September 14, 2022

Posted by orrinj at 7:47 PM


Newsom boasts California avoided rolling blackouts in extreme heat, says anti-green critics want to 'double down on stupid' (Emma Newburger, 9/14/22, CNBC)

In an interview with CNBC's Yasmin Khorram, the governor said the state's electricity demand almost reached a record 52,000 megawatts during the heat wave, and that California's effort to accelerate the transition to clean energy has put roughly 4,000 megawatts on the grid that were not available two years ago.

"That only reinforces that we've got to not just keep up, we've got to jump ahead of Mother Nature, and move this transition forward more aggressively," Newsom said. "And we are committed to do that."

Posted by orrinj at 7:43 PM


John Durham's investigation of the Trump-Russia probe enters final stages (Marshall Cohen, Katelyn Polantz and Evan Perez, 9/14/22, CNN)

Top Durham prosecutor Andrew DeFilippis - who led the team's case against a Hillary Clinton campaign lawyer earlier this year, which ended in a swift acquittal - was supposed to handle another trial next month, but instead is leaving the Justice Department for a job at a private law firm, according to sources. DeFilippis in recent months was at one point working on writing a report on Durham's findings, which will be submitted to Attorney General Merrick Garland.

The scheduled upcoming trial, against a Russian expat who was a primary source of information for the infamous Trump-Russia dossier, is set to begin next month in Alexandria, Virginia. But four weeks before trial, Durham's case suffered a significant blow, with prosecutors acknowledging in recent court filings that they can't convince a critical witness to return to the US to testify.

The October trial against the dossier source, Igor Danchenko, is set to be the third and likely final prosecution of Durham's sprawling investigation, which began in early 2019 and has since gone after Democratic opposition research efforts against Trump's 2016 campaign. (Danchenko pleaded not guilty.)

The federal grand jury Durham had used for his investigation has also expired, and there are no plans to revive that type of investigative work, The New York Times reported on Wednesday.

So die the dreams of a million lonely old white men.

Posted by orrinj at 7:30 PM


'You're blowing this': New book reveals Melania Trump criticized her husband's handling of Covid (Kevin Liptak, 9/14/22, CNN)

In a phone call with former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who maintained ties to the White House despite occasional criticism of Trump, Melania Trump sought help convincing her husband to take the pandemic more seriously.

"'You're blowing this," she recalled telling her husband," the authors write. "'This is serious. It's going to be really bad, and you need to take it more seriously than you're taking it.' He had just dismissed her. 'You worry too much,' she remembered him saying. 'Forget it.' "

Posted by orrinj at 7:26 PM


'You're gonna die tonight': Trump fan admits dragging cop down Capitol steps (Ryan J. Reilly, 9/14/22, NBC News)

A man who wore a "Trump 2020" hat as he beat one officer and dragged another down the steps of the Capitol on Jan. 6 has pleaded guilty, admitting telling officers "you're gonna die tonight" and repeatedly assaulting law enforcement.

Jack Wade Whitton, 32, from Georgia, bragged in a message obtained by the government that he had "fed" a cop "to the people." He pleaded guilty on Tuesday to a felony charge of assaulting, resisting or impeding officers with a dangerous weapon, which carries a maximum of 20 years in federal prison.

Posted by orrinj at 7:11 PM


Wind energy hits record peak of 146 per cent of state demand in South Australia (Giles Parkinson 15 September 2022, Renew Economy)

Wind energy hit a record peak of 146 per cent of state demand in South Australia in the early hours of Wednesday morning, as renewables also set an equal record share of the overall grid.

The new peak of 146 per cent was noted by data analysts GPE NemLog2 and occurred at 4.25am, beating the previous record renewable share in the state of 142 per cent that was set at 9.20am on December 21 last year, when there was a mixture of wind and solar.

The excess power was exported to Victoria. Wind and solar output have averaged 64 per cent of state demand over the last 12 months, the most in the world and remarkable in such an isolated grid with few connections.

If renewable energy weren't going to be abundant, clean and cheap it would make no sense.

