not necessarily predictive of the dynamics in conservative states with abortion bans that took place immediately after the Supreme Court’s June ruling.

But if the Kansas result isn’t necessarily a portent of the politics of 2022 it is suggestive of the politics of 2032. Long-term, under current trends, it is easy to envisage a decisive shift that would leave a national resolution of the issue in favor of abortion rights, even in states that do not currently support that. It is hard to envisage the opposite result.

The difference lies in the gap between abstract politics and concrete politics. This is the same dynamic that makes Social Security highly popular among people who claim they disdain big government. The Kansas result, which mirrors polling showing solid majorities of people supported leaving Roe v. Wade intact, suggests that opponents of legal abortion do better when the prospect of an abortion ban is hypothetical, while abortion-rights supporters do better when the issue is tangibly real.

Values take on meaning not in the abstract but in the particular. What do you really believe when it is your adolescent child who is pregnant or has impregnated someone? Or your extramarital affair that results in a pregnancy? Or your obstetrician who calls to say she has unwelcome news from the results of a genetic test?

Thankfully, most people do not get to learn what they really believe by landing in such a situation. But lots of people — of all political persuasions — do get to learn. The Guttmacher Institute, which conducts research on abortion policy, found that about one in five pregnancies in 2020 ended in abortion. In an earlier study, from 2017, it found that about one in four women will have an abortion by age 45.

Is that number surprising? As long as abortion was a legal right, plenty of these women and their partners were likely animated by plenty of other political issues. The question now is what has changed, and Kansas suggests an answer.

Even many abortion-rights advocates acknowledge there is some truth to what Alito asserted multiple times in his opinion: That the court hindered, rather than helped, a national resolution of the abortion question. Somewhat tauntingly, the Dobbs opinion cited a 1992 speech from one of the most prominent abortion-rights supporters of all, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, that Roe “halted a political process that was moving in a reform direction and thereby, I believed, prolonged divisiveness and deferred stable settlement of the issue.”

It was as if Alito was playing a joke on Ginsberg’s memory by quoting her. It seems entirely likely that she will end up having the last laugh.

Ukraine’s military intel leaks Russian soldiers discussing absurdity of orders on frontline

The New Voice of Ukraine

Ukraine’s military intel leaks Russian soldiers discussing absurdity of orders on frontline

August 4, 2022

Russian military vehicle
Russian military vehicle

One Russian serviceman breaks the news that those who are defending will not be given more medals, and will even have those that have already been issued taken away.

His interlocutor complains about the absurdity of the orders being given to the front line by senior Russian commanders:

Read also: Ukraine’s General Staff reports that low morale is leading Russian soldiers to disobey order

“They sit there, send 20-200 people to their deaths and that’s it,” he says.

“Thirty people came in, 100 people came in. From the east. They f**king knocked off every single one. We went there previously. We had six 200s (killed), and six 300s (injured). One had bones crushed, and so did another one. So many had one leg hanging loose.”

China warns that its temperatures are rising faster than global average

Reuters

China warns that its temperatures are rising faster than global average

August 3, 2022

The Wider Image: The thaw of the Third Pole: China's glaciers in retreat
The Wider Image: The thaw of the Third Pole: China’s glaciers in retreat

FILE PHOTO: A tree stands on the dried-up riverbed of Ai River in Dandong
A tree stands on the dried-up riverbed of Ai River in Dandong

SHANGHAI (Reuters) – China’s average ground temperatures have risen much more quickly than the global average over the past 70 years and will remain “significantly higher” in the future as the challenges of climate change mount, a government official said.

In its annual climate assessment published this week, China’s weather bureau described the country as “a sensitive region in global climate change”, with temperatures rising 0.26 degrees Celsius (0.47 degrees Fahrenheit) a decade since 1951, compared to the global average of 0.15 degrees.

“In the future, the increase in regional average temperatures in China will be significantly higher than the world,” said Yuan Jiashuang, vice-director of China’s National Climate Center (NCC), at a Wednesday briefing.

