Alito’s Wife Caught on Tape Spewing Venom at Everyone

The New Republic – Opinion

Alito’s Wife Caught on Tape Spewing Venom at Everyone

Edith Olmsted – June 11, 2024

A secret tape has exposed what Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito’s wife, Martha-Ann, really thinks behind closed doors—and the truth isn’t pretty. In the span of just a few minutes, Alito promised revenge on the media, flung around terms like “femnazis,” lauded her German heritage, and went off about Pride flags. It was a mess.

Alito has been in and out of the news in the last month, after her high-ranking husband blamed her for hanging an upside-down American flag outside of their home, a symbol favored by the “Stop the Steal” movement following the 2020 presidential election. She supposedly hung the flag in response to a neighbor’s “F— Trump” sign, which sparked the rather unneighborly spat. Alito also engaged in some light menacing as part of the feud, prompting the neighbor to call the cops on the Alitos. Still, Justice Alito has refused calls to recuse himself from cases relating to the January 6 insurrection.

Journalist Laura Windsor recorded Martha-Ann’s and her husband’s comments during the Supreme Court Historical Society’s annual dinner earlier this month. A copy of the tape was published on Monday by Rolling Stone.

Windsor first approached Martha-Ann, posing as a Christian conservative, to express her sympathy over “everything that you’re going through,” referring to the highly publicized flag hanging.

“It’s OK because if they come back to me, I’ll get them,” Alito said cheerfully. “I’m gonna be liberated and I’m gonna get them.”

“What do you mean by ‘they?’” Windsor asked.

“There is a five-year defamation statute of limitations,” Alito said, letting out a laugh.

“I don’t know what you mean by ‘they’, like by ‘get them’?” Windsor pressed.

“The media!” Alito said, going on to complain about her coverage in The Washington Post style section from nearly two decades ago.

It appears Alito doesn’t forget about the journalists who’ve gotten on her bad side. In 2016, Alito was reportedly enthusiastic about Trump’s promise to expand U.S. libel laws to make it significantly easier to sue news outlets for their coverage, one GOP operative told Rolling Stone.

While maintaining her cheerful tone, Alito also took aim at any woman who suggested her husband should’ve prevented her from hanging an “Appeal to Heaven” flag, a symbol revived by a Christian nationalist sect and favored by January 6 insurrectionists, at their vacation home.

“The other thing the femnazis believe, that he should control me,” Alito said about her husband. “So, they’ll go to hell. He never controls me.”

When Windsor asked what someone who has the same flag should do, Alito responded simply, “Don’t get angry, get even.”

There was one group that Alito seemed to admire, and it’s not exactly one that people are often openly praising. “Look at me, look at me. I’m German, from Germany. My heritage is German. You come after me. I’m gonna give it back to you. And there will be a way, it doesn’t have to be now, but there will be a way they will know. Don’t worry about it,” she said.

When Windsor tried to ask Alito about the political divide in the United States and her thoughts on the “radical Left,” about which her supposedly nonpolitical husband had plenty to say, Alito cut her off to complain about Pride flags.

“You know what I want? I want a Sacred Heart of Jesus flag because I have to look across the lagoon at the Pride flag for the next month,” she said.

“And he’s like, ‘Oh please, don’t put up a flag.’ I said, ‘I won’t do it because I’m deferring to you. But when you are free of this nonsense I’m putting it up, and I’m gonna send them a message every day. Maybe every week I’ll be changing the flags. They’ll be all kinds,’” she said, fantasizing about the day when she could finally antagonize her neighbors who support the LGBTQ+ community.

Alito even explained she had invented a flag that says, “Vergogna,” which means “shame” in Italian. “Shame, shame, shame on you,” Alito added darkly.

One can scarcely believe that her husband ruled in favor of allowing businesses to discriminate against people who identify as LGBTQ+.

Records tumble across Southwest U.S. as temperatures soar well into triple digits

Associated Press

Records tumble across Southwest U.S. as temperatures soar well into triple digits

Scott Sonner – June 6, 2024

Sofia Ramirez, left, of Mexico drinks water as she waits in line to take a photo at the Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas sign in Las Vegas Thursday, June 6, 2024. (Steve Marcus/Las Vegas Sun via AP)
Sofia Ramirez, left, of Mexico drinks water as she waits in line to take a photo at the Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas sign in Las Vegas Thursday, June 6, 2024. (Steve Marcus/Las Vegas Sun via AP)
Dean Leano takes a water break while photographing tourists at the Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas sign in Las Vegas Thursday, June 6, 2024. (Steve Marcus/Las Vegas Sun via AP)
Dean Leano takes a water break while photographing tourists at the Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas sign in Las Vegas Thursday, June 6, 2024. (Steve Marcus/Las Vegas Sun via AP)

RENO, Nev. (AP) — Records tumbled across the U.S. Southwest on Thursday as temperatures soared past 110 degrees Fahrenheit (43 degrees Celsius) in some areas, and the region’s first heat wave of the year was expected to maintain its grip for at least another day.

Although the official start of summer was still two weeks away, roughly half of Arizona, California and Nevada were under an excessive heat alert, which the National Weather Service said it was extending until Friday evening.

At a campaign rally for presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump in Phoenix, 11 people fell ill from heat exhaustion by late afternoon and were taken to the hospital, where they were treated and released, fire officials said.