Posted by orrinj at 7:10 PM


Secondhand shopping is booming (Jessica Dickler, 9/14/22, CNBC)

So called recommerce grew nearly 15% in 2021 -- twice as fast as the broader retail market and notching the highest rate of growth in history for the industry, according to a 2022 recommerce report by OfferUp.

While dominated by clothing resale, 82% of Americans, or 272 million people, buy or sell pre-owned products, OfferUp found, including electronics, furniture, home goods and sporting equipment, as well as apparel.

Much of the growth has been driven by younger shoppers, particularly teenagers, Heffes said. "We sell a lot of sneakers."

Thrift store shoppers save nearly $150 a month, or $1,760 a year, on average, by buying secondhand items, according to another report by CouponFollow.

Saving money, however, is not the only driver, CouponFollow found. Shoppers said they were motivated by other factors, as well, such as sustainability and the thrill of the hunt.

Because it is considered eco-friendly, it's also become more socially acceptable, Heffes said. "When I started in this business, there was a stigma around purchasing previously owned items, and that stigma is gone."

Posted by orrinj at 7:04 PM


Azerbaijan has used Russia's weakness in Ukraine, expert says (Deutsche Welle, 9/14/22))

DW: The fighting between Ayerbaijan and Armenia falls at a time when Russia is distracted by heavy military defeats in the Ukraine. It is no coincidence, right?

Hanna Notte: I think it's absolutely no coincidence. This is well timed from the Azerbaijani side. They are using a window of opportunity where Russia is very much distracted. It's actually not the first time this is happening. The Azeris engaged in more provocative behavior, not the kinds of strikes, but sort of upping the ante over Nagorno-Karabakh early into the war in Ukraine, testing a little bit the limits of how far they could push things. And now we're seeing this bigger escalation.

At the same time, it does make sense to suggest that when Russia is so heavily preoccupied with Ukraine, when its political, diplomatic bandwidth is very much focused on that conflict, and its position is deteriorating, as you rightly pointed out, that smaller actors in Russia's neighborhood will react to that and will test limits in some of those conflicts in which Russia has been historically a power broker.

Posted by orrinj at 7:01 PM


Busing migrants from the border is a blessing, not a punishment (Jeff Jacoby, 9/14/22, The Boston Globe)

[Jasmine Aguilera] found the same reaction when she spoke with another group of migrants on a bus out of Yuma, Ariz. Among them was a family of five from Peru, who left their homeland in July after the mother, Jennifer, was threatened by violent gang members. They headed to America hoping to connect with relatives in Boston. After their frightening ordeal in Peru, Jennifer told Time, "a safe, free bus that would take her family closer [to] Boston was a 'blessing.'"

Other journalists have come to similar conclusions. The Washington Post noted that "those who board the buses appear to do so willingly, with no sign of anyone ... being forced or tricked," and reported that "for many of those who have accepted the rides ... the buses have turned into a welcomed pipeline." The Dallas Morning News quoted one thankful migrant who took the bus to Washington. "I consider it true humanitarian aid," Víctor Rodríguez told a reporter. "[I]t allows migrants who have no money, like me, to arrive or get closer to our destination.... My life starts now."

The best solution to the illegal immigration crisis is to make legal immigration much easier. But in the interim, the Texas and Arizona governors' stunt, however cynically intended, turns out to be an excellent idea. Government agencies, working with humanitarian organizations, ought to be encouraged to help migrants move onward from the overstressed border towns. It's in everyone's interest to make it easy for newcomers to disperse to communities nationwide -- whether to connect with relatives or friends already in the country or to move to cities where the labor market is tight and jobs are plentiful.

More than two centuries of experience have shown that where immigrants put down roots, America thrives. As Rupert Murdoch once said, Silicon Valley is misnamed -- "it's not the silicon" that made it such an economic dynamo, "it's the immigrants." Foreigners are far more likely than US natives to start businesses and create jobs, to stabilize declining populations, and revitalize stagnant neighborhoods. The foreign-born come to this country pursuing an American dream. It is in America's national interest to help them get underway.

