Uvalde newspaper publishes powerful front page 2 days after school massacre

Yahoo! News

Uvalde newspaper publishes powerful front page 2 days after school massacre

Dylan Stableford, Senior Writer – May 26, 2022

The Uvalde Leader-News, a locally owned newspaper in Uvalde, Texas, published a powerful front page on Thursday, two days after 19 children and two teachers were killed in the mass shooting at Robb Elementary School.

The cover of the twice-weekly paper was completely black, except for the date of the massacre — May 24, 2022 — a stark reminder of the darkness that has enveloped the community of about 16,000 people in southwest Texas.

The front page of Thursday's Uvalde Leader-News.
The front page of Thursday’s Uvalde Leader-News. (Uvalde Leader-News)

Inside, the first 10 pages of the 12-page paper contain news from what would have been an ordinary week in a small town: graduations, taxes, local elections, weather, sports. Three collegiate rodeo athletes have qualified for the National Rodeo Finals, the paper reported.

There is almost no indication of the carnage that unfolded on Tuesday, except for the announcement of a blood drive at the civic center on Saturday (there is an urgent need for donors, particularly those with type O blood, the paper said) and an advertisement for the Robb School Memorial Fund established by the First State Bank of Uvalde. An ad for the Uvalde Honey Festival, which had been scheduled for June 10 and 11, shows that it has been canceled without explanation.

The final two pages, however, are dedicated to the tragedy.

Crosses with the names of victims of the mass shooting are seen at a memorial outside Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, on Thursday.
Crosses with the names of victims of the mass shooting at a memorial outside Robb Elementary School in Uvalde on Thursday. (Marco Bello/Reuters)

Under the headline “City’s Soul Crushed,” the back page of the paper includes photos of children being taken out of the school through windows, and a teacher running to safety after the last of her students were evacuated.

Another shows the suspect’s abandoned pickup truck crashed in a ditch, and a rifle, believed to be the shooter’s, sitting atop a duffel bag on the ground next to the passenger door.

There is also a story about the school district’s graduation ceremonies, which had been scheduled for Friday, being postponed.

“My heart is broken,” Hal Harrell, the district’s superintendent, is quoted as saying. “We are a small community and we are going to need your prayers to get through this.”

‘Forever chemicals’ may have polluted 20m acres of US cropland, study says

The Guardian

‘Forever chemicals’ may have polluted 20m acres of US cropland, study says

Tom Perkins – May 8, 2022

<span>Photograph: Tannen Maury/EPA</span>
Photograph: Tannen Maury/EPA

About 20m acres of cropland in the United States may be contaminated from PFAS-tainted sewage sludge that has been used as fertilizer, a new report estimates.

PFAS, or per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, are a class of about 9,000 compounds used to make products heat-, water- or stain-resistant. Known as “forever chemicals” because they don’t naturally break down, they have been linked to cancer, thyroid disruption, liver problems, birth defects, immunosuppression and more.

Dozens of industries use PFAS in thousands of consumer products, and often discharge the chemicals into the nation’s sewer system.

The analysis, conducted by the Environmental Working Group (EWG), is an attempt to understand the scope of cropland contamination stemming from sewage sludge, or biosolids. Regulators don’t require sludge to be tested for PFAS or closely track where its spread, and public health advocates warn the practice is poisoning the nation’s food supply.

“We don’t know the full scope of the contamination problem created by PFAS in sludge, and we may never know, because EPA has not made it a priority for states and local governments to track, test and report on,” said Scott Faber, EWG’s legislative policy director.

All sewage sludge is thought to contain the dangerous chemicals, and the compounds have recently been found to be contaminating crops, cattle, water and humans on farms where biosolids were spread.

Sludge is a byproduct of the wastewater treatment process that’s a mix of human excrement and industrial waste, like PFAS, that’s discharged from industry’s pipes. Sludge disposal can be expensive so the waste management industry is increasingly repackaging it as fertilizer because excrement is rich in plant nutrients.

EWG found Ohio keeps the most precise records of any state, and sludge has been applied to 5% of its farmland since 2011. Extrapolating that across the rest of the country would mean about 20m acres are contaminated with at least some level of PFAS. Faber called the estimate “conservative”.

EPA records show over 19bn pounds of sludge has been used as fertilizer since 2016 in the 41 states where the agency tracks the amount of sludge that’s spread, but not the location. It’s estimated that 60% of the nation’s sludge is spread on cropland or other fields annually.

The consequences are evident in the only two states to consistently check sludge and farms for PFAS contamination. In Maine, PFAS-tainted fields have already forced several farms to shut down. The chemicals end up in crops and cattle, and the public health toll exacted by contaminated food in Maine is unknown. Meanwhile, the state is investigating about 700 more fields for PFAS pollution.

“There’s no easy way to shop around this problem,” Faber said. “We shouldn’t be using PFAS-contaminated sludge to grow food and feed for animals.”

Michigan faces a similar situation as it uncovers contaminated beef and farms, and growing evidence links sludge to public health problems and contaminated drinking water.

The health cost of using sludge outweighs the benefits, advocates say. Many have questioned the sense in spending billions of dollars to pull sludge out of water only to inject the substance into the nation’s food supply, and calls for a ban on the practice are growing louder.

“The EPA could today require treatment plants to test sludge for PFAS and warn farmers that they may be contaminating fields, but it has refused to do so,” Faber said.

My Great-Grandpa Killed My Great-Grandma Giving Her An Abortion On Their Kitchen Table

HuffPost – Personal

My Great-Grandpa Killed My Great-Grandma Giving Her An Abortion On Their Kitchen Table

“Come say goodbye to your mother,” he told my grandmother as he brought her and her siblings into the kitchen, where their mother lay dying.

By Linda Black – May 6, 2022

"The room, table, and her mother’s lower half were awash with her blood. This is the only memory my grandmother had of her mother."
“The room, table, and her mother’s lower half were awash with her blood. This is the only memory my grandmother had of her mother.”

In 1919, my 7-year-old grandmother was startled awake in the early hours by her father. “Come say goodbye to your mother,” he told her. He brought her and her siblings into the kitchen, where their mother lay dying on the kitchen table. The room, table, and her mother’s lower half were awash with her blood. This is the only memory my grandmother had of her mother. Any positive memories were shocked from her system in that moment.