The weather service in Phoenix described the city experiencing “dangerously hot conditions.”

And in Las Vegas, the Clark County Fire Department said it has responded to at least 12 calls for heat exposure since midnight Wednesday. Nine of those calls ended with a patient needing treatment in a hospital. A spokesperson for the county said the number is likely higher, as the heat can also play a role in other types of calls to the fire department, including those related to alcohol intoxication or when conditions like fainting, dizziness or nausea are reported.

New record highs Thursday included 113 F (45 C) in Phoenix, breaking the old mark of 111 F (44 C) set in 2016, and 111 F (44 C) in Las Vegas, topping the 110 F (43 C) last reached in 2010. Other areas of Arizona, California and Nevada also broke records by a few degrees.

The heat has arrived weeks earlier than usual even in places farther to the north at higher elevations — areas typically a dozen degrees cooler. That includes Reno, Nevada, where the normal high of 81 F (27 C) for this time of year soared to a record 98 F (37 C) on Thursday.

The National Weather Service in Reno forecast mild cooling this weekend, but only by a few degrees. In central and southern Arizona, that will still means triple-digit highs, even up to 110 F (43 C).

____

Associated Press writers Anita Snow and Ty O’Neil in Phoenix, and Rio Yamat in Las Vegas contributed to this report.

The Pesky Natural Mineral Shaking The Foundations Of Massachusetts Real Estate

Benzinga

The Pesky Natural Mineral Shaking The Foundations Of Massachusetts Real Estate

Eric McConnell – June 2, 2024

The Pesky Natural Mineral Shaking The Foundations Of Massachusetts Real Estate
The Pesky Natural Mineral Shaking The Foundations Of Massachusetts Real Estate

mineral known as pyrrhotite, which occurs naturally in New England, is wreaking havoc on homeowners across Massachusetts. Pyrrhotite causes concrete, the foundation material for many homes in Central Massachusetts, to deteriorate and then crumble. When pyrrhotite deterioration is discovered, the homeowner has two equally undesirable choices: make expensive repairs or risk the home’s foundation crumbling.

Because of the extensive scope of the necessary work, it’s not uncommon for the repairs to cost tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars. According to a FEMA case study on pyrrhotite in neighboring Connecticut, the only way to properly repair a foundation where pyrrhotite has been discovered is to “lift the house off the foundation and completely replace all the concrete.”

Many homeowners get an even nastier surprise when they discover their home insurance won’t cover the repairs. Many others don’t have insurance at all. Even if they did, the issue for insurers regarding covering pyrrhotite-related damages is that it does its devastating work slowly over time. If it destroyed the foundation immediately, catastrophic loss coverage might kick in.

However, pyrrhotite takes years to destroy a foundation. Because of this, area insurers have adopted a policy of refusing to cover repair costs associated with pyrrhotite-related damage. This exacerbates the problem for homeowners. Many area banks and lenders are reluctant to lend homeowners the money they need to make the repairs, even if they have home equity.

Loan underwriters take a purely risk and numbers-based approach to loan approvals. Given this, why would they lend money on an asset where the foundation is crumbling? If the homeowner defaults, the bank will be stuck foreclosing on an investment with a crumbling foundation and trying to recoup that money at a public auction. It sounds like a recipe for losing money.

All of this is having a devastating effect on homeowners. Many have horror stories about suddenly being in a position where their most valuable asset is rendered worthless unless they make repairs they can’t afford. Even if they try to sell, real estate disclosure laws will mandate they inform the buyer of the presence of pyrrhotite in the foundation. Decades of asset appreciation are being wiped away.

Few things make a house less desirable than the knowledge it has a crumbling foundation that could cost several hundred thousand dollars to repair. The saddest aspect of this story is that the fates of many affected homes were sealed the day their foundation was poured. Because pyrrhotite is naturally occurring, it inevitably made its way into the concrete supply of quarries statewide.

Over several decades, developers across Massachusetts ordered and poured countless tons of pyrrhotite-contaminated concrete. Unfortunately for affected homeowners, the slow pace of pyrrhotite destruction means they are well beyond the time limit within which they could still hold their homebuilders liable for the damages.

State laws have also been updated, and quarries are now required to test for the presence of pyrrhotite in their concrete before shipping it. However, that only provides future relief and residents dealing with pyrrhotite-related foundation decay are suffering right now.

Many are banding together to fight back by seeking legislative relief by having Massachusetts adopt a solution similar to the one Connecticut employed to handle its pyrrhotite problem. State Sen. Ryan Fattman is one of the most vocal proponents of the proposed legislation.

During a meeting with affected homeowners, he said, “That is the main mechanism for which we can create a statewide program similar to what Connecticut did, where they added a fee onto homeowners’ insurance and then seeded that money with a fund to fund out the change of foundations for homes that have this pyrrhotite crumbling foundation. And that’s what we hope to do here.”

The future of the legislation isn’t clear; however, it does appear there is a consensus that something must be done. If not, Massachusetts homeowners could continue to see their property values decline while pyrrhotite slowly destroys their home’s foundation from within. That would eventually hit county budgets all over the state because assessments on private property are how most Massachusetts counties fund vital services like public education, fire, and police.

