AuthorTopic: Knarf's Knewz Channel  (Read 1585634 times)

Offline knarf

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Saudi oil attacks: US blames Iran for drone strikes on two sites
« Reply #14055 on: September 15, 2019, 05:03:27 AM »
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has blamed Iran for Saturday's drone attacks on Saudi oil facilities.

He dismissed a claim by Yemen's Iran-backed Houthi rebels that they had attacked the two facilities, run by state-owned company Aramco.

Iran's foreign minister accused Mr Pompeo of "deceit".

Saudi Arabia's energy minister said the strikes had reduced crude oil production by 5.7 million barrels a day - about half the kingdom's output.

Correspondents say they could have a significant impact on world oil prices.

The main Saudi stock exchange plummeted 3% on opening on Sunday, before recovering.

Saturday's drone attacks hit Abqaiq, site of Aramco's largest oil processing plant, and the Khurais oilfield.



The Saudis lead a Western-backed military coalition supporting Yemen's government, in opposition to the Houthi rebel movement.

The attacks also come against a backdrop of continuing tension between the US and Iran, following US President Donald Trump's abandonment of a deal limiting Iran's nuclear activities and reinstatement of sanctions.
What did Mike Pompeo say?

In a tweet, he said there was "no evidence" the drones came from Yemen.

He described the attack as "an unprecedented attack on the world's energy supply".

"We call on all nations to publicly and unequivocally condemn Iran's attacks," Mr Pompeo added.

The US would work with its allies to ensure energy markets remained well supplied and "Iran is held accountable for its aggression", he added.

The White House said Mr Trump had offered US support to help Saudi Arabia defend itself.
What is behind his allegations?

Mr Pompeo provided no specific evidence to back up his accusations.

They do follow a pattern of the US blaming Iran for recent attacks involving oil supplies in the region.

The US said Iran was behind attacks on two oil tankers in the Gulf in June and July, as well as on another four in May. Tehran rejected the accusations in both cases.

If the rebels had deployed the drones from Yemen, they would have to have flown hundreds of miles.

One element of the Houthi statement on the attacks did however thank "co-operation with the honourable people inside the kingdom".

The Wall Street Journal has said experts are investigating whether the attacks could have been carried out from the north - either by Iran or its Shia allies in Iraq - using cruise missiles rather than drones. If so, it seems unlikely they would have escaped detection.

The Washington Post said the US government believed that 15 buildings at Abqaiq had been damaged on the west-northwest sides, not the southern sides facing Yemen.

A 2018 UN report concluded that the Houthis' Qatef-1 suicide drone was "virtually identical" to Iran's Ababil-T. The Ababil-T is considered a low-tech drone with a maximum range of about 150km (93 miles).

The distance from the nearest point of the Saudi Arabia-Yemen border to the closest target - Khurais - is about 770km.

On Sunday, Iraq denied its territory had been used to launch the attacks.
How has Iran responded?

Foreign Minister Javad Zarif replied on Twitter, saying that "having failed at max pressure, Sec Pompeo's turning to max deceit".

He was referring to the Trump administration's stated "maximum pressure campaign" targeting the Iranian regime with sanctions.

Mr Zarif said that "blaming Iran won't end the disaster" in Yemen.

Earlier, foreign ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi said that Mr Pompeo's "blind accusations and remarks are incomprehensible and meaningless".

Mr Mousavi said Saudi Arabia had "repeatedly violated Yemen" and that the "Yemenis have shown resistance to aggression".
What has Saudi Arabia said?

It has provided very little information from the two sites.

A spokesman for the Saudi-led military coalition fighting in Yemen said investigations were still ongoing to determine who had carried them out.

Officials have said there were no casualties.

Saudi state media reported that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman had told President Trump in a telephone conversation that the kingdom was "willing and able to confront and deal with this terrorist aggression".

The Tadawul All-Shares Index lost 200 points when it opened on Sunday, but had checked the 3% fall to about a 1% loss by midday.
What was in the Houthi statement?

A military spokesman said the rebels had deployed 10 drones in the attacks.

Yahya Sarea told al-Masirah TV, owned by the Houthi movement and based in Beirut, that operations against Saudi targets would "only grow wider and will be more painful than before, so long as their aggression and blockade continues".

He said Saturday's attack was one of the biggest operations the Houthi forces had undertaken inside Saudi Arabia.

Yemen has been at war since 2015, when President Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi was forced to flee the capital Sanaa by the Houthis. Saudi Arabia backs President Hadi, and has led a coalition of regional countries against the rebels.

The coalition launches air strikes almost every day, while the Houthis often fire missiles into Saudi Arabia.

