AuthorTopic: Knarf's Knewz Channel  (Read 1883287 times)

Offline knarf

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Turkey Syria offensive: Tens of thousands flee homes
« Reply #14280 on: October 10, 2019, 06:41:23 PM »

A picture taken from Akcakale in Turkey shows strikes on the Syrian town of Tal Abyad

Tens of thousands of people have fled their homes in northern Syria, as Turkish forces step up their cross-border offensive on Kurdish-held areas.

Turkish troops have encircled the border towns of Ras al-Ain and Tal Abyad and aid agencies fear the exodus could reach hundreds of thousands.

International clamour has increased for Turkey to halt the attack.

Turkey has defended its bid to create a "safe zone" free of Kurdish militias which could also house Syrian refugees.

Turkey regards the Kurdish militias of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) - which have controlled the cross-border areas - as "terrorists" who support an anti-Turkish insurgency.

The SDF have been key allies of the United States in the battle against the Islamic State (IS) group.

However, it was after President Donald Trump's decision to pull US troops out of the area that Turkey launched its assault, sparking SDF accusations they had been "stabbed in the back".

Many in the US, including some of Mr Trump's Republican allies, say the withdrawal effectively gave Turkey a green light.

One major concern for the international community is the fate of thousands of suspected IS prisoners, including many foreign nationals, being guarded by Kurdish-led forces in the region.
How is the offensive affecting people?

The International Rescue Committee aid organisation said that 64,000 people had already reportedly fled their homes. The UK-based monitoring group, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, gave a similar figure.

The IRC's Misty Buswell said: "If the offensive continues it's possible a total of 300,000 people could be displaced to already overstretched camps and towns still recovering from the fight against IS."

Another group of 14 humanitarian organisations, including the Mercy Corps, warned the figure could be 450,000.

Ms Buswell said IRC teams remained on the ground, although other reports suggest some aid groups have pulled back across the Turkish border.

Sevinaz, a resident of Ras al-Ain, told the BBC on Thursday morning: "I am outside the town with my sick mother. My brother is inside. I have been informed that my cousin might have been martyred. There is no safe place for anybody.

"I'm concerned about it being the last time that I see my city."

Rizan Mohammad, who fled the Kurdish-majority city of Qamishli after Turkish air strikes, told AFP news agency: "We're heading to the countryside because we're scared of renewed bombing and intensified clashes."
Mark Twain — 'There are many humorous things in the world; among them, the white man's notion that he is less savage than the other savages.'

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Oil firms to pour extra 7m barrels per day into markets, data shows
« Reply #14281 on: October 10, 2019, 06:46:34 PM »
Projected production surge in next 12 years to be led by Shell despite climate crisis

The world’s 50 biggest oil companies are poised to flood markets with an additional 7m barrels per day over the next decade, despite warnings from scientists that this will push global heating towards catastrophic levels.

New research commissioned by the Guardian forecasts Shell and ExxonMobil will be among the leaders with a projected production increase of more than 35% between 2018 and 2030 – a sharper rise than over the previous 12 years.

The acceleration is almost the opposite of the 45% reduction in carbon emissions by 2030 that scientists say is necessary to have any chance of holding global heating at a relatively safe level of 1.5C.

The projections are by Rystad Energy, a Norwegian consultancy regarded as the gold standard for data in the industry. The rising trend they reveal highlights how major players seem to be ignoring government promises, scientific alarms and a growing public outcry so they can pump more fossil fuels – and profits – out of the ground.

Rystad bases its work on companies’ assets and a long-term oil price of $65 a barrel, similar to its current level.

The forecast shows an almost 8% rise in the projected output of the top 50 oil and gas companies between 2018 and 2030, which would account for almost two-fifths of the remaining 1.5C carbon budget and increase the risk of heatwaves, hurricanes, forest fires and floods.

At least 14 of the 20 biggest historical carbon producers plan to pump out more hydrocarbons in 2030 than in 2018, according to the Rystad data.

Its analysis shows the US is the centre of the latest global oil boom, with more than four times more new production than the next country, Canada, over the next 10 years.

The expansion will primarily be in the Permian basin in Texas. BP, Chevron and ConocoPhillips will be involved, as well as smaller, faster-growing private firms that are together driving this single US state to produce more oil and gas than all of Saudi Arabia by 2030.

Massive new drilling projects are also under way or planned in north-west Argentina, off the Caribbean shores of Guyana, in Kazakhstan’s Kashagan oilfield, in the Yamal peninsula in Siberia and in the Barents Sea.

Lorne Stockman, a senior research analyst at Oil Change International, which monitors oil companies, said: “Rather than planning an orderly decline in production, they are doubling down and acting like there is no climate crisis. This presents us with a simple choice: shut them down or face extreme climate disruption.”

Richard Heede, a researcher at the Climate Accountability Institute in the US, said the companies would be putting themselves – and human civilisation – at risk, unless they shifted to renewable energy and offset new production to net zero by mid-century.

“No company that values its social licence to operate shall make a capital investment in new fossil fuel projects without offsetting or sequestering an equivalent amount of carbon dioxide so as to assure alignment with science-based targets to 1.5C and net zero emissions by 2050,” he added.

Separately, the watchdog group Global Witness estimates companies plan to invest $4.9tn in new fields – none of which are compatible with the 1.5C target.

Dieter Helm, an Oxford University academic and government adviser, said oil giants were planning a final fossil fuel “harvest”.

“If we were serious about addressing climate change we would leave some oil in the ground, so there is a scramble among big oil companies to make sure their assets are not the ones left stranded,” he said.

“Their answer is to pump as much as they can, while they still can, to keep delivering shareholder dividends. But the problem for the rest of us is that they are going to produce far more oil and gas than is consistent with the Paris agreement.”

 Among publicly traded companies, Shell is forecast to increase output by 38% by 2030, by increasing its crude oil production by more than half and its gas production by over a quarter.

The company’s forecast trajectory shows it will overtake today’s biggest international oil company, ExxonMobil, by 2025, according to Rystad.

Shell said it did not disclose future production plans but it was on course to sustain output to meet demand, which required continued investment.