Pyrrhotite is a naturally occurring problem that few people could have seen coming. Now that it’s here, Massachusetts lawmakers, homeowners, and insurance companies must arrive at a mutually amenable solution. If not, this pesky natural mineral could potentially threaten the foundations of Massachusetts’ real estate market.

Louisiana graduate finishes high school as valedictorian while being homeless

CNN

Louisiana graduate finishes high school as valedictorian while being homeless

Ashley R. Williams, CNN – June 1, 2024

A Louisiana high school senior experiencing homelessness recently graduated at the top of his class with the highest-earned GPA.

Elijah Hogan, 19, was named valedictorian of Walter L. Cohen High School in New Orleans and graduated May 24 with a 3.93 GPA, he told CNN.

Hogan, who became homeless a year and a half ago, says he was in disbelief when he learned of his academic achievement.

“I thought they were mistaking me for someone else, but when I looked at it and I was shown evidence that it was me, I was in awe, like, I was jaw dropped,” said Hogan, who was born in New Orleans and raised mostly in Houston.

Hogan was one of four Black male students who achieved valedictorian status at their New Orleans schools this spring, CNN affiliate WDSU reported.

Hogan, who previously lived with his grandmother since he was 11, says he became homeless after the lease on his grandmother’s house expired when the homeowner decided to sell the property.

He and his grandmother were given 30 days to vacate the house, according to Hogan.

“From there, I made the executive decision to live on my own to lighten my grandmother’s burden,” Hogan told CNN.

While his grandmother went to live in a care home for the elderly, Hogan was left without permanent housing.

His grandmother told him about the Covenant House, a homeless shelter in New Orleans serving youth and young adults ages 16-22. Hogan has been living at the shelter as part of its transitional housing program since he became homeless, he said.

Elijah Hogan, center, proudly holds up his high school diploma from Walter L. Cohen High School. - Courtesy Kewe Ukpolo
Elijah Hogan, center, proudly holds up his high school diploma from Walter L. Cohen High School. – Courtesy Kewe Ukpolo

The program allows young people to stay at the shelter up to 24 months rent-free, giving them an opportunity to focus on education or to save money while working, Covenant House New Orleans chief executive officer Rheneisha Robertson told CNN.

“It really allows them to get stable and identify more permanent, stable housing,” said Robertson, who added the homeless shelter had five other high school graduates this year.

Hogan, who addressed his graduating class with an uplifting valedictorian speech last week, said dealing with homelessness while completing his education was challenging but he found support from the homeless shelter’s employees and his high school’s staff.

“As time went on, I started to open up to people over at Covenant House as well as Cohen, people were there to support me and give me a guiding hand,” Hogan said. “Without them, I wouldn’t (have) become who I am today.”

He credits his Covenant House case manager, Jarkayla Cobb, with never giving up on him.

“She helped me get through it even when I was showing a lack of faith in myself,” Hogan said. “She’s been there no matter what I needed.”

Hogan, who lost his mother just before he turned 12, says her death encouraged him to push forward with his education for his grandmother’s sake.

“I know that’s what (my mother) would have wanted,” he said.

Hogan plans to attend Xavier University in New Orleans in the fall to study graphic design and has been granted a scholarship to cover his tuition fees, he says.

“Elijah’s accomplishments are worth celebrating. We know that they are a product of his character and the choices he made day after day to pursue his dreams,” Jerel Bryant, chief executive officer of Collegiate Academies, which operates Hogan’s former high school, said in a statement.

“His success is also a testament to how capable and excellent our Black youth are, in New Orleans and across this country,” Bryant said.

Hogan offered these words of encouragement for other young people:

“To any race, no matter what color or accent you have, you are your own guiding light,” Hogan said. “You are your own storybook that you write. Let yourself be the pen that you write on paper.”

Southern US city tops list of dirtiest in the nation, study says

Fox News

Southern US city tops list of dirtiest in the nation, study says

Pilar Arias – May 29, 2024

Southern US city tops list of dirtiest in the nation, study says

A recent survey named the “dirtiest” city in the U.S., and earning the top spot this year is none other than Houston, taking the crown from last year’s dirtiest, Newark, New Jersey.

Houston’s ranking in the study from LawnStarter came after a comparison of 152 U.S. cities in the categories of pollution, living conditions, infrastructure and customer satisfaction.

The study says Houston, also known as Space City, is the third most polluted of all the cities ranked, behind San Bernardino, California, and Peoria, Arizona. It cites another study that “found that the city’s petrochemical facilities severely violate EPA safety guidelines.”

LawnStarter data says Houston ranks “third worst in greenhouse gas emissions from large industrial facilities,” and the city has “the biggest cockroach problem, too.”

A spokesperson for the Houston Solid Waste Management Department — which is in charge of waste collection, disposal and recycling — did not immediately respond to a Fox News Digital request for comment.

ALLIGATOR DISCOVERED TAKING BITES OUT OF DEAD WOMAN IN HOUSTON

Last year’s reigning champion, Newark, slipped to the overall rank of No. 2.

Rounding up the top 10 are San Bernardino; Detroit; Jersey City, New Jersey; Bakersfield, California; San Antonio; Fresno, California; Oklahoma City; and Yonkers, New York. New York City came in at No. 12.

