Just a grab bag post because I found too many interesting science stories. First up, other planets may have water, lots of water, but instead of rivers and oceans, the water might be in rocks. The University of Chicago notes:
Water is the one thing all life on Earth needs, and the cycle of rain to river to ocean to rain is an essential part of what keeps our planet's climate stable and hospitable. When scientists talk about where to search for signs of life throughout the galaxy, planets with water are always at the top of the list.
A new study published in Science suggests that many more planets may have large amounts of water than previously thought—as much as half water and half rock. The catch? All that water is probably embedded in the rock, rather than flowing as oceans or rivers on the surface.
"It was a surprise to see evidence for so many water worlds orbiting the most common type of star in the galaxy," said Rafael Luque, first author on the new paper and a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Chicago. "It has enormous consequences for the search for habitable planets."
I found that interesting and an example of how our experiences can limit ourselves if we're unable to see that our experiences are possibilities -- but not the only possibilities and that our norm isn't the only norm. We're going to need to think creatively and expansively if we're going to meet the challenges of climate change. Rebecca Herscher (ALL THINGS CONSIDERED, NPR) notes:
Humans must limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius to avoid runaway ice melting, ocean current disruption and permanent coral reef death, according to new research by an international group of climate scientists.
The new study is the latest and most comprehensive evidence indicating that countries must enact policies to meet the temperature targets set by the 2015 Paris agreement, if humanity hopes to avoid potentially catastrophic sea level rise and other worldwide harms.
Those targets – to limit global warming to between 1.5 and 2 degrees Celsius (between 2.7 and 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) compared to preindustrial times – are within reach if countries follow through on their current promises to cut greenhouse gas emissions. But there is basically no wiggle room, and it's still unclear if governments and corporations will cut emissions as quickly as they have promised.
And the far off isn't that far off and the US isn't an untouched gem currently. Russell Falcon (THE HILL) reports:
Using 2021 data, U.S. News and World Reports’ feature on the “Best States” has ranked U.S. states on several metrics, including economics, education and health care. The listing also measures natural environment, which is based on a state’s air/water quality and pollution levels.
Pollution was determined based on air and water emissions from industry
and utilities, and overall measures to long-term human health effects,
using information from the Environmental Protection Agency.
Read the story at THE HILL in full to find out the state rankings. Earlier in the week, we discussed "Spider Monkeys." Jeanie noted this video.
And Randy noted this one.
Spider Monkeys are very cute.
"Iraq snapshot" (THE COMMON ILLS):
+ The White House is preparing another $13.7 billion in “emergency funding” for Ukraine. Emergency? What about Jackson, Mississippi?
+ Bill LaPlante, the Pentagon’s top weapons-buyer, said this week that the US trained the Ukrainian missileers on how to use the Harpoon missiles that sank two Russian warships. This is how it always goes: first sell a besieged ally weapons, then train the foreign troops how to use them, then send military advisors for how to deploy the weapons, then send the CIA to pick targets, then send US troops when all of the above fails, kill tens of thousands of people (mostly civilians), then cut and run before you’re chased out of the country by the very people you claimed you wanted to protect…
+ Zugzwang [tzoog-tzwung]: a situation in chess (and life) in which a move must be made, but each possible one will make the situation worse.
+ September 3, 2022 in America: 127 shooting incidents, 134 injuries, 46 fatalities…
+ Despite the fact that drug use of any kind is rarely the cause of miscarriage or still birth, prosecution of women who test positive for drugs still happens and it’s likely get even more common in the wake of the overturning of Roe v. Wade.
+ Voting is the basement in the abandoned house people keep running into thinking they’ve found the way you, only to find someone in a hockey mask (Pelosi or McCarthy, on any given year) holding a chainsaw to cut off the rest of the Social Security, Medicare, unemployment insurance and Food Stamps…
+ Goldman Sachs analysts spell out the likely consequences this winter from the NATO/US/EU sanctions on Russian oil and gas: “In our view, the market continues to underestimate the depth, the breadth & the structural repercussions of the crisis… We believe these will be even deeper than the 1970s oil crisis.”
Anne Garrels, longtime foreign correspondent for NPR, died on Wednesday of lung cancer. She was 71 years old.
At even deeper than the 1970s oil crisis.”
Anne Garrels, longtime foreign correspondent for NPR, died on Wednesday of lung cancer. She was 71 years old.
At NPR, Garrels was known as a passionate reporter willing to go anywhere in the world at a moment's notice if the story required it. She was also a warm and generous friend to many.