Abbott and Ducey may have thought they were pulling a fast one. But they outsmarted themselves. Enabling migrants to reach new destinations as quickly as possible is the best thing we can do for them and for us. Keep the buses rolling and the new Americans coming.

Thanks, Nativists!

Posted by orrinj at 4:42 PM


Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


Inside Migrants' Journeys on Greg Abbott's Free Buses to Washington (JASMINE AGUILERA, SEPTEMBER 12, 2022, TIME)

If the states intended to sway the federal government to toughen immigration policy, they so far have been unsuccessful. But in the process, they've provided a service to thousands of migrants seeking homes in the United States. [...]

Most migrants who cross the border don't have much cash on hand and never intended to stay in Del Rio. Many are trying to reunite with family or friends in other parts of the country. When orientation is over, the migrants come back outside into the rain, each carrying a yellow folder with the name of their destination handwritten over the top--Chicago, New Jersey, Miami, Washington D.C. More than half of the 273 people who arrived that day decided to take the Operation Lone Star Bus.

Those who have opted to take the bus are quickly ushered into a building manned by the Texas National Guard. "As soon as they step foot in the U.S., I consider them the U.S.'s responsibility," says one of the Guardsmen, who spoke under condition of anonymity because he isn't authorized to speak to the media. It isn't political to him, he says, but rather about helping people on American soil.

The crush at the border is increasing. In 2021, VVBHC assisted about 23,300 people who had crossed the U.S.-Mexico border. Between January and August of this year, that figure neared 32,000. In August alone, 4,500 people were processed through VVBHC.

When VVBHC was founded in 2019, the protocols were different. CBP would either release migrants to local churches or at drop-off points, where they would be on their own to figure out their next steps. The organization was formed as a stopgap to aid migrants and keep the community from being inundated with people unsure of where to go, says Burrow. "When I hear that Washington D.C. is overwhelmed with people, I'm not sure they really realize what they're saying," she says. "They haven't been to the border. They are not seeing what my eyes are seeing here."

While the migrants wait for their charter bus to arrive, many make use of VVBHC's portable showers. It'll be their last chance to wash before the two-night journey to New York City. After five minutes, a Guardsman in a camo-pattern rain poncho knocks on their door, rushing them out. "Buena suerte," he tells them: "Good luck."

The first Operation Lone Star bus of the day arrives at VVBHC around noon. Before boarding, each of the migrants is fitted with a white wristband imprinted with a barcode--a way for Texas to monitor people who use the program. As the travelers board the bus, an official scans their bands and checks their bags, and Burrow hands out sweatshirts for the air-conditioned ride. The bus's 52 seats fill up quickly. A dog sniffs for drugs, and then it takes off. Even through the tinted windows, it's easy to see hands waving goodbye.

For the next two days and nights, 27-year-old Jhason from Venezuela sleeps upright. He and the other passengers are fed pink packages of food resembling military MRE's. "HUMANITARIAN DAILY RATION," the wrapping reads in all capital letters. Beneath the image of an American flag it says: "Food Gift From the People of the UNITED STATES OF AMERICA."

"The food isn't that good, but thank God they're helping us with this," Jhason, who is being identified only by his first name because he fears for the safety of his family in Venezuela, tells TIME in Spanish via WhatsApp from aboard the bus. Jhason says he traveled through seven countries over 43 days to get to the U.S.-Mexico border. He has no family or friends in the U.S., but he decides to hop off the bus in Washington because it sounds like a good place to find work, and because he's looking forward to a cold winter.

The passengers on the bus share the same objective, according to Jhason: "To be safe and well emotionally, physically, and psychologically, and even financially."

On Aug. 26, a different bus carrying migrant families arrives at a local Catholic church in Washington D.C. after a two-night trip from Yuma, Ariz. The travelers are met by volunteers who help the migrants plan travel to their final destinations, and give them food, clothes, and the option to shower.