RESIDENTS IN TEXAS, OKLAHOMA SEEK SHELTER AS TORNADO DAMAGES HOMES, OVERTURNS TRUCKS

The Houston, Texas skyline
The Houston skyline and I-45 commuter traffic at dusk.

So why does any of this matter? LawnStarter said the study is meant to have people look beyond garbage, pests and poor waste management, saying the negative effects from living in dirty cities can be worse than people realize, citing health problems such as lung cancer, heart disease and stroke that can stem from air pollution.

“Here’s the bottom line: Dirty cities aren’t just an eyesore — they also damage our bodies and our wallets,” LawnStarter says.

NYC looting from TMX
New York City, where a store is seen after a looting in 2022, did not even make the top 10 list of dirtiest cities in the U.S.

LawnStarter provides lawn care providers to customers via its website and mobile application. The company used the survey as an opportunity to attract new business.

“Clean cities tend to have lots of tidy, healthy, green lawns,” they said.

Original article source: Southern US city tops list of dirtiest in the nation, study says

America’s dirtiest city is revealed — and it’s not NYC or anywhere near the north

New York Post

America’s dirtiest city is revealed — and it’s not NYC or anywhere near the north

Mary K. Jacob – May 28, 2024

The dirtiest city in America is not exactly what you would expect it to be.
The dirtiest city in America is not exactly what you would expect it to be.

Do you think New York’s filthy sidewalks, gross subway cars and rat infestations make it America’s dirtiest city? You’re in for quite a surprise.

A recent study by LawnStarter has crowned Houston, Texas, as the nation’s dirtiest city — bumping Newark, New Jersey from the top spot.

New York City, despite its notorious grime, didn’t even crack the top 10. It landed in 12th place. While the Big Apple dodged the title of dirtiest, it’s still grappling with its trash and pest problems.

The dirtiest city in America is not exactly what you would expect it to be. NY Post composite
The dirtiest city in America is not exactly what you would expect it to be. NY Post composite
A recent study found that Houston currently stands as the dirtiest city in America. Houston Chronicle via Getty Images
A recent study found that Houston currently stands as the dirtiest city in America. Houston Chronicle via Getty Images
Trash floating around a construction barge at Buffalo Bayou in Houston. Houston Chronicle via Getty Imag
Trash floating around a construction barge at Buffalo Bayou in Houston. Houston Chronicle via Getty Imag

Houston’s new dubious honor stems from its terrible air quality, infrastructure woes and a staggering number of pests invading homes.

LawnStarter’s sister site PestGnome pulled data showing Houston has the worst cockroach problem, with the city crawling with the creepy critters.

It’s not just Houston; southern cities seem to be a haven for cockroaches. San Antonio, Texas and Tampa, Florida, join Houston in the top three for cockroach infestations.

If cockroaches aren’t your nightmare, steer clear of Boston, Philadelphia and Baltimore. These cities top the list for rodent-infested homes.

A chart showing the nation’s worst offenders. Lawn Starter
A chart showing the nation’s worst offenders. Lawn Starter

Despite California’s hefty spending on cleaning efforts, several of its cities still rank poorly. San Bernardino, notorious as the “armpit” of California, ranks fourth dirtiest due to atrocious air quality.

Riverside and Ontario, also in the LA metro area, share this dismal air status, now plagued by pollution-heavy warehouses that have replaced orange groves and vineyards.

San Francisco, however, shines as a cleaner gem in California. With a $72.5 million street cleaning spree in 2019 and an additional $16.7 million budget in 2023, it’s among the cleaner half of US cities.

Newark, New Jersey ranked second of the dirtiest cities in America. mandritoiu – stock.adobe.com
Newark, New Jersey ranked second of the dirtiest cities in America. mandritoiu – stock.adobe.com

But this doesn’t account for the rising homeless and drug epidemic facing the city.

Dirty air isn’t the only issue — drinking water contamination is rampant in the southwest. Except for Salt Lake City, every major southwest city violated the Safe Drinking Water Act in 2020. Las Vegas, ranking 19th dirtiest overall, has the most unsafe water in the region.

Ohioans have a particular knack for littering cigarette butts. With five Ohio cities boasting the highest share of smokers, the state is battling an onslaught of discarded cigarettes, despite local campaigns urging residents to kick the habit.

Surprisingly, many of the cleanest cities are coastal, with Virginia Beach topping the list.

However, being near water isn’t a cleanliness guarantee — Fremont, California, and Winston-Salem, North Carolina, also rank among the most pristine cities despite their inland locations.

‘Just brutal’: Why America’s hottest city is seeing a surge in deaths

Politico

‘Just brutal’: Why America’s hottest city is seeing a surge in deaths

Ariel Wittenberg – May 28, 2024

Summer burns in Phoenix.

Scorching pavement blisters uncovered skin. Pus oozes from burned feet and bacteria-teeming wounds fester under sweat-soaked bandages for people living on the street.

They might be the lucky ones.

Relentless heat led to 645 deaths last year in Maricopa County, the most ever documented in Arizona’s biggest metropolitan area. The soaring number of heat mortalities — a 1,000 percent increase over 10 years — comes as temperatures reach new highs amid exploding eviction rates in the Phoenix area, leading to a collision of homelessness and record-setting heat waves.

The crisis has left local officials searching for answers in a region that regularly relies on churches more than the government to save people’s lives by offering them a cool place to hide from the desert air.