Houthi fighters were blamed for drone attacks on the Shaybah natural gas liquefaction facility last month, and on other oil facilities in May.
Production cut could hit world prices

Analysis by BBC business correspondent Katie Prescott

Aramco is not only the world's biggest oil producer, it is also one of the world's most profitable businesses.

The Khurais oilfield produces about 1% of the world's oil, and Abqaiq is the company's largest facility - with the capacity to process 7% of the global supply. Even a brief or partial disruption could affect the company, and the oil supply, given their size.

There was a sharp intake of breath as analysts I spoke to digested the information that reports suggest that half of Saudi Arabia's oil production could have been knocked offline by these attacks.

The country produces 10% of the world's crude oil. Cutting this in half could have a significant effect on the oil price come Monday when markets open.

The success of the drone strike shows the vulnerability of Aramco's infrastructure, at a time when it is trying to show itself in its best light while gearing up to float on the stock market.

And it raises concerns that escalating tensions in the region could pose a broader risk to oil, potentially threatening the fifth of the world's supply that goes through the critical Strait of Hormuz.

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-49705197
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Notre Dame’s 460 tons of lead, melted in the fire, pose health hazard
« Reply #14056 on: September 15, 2019, 05:06:24 AM »
Metal from cathedral's roof and spire produced particles that have settled in homes, schools, parks and restaurants.

While authorities in Paris and those responsible for the Cathedral of Notre Dame might not be certain about how to rebuild after the April 15 fire, one thing is for sure: lead will not be part of reconstruction.

But particles of the poisonous metal are probably still in the atmosphere and environment near the beloved cathedral, after the lead tiles of Notre Dame melted in the horrific conflagration.

And worries about health safety, particularly of children, have increased as revelations about the hazard have come out in recent months.

After all, there were 460 tons of lead tiles covering the cathedral’s roof and spire, all of which melted, and tiny particles of some of that lead mixed with the plume of smoke that drifted over Paris, the New York Times reported. “Then that lead-laced dust settled on buildings, squares, parks, and plazas, test indicate. It also is likely to have made its way through open windows, air-conditioning ducts and other building ventilation systems,” the newspaper said.

Although authorities found that there was a problem with lead contamination only two days after the fire—at a day care center at the Police Headquarters across the street from the cathedral—they allowed some children to play for months in schoolyards and day care centers, and to sit in classrooms, whose surfaces were tainted, the Times found.

“The authorities failed to clean the surroundings of the cathedral in the immediate aftermath of the fire, waiting more than four months to complete a total decontamination of the neighborhood,” the Times said. “Of roughly 400 children who have been tested, 8.5% showed levels at or above risk thresholds, according to the Regional Health Agency.”

The Times surveyed a number of experts on the advisability of visiting Paris at this point, and the general consensus is that it is safe, but that precautions should be taken.

“Businesses in the area of the cathedral have been cleaned. Eating a croque-monsieur at a restaurant on the Île de la Cité, where Notre-Dame sits, or drinking a glass of rosé on a restaurant terrace, is unlikely to result in lead contamination, French experts said,” according to the Times.

All the experts suggested a range of precautionary measures, ranging from avoiding the immediate area, especially if visitors have children below the age of 6, to washing the hands of infants so that they don’t pick up dust and put it in their mouths.

One doctor urged parents to “be sure that their children had a diet with a good, nutritional dose of iron and calcium, which can displace lead in the body and make the body less likely to absorb it.”

Tourists who were in the vicinity of the cathedral since April 15 probably would not have accumulated much lead, said Dr. Morri E. Markowitz, director of the lead treatment and poisoning prevention program at the Children’s Hospital at Montefiore in New York. Residents or those who work nearby, however, might have, and it would be best for such people to get tested. Pregnant or nursing mothers have been exposed to lead should also be wary, he said. Lead passes through the placenta and can be passed through mother’s milk, he pointed out.

https://aleteia.org/2019/09/15/notre-dames-460-tons-of-lead-melted-in-the-fire-pose-health-hazard/
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Offline K-Dog

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Re: Knarf's Knewz Channel
« Reply #14057 on: September 15, 2019, 12:21:26 PM »
I used to make lead toy soldiers as a child?  Melted it and poured it into smoked molds.  Soot was the releasing agent.  Should I worry.

Never mind, I won't.

The tactics of diversion*; and like a trout to a fishing fly, we bite.



* creating much ado about nothing is designed to cultivate nihilism regarding environmental issues if you want to know.  It will wear you down.
Under ideal conditions of temperature and pressure the organism will grow without limit.

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New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announces ban on flavored e-cigarettes
« Reply #14058 on: September 15, 2019, 05:13:33 PM »
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced an "emergency executive action" on Sunday to place a ban on the sale of flavored e-cigarettes. The governor's office said the executive order will advance legislation that aims to eliminate deceptive marketing practices of e-cigarettes to underage users and raises the purchasing age of e-cigarettes from 18 to 21-years-old.