My grandmother’s father killed her mother performing an illegal abortion. He was never charged with a crime. After the death of his wife, he kept his younger daughter and his young boys with him. He sent my grandmother to work as a farmhand for a relative. To him, the abortion was a necessary risk. They already had too many kids.

In 1919, it was illegal in many states to provide information about birth control or abortion. My great-grandmother had no choice when it came to having sex with her husband; it was considered marital duty. That gave her no say in being pregnant. Her lack of choice killed her.

By her own account, my grandmother never felt loved after the death of her mother. The relatives who raised her treated her like the help. My grandmother married the first man to take an interest in her (my grandfather was a lovely man). She was 16. He was older and living with his parents. Until the death of her husband’s mother, my grandmother was treated as a servant in his house.

Her siblings fared little better. The younger brothers were regularly beaten by their father, and my great-aunt (the younger sister) was molested by their father. My great-aunt eventually married a man like her father. He abused her from the time of their marriage until the day of her death. The brothers disappeared. For decades my grandmother had no idea what had happened to her brothers. She didn’t find them until they were in their 60s.

My great-grandmother has a host of great-granddaughters and great-great-granddaughters. At least two of us have had legal abortions. I was barely 18, just starting college. The abortion was not harrowing; being pregnant was. I could not wait to be relieved of that burden. On the drive home after, I kept sighing with relief and saying, “Thank God that’s over.” Since that day, I have used two forms of birth control without fail (yes, even during marriage).

My adult child has never had sex without contraceptives. Currently, my child is wild with fear after the leak of a draft Supreme Court opinion indicating a plan to overturn Roe. Their health and life is too complicated to successfully manage a pregnancy or a child. This gentle soul is in a state of panic on behalf of all fertile people with uteruses. In speaking with my offspring, I had to promise that if Roe is overturned, I would form a pipeline to help people make their way to a country where abortion is legal. My kid can’t sleep for worrying about those who will fall through the cracks — those who will die due to unsafe abortions. My child knows the story of my great-grandmother.

I have never rested easy knowing a group of elderly and middle-aged men could make decisions stripping me of my rights. At the state and federal level, governmental representatives are mostly white, mostly male, and most have some financial privilege. They are mostly people who will never need an abortion. Some number of these men, when it was prudent to their futures, have paid women to get abortions on the quiet. They have paid for their daughters’ abortions. Men with power have been doing this in the United States almost since its inception. Still, they work to see Roe overturned.

“In speaking with my offspring, I had to promise that if Roe is overturned, I would form a pipeline to help people make their way to a country where abortion is legal. My kid can’t sleep for worrying about those who will fall through the cracks — those who will die due to unsafe abortions. My child knows the story of my great-grandmother.”

It is abundantly clear that the anti-abortion folks do not care about babies or people with uteruses. If they did, people with uteruses would have access to excellent health care and birth control. Our government would ensure that every member of every family was well fed and healthy. Children in foster care would be given well-vetted places to live. The system would provide the help parents need to appropriately support and love their children, thus returning kids safely to their parents when possible. Foster parents would be given enough money to raise these children. Foster kids would be aided into adulthood with significant job training or college. It would be less expensive to adopt foster children into loving homes. Childcare would be available as a matter of course. All people with uteruses would have access to paid maternity leave. Sick leave would not be limited in any job.

The top-level corporate executives (usually male) would not make 1,000 times more money than their employees. (In 2018, Walmart’s chief executive officer made over $23 million; his average full-time employee, often a woman, earned just under $22,000.) The lives of people with uteruses and children pale when compared to this alternate reality.

In the early 20th century, women and children were legally the property of men. So, we might understand why they had so few rights. What confuses me is this: Why do women and people with uteruses have little support and tenuous control over their own bodies today?

Turning back time will not give anti-abortion folks comfort. It will ruin lives, families, and result in shocking deaths of women and those with uteruses. In 2022, no one should die on a table covered in their own blood from a botched illegal abortion like my great-grandmother did.

As a teen, Linda Black was the fourth runner-up in a Miss Teen-Kentucky beauty pageant. Her first job was at Wendy’s. As an adult, Linda earned a B.A. and a Ph.D., working for over 30 years as a college professor. She now works in the administrative side of higher education. Her current favorite film is “Gaslight.” Her current favorite book is “Skeleton Woman Buys the Ticket.” She is bossed around by an adult child, a delightful dog, and a slightly sinister cat.

MORE FROM HUFFPOST PERSONAL…

My 11-Year-Old Patient Was Pregnant. Here’s What I Want You To Know About Being ‘Pro-Life. ‘I’m An Abortion Nurse. These Stories Might Shock You, But They’re All Too Real. I Wish I’d Had A ‘Late-Term Abortion’ Instead Of Having My Daughter

Climate change is why New Mexico’s wildfire season started early this year

Yahoo! News

Climate change is why New Mexico’s wildfire season started early this year

Ben Adler, Senior Editor – May 4, 2022

SANTA FE, N.M. — The smoke emerges, like a white veil draped across the sky, on the drive up from Albuquerque to this picturesque city of 84,000.

Historically, New Mexico’s wildfire season begins in May or June, but this year, wildfires sprung up in the drought-parched New Mexican desert in April. By April 23, more than 20 wildfires were burning in 16 of the state’s 33 counties. Last week, two of them merged into one megafire, the Hermits Peak/Calf Canyon Fire. By Sunday, the New York Times reported, it had burned nearly 104,000 acres — more than 160 square miles — and smoke from it and another wildfire had blanketed most of northern New Mexico.

A satellite image of Hermits Peak wildfire.
A satellite image shows a color-infrared view of the Hermits Peak wildfire, east of Santa Fe, N.M., on Sunday. (Maxar Technologies/Handout via Reuters)

About 6,000 people from 32 communities in the area have been ordered to evacuate, and 1,100 firefighters have been working to contain the blaze.

Scientists say that this is not just a freak occurrence but rather the new normal caused by climate change.

“We’re really seeing an increase in these fires outside the normal summer season, the normal warm season, really across the West,” Kaitlyn Weber, a data analyst at the research organization Climate Central, told Yahoo News.