The company has been lauded for its environmental leadership among its big oil peers, owing to its vocal support of the Paris climate agreement, carbon intensity targets – mainly through more emphasis on gas than oil – and forays into low-carbon projects.

Ben van Beurden, the chief executive, has called climate change the biggest issue facing the oil industry. The company plans to expand into renewables but just $1bn-$2bn of its annual $25bn-$30bn capital expenditure is allocated for low-carbon projects, a figure it hopes to double.

“We believe … it is our role to make sure we make energy available with a lower carbon footprint, so that we help whether it is the aviation sector, the residential sector, the steel sector or the petrochemical sector to curtail and contain their greenhouse gas emissions,” he said.

“I believe philosophically – and I know this is a tough sell because there is a fringe that is in a different camp on this – that it is not for energy companies to curtail the use of energy.”

State-owned Qatar Petroleum is the only company planning a bigger increase, of 58% by 2030.

Shell is not alone among international companies planning to pump much more oil and gas, according to the research. The US firm ExxonMobil is expected to increase its fossil fuel production by 35% by 2030, BP by 20% and France’s Total by 12%.

Espen Erlingsen, an analyst at Rystad, said: “Among the majors, we see the largest growth potential coming from Shell. Here deepwater, shale gas and tight oil projects are driving the potential production growth.” But he said Shell had sold some of its most carbon-intensive assets, such as Canadian tar sands fields.

None of the top 20 companies disputed the projections.

An ExxonMobil spokesperson said: “We believe climate change is a serious issue and it is going to take efforts by business, governments and consumers to make meaningful action. Reducing greenhouse gas emissions is a global issue and requires global participation and actions.”

Other companies said they were investing in renewables or focusing on gas. Total said it was increasing the efficiency of its facilities but was not responsible for how its products were used by consumers. More details about their responses can be found here.

In absolute terms, the international oil companies will still be dwarfed by the output of state-run national firms in the future. The biggest, Saudi Aramco, will continue to suck the most fossil fuels out of the ground.

Between 2018 and 2030, it plans to produce oil and gas equivalent to 27bn metric tonnes of carbon dioxide – almost all of which will eventually make its way into the atmosphere and add to the problem of global heating. This is followed by Gazprom, the Iranian National Oil Co, ExxonMobil, Russia’s Rosneft, Shell, PetroChina and BP.

The top 50 firms will together produce the equivalent of 225bn metric tonnes of carbon dioxide over this 12-year period, notes a separate analysis by Oil Change International: 38.8% of the 1.5C carbon budget.

Some of the few projected declines are in Algeria, Mexico and Venezuela, though forecasts for the state-owned corporations in these countries are considered less reliable.
Mark Twain — 'There are many humorous things in the world; among them, the white man's notion that he is less savage than the other savages.'

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Climate Denial Sneaks Into A Federal Report
« Reply #14282 on: October 10, 2019, 06:49:37 PM »
The Bureau of Land Management issued an environmental impact statement last month that examines the effects that oil development will have on the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Buried deep in the appendix of the report was this BLM response to a public comment:

The BLM does not agree that the proposed development is inconsistent with maintaining a livable planet (i.e., there is not a climate crisis). The planet was much warmer within the past 1,000 years, prior to the Little Ice Age, based on extensive archaeological evidence (such as farming in Greenland and vineyards in England). This warmth did not make the planet unlivable; rather, it was a time when societies prospered.

The comment alludes to the so-called “Medieval Warm Period,” which is commonly referenced by climate change deniers to justify their beliefs. The BLM has since said the comment had no bearing on the scientific conclusions contained elsewhere in the report.

Adam Aton, a climate reporter at E&E News, joins Ira to talk about the report, and what fossil fuel development in the Arctic might mean for local wildlife and the planet.
Mark Twain — 'There are many humorous things in the world; among them, the white man's notion that he is less savage than the other savages.'

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Boeing partners with Porsche on electric flying car
« Reply #14283 on: October 10, 2019, 06:52:25 PM »
(Reuters) - U.S. planemaker Boeing Co said on Thursday it was working with Volkswagen’s (VOWG_p.DE) sports car brand, Porsche, to develop a concept electric flying vehicle capable of transporting people in urban settings.

Boeing is already competing with arch-rival Airbus SE and other companies to introduce small self-flying vehicles capable of vertical takeoff and landing.

Earlier this year, the planemaker conducted an inaugural test flight of an aerial car prototype that could accommodate two to four passengers and fly up to 50 miles.

The test flight was within months of Airbus showcasing a prototype of an autonomous passenger vehicle in partnership with Volkswagen’s premium brand, Audi, that has the ability to both fly and drive.

Porsche has been aiming to build flying cars that can be used as taxis and for ride-sharing purposes.

As part of the deal, Boeing and Porsche will analyze the market potential for premium aerial vehicles and their possible use in highly populated cities and metropolises, the companies said.

The partnership comes at a crucial time for both Volkswagen and Boeing.

The German carmaker is trying to build its brand image following a diesel emissions scandal, while Boeing has been struggling with its worst crisis since two fatal crashes of its 737 MAX planes led to a worldwide grounding of its best-selling jet.
Mark Twain — 'There are many humorous things in the world; among them, the white man's notion that he is less savage than the other savages.'

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Dozens of people were arrested Thursday as protesters demanding action on climate change blocked traffic in New York's Times Square.
Images on social media showed demonstrators from the group Extinction Rebellion sitting on the ground, circled around a green boat that said "Act now." Protesters wore orange life jackets and held up the flags of countries impacted by environmental disasters, including the Bahamas, parts of which were devastated by Hurricane Dorian last month.

At least 62 people were arrested, according to a New York Police Department spokesperson. It's unclear what charges they will face, but they will likely include civil disobedience.
Extinction Rebellion, an environmental group founded in the UK, recently kicked off a series of coordinated worldwide protests meant to bring attention to the climate crisis.

"This is part of a week of action ... and it is part of a global effort to peaceful, nonviolent civil disobedience," said Christina See, a spokeswoman for Extinction Rebellion NYC. "By putting a boat in the middle of Times Square, it just is about making people wake up that we're in a climate and ecological emergency."

