Climate Change Is Pushing Wildfires to New Heights

Climate Change Is Pushing Wildfires to New Heights

The Conversation                          May 26, 2021
Kyle Grillot/Getty
Kyle Grillot/Getty

By Mojtaba Sadegh, John Abatzoglou, and Mohammad Reza Alizadeh

The western U.S. appears headed for another dangerous fire season, and a new study shows that even high mountain areas once considered too wet to burn are at increasing risk as the climate warms.

Nearly two-thirds of the U.S. West is in severe to exceptional drought right now, including large parts of the Rocky Mountains, Cascades and Sierra Nevada. The situation is so severe that the Colorado River basin is on the verge of its first official water shortage declaration, and forecasts suggest another hot, dry summer is on the way.

Warm and dry conditions like these are a recipe for wildfire disaster.

In a new study published May 24, 2021, in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, our team of fire and climate scientists and engineers found that forest fires are now reaching higher, normally wetter elevations. And they are burning there at rates unprecedented in recent fire history.

While some people focus on historical fire suppression and other forest management practices as reasons for the West’s worsening fire problem, these high-elevation forests have had little human intervention. The results provide a clear indication that climate change is enabling these normally wet forests to burn.

As wildfires creep higher up mountains, another tenth of the West’s forest area is now at risk, according to our study. That creates new hazards for mountain communities, with impacts on downstream water supplies and the plants and wildlife that call these forests home.

In the new study, we analyzed records of all fires larger than 1,000 acres (405 hectares) in the mountainous regions of the contiguous western U.S. between 1984 and 2017.

The amount of land that burned increased across all elevations during that period, but the largest increase occurred above 8,200 feet (2,500 meters). To put that elevation into perspective, Denver—the mile-high city—sits at 5,280 feet, and Aspen, Colorado, is at 8,000 feet. These high-elevation areas are largely remote mountains and forests with some small communities and ski areas.

The area burning above 8,200 feet more than tripled in 2001-2017 compared with 1984-2000.

Forest fires advanced to higher elevations as the climate dried from 1984 to 2017. Every 200 meters equals 656 feet.

<div class="inline-image__caption"><p>Forest fires advanced to higher elevations as the climate dried from 1984 to 2017. Every 200 meters equals 656 feet.</p></div> <div class="inline-image__credit">Mojtaba Sadegh, CC BY-ND</div>Mojtaba Sadegh, CC BY-ND

Our results show that climate warming has diminished the high-elevation flammability barrier—the point where forests historically were too wet to burn regularly because the snow normally lingered well into summer and started falling again early in the fall. Fires advanced about 826 feet (252 meters) uphill in the western mountains over those three decades.

The Cameron Peak Fire in Colorado in 2020 was the state’s largest fire in its history, burning over 208,000 acres (84,200 hectares) and is a prime example of a high-elevation forest fire. The fire burned in forests extending to 12,000 feet (3,650 meters) and reached the upper tree line of the Rocky Mountains.

We found that rising temperatures in the past 34 years have helped to extend the fire territory in the West to an additional 31,470 square miles (81,500 square kilometers) of high-elevation forests. That means a staggering 11% of all western U.S. forests – an area similar in size to South Carolina – are susceptible to fire now that weren’t three decades ago.

In lower-elevation forests, several factors contribute to fire activity, including the presence of more people in wildland areas and a history of fire suppression.

In the early 1900s, Congress commissioned the U.S. Forest Service to manage forest fires, which resulted in a focus on suppressing fires—a policy that continued through the 1970s. This caused flammable underbrush that would normally be cleared out by occasional natural blazes to accumulate. The increase in biomass in many lower elevation forests across the West has been associated with increases in high-severity fires and megafires. At the same time, climate warming has dried out forests in the western U.S., making them more prone to large fires.

By focusing on high-elevation fires, in areas with little history of fire suppression, we can more clearly see the influence of climate change.

Most high-elevation forests haven’t been subjected to much fire suppression, logging or other human activities, and because trees at these high elevations are in wetter forests, they historically have long return intervals between fires, typically a century or more. Yet they experienced the highest rate of increase in fire activity in the past 34 years. We found that the increase is strongly correlated with the observed warming.