The McBride Fire in Ruidoso, New Mexico.
The McBride Fire burns in the heart of the village in Ruidoso, N.M., on April 12. (Ivan Pierre Aguirre/USA Today Network via Reuters)

Warmer temperatures, which cause more evaporation, dry out the landscape and create the conditions for wildfires to break out. In addition, climate change causes more extreme weather, such as unseasonably warm days in winter, and may even be causing stronger winds — another risk factor for fire — due to jet-stream disruption.

“We had the big Marshall Fire in December in Colorado, we had the Big Sur fires here in California in January. [Fires] have just been happening throughout the year,” Weber said.

“Our risk season is incredibly and dangerously early,” New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham said on April 23, by which time 200 structures in her state had already burned.

An aircraft dumps fire retardant near the Hermit Peak Fire in New Mexico.
An aircraft dumps fire retardant near the Hermit Peak Fire and homes in Las Vegas, N.M., on Tuesday. (Eddie Moore/Albuquerque Journal via ZUMA Press Wire)

In August 2021, Climate Central released a report showing that the number of “fire weather days” — hot, dry, windy days that are ripe for wildfires — has increased dramatically over the last few decades. Analyzing data from 225 weather stations in 17 states across the West since 1973, Climate Central found that these days have become much more common, especially in New Mexico.

“Parts of New Mexico, Texas, and Southern California have experienced some of the largest increases in fire weather days each year,” the report’s summary stated. “Areas of New Mexico are now seeing two more months of fire weather than was the case nearly a half century ago.”

A resident prepares horses to evacuate.
A Las Vegas, N.M., resident prepares horses to evacuate as authorities battle the nearby Hermits Peak and Calf Canyon wildfires on Monday. (Adria Malcolm/Reuters)

“As climate change continues to warm our Earth, it increases temperatures across the landscape,” Weber said. “It causes this drying trend that’s really happening throughout the Southwest. So we’re seeing warm temperatures, drier days and, if the winds pick up, really dangerous conditions.”

The drying out of New Mexico — a February study in the journal Nature Climate Change found that the last 20 years were the driest two decades in at least 1,200 years — is largely responsible.

“As it gets warmer, then it increases evaporation, things gets drier, plants get drier, basically setting up fuels for these big fires. So when they happen, they burn longer, more severely,” Weber said.

Smoke rises in the distance from wildfires in New Mexico.
Smoke rises from the nearby Hermits Peak and Calf Canyon wildfires on Monday. (Adria Malcolm/Reuters)

Along New Mexico State Road 518, part of which runs along the scenic route known as the High Road to Taos, one can see the pale, dead grasses and pine trees, sitting like kindling along the roadside. Some stretches of intersecting roads are blocked, to keep traffic from getting too close to the ongoing blazes.

Living near nature, with the desert in sight, is central to the charm that has drawn tourists and new residents to the state. As a result, Climate Central estimates that more than 1.4 million people in New Mexico, approximately 70% of its population, lives in an area at-risk from wildfires, the so-called “wildland-urban interface.”

Right now, smoke comes and goes in Santa Fe and other nearby towns, depending on the winds. At best, the sky overhead is clear and the smoke to the west creates a startlingly magenta sunset. At worst, the smoke settles in around you, creating a fog-like haze, and it can be smelled and tasted in the air. On those days, the Air Quality Index (AQI) — the Environmental Protection Agency’s measure of air pollution — spikes well into the “unhealthy” range. Taos experienced those conditions on Sunday, and Santa Fe did on Monday.

Smoke is seen at sunset in Sante Fe, New Mexico.
Smoke is seen at sunset in Sante Fe, N.M., on April 30. (Ben Adler/Yahoo News)

“This morning, I couldn’t see anything, I couldn’t see the mountains when I left my house. I couldn’t see any of the vistas or any of the landscapes, so there was no point in going hiking today,” Whitney Joiner, a resident of Taos, N.M., told Yahoo News on Sunday. “Not only could you not breathe, it hurt to breathe and people were wearing masks. And then a friend of mine who I go hiking with, she has asthma and she said she was inside with the air purifier and she was still coughing.”

“The Air Quality Index was 159, and when I looked up ‘Should I go outside at 159?’ it was like, ‘No,’” Joiner added. “I don’t really know anything about AQI, but that’s a new way of looking at my life.”

Climate change has also made it harder to perform routine forest maintenance — in which overgrown areas are deliberately burned with controlled fires — to reduce the risk of wildfires that can spin out of control and threaten communities.

A man wearing a face mask is seen spraying water on his property.
David Lopez hoses down his property as the authorities battle the wildfires nearby on Monday. (Adria Malcolm/Reuters)

“One of these fires was actually a prescribed burn fire that actually burned out of control when the winds picked up,” Weber noted. “As we see more of these fire weather days, we’re going to see a decrease in the number of days where you can do prescribed burns, which is really helpful, but you need the right conditions to do that.”

Other states throughout the West have also experienced megafires in recent years. A 2016 study from Climate Central found that “across the Western U.S., the average annual number of large fires (larger than 1,000 acres) burning each year has more than tripled between the 1970s and the 2010s.” Last summer, wildfires ravaged Washington state, Oregon and British Columbia, Canada.

An American flag on a fence blows in the wind as heavy plumes of smoke billow in the distance.
An American flag blows in the wind along State Road 22 in New Mexico as the Cerro Pelado Fire burns in the Jemez Mountains in the distance in April. (Robert Browman/Albuquerque Journal via ZUMA Press Wire)

In February, a United Nations report declared a “global wildfire crisis” is developing due to climate change, pointing to recent extreme fire outbreaks in countries such as Australia and even in Russian towns north of the Arctic Circle.

“As long as we keep emitting greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, we can expect that we are going to keep seeing this warming trend, we are going to keep seeing this drying trend — at least out here in the Southwest and the West, and so we’re going to see more of these fire weather days per year,” Weber said.

Roe v. Wade

Occupy Democrats – Post from Gail Mollett

Thomas Clay Jr. – May 3, 2022

May be an image of 2 people and people standing

“I have never uttered these words before because my mom swore me to never tell anyone. I think she’d want me to tell it now because in the end, all secrets stink. I had two brothers who were never born. My mom and dad dated when they were teens and dad knocked mom all the way up, twice. My mom looked like Marilyn Monroe in her youth. Several men at her funeral mentioned that she was the most beautiful woman they’d ever seen.