When she arrived at NPR in 1988, she already had a lot of experience under her belt — including 10 years in television news at ABC, where she was bureau chief in both Moscow and Central America.
Garrels made a strong impression on NPR's Deborah Amos. "She was this glamorous television reporter who came here," she said. "She didn't dress like the rest of us in the beginning. And she'd has this long and remarkable career before she landed here ... She was always braver than me, and I always understood that she was braver than me."
That bravery led Garrels into many war zones. And when it came to covering a war, she was there at the beginning, in the middle of the battle, and at the peace table. She was the kind of reporter who would drive alone across a war zone if that's what it took to get the story.
But in a 2003 interview with NPR's Susan Stamberg, Garrels insisted that she was not a "war junkie." "I didn't set out to be a war correspondent," she said. "The wars kept happening."
Her most acclaimed reporting came during the 2003 Iraq War. More than 500 journalists, including more than 100 Americans, covered the run-up to the war. But once the United States began the all-out bombing campaign she was one of 16 US correspondents not embedded with US troops who stayed — and for a time was the only US network reporter to continue broadcasting from the heart of Baghdad.
With her vivid reports often picked up by other broadcasters, Ms. Garrels — and her safety — became a story in itself.
Once she was home, other reporters interviewed her about her ordeal. She told of subsisting on Kit Kat chocolate bars and Marlboro Lights, bathing by gathering water in huge trash cans, and powering her equipment by attaching jumper cables to a car battery, which she lugged up to her hotel room every night.
Ms. Garrels told Terry Gross, host of the NPR program “Fresh Air,’’ that she had not thought twice about staying in Baghdad. “My gut instinct told me I would be OK,’’ she said, in part because she worked with a very competent fixer.
She admitted to Gross that she had been worried at times about being taken hostage, but she said she was usually so exhausted at night that she “slept like a baby through the bombing.’’
What really scared her, she said, was the thought of not telling a story as well as she wanted to. “I don’t write easily,’’ she said. “It’s a painful process.’’
Years later, Ms. Garrels said in an interview that while in Baghdad she had experienced a crucial reckoning. When the US Marines and some Iraqis toppled a massive statue of Saddam Hussein, the country’s dictator, she quoted somber Iraqis saying that the arrival of US troops had been humiliating and predicting that the Americans would soon be resented. By contrast, she said, the dominant images on television were of jubilant crowds cheering the fall of the statue.
Ms. Garrels’s editors in Washington were watching television and asked her if she wanted to revise her story, given the discordance between her words and the televised images. No, she told them, insisting that her interviews more accurately reflected the moment.
Her version was borne out by other photojournalists on the ground and by an after-action report by the Army, which said that the Marines had more or less stage-managed the toppling of the statue with a small number of Iraqis in an otherwise empty square.
“That was probably one of the most important moments for me as a reporter,’’ she said, as it reinforced her instincts to trust her own reporting.
As much as Anne Garrels loved Russia, she is probably best known for her reporting during the 2003 Iraq war. She was one of a handful of foreign reporters who remained in Bagdhad as the war began. As she told Susan Stamberg, she used a satellite phone for her reports and went to great lengths to conceal it from Iraqi authorities.
"And then I decided it would be very smart if I broadcast naked, so if that, god forbid, the secret police were coming through the rooms, that would give me maybe five minutes to answer the phone, pretend I'd been asleep and sort of go 'I don't have any clothes on!' And maybe it would maybe give me five seconds to hide the phone," she said.
Garrels later wrote about her wartime experiences in Iraq in a book called Naked in Bagdhad. NPR's Deborah Amos, who also reported from the Iraqi capital, remembered that Garrels sometimes took extraordinary risks to get a story.
The United States has not abandoned Iraq during its ongoing political crisis, a former US official said on Thursday, noting that parties in Baghdad need to reach an agreement to prevent further chaos in the country.
Iraq is in a deepening political impasse triggered by the parliament’s failure to form a government due to disputes between the major blocs of the legislature over the mechanism of its formation.
“A lot of people who have said that the United States has abandoned Iraq, [and] is starting to abandon the Middle East… The United States is not abandoning anybody. They are realigning, not their necessarily priorities, but their main objectives,” Vincent Campos, former public diplomacy officer at the US State Department told Rudaw’s Diyar Kurda on Thursday, adding that Washington constantly conducts an assessment to determine the right level of needed engagement.
Campos emphasized the need for the political parties to affirm their commitment to efforts aimed at the progress of the country and preventing it from sliding into further disarray.