A Wildfire Destroyed His House. This Climate Denier Blames Environmentalists.

High-elevation fires have implications for natural and human systems.

High mountains are natural water towers that normally provide a sustained source of water to millions of people in dry summer months in the western U.S. The scars that wildfires leave behind—known as burn scars—affect how much snow can accumulate at high elevations. This can influence the timing, quality and quantity of water that reaches reservoirs and rivers downstream.

High-elevation fires also remove standing trees that act as anchor points that normally stabilize the snowpack, raising the risk of avalanches.

The loss of tree canopy also exposes mountain streams to the sun, increasing water temperatures in the cold headwater streams. Increasing stream temperatures can harm fish and the larger wildlife and predators that rely on them.

Climate change is increasing fire risk in many regions across the globe, and studies show that this trend will continue as the planet warms. The increase in fires in the high mountains is another warning to the U.S. West and elsewhere of the risks ahead as the climate changes.

Mojtaba Sadegh is an assistant professor of civil engineering at Boise State University; John Abatzoglou is an associate professor of engineering at University of California, Merced; Mohammad Reza Alizadeh is a Ph.D. student in engineering at McGill University.

Poverty soared to a pandemic high last month

Poverty soared to a pandemic high last month

 

More than a year into the Covid-19 pandemic, it is becoming clear that the economic pain has not abated for many Americans — and is worsening for some.

 

Researchers at the University of Chicago Harris School of Public Policy and the University of Notre Dame Department of Economics are using monthly Census data to capture a nearly real-time snapshot of American poverty. Last month, even as the unemployment rate fell and more states relaxed restrictions on business operations, the poverty rate hit a pandemic high of 11.7 percent — a full percentage point greater than it was in early 2020.

For some of the most marginalized populations, the rate of poverty in March was even higher. Black poverty had retreated from the 23.3 percent high it touched last August but, at 21.2 percent, remained close to double that of the overall rate. Childhood poverty soared to a rate of 17.4 percent, and was high for less-educated people, as well, rising to 22.2 percent among those with only a high school education or less.

In both January and February of 2020, the poverty rate held steady at 10.7 percent — although even those metrics masked the challenges faced by some populations. Black poverty, for instance, was 20.7 percent in February 2020, compared to a rate of 8.9 percent for whites. The poverty rate for people without any college education was also elevated, at 19.6 percent in February 2020.

Experts say the monthly research illustrates just how instrumental Congressional fiscal aid such as the CARES Act and subsequent stimulus programs at keeping families out of poverty have been — and offers a glimpse of what could happen once those programs wind down if employment has not rebounded significantly.

“It’s astonishing that we’re seeing a high now. It does underscore how vulnerable so many people are that we still have not recovered enough that once the government aid starts tapering down… you can’t just cut off this aid overnight before the jobs come back,” said Andrew Stettner, senior fellow at the Century Foundation. “You’d hope by now things would have recovered,” he added.

Significantly, the researchers found that the poverty rate actually dropped in the early months of the pandemic, hitting a trough of 9.1 percent in May. James Sullivan, an economics professor and director of the Lab for Economic Opportunities at the University of Notre Dame and one of the research authors, said this was almost certainly a function of the combination of $1,200 stimulus payments that were distributed to most Americans, expanded unemployment benefits including benefits for gig and self-employed workers, and an extra $600 weekly benefit on top of existing state benefits.

“I feel like the most important takeaway from the work we’ve been doing since the start of the pandemic is the clear relationship between poverty and government relief efforts,” he said. “At the time, people were a little bit surprised, but then you look at the magnitude of the CARES Act, and it really makes sense that poverty would fall in the short run.”

The pandemic wreaked havoc on the finances of millions of households, but that pain was not spread evenly. Many people who were able to make the transition to working from home kept their jobs — although some did have their pay or hours reduced. But for people who worked in shuttered hotels, restaurants and malls, there were no alternatives.

“The economic impacts of the pandemic have been incredibly disparate,” Sullivan said. More recently, economists have noted the K-shaped recovery that has bifurcated Americans into haves and have-nots in the ensuing months.