"New York is confronting this crisis head-on and today we are taking another nation-leading step to combat a public health emergency," Governor Cuomo said in a statement. "Manufacturers of fruit and candy-flavored e-cigarettes are intentionally and recklessly targeting young people, and today we're taking action to put an end to it. At the same time, unscrupulous stores are knowingly selling vaping products to underage youth - those retailers are now on notice that we are ramping up enforcement and they will be caught and prosecuted."

According to the governor's office, New York state police will now partner with the Department of Health to conduct undercover investigations under the Adolescent Tobacco Use Prevention Act. Under the executive order, retailers who are caught selling tobacco and vaping products to underage individuals will face criminal penalties on top of civil penalties.

On Sunday morning, Cuomo held a press conference with New York State Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker. Cuomo said the new executive order could go into effect within two weeks and said the state police superintendent will work with the Department of Health commissioner to crack down on stores selling products to people under 18. The Cuomo administration would like to start enforcing the executive order by October 4.

Cuomo was critical of the vaping industry's power over lawmakers in Washington, D.C. He said that "we're on our own" in terms of federal government action regarding guns, opioids, and vaping and said he believes vaping industry lobbyists are capable of stopping federal action because "their money can buy Washington."

Cuomo's executive action comes as the Trump administration is trying to ban all non-tobacco flavored vaping products from the market. Last week, President Trump declared during an Oval Office meeting on e-cigarettes. It's a move aimed at dissuading children from picking up the habit of vaping.

Mr. Trump said he wants parents to know his administration is carefully reviewing e-cigarettes. The products have been linked to a growing number of lung-related diseases and deaths recently.

"We may very well have to do something very, very strong about it," the president told reporters.

Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar elaborated on plans for the FDA to develop guidelines to remove all e-cigarette flavors except plain tobacco from the market. Azar insisted to reporters that the administration is well within its rights to do so, saying the Obama administration allowed the products to go to market without enough certainty that they were safe.

https://www.cbsnews.com/news/governor-andrew-cuomo-announces-flavored-vaping-e-cigarette-ban-in-new-york-state-amid-lung-disease-deaths/
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Kansas Poised To Use Private Prisons: ‘We’re Out Of Options’
« Reply #14059 on: September 15, 2019, 05:20:50 PM »
The state spending review panel is freeing up some of the money the Kansas Department of Corrections asked for to place inmates in county jails and private facilities. Prison officials say it’s a last resort.

Desperate to relieve the strain on state prisons that are already over capacity, officials appealed to the State Finance Council to spend about $10 million on contracts with outside facilities to house as many as 400 inmates.

All that money is in the state budget, but the Finance Council, which includes top legislative leaders and the governor, only agreed to unleash $4.4 million at a meeting Wednesday. They expressed concerns about the quality and safety private prisons out of state.

“Conditions could be worse there,” said Senate President Susan Wagle, “than what we have in Kansas.”

Roger Werholtz, who retired from his second stint as corrections secretary less than a week ago, returned to the Statehouse to make the case for the spending.

He told the panel that the money will cover the housing, food, and basic medical costs for 160 inmates. But, speaking with reporters later, he said it won’t be enough to alleviate the effects of overcrowding.

“The major issues for which we need beds did not get resolved,” Werholtz said. “I don't know what they think is going to happen with these folks.”

Corrections officials say there’s been a spike in violent incidents and that access to health care, counseling, and job training for inmates is inadequate. Inmates are being swapped in and out of solitary confinement because there’s not enough space. Maximum security inmates are being double-bunked, with two inmates in one cell. Staff are overworked.

The department still wants another $5.47 million for contracts to cover an additional 200 prison beds at outside facilities. The Finance Council decided to schedule a meeting at a later date to consider that spending.

The Department of Corrections began taking bids for prison bed contracts from out-of-state prisons and Kansas county jails in May.

Werholtz told the council that department staff had visited a private prison in Arizona that had submitted a bid. The department declined to specify to reporters the location or the company that owns that prison.

A spokesman for private prison company CoreCivic would not confirm the officials had visited one of its prisons in Arizona, but did confirm that the company had bid for contracts in Kansas.

But the legislative leaders on the Finance Council want the corrections department to put inmates in county jails first.

“At least let’s do that,” Denning said, “before we go the private route.”

Werholtz said the corrections department was already prioritizing housing inmates in Kansas’s county jails because they’re closer and easier to manage, but the jails don’t have the space to alleviate much of the crowding at state prisons.