The scene was later cleared and the boat was towed away by police, said Arthur Wei, another Extinction Rebellion member.
"Our message is just that there is no more business as usual," he said, "that this is a climate emergency and we've got to wake up and treat it as such."

The protest forced police to close several intersections, according to CNN affiliate WABC, which reported a large police presence on the scene.
More than 250 Extinction Rebellion activists were arrested in London earlier this week as they demanded that governments take action to address the climate crisis. Earlier Thursday, an activist climbed on top of a plane on the runway at London's City Airport.
Mark Twain — 'There are many humorous things in the world; among them, the white man's notion that he is less savage than the other savages.'

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The climate crisis in 2050: what happens if cities act but nations don't?
« Reply #14285 on: October 10, 2019, 07:16:12 PM »

 How Miami’s South Beach could look if global heating reaches 2C.

It is cities, not national governments, that are most aggressively fighting the climate crisis – and in 30 years they could look radically different

She has barely ever been in a car, and never eaten meat or flown. Now 31, she lives on the 15th floor of a city centre tower from where she can just see the ocean 500 yards away on one side and the suburbs and informal settlements sprawling as far as the eye can see on the other.

Life is OK in this megacity. She earns the exact median income and is as green as she feels she can be: she has no children yet, her carbon footprint is negligible, and her apartment, built in the early 2000s, has been retrofitted for climate change with deep insulation, its own solar air-con and heating systems.

It has a “living” wall of plants and a balcony where she grows a few vegetables. Waste is automatically sorted or composted. Outside it may be roasting, with temperatures often higher than 40C. Inside, she’s cool.

She loves where she lives, even though the water tastes slightly salty sometimes and there are often electricity outages in the summer months because of the frequent droughts affecting reservoir levels. Her windows catch the breeze, and because the mayor has adapted to climate change by banning cars across the whole city centre and no fossil fuels are burned nearby, there’s little air pollution. She feels healthy.

Food is expensive because of the massive floods and droughts that have affected the world’s main food-growing areas, but most of hers is organically grown and is delivered by drone from the nearby 20-storey “farmscraper” built 10 years ago. Most cities of this size grow as much of their own food as possible these days, as a way to reduce transport emissions.

To make extra money last year, she traded in her annual government carbon and meat quotas. Short-haul flights have been stopped anyway, and like everyone her age, she is allowed just one return flight a year.

But she doesn’t need to travel much now. The city authorities have thrown money at protecting infrastructure and helping people adapt to the higher temperatures and ever more frequent storms. The green spaces have been re-wilded. She can walk safely down the shady, tree-lined streets, cool off in the lido, or visit the urban forest, which the far-sighted city mayor started 20 years ago on wasteland.

But now she really worries. She may have adapted her own life as far as possible to climate change, but so much is out of her control. The world’s population has grown by 2.5 billion people since she was born in 2019, and carbon concentrations reached the 550 ppm (parts per million) milestone last year – just as the IPCC scientists had forecast they would. They were just 407 ppm when she was born.

Despite some international action on climate change, global warming passed the 1.5C mark – considered the maximum for long-term safety – in 2040 and is now heading inexorably for 3C or 3.5C, possibly within 100 years. That is really dangerous and means food and water will be scarcer, the rains will be heavier, and even more people will flood in from rural areas to the city.

Worst of all, the continuing loss of ice at the poles and in the great mountain ranges means sea levels are rising faster than most would have believed possible 30 years ago. The last great superstorm, caused by extraordinarily warm temperatures in the Arctic, flooded miles of coastal settlements and forced the permanent evacuation of dozens of expensive ocean-side apartment blocks. Waves crashed 100 metres beyond the new, higher sea walls. That’s when her water started to taste salty.

Perhaps the time has come for her to sell up and migrate to higher land, she thinks. She has been told that the underground water supplies to her tower block are beginning to be polluted with seawater and might only last 10 years, and that her tower could be deemed unsafe to live in within 20 years because of flooding. But it’s far worse in most parts of the city. There the extremely poor don’t live in strong houses, and can’t build higher walls, relocate, borrow money or adapt so easily.

But if she left, where would she go? Every year her apartment is worth less because it is so close to the ocean; property on higher ground now attracts premium prices. Her city has grown vastly in the previous 20 years, as droughts and floods have made farming less profitable and hundreds of thousands of climate-affected people have migrated in from rural areas. Many of them live with only patchy public transport, and endure dreadful air pollution and heat.

This is the climate breakdown reality she was warned about at school, and why she skipped classes to join the great demonstrations of the 2030s. Back in October 2019, the C40 group of 94 global megacities had used IPCC and World Bank figures to forecast that 1.6 billion people living in over 970 world cities would be regularly exposed to extreme high temperatures by 2050.

It said another 800 million people living in 570 cities would be vulnerable to sea level rise and coastal flooding, including the world’s great coastal cities. And it also said that 2.5 billion people (or nearly one in four people on Earth) would be living in the over 1,600 cities where national food supplies were threatened by the climate crisis – including supposedly richer cities such as Athens, Barcelona, Istanbul and Los Angeles. These predictions proved to be accurate.

Her city did its best to adapt, inspired perhaps by a report from the Coalition for Urban Transitions, backed by some of the world’s leading economists, that showed that governments that invested in low-carbon cities could not just help mitigate the effects of the climate crisis but could also massively enhance economic prosperity, attract the most talented people – and, not incidentally, make cities far better places to live.

Permanently cutting 90% of urban emissions in 2019 would have cost the world $1.8tn but would have been generating annual returns of $7tn by now, it said.

“Cities are engines of growth, innovation and prosperity,” António Guterres, then UN secretary general, had said. “It is possible and realistic to realise net-zero emissions by 2050. But to get there we will need the full engagement of city governments combined with national action and support.”

Sadly, most governments did not pay much attention. It’s easy to be wise in retrospect, but money spent then would have been the best investment ever made, she knows. Now the figures seem conservative. Now it is a race against time.
How likely is this future?