Jennifer and Jimmy are traveling with their three children, ages 16, 13, and 9. They are trying to get to Boston where they have cousins. The family fled Peru in July when Jennifer started receiving threats from a local gang member. Jennifer, who is being identified only by her first name because she fears retaliation, shows TIME a recording she took on her phone of the gang member threatening to kill his wife, who is one of Jennifer's friends. When the gang member found out about the recording, Jennifer says, he started threatening her for collecting evidence of his behavior.

After that frightening ordeal, a safe, free bus that would take her family closer Boston was a "blessing," she says while her youngest child plays with a stuffed animal gifted to her by the church. And the food wasn't too bad: "We ate hamburgers every day," she says with a laugh. Tatiana Laborde, managing director of SAMU First Response, the international nonprofit leading the Washington operation, says migrants on the buses from Arizona often have more amenities than those arriving from Texas-- better food than Jhason's rations, for example, and paramedics onboard. "Texas is Texas," Laborde says.

The racists' loss is our gain.

Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


Fossil fuel ban treaty would save lives, say global health groups (Deutsche-Welle, 9/14/22)

Air pollution linked to fossil fuel use causes more than 6.5 million deaths around the world each year, according to a May 2022 study in The Lancet Planetary Health journal. More than 90% of these deaths are happening in rapidly developing countries in Africa and Asia. Almost no one on Earth is spared. According to the latest WHO figures, 99% of the world's population lives in places where the air they breathe exceeds quality limits set by the global body.

The link between fossil fuel emissions and health was made clearer during the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, when cities across the world essentially shut down. With businesses closed, roads empty and many people staying home, carbon emissions decreased and air quality improved in many major centers, if only for a short time.

A recent study comparing 46 European cities during those months estimated that 800 deaths linked to air pollution in those cities may have been prevented in the first half of 2020. While just a snapshot of an unprecedented moment in time, the results do reflect how better air quality could improve the health of billions of people worldwide. 

The results of the study are backed by moves to phase out coal in other parts of the world over the last 20 years. After the closure of coal-fired power plants in California and Ontario, Canada, for example, surrounding communities saw significant decreases in premature deaths, preterm births and hospital admissions.

Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


Why an invasion of Taiwan would failRussia's disastrous miscalculations in Ukraine show why an invasion of Taiwan would be a grave mistake (JOHN QUIGGIN 14 SEPTEMBER 2022, Inside Story)

In the lead-up to the 24 February invasion, the Russians were able to assemble large forces on Ukraine's borders while maintaining ambiguity about their intentions. For fear of inflaming the situation, Ukraine could do little to prepare, and its allies provided little or nothing in the way of lethal military aid.

These conditions were ideal for Russia's opening move. A rapid assault on Kyiv was planned to begin with the takeover of Hostomel Airport by elite airborne troops, who would be followed in by a much larger airborne force. Things didn't go to plan: the assault force was driven off with heavy casualties and the main force turned back. By the time Russian land forces reached Hostomel, the chance of a surprise attack was lost.

Even if the strike had not been a military failure, the political calculation on which it was based turned out to be absolutely wrong. Far from welcoming Russian invaders as liberators, Ukrainians fought back furiously. Even in Russian-speaking cities like Kharkiv, Putin found little or no support.

A decapitation strike against Taiwan would face immensely greater difficulties. There would be no possibility of surprise. Taiwan's air defences have been built up over decades. Reunification has essentially zero support among Taiwanese. And even if the current leadership could somehow be eliminated, local replacements would be equally or more hostile.

The most commonly discussed scenario for forcible reunification is a seaborne invasion. Even before the Ukraine war this idea seemed far-fetched, as a comparison with the Normandy landings in 1944 shows. The Allies had complete air superiority, the narrow English Channel to cross, a wide choice of poorly defended landing sites and a numerical superiority of five to one. The Germans didn't detect the attack until landing craft were within reach of shore. Even so, the Allies fell far short of their Day 1 objectives.

A Chinese invasion fleet, by contrast, would have to cross the 170 kilometre Taiwan Strait with no chance of avoiding detection, then land on one of a handful of well-protected beaches and face numerically superior defenders.