He warned that changing weather patterns in China will affect the balance of water resources, make ecosystems more vulnerable and reduce crop yields.

Extreme weather has wreaked havoc in recent weeks, with lengthy heatwaves causing droughts and forest fires across the world. Historically high rainfall in some countries has also caused deadly floods.

U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres warned last month that “no nation is immune” from climate change and said the world now had to choose between “collective action or collective suicide”.

China has already endured weeks of torrid weather, with temperatures reaching in excess of 44C (111F) in southwestern Yunnan and Hebei in the north.

As many as 131 Chinese weather stations have recorded temperatures that equalled or exceeded historical highs, up from 62 for the whole of last year, according to NCC data.

China’s 2021 climate assessment said coastal water levels last year were at their highest since 1980. Glacial retreat also accelerated, active permafrost along the Qinghai-Tibet Highway reached a record high and sea ice continued to decline.

China also recorded a 7.9% increase in vegetation cover in 2021 compared to the 2001-2020 average, and the assessment noted growth periods for many plants are starting earlier each year.

(Reporting by David Stanway; Editing by Tom Hogue)

Will Texas run out of groundwater? Experts explain how drought taps out water wells.

Fort Worth Star-Telegram

Will Texas run out of groundwater? Experts explain how drought taps out water wells.

Dalia Faheid – August 1, 2022

Water levels in wells across Texas are running low because of the extreme drought, groundwater experts say.

Drought conditions in the state are getting worse by the week. As of July 28, 97% of Texas was in a drought, affecting 24.1 million Texans, per the U.S. Drought Monitor.

“A lot of public supply wells and a lot of even domestic wells have started going dry,” Natalie Ballew, director of the groundwater division at the Texas Water Development Board, told the Star-Telegram.

Many communities, specifically in Central Texas, are experiencing significant water supply issues and they’re having to truck water in from other places, Ballew said. That includes areas like Concan and Utopia in Uvalde County, and Leakey in Real County. That’s causing a myriad of issues for those residents, with ranchers going as far as selling off their cattle because they don’t have water for them.

In North Texas, because people pump more water in the summer, groundwater levels usually start falling around April or May and then come back up in September. Because of the drought, that decline has become much steeper this summer, says Doug Shaw, general manager at the Upper Trinity Groundwater Conservation District. The district serves the counties of Hood, Montague, Parker and Wise.

In one area where levels are measured in real-time, Peaster in Parker County, water levels from July 2 to 24 fell 1.75 feet. Usually, the water level in that region will decline that much over the entire summer, instead of in just a few weeks. That could be indicative of a larger decline in the water table, Shaw says.

MIke Massy stands next to an old water well on his ranch in Hood County that dried up. Massey said he drilled a new well a few feet away that has worked for years.
MIke Massy stands next to an old water well on his ranch in Hood County that dried up. Massey said he drilled a new well a few feet away that has worked for years.
What are the signs that a water well is impacted by drought?

Water levels decline for two reasons, Ballew says. The first is in drought conditions, when water levels decline because we depend on rainfall to infiltrate down into our aquifers and refill them. Another way a water well can run low is from pumping in surrounding areas. If you have increased pumping going on in one location, that’s going to decrease the water level of that well, as well as impact nearby wells.

How can you tell if your well level is declining because of your neighbor’s increased pumping, extreme drought conditions, or both?

“If you’re kind of out in the middle of nowhere and you don’t have a bunch of pumping going on from irrigation and you’re seeing your water level decline, that could be an indication that it’s drought related,” Ballew explained. It also depends on how far down your well goes. If you have a shallow well located near a river, and your water level runs low, you can assume it’s related to the drought.

With extreme drought, water wells can run dry. You can tell your water well is running dry when your pump isn’t working well or if your water quality is poor, Ballew says. You might start to notice a lot more sand, sediment or air in the pump, Shaw says.

To have enough coverage for a typical well, you should have about 40 to 100 feet of water above the pump, Shaw says.