By 2050, cities will be home to over 70% of the world population. The great global challenge is to adapt them to the changing climate and reduce emissions.

That means conserving water, planting trees, banning fossil fuels, changing diets, adapting farming, improving soils, reducing air pollution which contributes to warming, and even painting buildings white to reflect heat.

Many north European cities have started to ditch diesel and petrol, ban cars and plastic and turn to renewable power, aiming to be “carbon-zero”. Seoul is planting 30m trees and expanding its green spaces vastly to create shade; Melbourne and many other Australian and British cities will benefit from ambitious street tree-planting programmes. Denmark, one of the most urban of all European countries, aims to cut emissions by 70% by 2030; its capital, Copenhagen, aims to be carbon-neutral by 2025.

Many cities have less money or access to technology, but even those are developing ambitious adaptation schemes. São Paulo is reducing emissions by paying people to use less water and energy. Dar es Salaam and some cities in Canada are relocating people who live in flood-vulnerable properties and pulling down their houses. Many cities have banned any kind of building in wetland areas.

Some of the richest cities, such as New York, are planning huge ocean barriers to protect the most valuable properties; others, such as London, are overhauling their drainage systems to cope with greater populations and heavier rains.

In poorer countries such as Bangladesh, city mayors and governments have concentrated on improving early warning systems and developing urban resilience. Mexico City has saved power (and improved health) by installing thousands of rainwater harvesting and water-purification systems.

It’s not only a question of money. Those cities that start early in adapting for the climate breakdown will be the most successful, says Saleemul Huq, director of the International Centre for Climate Change and Development in Dhaka, Bangladesh.

“Our long history of catastrophe gave us a head-start,” he says. “Bangladesh has one of the best plans in the world for adaptation. Everyone is involved, from schoolchildren to urban mayors and governments. Communities here are not waiting.

“The climate problem has indeed become a matter of urgency. This message is reverberating among both the young and old generations around the world.”
Mark Twain — 'There are many humorous things in the world; among them, the white man's notion that he is less savage than the other savages.'

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A wildfire exploded overnight in Los Angeles.
« Reply #14286 on: October 11, 2019, 06:32:27 AM »
Tens of thousands of people are under mandatory evacuation order

A fast-growing, wind-driven wildfire swept into the northern Los Angeles area overnight, forcing hurried evacuation orders for tens of thousands of people, closing portions of at least three major freeways and sending firefighters scrambling to save homes.
The Saddleridge Fire, which started Thursday and exploded to 4,600 acres by early Friday, jumped across the 210 and 5 freeways overnight as it spread into northern Los Angeles neighborhoods.
An undetermined number of homes have been destroyed, and mandatory evacuations were called for more than 12,000 homes -- often while occupants were sleeping -- in and near Los Angeles' Porter Ranch neighborhood, the Los Angeles Fire Department said.
"We need people to leave now while they can," Los Angeles Police Chief Michel Moore said early Friday.

The Saddleridge fire flares up near a firefighter in Los Angeles' Sylmar neighborhood.

his is just one of the several blazes in Southern California fueled by strong Santa Ana winds, with gusts around 60 mph. Many parts of the region are under red-flag warnings -- meaning high fire risk -- into Friday afternoon.
The Saddleridge Fire started around 9 p.m. ET and jumped the 210 and 5 freeways, and some parts those roads and the 405 were closed in both directions as orange embers lit up the night sky. By late Thursday it had gutted 60 acres; but some four hours later, it had grown to more than 4,000 acres, fire officials said.
Hector Landeros, who lives in northern Los Angeles' Sylmar neighborhood, said he heard fire trucks and police cruisers speeding through the streets Thursday night as the massive flames got closer.
"In some areas, the streets have started to empty but at the front lines people are watching, waiting on the sidewalk not really knowing what to do," he told CNN early Friday. "There are a lot of people trying to get into their neighborhoods."

Shaun Butch said he saw flames on both sides of the freeway while driving on Interstate 5.
"Everything was engulfed in smoke and visibility was so low it was hard to drive. Everyone on the Interstate 5 north was stopped and trapped. Still was able to barely get through on the Interstate 5 north."
Patsy Zamora said as she drove on the freeway with the fire next to the truck route, she could feel the heat through the windows.
In Sylmar, Mojdan Darabi's husband was spraying their house and yard with a garden hose early Friday, CNN affiliate KABC reported. They both stood outside, anxiously watching flames in the nearby hillsides.
"Yes, I'm worried, but I'm just shooting water everywhere to stop the fire from over here," the husband said.

It's one of multiple fires in the region
The Saddleridge Fire is one of several burning in Southern California.
Another blaze -- the Sandalwood Fire in Calimesa, some 70 miles east of Los Angeles -- has destroyed at least 74 structures since it began Thursday afternoon, according to the Riverside County Fire Department. It has burned at least 500 acres and was at least 10% contained.

he Sandalwood Fire in Calimesa has destroyed 74 structures.

It started when the load on a garbage truck caught on fire and spread to vegetation, Capt. Fernando Herrera of Cal Fire Riverside told CNN affiliate KABC.
"Due to the Santa Ana wind influx, obviously this fire just completely went out of control. It started just eating up vegetation as fast as the eye can see," he said.
Residents are under mandatory evacuation orders, and 120 firefighters are assigned to the area.

Less than 20 miles away in Moreno Valley, the Reche Fire has burned at least 350 acres and was 10% contained Thursday evening. The fire went from 100 to 200 acres in about 90 minutes, before nearly doubling two hours later. Mandatory evacuations have been issued in surrounding areas, and the cause is under investigation.

Southern California Edison cut power to almost 24,000 customers Thursday to prevent wildfires caused by high winds downing live power equipment.
Mark Twain — 'There are many humorous things in the world; among them, the white man's notion that he is less savage than the other savages.'