I was surprised my dad told me that as a teen after they’d been to war with one another. Mom was 16 the first time she had an abortion. She was lucky because Granny saved her money and bought her the tickets to go to New York to get it. Aunt Mickey married a big shot there so it was all easy peasy. Though my Granny was an evangelical, she knew the realities of being a teen mother and she wanted a better life for my mom.

The second one was almost the same. She went to New York quietly and came back. I never asked my dad if he knew but I suspect my Granny always hated him because of those two pregnancies. Mom told me she was lucky because she knew another girl who got pregnant and tried to use some Lysol to terminate her pregnancy. When that didn’t work, she perforated her uterus with a coat hanger. She bled to death.

Granny knew about this too which is why she didn’t get all high and mighty about it. You have to understand that I was as close to my mom as any other human being. We trusted each other. She told me everything. It was about two weeks before the cancer took her when she saw how ugly and spiteful my sisters were towards me and said, ‘I’m sorry I didn’t keep your brothers but I wasn’t ready to have them.’

It was the most intimate moment because she’d never told me they were boys. It was the moment when the reality of her impending death hit me like a bomb. She’d lived ten years past the three months they gave her to live and in that moment I knew she was telling me her deepest secret. I could feel the burden she carried floating away. In the moment, I was grateful I got to say all the things that mattered to her and that she said those things to me. I know how lucky I am to have known unconditional love. There is truly nothing like it. I miss it more than words can convey.

Mom was always a fighter. My mom was the kind of feminist that made Gloria Steinem look like Phyllis Schlafly. She was a 5’4” category 5 hurricane. Captain of the cheerleaders, she was loud too. I remember in 1976 when we went out to Poplar Level Road to the Board of Education when teachers were on strike in Louisville. She had her bullhorn leading everyone around the building. I got a blister on my foot and she carried me around hollering like only she could. She was a pistol.

When I awoke this morning to the news that Alito has written the majority decision to strike down Roe vs. Wade, I thought about what her NSFW response would be. All them Republican senators are lucky that she’s dead. She did not like men telling her what she could or could not do much to the chagrin of my Grandpa.

I cannot remember a day since I ran into Mitch McConnell in 1986 at a cocktail party where I did not absolutely hate the man. When Robert Bork was justly voted down to be a Supreme Court Justice, Mitch McConnell swore a blood oath that night that he would never lose another Supreme Court appointment and to the full horror of American women and corpse worms, Mitch has kept his blood oath.

If you are a semi-conscious sentient human being, it is important for you to understand now, at this moment, you are at war with the Republican Party and it is a just cause. It is important that we recognize our enemy and to not grant them the comfort of our silence.

So let us first recognize what overturning Roe v. Wade means. It means in no uncertain terms that if your mom or sister or wife are violently beaten and raped in the 30-odd states run by Republicans and they get pregnant, they have to give birth to the rapists’ child. If that happens in Oklahoma and the rape victim goes to a sane state to have an abortion, she can be sued by the rapist’s family. She will have to pay them $20,000 if she terminates her pregnancy. If any teenage girl is raped by any family member, she must give birth. If she tries to abort an incest baby, she will be prosecuted for murder.

In Alabama they are currently drafting legislation to make abortion a capital offense. There are no exceptions after 15 weeks. If you have an ectopic pregnancy, well it was nice knowing you, you die. It is important for now and forever to understand that literally *everything* a Republican says is a lie and it is meant to deceive. When Republicans bemoan ‘activist judges’ it is specifically because they only want *their* activists judges.

Remember how Republicans kept talking about cutting down on the ‘frivolous lawsuits’ but do not give a damn about Devin Nunes suing an imaginary cow? Or Trump suing to try and keep the people from knowing what he did while in office?

It’s because Republicans lie about big things and small. There is nothing valid in anything they say because they lie constantly. Marjorie Traitor Greene talked about Trump implementing ‘Marshall law” multiple times and when she’s put under oath and asked about that, ‘she doesn’t remember’. When they are caught lying, they lie even more.

Do not tolerate some ‘both sides are the same’ imbecile either. Democrats protect rights and Republicans strip them away if they offend their religious beliefs because they don’t care about the constitution! It’s like the Bible to them, they only care about the parts they like and throw the rest out because they don’t care. If you are upset about Republicans granting more rights to an actual corpse than living and breathing women then you have to stop pretending like the forces of evil are not determined to make the United States into the Gileade Margaret Atwood warned us about.

We have extremists Supreme Court Justices now who are more than willing to toss out the constitution because to them biblical law supersedes the constitution and that is exactly why Leonard Leo started the Federalist Society to get these perfectly coached Christian dominionists on the court.

Neil Gorsuch, Bret Kavanaugh, Sam Alito, Amy Barret and Clarence Thomas all testified that Roe v. Wade was ‘settled law’ in their confirmation hearings and each and every single one of them said that because Leonard Leo coached them to say that and whenever they were asked about some other case they were coached to say, ‘that case could be revisited by the court and it would be inappropriate for me to comment’ which isn’t an option to avoid answering questions you don’t want to answer.

They lied, all of them. They are political actors as dirty as Mitch McConnell bemoaning how people are talking about justices being political when they’re not. It’s a lie. They are gaslighting you. It is the only thing Republicans know to do.

When was the last time you heard any Republican say, ‘oops sorry I was wrong about that.’? It doesn’t happen because all of these cold-blooded miscreants think they are warriors in God’s service trying to bring the prophecy of the book of revelations to pass. They WANT war. They want all of the worst things in that disgusting book of fiction to happen like a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Religious extremists have been on a crusade against Roe from the beginning and now they have succeeded in imposing their primitive religious beliefs on the entire nation under the moronic notion of ‘states rights.’ All women in the United States are now second class citizens who do not get to enjoy the bodily autonomy we grant a corpse because we still respect the right of a corpse to keep its organs. The reason our founders made the separation of church and state their very first amendment is because they fully understood that religion and civilizations cannot coexist for long.