Can I drill a well on my property?

Texas operates under what’s called a “rule of capture,” which means if you own the land, you can drill a well there. If you’re located within a groundwater conservation district, however, you’ll have to abide by their regulations on groundwater withdrawal. That may include getting a permit to drill the well, registering the well with the district, and/or getting a production permit so that they can manage how much is getting pumped out. In Texas, there are 98 of these districts, covering nearly 70% of the state, according to the Texas Water Development Board.

The Upper Trinity Groundwater Conservation District has the following requirements:

  • You must register your new well prior to drilling.
  • Property must be at least 2 acres.
  • Well must be drilled at least 50 feet from the nearest property line.
  • Well must be drilled at least 150 ft away from any other registered wells.

The Northern Trinity Groundwater Conservation District, which covers Tarrant County, has these requirements:

  • All wells drilled after Oct. 1, 2010, must be registered.
  • Unless exempt, you’ll need to get an operating permit from the district prior to drilling, construction or operating of the well. An exempt well is a well that is not a public water supply well and not capable of producing more than 17.36 gallons per minute or is used solely for domestic, livestock, poultry, or agricultural purposes. A non-exempt well is a well capable of producing more than 17.36 gallons per minute, and must submit semi-annual water well production reports to the District at a rate of $0.155 per 1,000 gallons.
  • For non-exempt wells, you’re required to report groundwater production no later than Jan. 31 and July 31 for the previous 6-month periods each year.
  • A person who drilled, deepened, completed or otherwise altered a well shall, within 60 days after the date the well is completed, file a well report.

If you do plan on drilling a well on your property, make sure you have a licensed water well driller do it, Ballew says, as they’re often familiar with the groundwater resources in the area.

Can you use well water during a drought?

While you can still use water from a well even if the level has dropped, conserving the water during a drought should be a priority so that it doesn’t run dry.

“In times of drought, when people with private wells or public water supply wells are pumping more and more often, then you never get this opportunity for the wells to kick off and the water levels to come back up,” Shaw says. “And then so what that does is over a larger area, you will see a decline in the water table.”

Eighty to 90% of the groundwater produced is used for lawn irrigation. To conserve, minimize outdoor water tools like sprinklers. Instead, use a soaker hose or another efficient tool to water your yard, Shaw says.

To find out if your water level is running low, you can get your well sampled by your local groundwater conservation district every three months at no charge.

How long does it take a well to replenish water?

The good news — once we get rain, wells that have gone dry do rebound. “It’s not going to be dry forever,” Ballew says.

But how quickly wells replenish after the dry season can vary. Some aquifers, like the Edwards Aquifer In Central Texas, respond really quickly to precipitation.

For other aquifers, like the sand-based Upper Trinity Aquifer, it takes time for the rainfall to actually get down into it, so you would need much more consistent rain. There has to be complete saturation before water passes into the aquifer, Shaw says. Water levels will rebound, however, when people aren’t pumping as much water, usually around wintertime.

“Right now what we’re seeing is a seasonal decline. Water levels are dropping as water is moving from the aquifer towards pumping centers, towards areas where a lot of water is being pumped,” Shaw said. “Once we get to a time of the year where people aren’t watering their lawns, there is less water traveling towards the pumping centers, you will see water levels come back up.”

Although rain is the easiest way to replenish the water, there are two other long-term solutions. One way is through a “managed aquifer recharge,” which floods an area with water using a different source like surface water and lets it infiltrate down into the aquifer. Another is aquifer storage and recovery, where you take water, pump it down into an aquifer and store it for later use.

What causes wells to run dry?

Shaw says we’ll likely see a lot more wells going dry this year. There are a number of reasons why your well may go dry, and they’re more pronounced this summer with the amount of pumping and the drought.