The project’s authors note that while the unemployment rate has improved markedly since last April, weekly jobless claims filed still are being filed at a rate five times higher than before the pandemic. Sullivan suggested the April snapshot might show a brighter picture, though, since more families will have received financial assistance from the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan signed into law last month. “The latest relief package is going to provide significant additional resources to households, but we haven’t seen that in the data yet,” he said.

Stettner said those dollars would benefit the broader economy, not just the recipients. “Overall, the economy is doing very well, given the pandemic. That has a lot of do with the fact that we’ve supported people at the bottom. A lot of the consumer spending in our economy is by low- and middle-income workers. When they don’t have money, the economy suffers,” he said.

As a result, he added, it is important for policymakers to keep their foot on the gas and commit to fiscal support until the labor market recovery picks up steam. “In many sectors of the economy, it’s not going to open overnight,” Stettner said. “It’s going to take time for that activity to ramp back up.”

Trump shuns ‘ex-presidents club’ — and the feeling is mutual

NBC News

Trump shuns ‘ex-presidents club’ — and the feeling is mutual

Trump left the White House without attending Biden’s swearing-in, the first president to skip his successor’s inauguration in 152 years.
By The Associated Press                      January 23, 2021
Trump shuns 'ex-presidents club' — and the feeling is mutual
Associated Press

WASHINGTON — It’s a club Donald Trump was never really interested in joining and certainly not so soon: the cadre of former commanders in chief who revere the presidency enough to put aside often bitter political differences and even join together in common cause.

Members of the ex-presidents club pose together for pictures. They smile and pat each other on the back while milling around historic events, or sit somberly side by side at VIP funerals. They take on special projects together. They rarely criticize one another and tend to offer even fewer harsh words about their White House successors.

Like so many other presidential traditions, however, this is one Trump seems likely to flout. Now that he’s left office, it’s hard to see him embracing the stately, exclusive club of living former presidents.

“He kind of laughed at the very notion that he would be accepted in the presidents club,” said Kate Andersen Brower, who interviewed Trump in 2019 for her book “Team of Five: The Presidents’ Club in the Age of Trump.” “He was like, ‘I don’t think I’ll be accepted.’”

It’s equally clear that the club’s other members don’t much want him — at least for now.

 

“I think the fact that the three of us are standing here, talking about a peaceful transfer of power, speaks to the institutional integrity of our country,” Bush said. Obama called inaugurations “a reminder that we can have fierce disagreements and yet recognize each other’s common humanity, and that, as Americans, we have more in common than what separates us.”

Trump spent months making baseless claims that the election had been stolen from him through fraud and eventually helped incite a deadly insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. He left the White House without attending Biden’s swearing-in, the first president to skip his successor’s inauguration in 152 years.

Obama, Bush and Clinton recorded their video after accompanying Biden to lay a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Solider following the inauguration. They also taped a video urging Americans to get vaccinated against the coronavirus. Only 96-year-old Jimmy Carter, who has limited his public events because of the pandemic, and Trump, who had already flown to post-presidential life in Florida, weren’t there.

Jeffrey Engel, founding director of the Center for Presidential History at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, said Trump isn’t a good fit for the ex-presidents club “because he’s temperamentally different.”

“People within the club historically have been respected by ensuing presidents. Even Richard Nixon was respected by Bill Clinton and by Ronald Reagan and so on, for his foreign policy,” Engel said. “I’m not sure I see a whole lot of people calling up Trump for his strategic advice.”

Former presidents are occasionally called upon for big tasks.

George H.W. Bush and Clinton teamed up in 2005 to launch a campaign urging Americans to help the victims of the devastating Southeast Asia tsunami. When Hurricane Katrina blasted the Gulf Coast, Bush, father of the then-current president George W. Bush, called on Clinton to boost Katrina fundraising relief efforts.

When the elder Bush died in 2018, Clinton wrote, “His friendship has been one of the great gifts of my life,” high praise considering this was the man he ousted from the White House after a bruising 1992 campaign — making Bush the only one-term president of the last three decades except for Trump.