It took 240 years for Republicans to forget this very bloody fact and here we are at war with religious zealots on the Supreme Court who have abrogated 240 years of constitutional law in lieu of Catholic doctrine. Every single one of the justices voting to overthrow Roe are Catholic. And make no mistake either that Catholics believe that any form of birth control is abortifacient and that will be next up on the agenda and it’s going to be outlawed by the Republican states because Republicans have never and will never give a damn about individual liberty. They care about fighting for their god who they believe is good and righteous; which god is Satan.

It is right that women should be terrified of losing their right to bodily autonomy. As a partisan man, I rejoice at this grievous mistake the Supreme Court will make. The storm that will come this November will change the body politic forever. Republicans will not retake the house now. Two senators keep Joe Biden from appointing the four additional justices to fix this injustice by the Supreme Court majority who were put there by a vast minority.

This can be fixed if women are angry enough to convert their anger into votes. The storm is taking form tonight and it will build into a Republican calamity of epic proportions come November. Let that passion and fury nourish us all until then.”

If you’d like to support Thomas’ work, join his patrons: https://www.patreon.com/thomasclayjr

Not Funny Elon: Elon Musk tweeted that he’d like to buy Coca-Cola to ‘put the cocaine back’ in the soft drink

Elon Musk tweeted that he’d like to buy Coca-Cola to ‘put the cocaine back’ in the soft drink

Cheryl Teh – April 27, 2022

Elon Musk Axel Springer Awards
Elon Musk’s tweet about Coca-Cola came two days after the billionaire acquired Twitter in a $44 billion deal. 
  • Elon Musk tweeted on Wednesday that he’d like to buy Coca-Cola. 
  • His reason? He wants to “put the cocaine back” in the soft drink, the billionaire wrote.
  • Many Twitter users have been posting suggestions for other companies that Musk should purchase.

Elon Musk tweeted on Wednesday that he would like to purchase Coca-Cola to “put the cocaine back in” the drink. 

Musk’s post came two days after the billionaire acquired Twitter in a $44 billion deal. “Let’s make Twitter maximum fun!” he tweeted less than an hour after voicing his plans for the beverage company.

While Musk’s comments about Coca-Cola were likely tongue-in-cheek, they bear some historical truth.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, cocaine was legal in 1885 when John Pemberton, a pharmacist from Atlanta, first brewed the drink.

At the time, Pemberton’s recipe included a cocaine extract obtained from coca leaves. He described the drink as a “patent medicine” and “brain tonic and intellectual beverage.”

A 1988 New York Times article on The Coca-Cola Company also reported how cocaine was initially included in the drink but eliminated it by the 1900s. 

Representatives for The Coca-Cola Company did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Insider. 

Musk’s tweet about Coca-Cola, which went viral, prompted a response from Rep. Lauren Boebert, who took a jab at Hunter Biden’s documented drug use. “Has Hunter been asking you for favors?” she wrote.

Since Musk’s acquisition of Twitter was announced, many of the platform’s users have tweeted suggestions at him on what companies he should buy next. 

One Twitter user wrote that Musk should “buy Fox” to get another season of the “Firefly” TV series greenlit, to which Musk responded: “Some sci-fi that actually features sci-fi would be great.” 

Another Twitter user wrote: “@elonmusk should buy the History Channel and make it about history,” to which Musk replied with a laugh-crying emoji.

Twitter has seen huge swings in its user numbers since the buyout, with politically left-leaning accounts losing thousands of followers and right-wing users gaining them in droves.

‘Everything is halted’: Shanghai shutdowns are worsening shortages

The Washington Post

‘Everything is halted’: Shanghai shutdowns are worsening shortages

Abha Bhattarai – April 26, 2022

Containers are seen at the Yangshan Deep-Water Port in Shanghai, China

Thousands of air fryers are stuck in factories, warehouses and ports in central China, where shutdowns have stalled millions of dollars worth of inventory for Yedi Houseware, a family-run business in Los Angeles.

How quickly those backlogged appliances make it to the United States could have wide-ranging implications across the U.S. economy, as domestic manufacturers and retailers brace for another round of disruptions from recent covid-related shutdowns in Shanghai, China’s largest city. White House officials are paying close attention to the disruptions to monitor the potential impact on the U.S. economy.

“Things are getting crazy again,” said Bobby Djavaheri, the company’s president. “Everything is halted. There are closures this very minute that are adding to the supply chain nightmare we’ve been experiencing for two years.”

Other executives are dealing with similar scrambles as the situation in China appears to change every day, sweeping up many different sectors.

Widespread covid outbreaks in China have bought entire cities to a standstill and hobbled manufacturing and shipping hubs throughout the country. An estimated 373 million people – or about one-quarter of China’s population – have been in covid-related lockdowns in recent weeks because of what is known as the country’s zero covid policy, according to economists at Nomura Holdings. There are also fears that new lockdowns could soon take hold in the capital city, Beijing, escalating the threat to the global economic recovery.

Anxiety over new disruptions has already caused the Chinese stock market to fall sharply, weighing on U.S. stock indexes as well.

And there are signs things could only get worse. Continuing lockdowns in Shanghai – a major hub for America’s semiconductor and electronics supply chains – has set up automakers, electronics companies and consumer goods firms for months of delays and higher costs.

The challenges come on top of more than two years of global shipping disruptions that some had hoped would ease this year.

Tech giants and major automakers rely heavily on Shanghai-based suppliers and ports. Roughly one-half of Apple’s top suppliers, for example, are based in or near the city, according to an analysis by Nikkei Asia. (Apple did not immediately respond to requests for comment.) Meanwhile, Volkswagen’s chief executive said this month that the automaker is “temporarily unable to meet high customer demand” because of ongoing lockdowns. The company, which had to stop production at certain facilities for more than a month for covid-related reasons, says it is gradually resuming production now.

“If Shanghai continues being unable to resume work and production, from May, all tech and industrial players involving the Shanghai supply chain will completely shut down, especially the auto industry!” Richard Yu, head of consumer and auto business at Chinese tech giant Huawei, was reported to have said on the social media platform WeChat.