“As far as people’s wells going dry and having to replace their wells, it could be a situation a lot of it is maybe the well was drilled 20, 30, 40 years ago, and water levels were significantly higher than they are now. And so the well had plenty of water in it and now it doesn’t,” Shaw says. “You see another scenario where maybe the well just wasn’t drilled deep enough to begin with, maybe they didn’t fully penetrate the aquifer when they drilled the well, so it never had enough coverage or water above the pump. But this year has been extra stressful on the pump, and maybe it wasn’t able to keep up.”

If your water well runs dry, try to drill deeper into your existing well. If you can’t get any water that way, you’ll have to drill a new well elsewhere. In some instances, you may be able to drill just a mile away, but that may not work in all areas. Or you may need a smaller pump so that there’s enough water above the pump, Shaw says. Reach out to your county or local groundwater conservation district to get some assistance, Ballew recommends.

When someone dies, what happens to the body?

The Conversation

When someone dies, what happens to the body?

Mark Evely, Program Director and Assistant Professor of Mortuary Science, Wayne State University – July 31, 2022

When a life ends, those who remain deal with the body. <a href=
When a life ends, those who remain deal with the body. Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images

Upwards of 2.8 million people die every year in the United States. As a funeral director who heads a university mortuary science program, I can tell you that while each individual’s life experiences are unique, what happens to a body after death follows a broadly predictable chain of events.

In general, it depends on three things: where you die, how you die and what you or your family decide on for funeral arrangements and final disposition.

In death’s immediate aftermath

Death can happen anywhere: at home; in a hospital, nursing or palliative care facility; or at the scene of an accident, homicide or suicide.

A medical examiner or coroner must investigate whenever a person dies unexpectedly while not under a doctor’s care. Based on the circumstances of the death, they determine whether an autopsy is needed. If so, the body travels to a county morgue or a funeral home, where a pathologist conducts a detailed internal and external examination of the body as well as toxicology tests.

Once the body can be released, some states allow for families to handle the body themselves, but most people employ a funeral director. The body is placed on a stretcher, covered and transferred from the place of death – sometimes via hearse, but more commonly these days a minivan carries it to the funeral home.

State law determines who has the authority to make funeral arrangements and decisions about the remains. In some states, you can choose during your lifetime how you’d like your body treated when you die. In most cases, however, decisions fall on surviving family or someone you appointed before your death.

Preparing the body for viewing

In a 2020 consumer survey conducted by the National Funeral Directors Association, 39.4% of respondents reported feeling it’s very important to have the body or cremated remains present at a funeral or memorial service.

To prepare for that, the funeral home will usually ask whether the body is to be embalmed. This process sanitizes the body, temporarily preserves it for viewing and services, and restores a natural, peaceful appearance. Embalming is typically required for a public viewing and in certain other circumstances, including if the person died of a communicable disease or if the cremation or burial is to be delayed for more than a few days.

A funeral home director and an intern stand by a mortuary table. <a href=
A funeral home director and an intern stand by a mortuary table. John Moore/Getty Images News via Getty Images

When the funeral director begins the embalming process, he places the body on a special porcelain or stainless steel table that looks much like what you’d find in an operating room. He washes the body with soap and water and positions it with the hands crossed over the abdomen, as you’d see them appear in a casket. He closes the eyes and mouth.

Next the funeral director makes a small incision near the clavicle, to access the jugular vein and carotid artery. He inserts forceps into the jugular vein to allow blood to drain out, while at the same time injecting embalming solution into the carotid artery via a small tube connected to the embalming machine. For every 50 to 75 pounds of body weight, it takes about a gallon of embalming solution, largely made up of formaldehyde. The funeral director then removes excess fluids and gases from the abdominal and thoracic cavities using an instrument called a trocar. It works much like the suction tube you’ve experienced at the dentist.

Next the funeral director sutures any incisions. He grooms the hair and nails and again washes the body and dries it with towels. If the body is emaciated or dehydrated, he can inject a solution via hypodermic needle to plump facial features. If trauma or disease has altered the appearance of the deceased, the embalmer can use wax, adhesive and plaster to recreate natural form.