Obama tapped Clinton and the younger President Bush to boost fundraising efforts for Haiti after its devastating 2010 earthquake. George W. Bush also became good friends with former first lady Michelle Obama, and cameras caught him slipping a cough drop to her as they sat together at Arizona Sen. John McCain’s funeral.

Usually presidents extend the same respect to their predecessors while still in office, regardless of party. In 1971, three years before he resigned in disgrace, Richard Nixon went to Texas to participate in the dedication of Lyndon Baines Johnson’s presidential library. When Nixon’s library was completed in 1990, then-President George H.W. Bush attended with former Presidents Ronald Reagan and Gerald Ford.

Trump’s break with tradition began even before his presidency did. After his election win in November 2016, Obama hosted Trump at the White House promising to “do everything we can to help you succeed.” Trump responded, “I look forward to being with you many, many more times in the future” — but that never happened.

Instead, Trump falsely accused Obama of having wiretapped him and spent four years savaging his predecessor’s record.

Current and former presidents sometimes loathed each other, and criticizing their successors isn’t unheard of. Carter criticized the policies of the Republican administrations that followed his, Obama chided Trump while campaigning for Biden and also criticized George W. Bush’s policies — though Obama was usually careful not to name his predecessor. Theodore Roosevelt tried to unseat his successor, fellow Republican William Howard Taft, by founding his own “Bull Moose” party and running for president again against him.

Still, presidential reverence for former presidents dates back even further. The nation’s second president, John Adams, was concerned enough about tarnishing the legacy of his predecessor that he retained George Washington’s Cabinet appointments.

Trump may have time to build his relationship with his predecessors. He told Brower that he “could see himself becoming friendly with Bill Clinton again,” noting that the pair used to golf together.

But the odds of becoming the traditional president in retirement that he never was while in office remain long.

“I think Trump has taken it too far,” Brower said. “I don’t think that these former presidents will welcome him at any point.”

What China is saying about the pro-Trump insurrection at the US Capitol

Quartz – Schadenfreude

What China is saying about the pro-Trump insurrection at the US Capitol

Supporters of U.S. President Donald Trump gather in Washington
REUTERS/LEAH MILLIS.
Beijing usually leaps at the opportunity to highlight when liberal democracies stumble, and use those moments to bolster its claims that its authoritarian model is superior. The pro-Trump mob storming of the US Capitol on Jan. 6 provided the perfect opportunity.

 

Much of the media coverage focused on connecting the reaction to the mob with the US’s support of the Hong Kong protests, and the apparent hypocrisy of the US political establishment and media in supporting protests in another country but not their own (that comparison is disingenuous given Hong Kong’s protests were a fight for free and fair democratic procedures, while the Trump protests were a denial of them.)

The Global Times, a hawkish Chinese state-owned tabloid, was among the first to draw parallels between the insurrection at the Capitol and Hong Kong’s pro-democracy protests. In a tweet today (Jan. 7), the newspaper cited White House speaker Nancy Pelosi’s description of the Hong Kong demonstrations in June 2019 as “a beautiful sight to behold,” and asked whether she felt the same of the pro-Trump mob.

The outlet also offered a side-by-side comparison of scenes from the Hong Kong protests, such as when activists stormed the city’s legislature in July 2019, with the flag-waving, pro-Trump mob inside the Capitol.

The insurrection was featured on the front page of the Global Times’ Chinese website, accompanied with headlines such as (link in Chinese) “An iconic humiliation! The madness of the Capitol [incident] has dragged the US’s standing [as a democracy] into its Waterloo!”

Hua Chunying, a Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman, said today (link in Chinese) that China hopes the US will return soon to peace and stability. She also commented US media coverage and political responses to the pro-Trump demonstrations versus the Hong Kong protests, equating the two. “What words did they use on Hong Kong, and what words did they use [on storming of the Capitol]?…such a difference and the reasons behind it is worth us reflecting on seriously,” said Hua.

Xiakedao, a social media account run by the overseas edition of the People’s Daily, the Party’s largest mouthpiece, also zeroed in on Pelosi’s “beautiful sight” remark. The term has become a buzzword among Chinese internet users, who used it to mock the US democratic system, which they say only supports social unrest in other places, but not in its own country.