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California bans travel-size plastic shampoo bottles from hotels
« Reply #14287 on: October 11, 2019, 06:40:52 AM »
 In a few years, you'll no longer be able to rely on hotels in California for those travel-size bottles of shampoo and lotion.
California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a bill Wednesday that bans hotels from supplying such bottles in an effort to reduce the number of plastic containers being thrown away by hotels and guests.
The bill, set to take effect in 2023, will apply to lodging establishments with more than 50 rooms. Hotels with less than 50 rooms must stop using the tiny bottles by 2024.
This would not impact hospitals, nursing homes, residential retirement communities, prisons, jails or homeless shelters, according to the bill.

If a hotel in California doesn't comply with the ban, its owners and operators could be subject to monetary fines. On the first violation, a written warning will be given along with a $500 fine for each day the lodging establishment is in violation, according to the bill. Any second or subsequent violations would result in a $2,000 fine.
Assembly Member Ash Kalra of San Jose co-authored the bill, known as AB 1162. Kalra has said small plastic bottles under 12 ounces cause a sizable amount of waste and believes his law will help reduce the problem.
The legislation comes at a time when many cities and companies are moving to ban single-use plastics such as water bottles in airports, straws and grocery bags.
California has been at the forefront of bans on single-use plastics and became the first state to ban plastic bags in 2014. New York state also moved to do the same with plastic bags last month and is now looking to prohibit hotel plastics with a bill sponsored by New York Sen. Todd Kaminsky.

"Little everyday actions, like eliminating small plastic bottles, will have a positive impact on our environment," Kaminsky said in a press release. "By barring hotels from giving single-use plastic toiletries to customers, we are safeguarding our environment, and mitigating plastic waste and waterway pollution."

Marriott International announced in April it would replace the individual soap, shampoo and conditioner bottles with bulk dispensers in its showers. The program is expected to save an average of 250 pounds of plastic per year for a 140-room hotel -- about 23,000 plastic bottles, Marriott told Lodging Magazine.
Mark Twain — 'There are many humorous things in the world; among them, the white man's notion that he is less savage than the other savages.'

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Revealed: Google made large contributions to climate change deniers
« Reply #14288 on: October 11, 2019, 06:45:24 AM »

Firm’s public calls for climate action contrast with backing for conservative thinktanks

Google has made “substantial” contributions to some of the most notorious climate deniers in Washington despite its insistence that it supports political action on the climate crisis.

Among hundreds of groups the company has listed on its website as beneficiaries of its political giving are more than a dozen organisations that have campaigned against climate legislation, questioned the need for action, or actively sought to roll back Obama-era environmental protections.

The list includes the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI), a conservative policy group that was instrumental in convincing the Trump administration to abandon the Paris agreement and has criticised the White House for not dismantling more environmental rules.

Google said it was disappointed by the US decision to abandon the global climate deal, but has continued to support CEI.

Google is also listed as a sponsor for an upcoming annual meeting of the State Policy Network (SPN), an umbrella organisation that supports conservative groups including the Heartland Institute, a radical anti-science group that has chided the teenage activist Greta Thunberg for “climate delusion hysterics”.

SPN members recently created a “climate pledge” website that falsely states “our natural environment is getting better” and “there is no climate crisis”.

Google has defended its contributions, saying that its “collaboration” with organisations such as CEI “does not mean we endorse the organisations’ entire agenda”.

It donates to such groups, people close to the company say, to try to influence conservative lawmakers, and – most importantly – to help finance the deregulatory agenda the groups espouse.

A spokesperson for Google said it sponsored organisations from across the political spectrum that advocate for “strong technology policies”.

“We’re hardly alone among companies that contribute to organisations while strongly disagreeing with them on climate policy,” the spokesperson said. Amazon has, like Google, also sponsored a CEI gala, according to a programme for the event reported in the New York Times.

CEI has opposed regulation of the internet and enforcement of antitrust rules, and has defended Google against some Republicans’ claims that the search engine has an anti-conservative bias.

But environmental activists and other critics say that, for a company that purports to support global action on climate change, such tradeoffs are not acceptable.

“You don’t get a pass on it. It ought to be disqualifying to support what is primarily a phoney climate denying front group. It ought to be unacceptable given how wicked they have been,” said Sheldon Whitehouse, a Democratic senator from Rhode Island who is one of the most vocal proponents of climate action in Congress.

“What all of corporate America should be doing is saying if you are a trade organisation or lobby group and you are interfering on climate, we are out. Period,” he added.

On its website, Google says it is committed to ensuring its political engagement is “open, transparent and clear to our users, shareholders, and the public”.

But the company declined to answer the Guardian’s questions on how much it has given to the organisations.

On a webpage devoted to “transparency”, it describes the groups – among hundreds of others, including some progressive advocates such as the Center for American Progress – as having received “substantial” contributions.

Apart from CEI, they include the American Conservative Union, whose chairman, Matt Schlapp, worked for a decade for Koch Industries and shaped the company’s radical anti-environment policies in Washington; the American Enterprise Institute, which has railed against climate “alarmists”; and Americans for Tax Reform, which has criticised companies who support climate action for seeking out “corporate welfare”.

It has also donated undisclosed sums to the Cato Institute, which has voiced opposition to climate legislation and questioned the severity of the crisis. Google has also made donations to the Mercatus Center, a Koch-funded thinktank, and the Heritage Foundation and Heritage Action, a pressure group that said the Paris agreement was supported by “cosmopolitan elites” and part of Barack Obama’s “destructive legacy”.

Bill McKibben, a prominent environmentalist who has been on the frontline of the climate crisis for decades, said Google and other companies were engaged in a “functional greenwashing” given the contradiction in their public pronouncements and private donations. He said Google and other technology companies had also not used their own lobbyists to advocate for change on climate.

“Sometimes I’ll talk to companies and they will be going on and on about their renewable server farm or natural gas delivery, and I say thank you, but what we really need is for your lobbying shop in Washington to put serious muscle behind it. And they never do,” McKibben said. “They want some tax break or some regulations switch and they never devote the slightest muscle behind the most important issue of our time or any time.”

A spokesperson for Google said: “We’ve been extremely clear that Google’s sponsorship doesn’t mean that we endorse that organisation’s entire agenda – we may disagree strongly on some issues.

“Our position on climate change is similarly clear. Since 2007, we have operated as a carbon neutral company and for the second year in a row, we reached 100% renewable energy for our global operations.”