A funeral director prepares to apply makeup to a man who died of COVID-19. <a href=
A funeral director prepares to apply makeup to a man who died of COVID-19. Octavio Jones/ Getty Images North America via Getty Images

Lastly, the funeral director dresses the deceased and applies cosmetics. If the clothing provided does not fit, he can cut it and tuck it in somewhere that doesn’t show. Some funeral homes use an airbrush to apply cosmetics; others use specialized mortuary cosmetics or just regular makeup you might find at a store.

Toward a final resting place

If the deceased is to be cremated without a public viewing, many funeral homes require a member of the family to identify him or her. Once the death certificate and any other necessary authorizations are complete, the funeral home transports the deceased in a chosen container to a crematory. This could be onsite or at a third-party provider.

More people in the U.S. are now cremated than embalmed and buried. <a href=
More people in the U.S. are now cremated than embalmed and buried. Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images North America via Getty Images

Cremations are performed individually. Still in the container, the deceased is placed in the cremator, which produces very high heat that reduces the remains to bone fragments. The operator removes any metal objects, like implants, fillings and parts of the casket or cremation container, and then pulverizes the bone fragments. He then places the processed remains in the selected container or urn. Some families choose to keep the cremated remains, while others bury them, place them in a niche or scatter them.

The year 2015 was the first year that the cremation rate exceeded the casketed burial rate in the U.S., and the industry expects that trend to continue.

When earth burial is chosen, the casket is usually placed in a concrete outer burial container before being lowered into the grave. Caskets can also be entombed in above-ground crypts inside buildings called mausoleums. Usually a grave or crypt has a headstone of some kind that bears the name and other details about the decedent.

Some cemeteries have spaces dedicated to environmentally conscious “green” burials in which an unembalmed body can be buried in a biodegradable container. Other forms of final disposition are less common. As an alternative to cremation, the chemical process of alkaline hydrolysis can reduce remains to bone fragments. Composting involves placing the deceased in a vessel with organic materials like wood chips and straw to allow microbes to naturally break down the body.

I’ve seen many changes over the course of my funeral service career, spanning more than 20 years so far. For decades, funeral directors were predominantly male, but now mortuary school enrollment nationwide is roughly 65% female. Cremation has become more popular. More people pre-plan their own funerals. Many Americans do not have a religious affiliation and therefore opt for a less formal service.

Saying goodbye is important for those who remain, and I have witnessed too many families foregoing a ceremony and later regretting it. A dignified and meaningful farewell and the occasion to share memories and comfort each other honors the life of the deceased and facilitates healing for family and friends.

Climate scientist says total climate breakdown is now inevitable: ‘It is already a different world out there, soon it will be unrecognizable to every one of us’

Business Insider

Climate scientist says total climate breakdown is now inevitable: ‘It is already a different world out there, soon it will be unrecognizable to every one of us’

Katherine Tangalakis-Lippert – July 30, 2022

An hourglass with sands that look like Earth
Rich nations are likely to delay action on climate change.peepo/Getty Images
  • In his new book, Bill McGuire argues it’s too late to avoid catastrophic climate change.
  • The Earth science professor says lethal heatwaves and extreme weather events are just the beginning.
  • Many climate scientists, he said, are more scared about the future than they are willing to admit in public.

Record-breaking heatwaves, lethal flooding, and extreme weather events are just the beginning of the climate crisis, according to a leading UK climate scientist.

In his new book published Thursday, “Hothouse Earth: An Inhabitant’s Guide,” Bill McGuire argues that, after years of ignoring warnings from scientists, it is too late to avoid the catastrophic impacts of climate change.

The University College London Earth sciences professor pointed to a record-breaking heatwave across the UK this month and dangerous wildfires that destroyed 16 homes in East London as evidence of the rapidly changing climate. McGuire says weather will begin to regularly surpass current extremes, despite government goals to lower carbon emissions.