“The US Congress at the moment…what did Pelosi say before?” Xiakedao posted today, alongside nine pictures showing the pro-Trump mob breaching the building, as well as lawmakers hiding under their seats.

China’s Communist Youth League, a Party-affiliated political organization for Chinese youngsters, posted photos of the mob holding up pro-Trump banners in front of the Capitol, and captioned it with “a world-famous painting.”

As of noon on Thursday, the hashtag #Trump supporters stormed into the Capitol Hill had generated nearly 500 million views on Weibo. Many users said the riots marked the beginning of a deeper divide in the US, with some even asking if it might culminate in a second Civil War.

It is a familiar tactic for Beijing to utilize flashpoints in democracies to justify its own approach to governance. The country’s blanket censorship of foreign websites means most of the country relies on domestic, often state-owned, media for information, allowing the authorities to promote a  narrative that a one-party state can provide far more stability than the chaos of a democracy.

What’s at stake in the SCOTUS : White House struggles to understand the ACA case it supports

MSNBC – MaddowBlog

White House struggles to understand the ACA case it supports

If the White House is going to fight to take health care benefits from millions of families, it should at least try to get the details right.
By Steve Benen,          Repeated from June 30, 2020
Image: Kayleigh McEnany

White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany speaks during a press briefing at the White House on May 1, 2020.Evan Vucci / AP

Last week, Donald Trump and his team asked the Supreme Court to tear down the Affordable Care Act in its entirety, despite the ongoing pandemic. If the president succeeds in getting what he wants, his own country’s health care system would be left in shambles, and tens of millions of families would lose benefits they’ve come to rely on.

It was against this backdrop that White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany appeared on Fox News yesterday morning, and one of the co-hosts asked about the potential political fallout of destroying the existing system without having a replacement ready. The president’s chief spokesperson made the case that it’s actually Democrats who’ll have a political problem.

“Look, the American public looks at this and what they say is this: If Democrats passed an unconstitutional law several years ago, then it’s on Democrats to come forward with a solution.”

 

McEnany went on to argue that the Affordable Care Act represents a “government takeover of health care” (that’s not true), that the White House has “put forward solutions” (that’s not true), and that Democrats are moving toward “eliminating Medicare” (that’s not true).

There was, in other words, quite a bit wrong with the press secretary’s pitch. But let’s focus on two key elements.

First, to hear McEnany tell it, if Supreme Court conservatives agree to destroy the existing health care system, it will be because Democrats “passed an unconstitutional law several years ago.” She’s confused: the pending ACA case is not a test of the original law’s constitutionality. That case has already come and gone.

Rather, the current case relates to the Republicans’ 2017 tax plan and the GOP’s apparent belief that it altered the ACA in such a way as to render it unconstitutional. It’s the sort of detail the White House really ought to know while it tries to take health care coverage from millions of families.

Second, it’s almost amusing to hear McEnany insist that it’s “on Democrats to come forward with a solution.” In other words, if Republicans make a mess, the White House expects Democrats to clean it up.

In reality, however, it’s Democrats who’ve already “come forward with a solution” — it’s the ACA, and it’s working — which they continue to take steps to improve. Meanwhile, it’s Republicans who’ve spent more than a decade promising to craft an alternative to “Obamacare” that does more and costs less.

At least so far, McEnany’s party has failed to keep that promise.

Oil Plunges Below Zero for First Time in Unprecedented Wipeout

Bloomberg

Oil Plunges Below Zero for First Time in Unprecedented Wipeout

Catherine Ngai, Olivia Raimonde and Alex Longley        April 20, 2020

(Bloomberg) — Of all the wild, unprecedented swings in financial markets since the coronavirus pandemic broke out, none has been more jaw-dropping than Monday’s collapse in a key segment of U.S. oil trading.

The price on the futures contract for West Texas crude that is due to expire Tuesday fell into negative territory — minus $37.63 a barrel. The reason: with the pandemic bringing the economy to a standstill, there is so much unused oil sloshing around that American energy companies have run out of room to store it. And if there’s no place to put the oil, no one wants a crude contract that is about to come due.