“We’re then passing our overcrowding problem back to the county jail,” he said. “That’s going to be the consequence.”

Interim Corrections Secretary Chuck Simmons said the department received bids from four county jails located in Kansas, and had developed contracts with three: Cherokee, Wilson and Kiowa counties. The department already has contracts with jails in Cloud and Jackson counties.

Gov. Laura Kelly said contacting with private prisons isn’t the ideal solution, but that Kansas is out of options.

“We don’t have much of a choice at this point.” she said. “I am really, truly, very concerned about staff safety and inmate safety.”

As a condition of releasing the funds, the Finance Council is requiring the Department of Corrections to keep open a cell block at the El Dorado Correctional Facility. The department wanted to close the block to reduce strain on corrections officers, many of whom work double shifts for days on end.

“We are absolutely burning those staff out and it’s not sustainable,” Werholtz said. “We’re having to lock people down right now because of their violent behavior, instead of working with them to change that violent behavior.”

Kelly declared a state of emergency at that prison in February. Werholtz said staff there had worked more than 2,000 double shifts since. But the panel still argued that every block at the prison should remain open.

“We need a commitment from the administration that they’re going to be open at this time,” said House Speaker Ron Ryckman.

The council also nixed the spending of $3 million to reduce crowding in the women’s prison by moving 120 inmates to the state’s juvenile facility.

It did, however, authorize spending $9 million to raise the salaries of the state’s overworked prison staff and $4.5 million to pay for Hepatitis C treatment for inmates.

Werholtz warned that the strain on the prison system could get worse as the prison population is projected to grow by hundreds of people over the next decade.

“We’re either looking at increasing costs or changing policy,” he said. “There’s going to have to be a substantial change in sentencing policy.”

https://www.kcur.org/post/kansas-poised-use-private-prisons-we-re-out-options#stream/0
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Woman with PTSD fights Mo. city law to keep 3 emotional support monkeys
« Reply #14060 on: September 15, 2019, 05:29:47 PM »

Kallie Anna, an 8-year-old bonnet macaque, is one of three emotional support monkeys that lives with Texanne McBride-Teahan.

CREVE COEUR, Mo. (KMOV/CNN) - A Missouri woman and her doctor say her three emotional support monkeys are vital to her mental well-being, but her neighbors worry the primates are dangerous.

Texanne McBride-Teahan lives in Creve Coeur, Mo., with three monkeys, which are all registered as emotional support animals to help with her post-traumatic stress disorder.

"They are not dangerous animals. They are trained. They assist me. I have PTSD because of something that happened to me, a very bad thing that happened to me a long time ago,” she said at a city council meeting.

McBride-Teahan says she has lived and trained with monkeys for 20 years, and it wasn’t until she moved to Creve Coeur a month ago that a neighbor complained. That neighbor, who saw one of the monkeys outside, was worried about it attacking and called the city.

"It’s a wild animal. They belong in zoos, you know, or in their natural habitat,” said Jim Hentschell, who lives next door to McBride-Teahan. “I believe in the rule of law. If they are considered a dangerous animal and can carry something as nasty as hepatitis, they shouldn’t be here.”

Neighbors are so concerned about the monkeys that they brought up the issue at Monday’s city council meeting, forcing McBride-Teahan to defend them.

McBride-Teahan says the monkeys would never hurt anyone, and they bring her so much comfort. In addition, her doctor provided a note saying the primates have been “prescribed” as emotional support animals.

“It is my professional opinion that the presence of these animals is a necessary treatment for the mental health of Ms. McBride-Teahan,” read the note in part.

Even so, the city of Creve Coeur has cited McBride-Teahan. According to the city, non-human primates are considered “inherently dangerous animals,” alongside lions, alligators and pythons. None are allowed in residential areas.

McBride-Teahan has a court hearing in November, at which a judge will decide what will happen to the monkeys.

https://www.wtap.com/content/news/Woman-with-PTSD-fights-Mo-city-law-to-keep-3-emotional-support-monkeys-560382291.html
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Offline knarf

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The evidence, the expert advice, common sense — they all point to a single unavoidable conclusion: Humankind has dragged its feet for so long on the looming crisis of climate change that it is no longer looming but is upon us, and will be impossible to undo.

It would be foolish, of course, to rule out nascent or not-as-yet conceived technological advances that could claw back some of the carbon and other greenhouse gases we’ve already emitted. But it would be equally foolhardy to count on them. What is required, at a minimum, is a radical change, as quickly as possible, in the way the world produces and consumes energy. The goal is to eliminate most future emissions, especially of carbon, and to “capture” the carbon that is emitted so that it does not enter the atmosphere.