“And as we head further into 2022, it is already a different world out there,” McGuire told The Guardian. “Soon it will be unrecognizable to every one of us.”

His perspective — that severe climate change is now inevitable and irreversible — is more extreme than many scientists who believe that, with lowered emissions, the most severe potential impacts can still be avoided.

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

Many climate scientists, McGuire said, are much more scared about the future than they are willing to admit in public. He calls their reluctance to acknowledge the futility of current climate action “climate appeasement” and says it only makes things worse.

Instead of focusing on net-zero emission goals, which McGuire says won’t reverse the current course of climate change, he argues we need to adapt to the “hothouse world” that lies ahead and start taking action to try to stop material conditions from deteriorating further.

“This is a call to arms,” McGuire told The Guardian: “So if you feel the need to glue yourself to a motorway or blockade an oil refinery, do it.”

This week, Senate Democrats agreed to a potential bill that would be the most significant action ever taken by the US to address climate change. The bill includes cutting carbon emissions 40% by 2030, with $369 billion to go toward energy and climate programs.

Fourth phase of Ukraine war with Russia could be decisive — if US sends more weapons

Miami Herald

Fourth phase of Ukraine war with Russia could be decisive — if US sends more weapons | Opinion

Max Boot – July 29, 2022

Phase 1, beginning on Feb. 24, was Russia’s pell-mell attempt to take Kyiv. That resulted in failure thanks to terrible Russian logistics (remember the 40-mile convoy?) and a skillful Ukrainian defense making use of handheld weapons such as Stingers and Javelins supplied by the West.

Phase 2 began in mid-April, when Russian dictator Vladimir Putin concentrated his forces on Luhansk province in the eastern Donbas region. That phase, characterized by relentless Russian artillery bombardment, ended in early July with the retreat of Ukrainian forces from Luhansk.

In the third phase of the war, Ukrainian troops are holding a strong defensive position in neighboring Donetsk province (also part of Donbas) and effectively hitting back with High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems and other longer-range weapons supplied by the West. The HIMARS, in particular, have been a game changer by allowing the Ukrainians to destroy more than 100 high-value targets such as Russian ammunition depots and command posts.

A Ukrainian battalion commander told The Post that since the HIMARS strikes began, Russian shelling has been “10 times less.” Another Ukrainian officer told the Wall Street Journal: “It was hell over here. Now, it’s like paradise. Super quiet. Everything changed when we got the HIMARS.” President Volodymyr Zelensky says Ukrainian fatalities are down from between 100 and 200 a day to 30 a day.

If Ukraine is able to fight back so effectively with only 12 HIMARS (soon to be 16), imagine what it could do with dozens more and, better still, Army Tactical Missile Systems (ATACMS), which use the same platform but have nearly quadruple the range. These rocket systems should be supplemented by Western tanks and fighter aircraft. If the West were to supply all these weapons, Ukraine could mount a counteroffensive to take back lost land in the south and east and help end the war.

No third world war

The Biden administration is slowly supplying more HIMARS and, for the first time, is even discussing the provision of Western fighter aircraft (after nixing a Polish plan to send MiG-29s in March). But ATACMS appear to be off the table because, as national security adviser Jake Sullivan explained last week, the administration does not want to head “down the road towards a third world war.” Ukraine isn’t even allowed to use its HIMARS to end the shelling of its second-largest city, Kharkiv, because the Russian artillery batteries are located on Russian soil.

This strategic calculus makes no sense. Does Sullivan really believe that Putin will launch World War III if the United States supplies rockets with a range of about 180 miles but will hold off as long as we’re supplying only rockets with a range of about 50 miles? Or that the provision of HIMARS, NASAMS air-defense systems, 155mm howitzers, Phoenix Ghost drones, Javelins and Stingers isn’t too provocative — but fighter aircraft and tanks would be?

President Biden is right not to send U.S. forces into direct combat with the Russians, but everything else should be fair game, from ATACMS to F-16s to Abrams tanks. The Soviets didn’t hesitate to supply North Korea and North Vietnam with fighter aircraft to shoot down U.S. warplanes. (Soviet pilots even flew for North Korea.) Why shouldn’t we return the favor?