Underscoring just how acute the concern is over the lack of immediate storage space, the price on the futures contract due a month later settled at $20.43 per barrel. That gap between the two contracts is by far the biggest ever.

“The May crude oil contract is going out not with a whimper, but a primal scream,” said Daniel Yergin, a Pulitzer Prize-winning oil historian and vice chairman of IHS Markit Ltd.

“There is little to prevent the physical market from the further acute downside path over the near term,” said Michael Tran, managing director of global energy strategy at RBC Capital Markets. “Refiners are rejecting barrels at a historic pace and with U.S. storage levels sprinting to the brim, market forces will inflict further pain until either we hit rock bottom, or COVID clears, whichever comes first, but it looks like the former.”

Since the start of the year, oil prices have plunged after the compounding impacts of the coronavirus and a breakdown in the original OPEC+ agreement. With no end in sight, and producers around the world continuing to pump, that’s causing a fire-sale among traders who don’t have access to storage.

The extreme move showed just how oversupplied the U.S. oil market has become with industrial and economic activity grinding to a halt as governments around the globe extend shutdowns due to the swift spread of the coronavirus. An unprecedented output deal by OPEC and allied members a week ago to curb supply is proving too little too late in the face a one-third collapse in global demand.

There are signs of weakness everywhere. Even before Monday’s plunge, buyers in Texas were offering as little as $2 a barrel last week for some oil streams. In Asia, bankers are increasingly reluctant to give commodity traders the credit to survive as lenders grow ever more fearful about the risk of a catastrophic default.

In New York, West Texas Intermediate for May delivery dropped as low as negative $40.32 a barrel. It’s far below the lowest level previous seen in continuation monthly data charts since 1946, just after World War II, according to data from the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis. Brent declined 8.9% to $25.57 a barrel.

Crude stockpiles at Cushing — America’s key storage hub and delivery point of the West Texas Intermediate contract — have jumped 48% to almost 55 million barrels since the end of February. The hub had working storage capacity of 76 million as of Sept. 30, according to the Energy Information Administration.

Fund Inflow

Despite the weakness in headline prices, retail investors are continuing to plow money back into oil futures. The U.S. Oil Fund ETF saw a record $552 million come in on Friday, taking total inflows last week to $1.6 billion.

The price collapse is reverberating across the oil industry. Crude explorers shut down 13% of the American drilling fleet last week. While production cuts in the country are gaining pace, it isn’t happening quickly enough to avoid storage filling to maximum levels, said Paul Horsnell, head of commodities at Standard Chartered.

”The background psychology right now is just massively bearish,” Michael Lynch, president of Strategic Energy & Economic Research Inc said in a phone interview. “People are concerned that we are going to see so much build up of inventory that it’s going to be very difficult to fix in the near term and there is going to be a lot distressed cargoes on the market. People are trying to get rid of the oil and there are no buyers.”

For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com

Myths are used to scare people away from liking socialism.

AJ+’s Newsbroke posted a new episode on  Facebook Watch — with Francesca Fiorentini.

May 20, 2018

A bunch of myths are used to scare people away from liking socialism. Here are the biggest lies we’ve all heard.

The Biggest Myths About Socialism

A bunch of myths are used to scare people away from liking socialism. Here are the biggest lies we've all heard.

Posted by AJ+'s Newsbroke on Sunday, May 20, 2018

Oh Lordy!

John Hanno     May 4, 2018

                                Oh Lordy!

Note to trump base. I won’t say I told you so, or actually “we” won’t say we told you so because thousands, more like many millions, pleaded with you to not vote for trump. But you went and done it anyway. You couldn’t force yourself to vote for a “woman,” even one as competent as Hillary. I realize you’re really pissed that America elected the first black president in history, and you’re all really ticked that he was so accomplished. You called him an elite, or much worse, and relished when all the old white Republi-cons in congress promised to block anything Obama proposed, to steer America back from the abyss or to solve America’s health care crisis, and righteously told yourselves, still to this day, he was unfit to be president. Well, this is where I point out the monumental hypocrisy associated with that kind of absurd  reasoning. trump has proven, way beyond all of our worst fears, that he’s the most unfit president anyone still alive has witnessed. But apparently none of this trump world chaos, corruption, deception, self dealing, treasonous conduct and utter incompetence, sparks any outrage within your conservative christian ethos.