The company said it called for “strong action” at the climate conference in Paris in 2015 and helped to sponsor the Global Climate Action summit in San Francisco last year.

But that position is at odds with the support it gives to CEI.

The group’s director of energy and environment policy, Myron Ebell, helped found the Cooler Heads Coalition 20 years ago, a group of libertarian and rightwing organisations that have sowed the seeds of climate denial with funding from the fossil fuel industry.

When Donald Trump was elected to the White House in 2016, Ebell joined the transition team and advised the new president on environmental issues, successfully lobbying Trump to adhere to a campaign promise and abandon the Paris agreement.

Kert Davies, the founder of the Climate Investigations Center, a research group that examines corporate campaigning, said Ebell had led the anti-climate-action crusade for decades.

“They’re extremists,” he said, referring to the Cooler Heads Coalition. “They are never finished,” he said. “Myron has taken a lot of credit for Trump’s actions and is quite proud of his access.”

Recently, however, Ebell – who declined a request for an interview – has criticised the White House for not rolling back environmental protections aggressively enough, even though the Trump administration has gutted every major environmental act established under Obama.

His wishlist now includes reversing a 2009 finding by the Environmental Protection Agency that CO2 and other greenhouse gases endanger the health and welfare of Americans.

CEI said it “respects the privacy of its donors” and declined to answer questions about Google. A CEI spokesperson told the Guardian: “On energy policy, CEI advances the humanitarian view that abundant and affordable energy makes people safer and economies more resilient. Making energy accessible, especially for the most vulnerable, is a core value.”

One source who is familiar with Google’s decision-making defended the company’s funding of CEI.

“When it comes to regulation of technology, Google has to find friends wherever they can and I think it is wise that the company does not apply litmus tests to who they support,” the source said.
Mark Twain — 'There are many humorous things in the world; among them, the white man's notion that he is less savage than the other savages.'

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73 Catholic schools in Washington end religious vaccine exemptions
« Reply #14289 on: October 11, 2019, 06:49:08 AM »
 The new policy, which affects 22,000 students, will allow students to claim exemptions only for medical reasons. All other students must be vaccinated to attend school.

Less than 2% of those students currently claim a non-medical exemption, according to the archdiocese.

"It's great that the schools and the church are standing up for vaccines," said Dr. Peter Hotez, professor and dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine.

The new policy goes into effect on January 1, but students have a grace period that extends until the end of the academic year to get vaccinated. Reasons for medical exemptions might include experiencing a severe allergic reaction after a previous vaccine or being immunocompromised.

 2019 has been a crippling year for measles in the United States, with more than 1,200 cases, the most since 1992, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. New York City suffered a major measles outbreak this year, its worst in nearly three decades, and the national as a whole barely held on to its coveted measles elimination status.

The return of the highly infectious disease is indicative of a larger trend. During the past year, the United Kingdom, Greece, Venezuela and Brazil have all lost their measles elimination status, in part, due to misinformation and vaccine hesitancy.

"We're in this new normal," Hotez said. "The CDC feels that we've escaped calling off measles elimination, but I think it's relevant that we still have large pockets of kids who are not vaccinated."

"And in Europe," he added. "It's widespread."

In response to the U.S. outbreaks, New York, California, Maine, Mississippi and West Virginia, have banned all non-medical vaccine exemptions.

 While some Catholics believe that receiving a vaccine grown in a fetal cell would make them complicit in an abortion, the Catholic Church is not opposed to immunizations.

"Since this is the official position of the Catholic Church, and Catholic Schools reflect Catholic teachings, we decided it was time to update our policy," said Helen McClenahan, a spokesperson for the archdiocese, who has four kids currently enrolled in Catholic schools.

Not everyone is happy about the new vaccine policy.

A group of 20 protesters, led by Jena Dalpez, the program director of Informed Choice Washington, an anti-vaccine group, gathered earlier in the week to fight the decision.

"This policy strips parents of their constitutionally protected right to freedom of religion," said Dalpez, adding that individuals should be able to make their own medical decisions. While she doesn't have kids attending Catholic schools, Dalpez said families she's spoken with say they would rather pull their kids out of school than vaccinate them.
Mark Twain — 'There are many humorous things in the world; among them, the white man's notion that he is less savage than the other savages.'

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California set to end private prisons and immigrant detention camps
« Reply #14290 on: October 11, 2019, 06:53:06 AM »
America’s largest state prison system is moving to quit the practice of farming out inmates to lockups run under contract by private companies, following a nationwide decline in the for-profit incarceration business.

California Governor Gavin Newsom is expected to sign legislation this week designed to effectively ban private, for-profit corporations from running prisons or immigration detention facilities.

Sponsors of the measure say it will end a brief but hapless experiment in privately outsourced incarceration begun as a means to ease overcrowding - an endeavor Newsom branded an outrage when he took office in January.

Bill supporters say private prisons, driven to maximize shareholder profits, lack proper oversight or incentives to rehabilitate inmates, and have contributed to a culture of mass incarceration by making it cheaper to lock up people.

They point to research cited in a 2016 U.S. Justice Department Office of Inspector General report that found private prisons spend less on personnel, and are less safe, than public institutions.

“This is a total and complete failure, and it’s hurting and abusing Californians,” said state Assemblyman Rob Bonta, a chief author of the bill.

The facilities at stake are low-security lockups operated by one of two leading U.S. private prison companies, Florida-headquartered GEO Group (GEO.N) or Tennessee-based CoreCivic (CXW.N).

Defending their business model, the companies say they provided a vital service when detentions in California’s prisons more than doubled the system’s capacity, sparking lawsuits that led to court-ordered cuts to inmate populations.

“For 10 years, we provided safe, secure housing and life-changing re-entry programing for inmates that had faced extreme overcrowding,” CoreCivic spokeswoman Amanda Gilchrist said.

Separately, GEO Group cited its record as “an innovator in the field of rehabilitative services” and said the bill worked against the state’s goal of lowering inmate recidivism.