Of course that alone won’t solve all our planet’s climate problems. We will have to deal with the trouble we have already set in motion and which can no longer be averted. That means, for example, crafting approaches to handle the flow of migrants as regions of the world become uninhabitable, protecting people in low-lying lands from rising oceans, and preparing for the excessive heat, longer droughts, more ferocious hurricanes and other extreme weather events that will, among other things, threaten the global food supply.

But to keep the bad outcomes to a minimum, we must do what we can to not make the situation worse. That means continuing the fight to reduce emissions. A 2018 estimate put the annual cost to mitigate climate change if the world does nothing to curtail emissions at $500 billion per year by 2090 — and that’s just for the United States. Globally, one estimate says, a temperature rise of 4 degrees Celsius would cost $23 trillion per year. So we must not let it get to that point.

The best way to keep human-generated carbon out of the atmosphere, where it and other greenhouse gases trap heat and drive up temperatures, is to not create it in the first place. The world has been making progress at this, but not nearly enough. In the United States, for instance, reliance on coal continues to decline, but in many cases, power plants that used to burn coal are now burning natural gas. That’s an improvement, yes, but it’s insufficient, since burning natural gas also releases carbon. Dishearteningly, total global emissions have actually increased substantially in the last two decades.

Here’s one heartening fact: In April, the amount of energy the U.S. is capable of producing from renewable sources for the first time surpassed what it can produce from coal, and the gap is expected to widen as more power comes from wind, solar and other renewable sources and more fossil-fuel plants are shut down.

But globally the view is more dour. China has worked to ratchet back on burning coal at home (though it recently revived some mothballed projects), but it has been building coal-fired power plants in other countries, hoping to extend its political and economic influence at the expense of the global environment. That needs to stop.

By one estimate, about half of Africa does not have access to electricity. There and elsewhere, new power generation should not involve coal, but should be achieved with renewable sources. The developed nations must help build power grids in developing nations that give them the power they need without exacerbating our mutual suffering through increased carbon emissions.

Governments must not remain idle as the problem gets worse. For instance, there have been international calls since the 1997 Kyoto Protocol for governments to end domestic subsidies for fossil fuels, particularly oil. But they haven’t. In the U.S., federal and state governments provide, in one conservative estimate, $20.5 billion a year in such subsidies — including industry-specific tax deductions and exemptions. About 80% of that money goes to the oil and gas industry and nearly all the rest to the coal industry. There are also more difficult to count (and more controversial to eliminate) consumption subsidies, including those that help low‑income families pay for the fossil fuels that heat their homes. If poorer people need assistance from government, government should find ways to do so that don’t incentivize the continued use of carbon.

What will our world look like in 15 years if we begin to do what we have to do? Charging stations for motor vehicles as plentiful as gas stations are now. A significant drop in gas-powered vehicles through phased-out production, and government-funded buyback programs to get older cars off the road. Millions of people working to create new power systems; the world needs cheaper and more efficient solar panels, bigger and more efficient energy storage systems, more utility-scale renewable production facilities and more efficient hydro and geothermal technologies. Oil companies will no longer have such disproportionate influence on government policy. Perhaps they will have become energy companies, transitioning away from fossil fuels — or perhaps they will have been superseded by new energy providers.

Sacrifice will be a part of this too. Doing the right thing will require shifts in employment, changes in consumer habits (cutting way back on meat consumption, for instance, reduces global carbon emissions). We will drive less, ride more public transit, use less air conditioning. Costs will undoubtedly rise for goods we’ve taken for granted.

Is this level of change unachievable? Perhaps. For the moment, at least, the politics are against us. President Trump and his climate-denying supporters have moved the United States backward rather than forward. The recalcitrant oil and gas industry remains a powerful force to be reckoned with, too.

    For the moment, at least, the politics are against us.

Yet the world has transitioned before. We thrived on whale oil until we decimated the whale population and discovered how to make kerosene from oil, and how to commercialize natural gas. This time the transition will have to happen a lot faster and will require more than just market forces. We’ll need more government intervention through even stronger pacts than the 2015 Paris agreement under which the world’s nations agreed (though President Trump has directed the U.S. to withdraw) to try to limit global temperature rise to significantly less than 2 degrees Celsius above preindustrial levels.

It’s clear now that those promises will not be sufficient to avert the effects of climate change. But they provide a model upon which we must build to try to steer us away from, in essence, self-annihilation.

https://www.latimes.com/opinion/editorials/la-ed-climate-change-global-warming-part-3-story.html
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Two philosophers' views on California's homelessness epidemic
« Reply #14062 on: September 15, 2019, 05:42:06 PM »
How can Innovation Central not manage to solve its own sprawling homelessness?

In cast you haven't been paying much attention lately, there is a bit of a housing crisis in California. Homelessness is skyrocketing alongside the cost of even modest homes.