The delays and closures are adding to costs and could pose another threat to long-term inflation, which is already at a 40-year high. Yedi Housewares, for example, raised prices on all of its products, including air fryers, electric pressure cookers and bread makers, by 10 percent in January.

Costs have continued to climb since then, in part because of the war in Ukraine. The price of plastic, a major component in air fryers, is up about 5 percent this year, Djavaheri said. The company is also paying more for transportation, since it’s begun moving goods by truck from Shanghai to ports in Ningbo, three hours away, in hopes of putting them on a ship there.

White House officials are closely monitoring the situation in Shanghai, with the State Department providing frequent updates on the potential impacts. New economic data from March shows Chinese exports of good rose by 15 percent relative to last year, but this data does not reflect the impact of the Shanghai lockdown that began at the end of last month, according to a White House official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to provide internal administration assessments.

The administration is already seeing “significant impacts” to airports critical to air cargo shipments and links in the supply chain such as factories and warehouses, the person said. Despite the closure of the port, White House officials are seeing alternate ports ratcheting up their work, relieving some of the expected pressure for consumers.

Mark Beneke, who co-owns a used car dealership in Fresno, Calif., says it’s become increasing difficult to secure parts for Asian-made vehicles like Hyundai Sonatas and Kia Optimas since the Shanghai lockdown began a month ago.

Used car prices are already up 35 percent from a year ago, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and Beneke says he expects them to climb even higher in coming weeks as a result of new shortages and delays.

“We were expecting prices to start coming down this summer, but it looks like they’re going to keep going up,” he said.

In some cases, though, retailers are better positioned to weather the latest challenges than they were a year ago. Many have stashed away extra inventory in U.S. warehouses and stores to guard against supply chain delays. Roughly 90 percent of goods at grocery and drugstores are in stock, according to data analytics firm Information Resources. And the number of import containers sitting on the docks for more than nine days at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach has been cut by one-half since October.

At the same time, consumer demand for many goods – including clothing, toys and furniture – appears to be waning as people spend more on travel, dining out and other experiences that they largely avoided earlier in the pandemic.

“The demand just isn’t there anymore,” said Isaac Larian, chief executive of MGA Entertainment, the toy giant behind popular brands like Little Tikes and L.O.L. Surprise. “Sales are slowing down. Families are saying, ‘I’ll take my kids to Disney this summer instead of buying more toys.”

The shipping time for toys from China to U.S. stores has ballooned from 21 days to 159 days during the pandemic, he said.

“All holiday toys have to ship out of China by the beginning of August, but that is not going to happen,” Larian said. “The factories are having a tough time getting labor, prices are going up, China keeps closing provinces. The big picture is bad, worse than last year.”

Back in Los Angeles, Djavaheri of Yedi Houseware, says he’s just beginning to recover from closures in southern China earlier this year, where his company makes electric pressure cookers. The brand – which has been featured in Oprah’s Favorite Things list for three years in a row – is still struggling to make enough products to meet demand.

“To be honest, I don’t even want to be in China but it’s the only option,” Djavaheri said. “If there was a way to make air fryers or electric pressure cookers in America, I would’ve been there yesterday. Instead we’re dealing with hurdle after hurdle: Inflation, logistics, it’s a constant nightmare.”

The Washington Post’s Jeff Stein contributed to this report.

Best, worst cities for air quality: California ranks among worst, East Coast is cleaner

USA Today

Best, worst cities for air quality: California ranks among worst, East Coast is cleaner

Jordan Mendoza, USA TODAY – April 22, 2022

A report released by the American Lung Association revealed millions of Americans are breathing unhealthy levels of air pollution across the country.

State of the Air 2022, based on data from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency from 2018 to 2020 also revealed which cities had the best and worst air quality.

The rankings are based on three categories: ozone pollution, year-round particle pollution and short-term exposure particle pollution over 24 hours.

The report, released Thursday, listed climate-change-driven wildfires as one of the biggest contributors for the rise in air particle pollution, a factor reflected in the rankings. Western cities have been plagued by historic wildfires in recent years.

Most of the cities with the cleanest air quality were on the East Coast.

Here are are the best and worst cities for air quality, according to the American Lung Association:

Los Angeles ranked poorly in multiple categories in this year's State of the Air report.
Los Angeles ranked poorly in multiple categories in this year’s State of the Air report.

‘Very unhealthy’: US air quality remains ‘hazardous’ for millions of Americans, new report says

Worldwide: These countries have the most polluted air in the world, new report says

Worst air in the United States

It isn’t West Coast best coast when it comes to air.

California dominated the worst-air rankings, with three of the state’s cities topping each of the categories for worst air. The Los Angeles-Long Beach area had the worst air by ozone, Bakersfield had the worst year-round particle pollution, and the Fresno-Madera-Hanford area had the worst air by short-term particle pollution.

The top 10 cities in each of the three categories were in Western states; the most eastern city was Houston. Here are the worst air cities:

Worst air by ozone:

  1. Los Angeles-Long Beach, California
  2. Bakersfield, California
  3. Visalia, California
  4. Fresno-Madera-Hanford, California
  5. Phoenix-Mesa, Arizona
  6. San Diego-Chula Vista-Carlsbad, California
  7. Denver-Aurora, Colorado
  8. Houston-The Woodlands, Texas
  9. Sacramento-Roseville, California
  10. Salt Lake City-Provo-Orem, Utah

Worst year-round particle pollution:

  1. Bakersfield, California
  2. Fresno-Madera-Hanford, California
  3. Visalia, California
  4. San Jose-San Francisco-Oakland, California
  5. Los Angeles-Long Beach, California
  6. Medford-Grants Pass, Oregon
  7. Fairbanks, Alaska
  8. Phoenix-Mesa, Arizona
  9. Chico, California
  10. El Centro, California

Short-term particle pollution:

  1. Fresno-Madera-Hanford, California
  2. Bakersfield, California
  3. Fairbanks, Alaska
  4. San Jose-San Francisco-Oakland, California
  5. Redding-Red Bluff, California
  6. Chico, California
  7. Sacramento-Roseville, California
  8. Los Angeles-Long Beach, California
  9. Yakima, Washington and Visalia, California
Best air in the United States

While the Pacific states had the worst air, the East Coast and some Midwest cities are breathing better.