Inmate advocacy groups say the legislation does not go far enough, pointing to what they call significant loopholes, including an exemption for facilities that provide “educational, vocational, medical or other ancillary services” to inmates.

“I cannot think of any prison that does not provide those services,” said Kara Gotsch, director of strategic initiatives for the Sentencing Project, a criminal justice reform group.

Several states, including New York, Illinois and Nevada, have adopted similar bans on private prisons, and nearly half of all states have no such facilities, Gotsch said.

The bill sets the stage for the three remaining private prisons in California, collectively housing about 1,400 inmates, to close four years from now, when their contracts with the state Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation expire.

Perhaps more significantly, the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency stands to lose four privately-run detention facilities in California next year that hold roughly 4,000 people, unless the ban is challenged in court.

ICE has not taken a public position on the bill. But assuming the measure were adopted, detainees would simply be transferred to facilities outside California, the agency said in a statement.

The impact “would be felt almost exclusively by residents of California, who would be forced to travel greater distances to visit friends and family in custody,” ICE said.

The average daily population at issue in those facilities accounts for less than a tenth of the 52,000 ICE holds nationwide, it said.

The bill, which secured its final passage by the state legislature last month, bans any new or renewed California contracts with private, for-profit prisons, starting in January.

Four detention facilities privately operated for ICE would be put out of business even sooner, when their contracts with the federal government expire next year, Bonta said.

California had already been moving in this direction, terminating in June its contact with a privately-run correctional center in Arizona - the last of several such out-of-state facilities - followed by last month’s closure of a 700-bed facility in McFarland, California, near Bakersfield.

The state’s share of inmates in private facilities is a small fraction of its total prison population of nearly 126,000.

By comparison, Texas, which became the first state to outsource incarceration to private companies in 1985, had far more inmates than any other state in for-profit facilities in 2017, nearly 13,000, or 7.8 percent of its total, said Gotsch of the Sentencing Project.
Mark Twain — 'There are many humorous things in the world; among them, the white man's notion that he is less savage than the other savages.'

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George Will Has A Stark Warning For Every Republican Who Supports Trump
« Reply #14291 on: October 11, 2019, 06:57:14 AM »
The longtime conservative commentator says the GOP could be looking at a historic defeat in 2020.

George Will has a warning for Republican lawmakers: If you don’t stand up to President Donald Trump, you deserve to lose everything in next year’s election.

Will, a longtime conservative voice who quit the party in 2016 when it was clear Trump would be nominated, slammed the president’s decision to “betray” America’s Kurdish allies in Syria. He said the move could complete “the destruction of the GOP’s advantage regarding foreign policy.”

But much of Will’s column in The Washington Post railed against the Republican lawmakers who continue to stand beside Trump. He wrote:

    Trump’s gross and comprehensive incompetence now increasingly impinges upon the core presidential responsibility. This should, but will not, cause congressional Republicans to value their own and their institution’s dignity and exercise its powers more vigorously than they profess fealty to Trump.

Will added that Trump’s refusal to cooperate with the House impeachment inquiry into his dealings with Ukraine was in itself an impeachable offense.

“In 13 months, all congressional Republicans who have not defended Congress by exercising ‘the constitutional rights of the place’ should be defeated,” he wrote.
Mark Twain — 'There are many humorous things in the world; among them, the white man's notion that he is less savage than the other savages.'

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We’ve entered the Asian Century and there is no turning back
« Reply #14292 on: October 11, 2019, 07:02:08 AM »
n the nineteenth century, the world was Europeanized. In the twentieth century, it was Americanized. Now, it is being Asianized – and much faster than you may think.

Asia’s rise has been swift. Home to more than half of the world’s population, the region has climbed from low- to middle-income status within a single generation. By 2040, it is likely to generate more than 50% of world GDP, and could account for nearly 40% of global consumption.

New McKinsey Global Institute research shows the extent to which the global center of gravity is shifting toward Asia. Today, the region has an increasing global share of trade, capital, people, knowledge, transport, culture, and resources. Of eight types of global cross-border flows, only waste is flowing in the opposite direction, reflecting the decision by China and other Asian countries to reduce imports of garbage from developed countries.

Asia now accounts for around one-third of global trade in goods, up from about a quarter ten years ago. Over roughly the same period, its share of global airline travelers has risen from 33% to 40%, and its share of capital flows has increased from 13% to 23%.

Those flows have fueled growth in Asia’s cities. The region is home to 21 of the world’s 30 largest, and four of the ten most visited. And some of Asia’s lesser-known cities are now also on investors’ radar. In Yangon, Myanmar’s commercial capital, greenfield foreign direct investment (FDI) in knowledge-intensive sectors totaled $2.6 billion in 2017, up from virtually zero in 2007.

Similarly, Bekasi, a smaller city near Jakarta, has emerged as the Detroit of Indonesia – the center of Indonesia’s automotive and motorcycle industry. Over the last decade, FDI in the city’s manufacturing industry has grown at an average rate of 29% per year. And Hyderabad – which generated over 1,400 patents in 2017 – is quickly catching up with India’s Silicon Valley, Bangalore.

But it’s not only external flows being channeled into Asia. Dynamic intraregional networks are also driving progress. Around 60% of Asian countries’ total trade in goods occurs within the region, facilitated by increasingly integrated Asian supply chains. Intraregional funding and investment flows are also increasing, with more than 70% of Asian startup funding coming from within the region. Flows of people – 74% of travel within Asia is undertaken by Asians – help to integrate the region as well.

What makes these flows work is Asia’s diversity. In fact, there are at least four “Asias,” each at a different stage of economic development, playing a unique role in the region’s global rise.

The first Asia comprises China, the region’s anchor economy, which provides a connectivity and innovation platform to its neighbors. In 2013-17, the country accounted for 35% of Asia’s total outward FDI, with about one-quarter of that investment going to other Asian economies. Reflecting its rapidly growing innovation capacity, China accounted for 44% of the world’s patent applications in 2017.

The second grouping – “Advanced Asia” – also provides technology and capital. With total outward FDI of $1 trillion, these countries accounted for 54% of total regional FDI outflows in 2013-17. South Korea alone provided 33% of all FDI flows to Vietnam. Japan accounted for 35% of Myanmar’s FDI inflows, and 17% of the Philippines’.