At the beginning of the war in Ukraine, some feared that Putin was acting so irrationally that he might resort to nuclear weapons. But if the past five months have taught us anything, it is that, while the Butcher of Bucha is evil, he is not suicidal or irrational.

Putin pulled back from Kyiv when it was revealed to be a losing cause and made sensible, if brutal, use of Russian artillery in Luhansk. Putin has basically ignored rumored Ukrainian strikes on military targets inside Russia. He hasn’t attacked Poland, which has become the main staging ground for weapons to Ukraine. He hasn’t lashed out since Finland and Sweden set about joining NATO, thereby putting more NATO troops on Russia’s border.

This is of a piece with Putin’s history. He is a classic bully who picks on the weak (Georgia, Ukraine, the Syrian rebels) while shying away from direct confrontations with the strong (the United States, NATO). Putin is rational enough to realize that if his military is having trouble handling Ukraine, it would have no chance in a war with the Atlantic alliance.

The United States matches Russia in nuclear forces and far exceeds it in conventional capabilities. Biden is in a far stronger position than Putin, but he is acting as if he were weaker. Stop letting Putin deter us from doing everything we can to aid Ukraine. Putin should be more afraid of us than we are of him.

The war has already proved costly to Russia: It has lost about 1,000 tanks, and roughly 60,000 soldiers have been killed or wounded. There won’t be much left of the Russian military if the Ukrainians are armed with lots more HIMARS and ATACMS, along with tanks and fighter aircraft. The fourth phase of the war could prove decisive — but only if the United States finally makes a commitment to help Ukraine win.

Max Boot is a Washington Post columnist, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations and the author of “The Road Not Taken: Edward Lansdale and the American Tragedy in Vietnam.”

Greenland hit with ‘unusually extensive’ melting of ice sheet, boosting sea levels, scientists say

USA Today

Greenland hit with ‘unusually extensive’ melting of ice sheet, boosting sea levels, scientists say

Saleen Martin – July 24, 2022

A July 2022 photo of melting summer sea ice in the Arctic Ocean near Greenland.

It’s getting hotter in Greenland, and last weekend temperatures rose enough to cause 18 billion tons of the country’s ice sheet to melt over three days.

Scientists have warned about the fate of Greenland’s ice sheet and say what happened between July 15 and 17 is the latest massive melting event contributing to an increase in the global sea level.

The amount of water from the melt – about 6 billion tons a day, or 18 billion tons over the weekend – is enough to “cover West Virginia in a foot of water – 4 inches per day, roughly,” Ted Scambos, a senior research scientist at the University of Colorado’s Earth Science and Observation Center and National Snow and Ice Data Center, told USA TODAY.

Video: Sightseers capture huge chunk of Norway glacier crumbling into sea

Sightseers capture huge chunk of Norway glacier crumbling into sea

During a tour in Spitsbergen, Norway, sightseers captured a portion of the Monaco glacier breaking off and crumbling into the sea.

Much of the melting came from northern Greenland because warm air drifted over from the Canadian Arctic Archipelago, Scambos said.

There is also a high-pressure dome over Greenland. Together, they created an “unusually extensive melt event,” he said.

A July 2022 photo of melting summer sea ice in the Arctic Ocean near Greenland.
A July 2022 photo of melting summer sea ice in the Arctic Ocean near Greenland.
Temps heating up in Greenland

Temperatures vary over Greenland, but the coldest temperatures are in areas of high elevation, toward the center of the ice sheet, said William Lipscomb, a senior scientist in the National Center for Atmospheric Research’s Climate and Global Dynamics Laboratory.

Once temperatures are above freezing or 32 degrees Fahrenheit, the melting begins. Temperatures last weekend were around 60 degrees, or 10 degrees warmer than normal for this time of year, according to CNN.