But Cheyenne, Wyoming, is an outlier from the West. The Wyoming capital ranked first in cleanest cities for year-round particle pollution, despite being roughly 95 miles away from Denver, which had the seventh-worst ozone air pollution. Casper, Wyoming, also made the top 10.

Another exclusion from the Pacific is Hawaii. Two areas – Honolulu and the Kahului-Wailuku-Lahaina region – were in the top five.

Best cities in year-round particle pollution:

  1. Cheyenne, Wyoming
  2. Wilmington, North Carolina
  3. Urban Honolulu, Hawaii
  4. Kahului-Wailuku-Lahaina, Hawaii
  5. Bangor, Maine
  6. Casper, Wyoming
  7. Bellingham, Washington
  8. Bismarck, North Dakota, Elmira-Corning, New York, Sioux Falls, South Dakota and St. George, Utah

Numerous cities were tied for first in ozone air (64) and short-term particle pollution (80). Here are some of the biggest cities in each category:

Best cities for ozone air

  • Charlottesville, Virginia
  • Cheyenne, Wyoming
  • Eugene-Springfield, Oregon
  • Jacksonville-St. Marys-Palatka, Florida-Georgia
  • Lexington-Fayette-Richmond-Frankfort, Kentucky
  • Lincoln-Beatrice, Nebraska
  • Shreveport-Bossier City-Minden, Louisiana
  • Urban Honolulu, Hawaii
  • Virginia Beach-Norfolk, Virginia-North Carolina

Best cities for short-term particle pollution

  • Boston-Worcester-Providence, Massachusetts-Rhode Island-New Hampshire-Connecticut
  • Champaign-Urbana, Illinois
  • Greensboro-Winston-Salem-High Point, North Carolina
  • Hartford-East Hartford, Connecticut
  • Knoxville-Morristown-Sevierville, Tennessee
  • Milwaukee-Racine-Waukesha, Wisconsin
  • Montgomery-Selma-Alexander City, Alabama
  • New Orleans-Metairie-Hammond, Louisiana-Mississippi
  • Richmond, Virginia

Experts predict lasting environmental damage from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine

Good Morning America

Experts predict lasting environmental damage from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine

Julia Jacobo – April 20, 2022

As Russia’s invasion of Ukraine continues, environmental experts and activists are warning of a ripple effect of problems, including long-lasting damage to the war-ravaged country’s urban, agricultural and industrial areas.

Nearly two months into its invasion, Russia has begun its long-feared offensive in eastern Ukraine along the 300-mile front near Donbas, a region with a 200-year history of coal mining and heavy industry.

The past seven weeks have been mired by death, displacement and the demolition of a country’s landscape that will take years to repair, experts told ABC News. In addition to the direct impact on Ukrainians, consequences of the war will be felt socially, economically and environmentally.

“Russia’s invasion of Ukraine raises a host of unique and potentially profound environmental concerns for not only the people of Ukraine, but the wider region, including much of Europe,” Carroll Muffett, president and CEO of the Center for International Environmental Law, told ABC News. “Those human impacts of the war take on a lot of forms and a lot of dimensions, and many of them last long after long after the hostilities have ceased.”

While there were catastrophic environmental consequences during World War I and II, conflicts during recent history provide a more detailed blueprint for the sheer amount of greenhouse gases emitted during modern wars.

PHOTO: A rocket sits in a field near grazing cows on April 10, 2022 in Lukashivka village, Ukraine. (Anastasia Vlasova/Getty Images)
PHOTO: A rocket sits in a field near grazing cows on April 10, 2022 in Lukashivka village, Ukraine. (Anastasia Vlasova/Getty Images)

As a result of the global War on Terror that began in 2001, 1.2 million metric tons of greenhouse gases were released, the equivalent to the annual emissions of 257 million passenger cars — more than twice the current number of cars on the road in the U.S., according to a 2019 report released by Brown University’s Watson Institute of International and Public Affairs.

In addition to the hundreds of thousands of tons of carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, nitrogen oxides, hydrocarbons and sulfur dioxide emitted from military vehicles, and other heavy machinery, heavy deforestation occurred in Afghanistan as a result of illegal logging, especially by warlords, which then destroyed wildlife habitat, according to the report.

“We now understand the environmental dimensions of war in ways that we didn’t decades ago,” Muffett said. “This is a particularly egregious situation, because the entire world is calling for Russia to end its its invasion right now.”

Once the conflict is over, the environment in Ukraine is going to be the local government’s “No. 1 priority,” Doug Weir, research and policy director of The Conflict and Environment Observatory, told ABC News.

MORE: Russia begins long-feared offensive in Ukraine’s east

These are the areas of most environmental concern, according to experts:

Industrial regions

Ukraine is a heavily industrialized country, especially in its eastern regions. It contains a large number of mines and refineries of chemical plants that produce substances such as ammonia and urea, Muffett said.

Assessing the damage from attacks on industrial sites and new nuclear facilities will be among the Ukrainian government’s priorities, Weir said.

In addition, there are “serious concerns” about the forced closure of several coal mines, which are now flooding with acid mine drainage without the proper methods to pump out the water, Weir said. Those toxins are then seeping into the groundwater aquifers

“We’ve already seen hints at how those could play out,” she said, adding that multiple refineries in Ukraine have already been hit. “One of the things that the lessons of the the invasion of Kuwait and the Iraq war is teach us is that strikes against facilities of these kinds pose profound risks for massive releases and really long-term damage.”

PHOTO: Firefighters work to put out a blaze at the Lysychansk Oil Refinery after if was hit by a missile, April 16, 2022, in Lysychansk, Luhansk region, Ukraine. (Marko Djurica/Reuters)
PHOTO: Firefighters work to put out a blaze at the Lysychansk Oil Refinery after if was hit by a missile, April 16, 2022, in Lysychansk, Luhansk region, Ukraine. (Marko Djurica/Reuters)
Agricultural fields

Researchers are estimating that millions of people could suffer from malnutrition in the years following the invasion as a result of lack of arable land.

Initial assessments show large swaths of agriculture areas affected by heavy shelling an unexploded ordinances, Weir said.