Almost half of the victims last year were homeless — 290 people. Twenty died at bus stops, others were in tents, and an unrecorded number of people were found on the pavement, prone as if on a baking stone. More than 250 other people — who tended to be older, ill or unlucky — died in uncooled homes, on bikes or just going for a walk.

“There’s no getting away from it,” said George Roberts, who goes by “Country” and lived on the streets of Phoenix until a year ago. “You just try to find some shade and hope it keeps you cool enough to live.”

Phoenix officials are trying to reduce this year’s death count — but their fleeting plans hinge on temporary funding. They’re using nearly $2 million in federal pandemic-relief funding to operate new cooling centers. Unlike previous efforts, the centers will remain open into the evening, or even overnight, in areas with high heat death rates.

The splurge of one-time funds marks the first time there has been a significant federal investment to keep people safe from heat in America’s hottest city. Strapped-for-cash municipalities are often left to fend for themselves during withering heat waves.

Nowhere is that more true than in Phoenix, which is facing a collection of crises all at once: crashing budgets, rising homelessness and the prospects of a super-hot summer turbocharged by climate change.

It’s unclear what will happen to the new cooling centers when the pandemic funds run out in two years.

“We are lucky this year we have funding, but we need to be able to maintain that,” said Maricopa County Medical Director Rebecca Sunenshine. “It’s critical for people’s survival.”

‘Dog and pony show’

Phoenix’s heat safety net is struggling to save people, leaving officials who oversee the program bewildered at the lack of money as deaths soar.

With no stable federal funding, the location of cooling centers and bottled water distribution points changes each year, depending on whether fleeting resources will be provided by the city, county or state. Churches and local charities supplement government aid with their own donations of water and cool spaces.

That’s ludicrous, said David Hondula, Phoenix’s director of heat response and mitigation.

“Every winter in New England, are the churches trying to raise money to buy the snow plow? And then that’s the only snow plow the community has? I’m guessing not,” Hondula said in an interview.

Though heat has killed hundreds of people in Maricopa County every summer for the past four years, the idea that heat can be deadly is newly shocking to many decision-makers, said Melissa Guardaro, an extreme heat researcher at Arizona State University.

“Every year, we do a dog and pony show to cobble together funding,” she said. “Heat kills people who aren’t in the social circle of those in charge. And the people in power need to understand that it is through no fault of these vulnerable people that they are at risk.”

Last summer, there were about 117 cooling centers at libraries, community centers and churches throughout Maricopa County. But none of the centers in Phoenix were open overnight, when temperatures often remained above 90 degrees. Of the 17 centers operated by the city, just one was open Sundays — and only from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.

Many private and public centers don’t allow pets, a rule that pushed some people to stay in the stifling heat with their dogs, according to surveys conducted by the county.

That’s flabbergasting to Austin Davis, who works with the homeless and in previous years has received grant funding to turn his personal minivan into a mobile cooling center.

“It’s like five months of complete crisis and danger for hundreds of people who don’t deserve to be in danger,” he said. “They’re told, ‘Well, church rules say we can’t have this person because they want to bring their dog.’”

“Well, this person and their dog might die today, then.”

Temperatures peaked above 110 degrees and rarely dipped lower than 95 at night for nearly 30 days in a row last July.

“It was just brutal, and it’s frustrating,” said Mark Bueno, outreach medical director for Circle the City, a nonprofit that provides health care to the homeless. Last summer, his doctors treated heat-caused dehydration, organ damage, pavement burns and rhabdomyolysis, a process of muscular breakdown linked to methamphetamine use.

“There’s a limit to what we can do for them,” he said. “I can give some extra water or an IV Bag, but it’s not going to solve the issue. What they really need is a house.”

The County Medical Examiner recorded 645 heat-related deaths last summer. Nearly 400 of them occurred in Phoenix, where half of all deaths were among the unhoused. One-third of all heat-related 911 calls in the city occurred outside of “regular business hours,” when cooling centers were closed.

“The consequences of not having extended-hour and overnight capacity became apparent last year,” said Hondula, the city’s heat official.

Pushed over the edge

Phoenix’s population is booming, making it the second-fastest growing U.S. city from 2021 to 2022, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. That’s also when heat deaths started to surge, after the U.S. Supreme Court ended a pandemic-era eviction moratorium, pushing more people onto the streets.

Now, heat is the second-biggest killer of homeless people in the county, behind drug overdoses. About 23 percent of homeless deaths are from heat alone, and another 18 percent involve both heat and drugs.

“So many people were living near the edge and got pushed over it,” said Jeff Johnston, chief medical examiner for Maricopa County, in an interview. “We’re still seeing the effects of that.”

The number of unhoused people in Maricopa County has doubled since 2017, hovering at roughly 9,600 people in January 2023. Rising rents have made the problem particularly stark in Phoenix, where in 2022 the number of people living on the street was nearly double the capacity of city-run homeless shelters.

In downtown Phoenix, a single encampment grew to an estimated 1,000 people in 2022, earning it the nickname “The Zone.” That same year, the city was sued twice over its treatment of homeless people.