The Supreme Federal Court, the highest judicial body in Iraq, has deprived the leader of the Sadrist movement, Moqtada al-Sadr, of his last pressure card to dissolve parliament and go to early legislative elections.
The court's decision came after he failed to achieve the dissolution of the legislature by resorting to street mobilisation, that eventually turned violent.
Analysts say that the decision announced Wednesday by the top court, which ruled that it does not have constitutional powers to dissolve parliament, narrows the options for Sadr and forces him to meet his opponents from the pro-Iran Coordination Framework half-way.
The initiative by his ally, Parliament Speaker Muhammad al-Halbousi, may offer him the opportunity for a political climb-down.
Legal expert Amir Al-Daami told local media, that "the decision of the Federal Court is to the credit of the court, given that it complied with the Iraqi constitution to the letter and did not put itself above the law."
Iraq's top court ruling on Wednesday could be a turning point in the country's 11-month political crisis.
Sadr's bloc won most votes in parliamentary elections last October but he has been unable to form a majority government. His followers stormed the parliament in late July to prevent their rivals from Iran-backed groups from forming the government.
With ensuing rallies, clashes with security forces, counter-rallies and a sit-in outside, the government formation process has stalled.
Anyone paying attention knows that Joe Biden’s accomplishments as president are pretty sparse. The oligarchy allowed his American Rescue Plan stimulus program to go through but then put a stop on Build Back Better or any other legislation that would help the people in a meaningful way. The student loan debt relief plan is a bait and switch scam used against desperate people. Biden brags about allowing Medicare to negotiate drug prices with pharmaceutical companies but that won’t happen until 2026 and will only be allowed for ten drugs that are to be named later.
What is a failed president to do? His 2022 midterm stump speech had the odd title , “The Continued Battle for the Soul of a Nation.” No one voted for Biden to be the nation’s religious leader, why the reference to the nation’s soul? That use of language is a sure sign that nonsense is being peddled and Biden didn’t disappoint. His failures are the reason he keeps running against Donald Trump instead of in defense of himself.
Because he and the democrats don’t have much in the way of appeals to voters he just shouts Trump’s signature acronym MAGA, Make America Great Again, over and over again. He said MAGA 13 times in his speech. Never before has a losing president or his supporters been elevated to such a level of attention.
Of course Trump differs from most former presidents by claiming that he didn’t really lose and encouraging his supporters to riot inside the Capitol two weeks before his successor’s inauguration. He still says he didn’t lose and is also back in the news after refusing to turn over subpoenaed documents to the National Archives where they belong.
But Trump’s personal foolishness should be a reason for him to be ignored instead of getting more attention. The MAGA distraction exposes the democrats’ weakness, namely living off their decades old reputation as the party of working people when they have had little or nothing to say for themselves in that regard in the Biden, Obama, or Clinton administrations.
The events of January 6, 2021 were definitely a shock to the public at that time but a year and a half of endless news stories and congressional investigations haven’t moved the needle of public opinion very much. Approximately 40% of Americans would still vote for Trump. The people calling Trump a traitor and wanting to jail him are the same people who would never have voted for him or other republicans in the first place. Trump received more than 70 million votes in November 2020, 10 million more than in his 2016 election. There is little reason to believe that those supporters will change their minds. The democrats may get lucky and keep control of congress after the midterm elections but it won’t be because Biden manages to say MAGA in every sentence.
It is a political dictum that opponents should be attacked and not voters. Hillary Clinton’s pre-election remark about “deplorables” didn’t help her get out the vote in swing states where she most needed them. Biden diverges from traditional political discourse out of desperation so acute that he repeats Hillary’s failed course of action.
He is allowed to spew subpar propaganda because he has no opposition within the democratic party. The so-called progressives stand down when they are told to do so. They are window dressing within window dressing who are allowed to post platitudes on Twitter and fool democrats into thinking they have champions in congress. Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley can even tell an obvious lie that Biden canceled student loan debt and emerge unscathed. Neither she nor other members of “the Squad” or the Congressional Black Caucus have anything to fear when they go along to get along.
They would think twice about joining in the beat down if they feared the voters. Unfortunately most democratic voters have been indoctrinated into thinking that voicing any concerns with their party leadership will lead to republican victory. Black voters are once again caught in what they see as an insurmountable trap of defending democrats regardless of what they do or fail to do.
But that twisted thinking needs to stop. The liberation movement is uplifted at every possible moment yet its real significance, sustained opposition to political power, is rarely mentioned. There is no reason to accept crumbs and thus continue snatching defeat from the jaws of victory. There is no trap for Black or any other democratic voters if they show some determination to speak out when they are being conned.