There are nearly 130,000 homeless people in California. Unlike other states where most of the homeless can be deemed "sheltered," meaning they have someplace to stay, such as a homeless shelter or transitional housing, in California 70 percent of the homeless population is considered "unsheltered," meaning they live in places like boxes, the street, or cars.

The number of people in question is also spiking; the number of homeless people in Los Angles County alone has gone up by 16 percent since last year. The state overall sees similar figures, with a 15 percent increase overall from 2015 to 2017.

The irony of all this is that the Bay Area is Innovation Central — California is supposed to be full of bright entrepreneurs that make billions turning dreams into reality. So then, how can it be that such a state filled with creative energy and cash can also be so apparently powerless to solve its problem of sprawling homelessness?

Philosophy to the rescue!

The go-to thinker for when something seemingly contradictory happens in capitalism is Karl Marx, the father of modern communist thought.

In his book Das Capital, Marx discusses what he sees as the two values of commodities, their value for use and their value for exchange. He suggests that capitalism is unique in that people will use capital to transform commodities into others which can command a higher price in exchange for the sake of a higher profit.

Thus, for Marx, there is no contradiction in a place being innovative and not being able to serve the needs of the poor. He would see it as a feature of capitalism. The fact that the people there are considered innovative doesn't change this at all. In fact, it might lead them to create stupid products that are both useless and quite profitable while total ignoring a social problem that offers little profit if solved.

Since housing demand far outpaces supply in California, landlords can keep raising prices and still find people willing to pay that much for a place to stay. Since it is more profitable to do this rather than keep rents low forever, they do so. It doesn't matter how innovative your landlord is, they are still going to act this way if they can. Marx, being a commie, sees these features of capitalism as unsolvable.

His solution would be to toss the whole thing out. If you don't want a revolution tomorrow, one could also look into decommodifying housing in general and remove the profit motive entirely.

Which philosophers have passed the test of time?

If you'd like another opinion from somebody who isn't a communist, that's fine; we have liberal capitalists, too.

John Rawls, the most celebrated American political philosopher of the 20th century, was less concerned with the question of who owned the means of production and more with what happened with the money created as a result.

As a liberal thinker, Rawls accepted that some inequalities were going to exist in any society and even argued that some of them could be beneficial. However, his principals of justice demand that any inequalities that exist in a given society must be demonstrated to improve the condition of the poorest as a justification for their existence.

If that doesn't make sense to you at first sight, here is have an example.

Suppose that a small, poor, isolated community has no doctor living there and that the residents of that town must travel large distances at great expense to get basic medical care. One day they find a doctor who is willing to move there, but only if they are paid a very high salary. To pay him so much would create much income inequality in the community, but it would also improve the condition of the poorest, as they would now have ready access to health care.

In this case, creating the inequality — that is, paying the doctor a high salary — makes the poorest people in town better off; they would then have health care. In Rawls' theory of justice, all inequalities have to meet this qualification.

For Rawls, the problem in California, or the rest of the United States, for that matter, is that while it has excellent ways of producing wealth, the institutions we have to distribute that wealth — or to make sure the adverse side effects of inequality are minimalized — are ineffective. They allow for the creation of vast inequalities that have made the condition of the poor worse as newly-rich tech workers drive up housing costs.

That many people in California are high-earning tech innovators isn't entirely relevant here, despite their work streamlining people's lives (see: there's an app for everything). This said, since California possesses both high-earning individuals and, judging by the homeless community's exponential growth, a still lackluster system in place for the needy — the current crisis can be said to be, in this philosophical lens, an institutional failing. However, it's such a one that can happen anywhere. Poverty is nothing new.

Nevertheless, a Rawlsian solution to the housing crisis might be to charge a surtax on all ultra-high incomes or on the sales of luxury homes to finance the construction of low-income housing, as it would continue to allow high salaries to exist while helping to assure that any income inequalities benefit everyone.

Though, given that California has had a significant housing shortage since the '70s don't hold out for an innovative solution that abolishes the problem of excessive rent prices any time soon.

All of this philosophy is great, but what are we doing right now to fix this?

California lawmakers have just implemented a rent cap to try and control the skyrocketing costs of housing. One of several around the country in place to try and correct the housing crisis through price controls, it limits yearly rent increases to inflation plus five percent for millions of units of housing and increases tenet protections against eviction.

"Rent control," the name for this kind of legislation, works by limiting how quickly rents can rise on certain units of housing. Expert opinions on it are mixed. Economists of both the left and right agree that it can reduce the amount of housing available in the long run. One study even found that it might cause gentrification as innovative landlords turn less profitable rental properties into owner-occupied housing. Many economists suggest, instead that longer-term options that will increase the housing supply overall be considered.