“In recent years, we’ve seen a lot of heat waves in Greenland, this recent warming of it being one example,” Lipscomb told USA TODAY. “Any temperature above freezing can cause some surface melting.”

More from Greenland: Greenland’s ice sheet is melting so fast, it’s raising sea levels and creating global flood risk

Fact check: Greenland is still losing ice; no reversal in trend

Greenland loses ‘tremendous amount of ice every year now’

In the 1980s and 1990s in Greenland, a melt event of this sort never occurred, but starting in the 2000s – especially since 2010 – the melting has been more extensive.

The melt is two times larger than normal, said Xavier Fettweis of the University of Liège. Fettweis, a polar researcher, created a model scientists use, along with satellite data, to study Greenland’s changes.

The melt is among two of the largest melts in the ice sheet history after the 2012 and 2019 melting events; in 2019, the runoff was about 527 billion tons. So far, the total melt is far below 2019 levels, but the situation is more dire over the Svalbard ice caps at the North of Norway, Fettweis said.

More melting was expected, said Scambos, of the National Snow and Ice Data Center. “This event is one of many events over the whole summer,” he said. “We can expect on the order of 100 billion tons of water going into the ocean. Greenland as a whole is losing a tremendous amount of ice every year now.”

A July 2022 photo of melting summer sea ice in the Arctic Ocean near Greenland.
A July 2022 photo of melting summer sea ice in the Arctic Ocean near Greenland.

NASA Goddard Space Flight Center ice scientist Nathan Kurtz was recently in Greenland to help better calibrate ICESat-2, one of the agency’s satellites used to monitor Greenland.

Its data has shown a loss of ice from Greenland of about 200 billion tons a year over the past two decades, Kurtz told USA TODAY. “This loss of ice contributes directly to global sea level rise, which has significant societal impacts,” he said.

Lipscomb, of the National Center for Atmospheric Research, said scientists measure the amount of water melted in units of gigatons per year, or 1 billion tons of water. Before climate change, about 600 gigatons of snowfall were coming in each year and about 300 gigatons were going out in the form of summer melting.

Now, Greenland’s ice sheet is losing nearly 300 gigatons of water each year more than it gains from snowfall, Lipscomb said. “There’s still time to avoid catastrophic sea level rise, but every year that greenhouse gas emissions continue at the present rate increases the chances of serious problems down the road.”

In some parts of the world such as Asia, seasonal water supply depend on the timing of the glacier melt.

“If the melt is happening too early, you may not be getting the water when you need it for farming,” he said. “And if the glaciers completely melt, then you won’t have the glacier melt water source at all. And that’s something people worry about for later this century as the warming continues.”

Saleen Martin is a reporter on USA TODAY’s NOW team. She is from Norfolk, Virginia – the 757 – and loves all things horror, witches, Christmas, and food.

Russians have so few troops left, they make one battalion out of three intercepted call

Ukrayinska Pravda

Russians have so few troops left, they make one battalion out of three intercepted call

Kateryna Tyshchenko – July 23, 2022

A Russian serviceman says in an intercepted conversation that several battalions are being withdrawn from the combat zone due to high losses, and three battalions are to be made into one.

Source: intercepted phone call posted by the Chief Intelligence Directorate of the Ministry of Defence

Quote: “Now they’ve withdrawn the battalions, they’ll make one out of three, because … there are no people left. And then, f**k knows whether they’ll make one.”

Details: The Russian soldier complains that 2,000 reinforcements have arrived in six months, of which 500 at most are still there.

He says that psychologists will be working with the personnel for 10 days since no one wants to go back to Ukraine.

The occupier also complains about the new artillery systems being used by the Armed Forces of Ukraine.

Quote: “Two days ago it flew into the building. They fire some kind of sh*t, you hear f**k-all when it’s coming out… Just two seconds – bam. Some kind of MLRS, like a Grad or Uragan. Only it’s silent. Everything they say on TV about our losses being minimal, that’s all crap.”