First, businesses surrounding The Zone alleged the city was enabling a health and safety hazard by refusing to dismantle it, imperiling economic stability. In another lawsuit, a number of unhoused people represented by the American Civil Liberties Union alleged that city police were so aggressive in dismantling other homeless camps that they destroyed important documents like state I.D. cards and “survival items” like tents and bottled water. Those allegations were later included in a Department of Justice probe into the Phoenix Police Department.

“Both lawsuits were right,” said Elizabeth Venable, a homelessness advocate and plaintiff in one of the cases. “The city created the blight of The Zone by not addressing the homeless population in any way whatsoever. They didn’t build shelters, and they didn’t enforce anything, and it attracted everyone over there.”

Courts agreed. In summer 2023, as temperatures started to rise, the city was under dueling court orders to simultaneously begin clearing out The Zone before a mid-July court date, and preventing the city from enforcing no-camping ordinances and public sleeping bans against people who had nowhere else to go.

Venable believes the lawsuits may have helped save lives last summer by requiring the city to offer services to those being removed from The Zone. She hopes the city will be more proactive in helping its most vulnerable residents escape the heat this year, if only because they see it as “a liability.”

“A lot of people, even if they don’t empathize with people who live on the street or don’t want them to be able to camp out, they don’t really want them to literally bake on the sidewalk,” she said.

‘Surprising’ number of deaths

Hondula, the Phoenix heat official, is hoping a combination of data and federal cash can save lives — even if the city’s elected officials aren’t sold on his plan.

His team spent the winter looking at data from heat deaths and 911 calls to pinpoint city “hot spots” that will host new cooling centers this year.

Phoenix will operate two overnight cooling centers in the downtown area. In addition, three libraries will have respite centers with 50 beds each that will be open until 10 p.m. All the sites will be open seven days a week from May through September. Visitors will be steered toward services such as energy assistance, mental health, homeless shelters and substance abuse treatment programs.

“We are surging resources to these locations in the hopes that it helps people get out of the heat, but also get out of unsheltered homelessness,” Hondula said. “We are trying to solve the upstream challenges in addition to the immediate lifesaving mission.”

Not everyone in city leadership appreciates that plan. Though the City Council recognizes heat as a danger to residents, some members have questioned using city resources to protect the homeless.

At a February meeting, multiple councilors noted that libraries and senior centers have seen budget cuts, and said it wasn’t fair to open them to homeless people.

Councilman Jim Waring expressed disbelief that the program would lead to homeless people getting treatment for addiction or mental heath issues. The cooling initiative was taking resources away from tax-paying families, he said.

“Do I really think some hard-core meth addict is going to walk into the backroom of one of our libraries and turn [their life] around? No I don’t. That doesn’t seem realistic to me in any way,” Waring said. “I appreciate you guys are trying, but at some point we are crowding out the people who are paying for all of this and making their facilities less inviting.”

He did not respond to requests for comment.

The debate over which city residents deserve heat protection is on hold, for now, thanks to the American Rescue Plan. The federal Covid relief package passed in 2021 is funding half of the $3.5 million cost of operating the city’s cooling centers this summer, and the city has also relied on the measure to fund a shelter building blitz, expanding its number of beds by roughly 800 by next year. Maricopa County is also getting cooling money from the program.

“This is really the first time that there is significant federal funding in the heat relief network,” said Sunenshine, the county’s medical director.

But she worries about what will happen when the money disappears in 2026.

The high death toll last summer prompted soul-searching at the state level, resulting in a 55-page “Extreme Heat Preparedness Plan.” Democratic Gov. Katie Hobbs hired a statewide cooling center coordinator and a chief heat officer.

“It was surprising to see the number of deaths in Maricopa County, which has the most resources,” said newly minted chief heat officer Eugene Livar, in an interview. “But with all those efforts in place there is always something more that can be done if we have resources for that expansion.”

Around the same time the pandemic funding runs out, the city will also lose $130 million in tax revenue due to a change in state law.

Hondula says he “can only hope” the city’s budget office will have found a solution by then.

CLARIFICATION: This story has been edited to use a more precise term to describe the effects of rhabdomyolysis.

Climate change caused 26 extra days of extreme heat in last year: report

AFP

Climate change caused 26 extra days of extreme heat in last year: report

AFP – May 28, 2024

Heat is the leading cause of climate-related death (Nhac NGUYEN)
Heat is the leading cause of climate-related death (Nhac NGUYEN)

The world experienced an average of 26 more days of extreme heat over the last 12 months that would probably not have occurred without climate change, a report said on Tuesday.

Heat is the leading cause of climate-related death and the report further points to the role of global warming in increasing the frequency and intensity of extreme weather around the world.

For this study, scientists used the years 1991 to 2020 to determine what temperatures counted as within the top 10 percent for each country over that period.

Next, they looked at the 12 months to May 15, 2024, to establish how many days over that period experienced temperatures within — or beyond — the previous range.

Then, using peer-reviewed methods, they examined the influence of climate change on each of these excessively hot days.

They concluded that “human-caused climate change added — on average, across all places in the world — 26 more days of extreme heat than there would have been without it”.

The report was published by the Red Cross Red Crescent Climate Centre, the World Weather Attribution scientific network and the nonprofit research organisation Climate Central.

2023 was the hottest year on record, according to the European Union’s climate monitor, Copernicus.

Already this year, extreme heatwaves have afflicted swathes of the globe from Mexico to Pakistan.