Then there is “Emerging Asia,” which comprises a relatively diverse group of small emerging economies that provide not only labor, but also growth potential, owing to rising productivity and consumption. These economies are deeply integrated with their regional neighbors: their average share of intraregional flows of goods, capital, and people is 79%, the highest of the four Asias.

By contrast, the fourth grouping – “Frontier Asia and India” – has the lowest average share of intraregional flows, amounting to just 31%. But this figure – which reflects historic ties to Europe, the Middle East and Africa, and the United States – is set to increase, as these economies, which historically were less integrated, forge closer bonds with their Asian neighbors. This group has a lot to offer, including a relatively young labor force that is capitalizing on the growing Asian import market, and a growing middle class that can serve as a new market for regional exports.

The differences among the four Asias are complementary, making integration a powerful force for progress. For example, as one country’s labor force ages, a country with a younger population fills the gap. The median age of India’s population stood at 27 in 2015, compared to 37 in China and 48 in Japan and is expected to reach just 38 by 2050.

Likewise, when wages – and thus manufacturing costs – begin to rise in one country, an economy at an earlier stage of development takes over its low-cost manufacturing activities. From 2014 to 2017, when China’s share of all labor-intensive emerging-economy exports declined from 55% to 52%, Vietnam’s share increased by 2.2 percentage points and Cambodia’s by 0.4 percentage points.

For years, observers have breathlessly discussed Asia’s future potential. The future has arrived. We have entered the “Asian century,” as the author Parag Khanna puts it. There is no turning back.
Mark Twain — 'There are many humorous things in the world; among them, the white man's notion that he is less savage than the other savages.'

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A new, big warm Blob is back in the north Pacific Ocean
« Reply #14293 on: October 11, 2019, 07:06:50 AM »
The Pacific Ocean now has a large area of warmer than normal surface water temperatures. The Pacific Ocean now is reminiscent of “The Blob” back in 2014-2016.

Researchers have recently dubbed these events where a portion of an ocean warms rapidly a “marine heatwave.” Over the past few months a new marine heatwave has developed over much of the Pacific Ocean between the U.S. and Asia.

Sea surface water temperature anomalies on September 9, 2019 shows the large warm area of water off the west coast of the United States. (NOAA)

The new Blob looks warmer and larger than the infamous Blob of 2014-2016. Here’s a comparison of the two from NOAA.

Comparison of surface water temperatures from "the Blob" on the left and current conditions on the right. (NOAA)

NOAA Fisheries says, “About five years ago “the Blob” of warm ocean water disrupted the West Coast marine ecosystem and depressed salmon returns.” Now NOAA says the current rapid warming has developed in the same way and is about the same size. NOAA is ranking this current marine heatwave as already the second largest marine heatwave in terms of area in the northern Pacific Ocean in the last 40 years, behind “the Blob.”

The Blob altered the West Coast marine ecosystem with lower salmon breeding, thousands of young California sea lions stranded on beaches and the largest harmful algae bloom in history on the West Coast.

The recent marine heatwave developed over the past few months due to the hemispheric weather circulation. Over the past few months, a persistent high pressure ridge over the north Pacific has led to light winds, sunshine and warm temperatures over the Pacific Ocean. Less wind means less mixing of the surface water and allows the surface water to warm. Right now NOAA says the warmth is fairly shallow. If the warm area of water expands to deeper water, the ecosystem will be greatly affected. NOAA also says the warm blob could go away quickly if the overall, persistent weather pattern changed to more and larger storms coming across the Pacific. But it’s like the old “which came first- the chicken or the egg” question. Warm water over a large area of the Pacific helps a calm weather high pressure ridge build over the warm water region. The high pressure ridge is a stable weather situation and keeps storms from forming.

So it will likely take a shift in the overall upper-air pattern over the entire northern hemisphere before storms can mix up the warm water.

This large area of warm water doesn’t just effect the weather over the ocean. It effects the weather downstream over the U.S.
Mark Twain — 'There are many humorous things in the world; among them, the white man's notion that he is less savage than the other savages.'

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Elizabeth Warren Reportedly ‘Courting’ Andrew Gillum as Possible VP Pick
« Reply #14294 on: October 11, 2019, 07:11:12 AM »

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.); former Fla. gubernatorial candidate and Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum

Could a Warren-Gillum ticket be in the works? An election 2020 ticket featuring Democratic presidential hopeful Elizabeth Warren and Andrew Gillum, the Democratic former mayor of Tallahassee, Fla., who came thisclose to being the Sunshine State’s first black governor?

The Massachusetts senator’s camp says that’s not at all in the cards. But the Daily Beast reports that its sources say that Warren is indeed “courting” Gillum.

Per the Daily Beast:

    sources said the talks between Warren and Gillum resemble the kind of courtship that happens when a leading presidential candidate is exploring potential vice presidential contenders. One source briefed on the communications said the two Democrats have been in contact over the course of the campaign and that it is the “strong impression” that Gillum is a possible vice presidential contender for Warren, who has risen in recent months to become a frontrunner in the 2020 primary, the source said.

    “If you’re trying to win Florida, I would be courting Andrew and that’s what’s happening,” a second source familiar with the conversations said.

Despite losing the governor’s race last year by less than 2 percentage points to Trump fave Ron DeSantis, Gillum has been a rising star among the Democratic Party.

And as the Daily Beast explains, with Florida being a major battleground state, a Gillum vice presidential pick could be a savvy move. In addition, having Gillum on the ticket could perhaps give Warren a boost among black voters, a bloc she’s struggled to win over completely.

But, at least for now, both Warren and Gillum are playing it close to the breast.

As for Gillum’s team, the Daily Beast reports:

    A source close to Gillum’s political team would not confirm specific talks, but stated that Gillum is in communications with many of the [Democratic presidential] candidates and noted that Florida is a critical state to win the presidency.
Mark Twain — 'There are many humorous things in the world; among them, the white man's notion that he is less savage than the other savages.'