Maybe you’re part of those unfazed rabid base of supporters, trump uses to run roughshod over the cowardly Republi-cons in congress, the ones who still think trump’s doing a fantastic job. trump said he could shoot someone dead in times square and those voters would still stand with him. He’s right for once; there could be a video of that shooting, dozens of eye witnesses claiming trump pulled the trigger and a signed confession from trump, but then a day or two latter, trump could recant and claim it was all fake news and those diehards, like yourself, would believe him without a single doubt.

Its impossible to convince these folks of anything not propagandized through the trump / Fox State News Media. Many have tried reasoning with these folks; Michael Moore spent a whole chapter in a book trying to sway these low information voters from their jaundiced ideologies. Unfortunately, any Republican with common sense, fondness for facts and the truth, adherence to reality, and a notion of integrity, has either left the party or was long ago exiled to history.

There really is no Republican party left. One half of our two party system, is now a conglomeration of un-conservative self absorbed millionaires, billionaires and predatory capitalists, congressional and state legislative self serving sycophants, and this unaffected, mostly Evangelical, 30% of the voting electorate, who’s willing to sacrifice their party for that one last chance of white Christian autonomy offered by self dealing flim flamers like trump. Regrettably, they and you are stuck on the trump tarbaby and quite willing to persevere right to whatever end Prosecutor Robert Mueller has in store.

They, you, seem to relish every crazy trump tweet; the more outrageous, the better. I guess it doesn’t bother you when he still spends weeks and months  ridiculing Hillary, James “Oh Lordy” Comey and dozens of other dedicated career civil servants with his tweets and is perfectly willing to destroy someone’s career at the drop of a tweet.

It’s not just the constant petty and inane tweets, which embarrasses himself, his family, his supporters, his party, and all of America; he takes fighting down to a new “low” level. More like a school-yard bully instead of an ethical world leader.

Can you remember when the biggest scandal Obama was accused of was when he wore that tan suit to a press conference. Folks were so outraged, they sent more than 4,000 tweets during the appearance alone.

I can’t think of a single trump cabinet member who hasn’t been caught in a scandal and some like EPA Director Scott Pruitt have challenged journalists and the media to try and keep up with his daily malfeasance.

You do realize there wasn’t a single scandal during Obama’s entire eight years in the White House. But as talented as he was, I think if he had tried his darnedest to find and hire criminal, conflicted and toxic employees to fill his cabinet, he still couldn’t have outdone trump’s unintended human resources buffoonery. More than 60 of trump’s best and brightest have cycled through this administration. And the few who tried to rain in his worst instincts and inclinations were quickly fired. He chooses people based on their fealty to him and not on qualifications or fitness for a job.

King donald proposes hair brained programs based on speculation and conspiracy theories, and without any input from the Democrats or Independents, who together represent a large majority of the country, and without even collaborating with his own cabinet. Then these half baked ideas are either struck down in the courts or have to be rolled back because of strong public opposition and protests. From health care legislation, to immigration, to trade, to assaults on the environment and even to their tax reform scam, this incompetent administration hasn’t a clue of how to govern responsibly or effectively.

Even stumbling into a détente with the North Koreans, realized by Kim’s Jong-un’s desperation, pressure from the Chinese and the South Korean’s bold initiatives, trump couldn’t help taking full credit for the authentic leadership displayed by South Korean President Moon Jae-in. trump and his numb-skull sycophants have already floated the possibility of a Nobel Peace Prize for trump. I can’t help but think any chance at denuclearizing North Korea and a peace agreement deal that trump might attempt to negotiate, would have to include a trump hotel or golf course somewhere on the Korean peninsula. I think the Koreans should really settle their own peace accord and keep trump out of it.