The Ukraine war drives the lesson home. Before the invasion, Russia's Black Sea fleet was widely seen as a major strategic asset. When the initial attacks on Kyiv and Kharkiv failed, a seaborne attack on Odessa was generally anticipated. Ukraine had only a handful of domestically produced anti-ship missiles, and its own navy had been wiped out on the first day of the war. Russia was in complete command of the sea.

Yet the attack never took place. The sinking of the Moskva in April by a Ukrainian Neptune missile proved that the Russians had been right to hold back. Russian naval forces were inadequate even to defend the famous Snake Island, kilometres from Ukrainian mainland. With Ukraine's acquisition of increasing numbers of modern missiles, most of the fleet has been withdrawn entirely to the relative safety of Novorossiysk on the eastern shore of the Black Sea.

Ukraine repelled the Black Sea fleet with a handful of missiles. Taiwan has hundreds, including American-made Harpoons and domestically produced missiles easily capable of hitting Chinese ships before they leave port. Many are truck-mounted and effectively impossible to destroy even with an intensive air campaign.

All the evidence suggests that China understands this. While it is politically necessary for the government in Beijing to maintain that it has the capacity to reunify China by force, the announced plan for doing so is outlandish. It involves securing landing sites with a handful of craft then sending in the main force on lightly modified civilian ferries. No sensible person could take such a plan seriously.

Much the same points can be made about the idea of an extended bombing campaign.

Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


Stunning stat: Child poverty hit record low in 2021 (Erica Pandey, 9/13/22, Axios)

The child poverty rate was 27.9% in 1993, but fell to a record low of 5.2% in 2021, according to new census data.

Why it matters: Growing up poor affects every facet of adult life, from health to wealth.

"Fewer children growing up in poverty is good for the future," says Renee Ryberg, a co-author of a new report from Child Trends that digs into the data. "It's as simple as that."

Not only are there immediate improvements to the well-being of kids and families, there are also long-term benefits for society, like lower rates of crime, lower health care costs and more tax revenue.

Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


3 men convicted for Jan. 6 attacks on Capitol Police (TuAnh Dam, 9/13/22, Axios)

The Justice Department said the three men were found guilty of a combined 22 offenses, including counts of aiding or abetting or assaulting, resisting, or impeding law enforcement officers,.

Of the 22 charges, 14 are federal charges while eight are misdemeanor charges.

The big picture: More than 870 people have been arrested for crimes related to the breach of the Capitol, including over 265 individuals charged with assaulting or impeding law enforcement. 

Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


Justice Department criminal investigation now touches nearly all efforts to overturn 2020 election for Trump (Katelyn Polantz Sara Murray Evan Perez Kristen Holmes, 9/13/22,  CNN

Justice Department criminal prosecutors are now examining nearly every aspect of former President Donald Trump's efforts to overturn the 2020 election - including the fraudulent electors plot, efforts to push baseless election fraud claims and how money flowed to support these various efforts - according to sources and copies of new subpoenas obtained by CNN.

The investigation is also stretching into cogs of the sprawling Trump legal machine that boosted his efforts to challenge his electoral loss - with many of the recipients of 30-plus subpoenas that were issued in recent days being asked to turn over communications with several Trump attorneys.

The sweeping effort has many in Trump world concerned about the potential legal significance of being caught up in a federal investigation.

We didn't just take Richmond.

Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


Most Americans don't want Trump or Biden to run in 2024: poll (MAX GREENWOOD, 09/13/22, The Hill)

Most Americans don't want either President Biden or his predecessor, former President Donald Trump, to run for the White House again in 2024, according to a new Harvard CAPS/Harris poll shared exclusively with The Hill. 

Two-thirds of voters surveyed - 67 percent - said that Biden shouldn't seek another term in the Oval Office, with nearly half citing their belief that he's a bad president as the reason why. Another 30 percent said it's simply because Biden, who would be 84 by the time he takes the Oath of Office again, is too old for the job.