The report said that in the last 12 months some 6.3 billion people — roughly 80 percent of the global population — experienced at least 31 days of what is classed as extreme heat.

In total, 76 extreme heatwaves were registered in 90 different countries on every continent except Antarctica.

Five of the most affected nations were in Latin America.

The report said that without the influence of climate change, Suriname would have recorded an estimated 24 extreme heat days instead of 182; Ecuador 10 not 180; Guyana 33 not 174, El Salvador 15 not 163; and Panama 12 not 149.

“(Extreme heat) is known to have killed tens of thousands of people over the last 12 months but the real number is likely in the hundreds of thousands or even millions,” the Red Cross said in a statement.

“Flooding and hurricanes may capture the headlines but the impacts of extreme heat are equally deadly,” said Jagan Chapagain, secretary general of the International Federation of the Red Cross.

In this far-flung Arizona neighborhood, residents dream of the arrival of a gas station or grocery store

AZ Central – The Arizona Republic

In this far-flung Arizona neighborhood, residents dream of the arrival of a gas station or grocery store

Alexandra Hardle, Arizona Republic – May 28, 2024

Terrell Hannah and his family enjoy living in Tartesso, a master-planned community in northwest Buckeye. But when he needs to fill up his car or get a gallon of milk, he does wish that it came with basic city amenities.

Like a gas station or a grocery store. The nearest gas station is 15 minutes away; the nearest Walmart, 15 minutes away; the nearest Costco, 20 minutes away.

Hannah and his wife also have two young children and drive them about 25 minutes to school near downtown Buckeye. On top of that, Hannah has a 35- to 45-minute commute to Luke Air Force, where he works.

Hannah, who moved into the community in 2022, said he likes the residential feel.

“One of the attractive features of that neighborhood is that it’s away from all of the heavy industry that is really coming up at every corner in Phoenix,” Hannah said.

Realtor Martin Partida has been a Tartesso resident since 2020. He and his family moved from Phoenix because they wanted to live somewhere quieter, and Tartesso fit the bill. Partida said he also needs to drive about 15 minutes to get to the nearest grocery store or gas station.

A big frustration among Tartesso residents has been the pace of development. The community now has about 10,000 residents and 3,400 houses but so few amenities, they say.

Many residents feel Tartesso has been left out as other areas of the city develop more quickly.

“When we compare what we have to other communities that have been developed like Verrado, it just seems unbalanced. We’re not sure why it’s taking so long to get things moving out here,” Partida said.

Partida said he also hopes for a high school to be built. Currently, Tartesso’s schools only go to the fifth grade. It also would be nice to have a recreational center in Tartesso, Partida said.

Residents also hope for coffee shops, jobs

Cameron James has lived in Tartesso since 2009. At this point, James said he and other residents are used to commuting for work and stopping at places like Costco on the way home.

“You get used to it after about a year. I mean, we feel spoiled now because we have food trucks,” James said.

James said he understands why the community needs more rooftops before commercial development follows.

Paige Stein, who works in the hospitality industry in Goodyear, has lived in Tartesso for about four years after moving from from Festival Foothills neighborhood, also in Buckeye. Stein said she and her family always have preferred to live in places that are more isolated.

Southwest Valley: Buckeye panel pitches almost $300M in bonds for public safety, roads and parks

Stein said the most important thing to her is that more jobs come to Tartesso for the people who live there, particularly young people still at home with their parents who don’t have the option to move. Stein currently commutes about 30 minutes to her job in Goodyear.

“I don’t see that as something that someone just getting out of school should have to do,” Stein said.

After a gas station, she would like Tartesso to get a coffee shop.

“Something where the students that get out of school can go hang out, so they don’t have to go straight home or hang out in the heat,” Stein said.

Stein said she currently spends a lot of her free time in Tempe to go to new shops and favorite places.

Residents hope for less industrial development

Chris Barr, principal of Buckeye Tartesso LLC, said he hears the complaints. A controversial new rezoning of land to industrial from residential is part of a potential solution, he said. The change axed some 6,000 planned homes.

While some residents are skeptical and hope the plan shifts away from industrial zoning, adding jobs is necessary for creating both rooftops and the commercial and retail development Tartesso residents are asking for, Barr said.

Accelerating economic growth will in turn accelerate the growth of community amenities, including grocery stores and gas stations, he said.

Tartesso, along the southwestern part of the Sun Valley Parkway, is projected to have about 100,000 residents at build-out.

Hundreds of thousands of residents eventually will live along Sun Valley Parkway, Barr said. It once was known as the “Road to Nowhere,” with not much around it. But communities are slowly growing, including Festival Ranch along the northern part of the parkway.

A vast majority of Buckeye’s residents commute east for work. Barr hopes to change that by adding more employment opportunities along the parkway.

The Tartesso community development borders the desert in Buckeye. It's one of the last noticeable developments on the way out of the Phoenix area.
The Tartesso community development borders the desert in Buckeye. It’s one of the last noticeable developments on the way out of the Phoenix area.

Obtaining the necessary certificates for industrial development is easier than getting approval for residential from a water standpoint. But Barr said that’s not the reason the land was rezoned.

“We just wanted to create some employment opportunities and really good-paying jobs for people in that region that don’t want to hop on the freeway and potentially have to leave the city of Buckeye to drive to and from their job every day,” Barr said.