President Moon Jae-in of South Korea and the North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un, met in the Demilitarized Zone last week. Credit: Pool photo, NYT

I can’t count the times trump bragged, “I’m the law and order candidate.” Yet his daily rant’s against our Departments of Justice and Intelligence and our courts proves he’s the most anti law and order president in history.

With attorney Michael Avenatti’s help, the latest presidential calamity threatens to speed up the resolution of America’s constitutional nightmare. trump’s new lawyer, Loony Giuliani said Wednesday that Trump repaid his personal attorney Michael Cohen for a $130,000 payment to porn star Stormy Daniels, directly contradicting the president’s and Cohen’s past statements. This after months of trump denying he knew anything about the Stormy Daniels affair at all. As most of us have known all along, trump’s been lying to anyone within earshot for the last year and a half. But maybe being lied to daily doesn’t bother you or trump’s unflinching base.

As Robert Mueller hinted, its quite probable trump will be ordered to testify before a Grand Jury, where all his past lies, deceptions and criminal conduct will be once and forever exposed and then probably leaked to the public by trump himself. Will you finally admit you were wrong for ignoring this Presidential degradation?

What will you tell your grandchildren when they ask what you did to resist trump’s assault on our Democratic principles and institutions?

John Hanno,   tarbabys.com

Sen. Gary Peters calls for shutdown of Line 5 oil pipeline because of damage

Detroit Free Press

Sen. Gary Peters calls for shutdown of Line 5 oil pipeline because of damage

Todd Spangler, DFP         April 13, 2018

(Photo: National Wildlife Federation)

WASHINGTON — U.S. Sen. Gary Peters, D-Mich., on Friday called on state and federal officials to at least temporarily shut down an oil and natural gas pipeline at the bottom of the Straits of Mackinac after reports that it was damaged by an apparent anchor strike.

Peters talked with Coast Guard officials regarding the situation with Line 5 and said the pipeline should be shut until a visual inspection of the damage can be made.

“Based on the limited information currently available, two segments of the pipeline will require repairs in the short-term, but a visual inspection is still needed to assess the full extent of the damage,” Peters said.

“Upcoming blizzard conditions and high winds pose a threat to the already-damaged pipeline and, even worse, would render on-site cleanup equipment ineffective in the event of an oil spill. We simply cannot afford that kind of risk to Michigan’s most precious natural resource.”

Related: 

Line 5 oil pipeline in Straits dented by ship

Much of Michigan is expected to be hit by a snow and ice storm this weekend.

The Free Press reported this week that “vessel activity” believed to have damaged submerged electric cables running through the straits where lakes Michigan and Huron meet last week may also have caused three dents in Line 5.

Enbridge, a Canadian oil transport company that owns and operates the twin oil pipelines through the Straits of Mackinac, let the state know about the dents early this week and characterized them as “very small” and posing “no threat to the pipeline,” according to Gov. Rick Snyder’s office.

Peters sent his request to the federal Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration and the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality. U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., said after Peters’ remarks that she agreed that Line 5 should be taken out of service “until we know it’s safe.”

Officials with PHMSA did not immediately respond to a request for comment from the Free Press. An official with Michigan DEQ, Scott Schaefer, said his agency was focused on the leaking fluid from the power lines that were damaged and referred calls regarding the condition of Line 5 to the governor’s office.

Anna Heaton, a spokeswoman for the governor, noted that Lt. Gov. Brian Calley has visited the site this week and was briefed by Coast Guard officials who “reported no immediate threat from Line 5.”

“The Coast Guard is in charge of the investigation and in command of the scene at this time. If we receive any information that indicates an immediate health or safety threat from this source of heat for the Upper Peninsula during the approaching winter storm, we will act accordingly,” Heaton said.

In a statement, Enbridge said it is aware of “the sensitive environment in which Line 5 operates.” The company said it is “closely monitoring weather conditions and forecasts in and around the Straits” and will temporarily shut down the pipeline “should the weather deteriorate to a point where we are concerned about the ability for our personnel to respond to an incident.”

Contact Todd Spangler at 703-854-8947 or at tspangler@freepress.com. Follow him on Twitter at @tsspangler.

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