Proponents of the policy argue that it is effective in preventing evictions in the short run. While that may seem short-sighted, remember that people don't eat in the "long-run" — they need solutions to current problems now. Creative ideas to help increase the affordable housing stock have been tried with some success, but more is needed.

For a place so filled with brilliant people, piles of money, and a creative energy that has earned the love and ire of the rest of the country, California has had a difficult time solving its homelessness problem. While different philosophers can offer us insights as to why this is, they can only point us in the right direction. We have to go about fixing the problem ourselves.

https://bigthink.com/politics-current-affairs/california-homelessness-philosophy
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Offline knarf

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I used to make lead toy soldiers as a child? Melted it and poured it into smoke
« Reply #14063 on: September 15, 2019, 06:50:45 PM »
I used to make lead toy soldiers as a child?  Melted it and poured it into smoked molds.  Soot was the releasing agent.  Should I worry.

Never mind, I won't.

The tactics of diversion*; and like a trout to a fishing fly, we bite.



* creating much ado about nothing is designed to cultivate nihilism regarding environmental issues if you want to know.  It will wear you down.

Here is an article from 1994 for talks about the dangers of such habits.

Home Lead Melting Draws National Warning as Producers Obey California Law



(16 Dec., 1996 — Oakland) Hobbyists who make their own lead sinkers, toy soldiers, or bullets at home will be warned about a previously unrecognized risk to themselves and their children, following lawsuits by the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) under California’s innovative Proposition 65. EDF also identified a substitute metal for melting that avoids the risk.

“It’s not just the man at the melting pot who’s in danger,” said David Roe, EDF senior attorney. “It’s also his children or grandchildren who aren’t even in the house while molten lead is being handled.”

EDF studies found that melting lead in hobby equipment not only puts lead into the air immediately, but also deposits invisible lead dust around the house, where children and adults can be exposed long after. “The problem doesn’t stop when you put your lead-casting kit away,” said Roe. “Unless you know how to do specialized cleaning, you’ve created a hazard like lead paint that stays in the house indefinitely.” Ordinary vacuuming and dusting just stirs up the lead dust and creates more exposure.

“The best answer is either not to cast at home, or to use a safe substitute for lead,” said Roe. One of the lawsuit defendants, Hilts Molds, sells a substitute alloy specifically for melting that avoids the hazard.

Companies that make and sell the equipment for home lead-casting (molds, melters, etc.) have agreed both to warn their customers about the risk and — for those who decide not to stop the practice — tell them how best to reduce exposure. The warning emphasizes the risk to children and pregnant women. It advises strong ventilation during use, and explains how lead dust can successfully be cleaned off of surfaces and floors where it settles.

The required warning is the first under Proposition 65 to include a graphic depiction reinforcing the product makers’ “how to” message to their customers.

All major makers and catalogue sellers of the casting equipment have legally committed themselves to give the new warnings. Companies signing settlements with EDF include Blount, Inc.; Gander Mountain, Inc.; Lee Precision, Inc.; C. Palmer Manufacturing Co.; Cabela’s; Lyman Products Corp; Midsouth Shooters Supply Co.; Midway; Do-It Corp; and Hilts Molds. The San Francisco law firm of Chapman, Popik & White represented EDF in its lawsuits against the companies.

https://www.edf.org/news/home-lead-melting-draws-national-warning-producers-obey-california-law
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Offline K-Dog

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Re: Knarf's Knewz Channel
« Reply #14064 on: September 15, 2019, 07:55:25 PM »
The surface tension of lead is huge.  I can't buy the droplet theory.  How would they form.  Somebody wants to sell tin.  Some oxide in air could form but I expect the production would be in micro-grams and human exposure would be in nano-grams.  Every year if sweeping stirs it up there would be ever less. 

The red flag in the Notre Dame Article is the surface tension issue knowing melted lead would draw together and splash to the ground as heavy drops.  Notre Dame news was originally pushed to downplay the Yellow Vest movement and reasons to push Notre Dame news remain as part of that effort.  It is not a no brainier that lead would disperse in aerosol droplets.  It would melt draw together and drop as heavy rain.  Lack of surface tension knowledge is a scare tactic in the second article as well.  No mechanism as to how lead would get into the air is provided.  Additionally you can't have it dispersed all over the place and yet have it stick around forever.  One way or another, but not both ways.

Sometimes people just bullshit but we always forget.  Without numbers these kind of stories are meaningless.  No science given.  Just scare.  No mechanisms, no numbers.