Tartesso LLC bought the development in 2016. When Barr came in, the community was still recovering from the Great Recession, which had greatly slowed down growth, Barr said. Right now, Barr said the focus is on housing, which will later bring in retail amenities.

While some land is zoned for commercial use and was purchased years ago, Barr said many projects were halted by the recession.

“They had a lot of rooftop projections that took a long time to materialize because the market got effectively shut down for a couple of years,” Barr said.

Ultimately, it is up to the purchasers of the land to decide what to do with it and when. Additional amenities like a recreation center also would come with additional HOA fees, and not everyone would be happy to pay those.

“The demand is, we need affordable housing in the Valley. And we’ve got a big problem staring us down if we don’t come to some solutions that allow for building on Sun Valley Parkway, which is going to be a great place for affordable housing,” Barr said.

In a statement to The Arizona Republic, a Buckeye spokesperson said the city’s development teams were actively collaborating with brokers, developers and service providers to attract growth in Buckeye, including in Tartesso and Festival Ranch.

“While commercial development is currently thriving in the eastern parts of Buckeye, our growth trajectory is set to extend westward along Sun Valley Parkway. This will foster expansion and development in those areas,” the city statement said. “This growth trajectory is already attracting new investment, including a recent commitment from QT (QuikTrip) to develop a new location south of Tartesso.”

What’s still to come at Tartesso?

The QuikTrip announcement means Tartesso residents’ wishes for a gas station soon will come true, although a timeline for the opening was not set.

The gas station will be located about a mile from the community’s main entrance. The nearest gas station is currently a Love’s Travel Shop located nearly 10 miles away from Tartesso on Miller Road.

As for what’s next aside from industrial development, Barr said Tartesso currently has applications for certificates of assured water supply pending with the Department of Water Resources for about 5,700 homes.

Those certificates are necessary for the next phase of construction to begin.

Barr said Tartesso has begun discussions with major builders for those homes. Once the development figures out its water certificates, Barr said the launch would be relatively quick.

And those homes, combined with new jobs to the area, should make way for the amenities that Tartesso residents have been asking for, such as grocery stores, more gas stations, movie theaters and hospitals, most of which look to have a certain number of rooftops within a certain radius.

“I don’t think we’re quite there,” Barr said. “But I believe activity breeds more activity.”

Temperatures in Pakistan cross 52 degrees Celsius — that’s more than 125°F

CNN

Temperatures in Pakistan cross 52 degrees Celsius — that’s more than 125°F

Reuters – May 28, 2024

Temperatures rose above 52 degrees Celsius (125.6 degrees Fahrenheit) in Pakistan’s southern province of Sindh, the highest reading of the summer and close to the country’s record high amid an ongoing heat wave, the met office said on Monday.

Extreme temperatures throughout Asia over the past month were made worse most likely as a result of human-driven climate change, a team of international scientists have said.

In Mohenjo Daro, a town in Sindh known for archaeological sites that date back to the Indus Valley Civilization built in 2500 BC, temperatures rose as high as 52.2 C (126 F) over the last 24 hours, a senior official of the Pakistan Meteorological Department, Shahid Abbas told Reuters.

The reading is the highest of the summer so far, and approached the town’s and country’s record highs of 53.5 C (128.3 F) and 54 C (129.2 F) respectively.

Mohenjo Daro is a small town that experiences extremely hot summers and mild winters, and low rainfall, but its limited markets, including bakeries, tea shops, mechanics, electronic repair shops, and fruit and vegetable sellers, are usually bustling with customers.

But with the current heat wave, shops are seeing almost no footfall.

A vendor selling ice, slices a piece from an ice block for a customer at his shop on a hot summer noon in in Karachi on May 27, 2024. - Rizwan Tabassum/AFP/Getty Images
A vendor selling ice, slices a piece from an ice block for a customer at his shop on a hot summer noon in in Karachi on May 27, 2024. – Rizwan Tabassum/AFP/Getty Images

“The customers are not coming to the restaurant because of extreme heat. I sit idle at the restaurant with these tables and chairs and without any customers,” Wajid Ali, 32, who owns a tea stall in the town.

“I take baths several times a day which gives me a little relief. Also there is no power. The heat has made us very uneasy.”

Close to Ali’s shop is an electronic repairs shop run by Abdul Khaliq, 30, who was sat working with the shop’s shutter half down to shield him from the sun. Khaliq also complained about the heat affecting business.

Local doctor Mushtaq Ahmed added that the locals have adjusted to living in the extreme weather conditions and prefer staying indoors or near water.

“Pakistan is the fifth most vulnerable country to the impact of climate change. We have witnessed above normal rains, floods,” Rubina Khursheed Alam, the prime minister’s coordinator on climate, said at a news conference on Friday adding that the government is running awareness campaigns due to the heat waves.

The highest temperature recorded in Pakistan was in 2017 when temperatures rose to 54 C (129.2 F) in the city of Turbat, located in the Southwestern province of Balochistan. This was the second hottest in Asia and fourth highest in the world, said Sardar Sarfaraz, Chief Meteorologist at the Pakistan Meteorological Department

The heat wave will subside in Mohenjo Daro and surrounding areas, but another spell is expected to hit other areas in Sindh, including the capital, Karachi — Pakistan’s largest city.