Olha Boiko, a Ukrainian climate activist and coordinator for the Climate Action Network for Eastern Europe and East Asia, said she and her fellow activists still in Ukraine are worried about the state of the agricultural fields and their suitability to grow wheat after the war, which is one of the country’s largest exports, she said.

PHOTO: Goats eat grass next to unexploded shell of multiple rocket launch system, in the village of Teterivka, in Kyiv region, Ukraine, April 14, 2022. (Vladyslav Musiienko/Reuters)
PHOTO: Goats eat grass next to unexploded shell of multiple rocket launch system, in the village of Teterivka, in Kyiv region, Ukraine, April 14, 2022. (Vladyslav Musiienko/Reuters)
Wildlife and natural ecosystems

The plethora of military vehicles trampling over the Ukrainian border are creating an unforgiving landscape, experts said.

In an effort to defend their country, Ukrainian military laid landmines over at least one beach near Odesa, according to the Conflict and Environment Observatory.

Boiko also alleged that Russian forces have blown up oil exporting equipment, polluted the Black Sea and filled fields with landmines, which were found as Russian forces retreated the regions surrounding Kyiv.

MORE: Images show destruction left in Ukraine town of Borodyanka after Russian occupation

Fighting close to Kherson, near the southern coast of Ukraine, resulted in fires in the Black Sea Biosphere Reserve that were so large they were detectable from space and likely destroyed trees and unique habitats for birds, according to the observatory.

“There have been risks to wildlife and biodiversity we’ve seen that play out in Ukraine, with active battles in in insignificant wetlands,” Muffett said.

PHOTO: A sign warns beach-goers of potential land mines, in Odessa, Ukraine, April 4, 2022. (Igor Tkachenko/Reuters)
PHOTO: A sign warns beach-goers of potential land mines, in Odessa, Ukraine, April 4, 2022. (Igor Tkachenko/Reuters)
Urban areas

One of Russia’s military strategies has been to besieging cities by firing weapons indiscriminately into them, Weir said.

When Russian troops retreated the areas on the outskirts Kyiv after failing to take the capital, the devastation left in cities such as Bucha, Borodyanka and Irpin was immediately apparent.

Buildings were burned or completely destroyed. Burned-out cars littered the roadways. Entire neighborhoods were reduced to rubble.

The rebuilding phase is going to be a “huge task,” Weir said.

“From an environmental point of view, there’s going to be a huge amount of work needed to properly assess these sites, locate potentially hazardous sites,” Weir said, adding that environmental remediation process for the potentially hazardous sites can be complex and expensive.

PHOTO: An armored vehicle of pro-Russian troops drives along a street during fighting near an iron and steel plant in the southern port city of Mariupol, Ukraine, April 12, 2022. (Alexander Ermochenko/Reuters)
PHOTO: An armored vehicle of pro-Russian troops drives along a street during fighting near an iron and steel plant in the southern port city of Mariupol, Ukraine, April 12, 2022. (Alexander Ermochenko/Reuters)
Nuclear facilities

Soon after the conflict began, Russian troops took hold of the exclusion zone surrounding the Chernobyl power plant, raising concerns that an errant explosive could create another radioactive event at the site of the world’s worst nuclear accident in 1986.

The destroyed reactor was sealed in 2019 under a $2 billion stadium-sized metal structure, but the other three untouched reactors remain fully exposed. Within them sits a pool of 5 million pounds of spent nuclear fuel, as well as dangerous isotopes, such as uranium and plutonium. If hit, the storage facility has the potential to cause an even larger disaster than in 1986 and could prompt widespread evacuations all over Europe, Muffett said.

MORE: Protecting natural resources could lead to less armed conflict: Report

“The conduct of active military operations in a country with four nuclear facilities and 15 active nuclear reactors poses extraordinary risks,” Muffett said, admonishing Russia for immediately targeting Chernobyl despite “no legitimate military objectives associated with that site.”

Russian troops have cut off power to Chernobyl in ways the site was not “sustained for,” and untrained Russian servicemen disturbed radioactive soil and raised dust as they moved through the area, Muffett said.

“We’ve seen missile strikes actually put a nuclear facility on fire,” she said. “And, in the immediate hours after the fire began, firefighters were unable to reach the blaze, because they were in a live fire situation. These are these are really extraordinary risks.”

PHOTO: A member of a bomb disposal squad works in a mine field near Brovary, northeast of Kyiv, Ukraine, April 14, 2022. (Fadel Senna/AFP via Getty Images)
PHOTO: A member of a bomb disposal squad works in a mine field near Brovary, northeast of Kyiv, Ukraine, April 14, 2022. (Fadel Senna/AFP via Getty Images)
The role Russian oil plays in the conflict

The conflict in Ukraine is the latest demonstration of the “deep linkages between fossil fuels and conflict,” Muffett said. Boiko, who left Kyiv on Feb. 24, said the connection that fossil fuels play in the current war are “obvious,” because Russia is using the funds from its oil industry to fund the conflict.

“We’ve seen Putin’s regime look to weaponize its own natural gas and oil resources as a way to intimidate countries in Europe and beyond from coming to Ukraine to aid,” Muffett said. “And so, this is a fossil fueled conflict in every conceivable way.”

The environmental activists who remain in Ukraine, those who aren’t helping with the immediate humanitarian relief, are bringing attention to the fact that the E.U. and U.S. have been “very dependent” on Russia’s fossil fuels for years, Boiko said.

While the U.S. has imposed sanctions on all Russian oil and other energy sources, the European Union’s embargo only extends to coal, and not to oil and gas. About 40% of the EU’s gas comes from Russia, according to the observatory.

“This is exactly the leverage that has been used by Russia that is pressuring, basically, other countries to not impose sanctions to not do anything about this war to not help Ukraine,” Boiko said.

MORE: Concerns mount over conflict in Chernobyl exclusion zone

But Boiko said the conflict and the aftermath could eventually lead to positive steps in the fight against climate change, because the sanctions imposed on Russia lead to less less fossil fuel consumption. She said the phasing out of fossil fuels could happen more quickly, now that a major world player in oil exports has essentially been eliminated.

“The fact that this conflict is accelerating conversations within Europe about how they free themselves from reliance on fossil oil and fossil gas is also a big step forward,” Muffett said.