By Robert A. Vella
Normally, this time of year in southwest Washington state is very pleasant with daytime highs in the mid-70s, overnight lows cooling off to near 50°F, relatively low humidity, and little to no rainfall. The kids are back in school, and this interlude between hectic summer activities and the drearily approaching rainy season is a welcome respite for many people. But, maybe not this year.
Last night, as I watched the NFL opener between the league’s oldest rivals (Green Bay Packers versus “Da” Chicago Bears), I found myself sitting uncomfortably in a pool of sweat. I said to myself, “what the hell?” The temperature got up to 83° yesterday – a little warm, but by no means excessively hot. Out of curiosity, I checked the data on my home weather station. It displayed 80°F with 90% humidity! Then, I remembered reading a story earlier that day about another blob of warm water forming off the coast in the northeast Pacific Ocean. I awoke this morning at 6:30 am to the sounds of thunder and to the sights of dark cloudy skies. It was 65° and the humidity was 88%, but there was no rain. Welcome to climate change, dear readers.
Here is “The Blob” story and other news monsters to close out this work week (clarifications by The Secular Jurist):
A large and unusually warm mass of water is threatening to disturb the marine ecosystem along the Pacific Coast from Southern California to Alaska, scientists from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said Thursday.
They call it the Northeast Pacific Marine Heatwave of 2019, and if it doesn’t dissipate soon, researchers said it could be as destructive as the infamous “blob” of warm water that caused massive toxic algae blooms along the coast and wreaked havoc on whales, salmon, baby sea lions and other marine life in 2014 and 2015.
From: US blocks UN Security Council statement on Israel: source [the “Blue Line” was established by the U.N. in 2000 to ensure that Israel withdrew all its forces from Lebanon]
The United States has blocked a UN Security Council statement on tensions between Israel and Hezbollah, rejecting any criticism of Israel and forcing the text to be scrapped, according to diplomatic sources Thursday.
In the first version of the six-point text, seen by AFP, council members expressed “deep concern at the recent incidents” during a flare-up between the arch-foes across the “Blue Line” border.
The draft, drawn up by France, added that “members of the security council condemned all violations of the Blue Line, both by air and ground, and strongly calls upon all parties to respect the cessation of hostilities”.
According to diplomats, Washington blocked the statement twice, calling for Hezbollah to be specifically condemned in the text.
South Africa has temporarily closed its diplomatic missions in Lagos and Abuja, Nigeria, fearing reprisal attacks against its citizens, an official told CNN.
The closures follow outbreaks of violence earlier this week in South Africa. At least five people were killed and 189 arrested during xenophobic attacks and looting in Johannesburg, Pretoria and elsewhere.
Much of the violence targeted migrants from other African countries and foreign-owned businesses. The attacks prompted retaliatory looting in Nigeria, with South African-owned brands being targeted in looting at stores.
Texas Governor Greg Abbott issued eight executive orders Thursday that aim to stop potential mass shooters by strengthening reporting techniques, although he conceded in a release that “legislative action” is still needed. Abbott’s orders come as the Lone Star State reels from two mass shootings in August that left 29 people dead.
In a press release, Abbott’s office noted that the El Paso suspect’s mother had alerted authorities weeks before his shooting rampage and the Midland-Odessa gunman had called both local and federal authorities prior to that shooting. The new orders are aimed at closing what Abbott called the “information gap” when there is suspicion of a mass shooter.
Abbott has been fending off calls for gun control by Democrats in the Texas House in the wake of the shootings. On Wednesday, 63 of the 66 Texas House Democrats signed a letter calling for a special legislative session. The proposals include “closing the background check loopholes” and “banning the sale of high-capacity magazines,” according to CBS Austin.
A top government watchdog says the Trump administration violated the law when it used funds taken from park entrance fees to keep national parks open during this year’s partial government shutdown.
The Government Accountability Office (GAO) concluded in its investigation released Thursday that the Interior Department and National Park Service (NPS) violated the AntiDeficiency Act and the purpose statute by using congressional funds to pay government workers to clean park bathrooms and maintain sites when part of the federal government was shuttered during the record-long shutdown.
“Interior disregarded not only the laws themselves but also the congressional prerogatives that underlie them. Instead of carrying out the law, Interior improperly imposed its own will,” Thomas Armstrong, GAO general counsel, wrote in his 16-page legal opinion.
The potential challenge to California’s authority, which would be a stinging broadside to the state’s governor and environmentalists, has been widely anticipated. But what’s notable is that the administration would be decoupling its challenge to California from its broader plan to weaken federal fuel economy standards, the latest sign that its plans for that rollback have fallen into disarray.
The administration’s plans have been further complicated because major automakers have told the White House that they do not want such an aggressive rollback. In addition, four major automakers have signed a deal with California pledging to abide by the state’s stricter standards if the national rollback goes through.
California’s special right to set its own tailpipe pollution rules dates to the 1970 Clean Air Act, the landmark federal legislation designed to fight air pollution nationwide. The law granted California a waiver to set stricter rules of its own because the state already had clear air legislation in place.
A revocation of the California waiver would have national significance. Thirteen other states follow California’s tighter standards, together representing roughly a third of the national auto market. Because of that, the fight over federal auto emissions rules has the potential to split the United States auto market, with some states adhering to stricter pollution standards than others. For automakers, that represents a nightmare scenario.
From: Entire fire company shuttered because they wouldn’t address member’s Proud Boys connection [the Proud Boys are an international far-right neo-fascist group]
A Pennsylvania fire company was shuttered by town officials Wednesday after officials at the company refused to address that one of their volunteer firefighters was affiliated with the extremist group the Proud Boys.
Officials in Haverford Township, in Delaware County, were informed on Aug. 12 that a volunteer with the Bon Air Fire Company was affiliated with “an organization described as an extremist group,” the township’s manager David Burman wrote in a statement released Thursday.
The township immediately launched an investigation into the allegations, which included an interview with the volunteer, who admitted he was involved with the Proud Boys, Burman said.
Burman said he was informed the next day that the volunteer had offered his resignation, but the Bon Air Fire Company chief refused to accept it. A week later, Burman said he received an email that said the fire company’s board had “found no basis for terminating the volunteer’s membership.”