I don't think 3000 kids were licking the streets around Notre Dame.  Clearly an excited utterance and nothing else.  If it was in the air how much got to China and why were only kids affected?   
« Last Edit: September 15, 2019, 08:10:34 PM by K-Dog »
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Offline knarf

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Thnx K-Dog for the very knowledgeable answer to Notre Dame lead scare
« Reply #14065 on: September 16, 2019, 05:34:49 AM »
 I admit that I bought the myth of removing the lead, never thought about when/how it melted. It is very interesting "how" to make something uncertain. Like how remove the lead from the Notre Dame fire. In fact that is what fact checking is all about. I don't think humanity is ready for just the facts. We still are animals and often have emotional responses to words/imaginings. We even make up stories about each other, and people we know. You can catch some of robbers but most get away. We have to rely on the experts in the "field" that have learned ALL about "whatever".
  I don't think making up myth about stuff is wrong/bad, or I would have to to believe I was certain about something, and that never lasts. In the end this whole charade will stop. When we quit consuming.
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Offline knarf

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Members of the Miami-Dade County Public Schools police force monitor a simulated emergency on a school bus from the department's command center. A dozen screens cover the wall, showing live feeds from school surveillance cameras.

After a former student killed 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School last year, Florida public school children are being watched more closely.

Police in Miami-Dade and Broward counties now have real-time access to tens of thousands of surveillance cameras in schools. Miami-Dade's fleet of nearly 1,100 school buses is outfitted with GPS tracking devices. An app created by the state in the wake of Parkland lets people throughout Florida anonymously report tips about possible threats to campuses.

And in August, the Florida Department of Education launched a new database with information about students, like their discipline and mental health care records. One component of the Florida Schools Safety Portal is an online monitoring tool that scans social media for students' posts including words like "gun" or "bomb."

The portal was a recommendation from the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Commission, a group created to investigate the Feb. 14, 2018, shooting and recommend policy changes that could prevent similar massacres in the future.

But while civil rights groups, advocates for students with disabilities and some parents are concerned the database could jeopardize student privacy or lead to discrimination, commission members think it doesn't go far enough to keep schools safe.

“Don’t be walking away thinking that, ‘Oh my god, we have this magic wand,’ because, really, it’s not," said Bob Gualtieri, the commission's chair and the sheriff in Pinellas County, during an August meeting in Sunrise.

The commission's hope was to help teachers, mental health care providers, police officers and others who assess potential threats to schools get all the information they need about students in one place.

But Gualtieri was frustrated that the school district crime data in the portal is months old and often inaccurate. The law enforcement information is only from the state, not local agencies. Records about instances when students are referred to emergency psychiatric care, sometimes involuntarily, under the state Baker Act are only viewable by a limited number of people with the permissions under privacy laws to see them.

“What was being envisioned is to eliminate those silos and to try and create something where there could be this one-stop shopping," Gualtieri said.

He stressed he didn't blame the Department of Education for what he thought was a flawed product, saying officials there did the best they could given the limitations they were working under.

"What they were tasked to do was impossible," Gualtieri said.

State Sen. Lauren Book, a Broward County Democrat whose district includes Parkland, is the only legislator on the commission and helped write the law requiring the new portal. She's also a former kindergarten teacher.

She doesn’t think this portal goes far enough, either.

“It’s almost an ineffective tool, because people can see only what they can see already," she said. "So I would say that we’re still working on it. It’s a 1.0."

The commission members' take is in stark contrast to some of the public backlash to the portal.

"We are deeply concerned that the program will be used to label students as threats based on data that has no documented link to violent behavior, such as data on disabilities or those seeking mental health care," wrote a coalition of 33 civil rights, privacy and disability advocacy organizations in a July 9 letter to Gov. Ron DeSantis. They included the national and state chapters of the American Civil Liberties Union, an arm of the Southern Poverty Law Center and the Florida League of Women Voters.

"We urge you to immediately halt the state’s construction of this database and, instead, create a commission of parents, students, and experts on education, privacy, security, equity, disability rights, civil rights, and school safety, to identify measures that have been demonstrated to effectively identify and mitigate school safety threats," the groups wrote.

A spokeswoman for the Department of Education said the data is not "stored" in the portal. It may be viewed by people with access to the portal, but it may not be downloaded or shared.

The portal "is a tool to evaluate the seriousness of reported or identified threats and to assist in getting professional help when necessary," according to Cheryl Etters, the department's deputy director of communications. "The portal has internal and external controls to protect the information."

Even so, the portal is causing a lot of anxiety among parents. They worry even a misunderstanding involving their kids could show up in the database and lead to serious consequences.

One of those misunderstandings involved a Miami-Dade County high school student named Eric. WLRN is not using his family's last name to protect his privacy.

Last March, Eric had a couple friends over, and they were playing with plastic pellet guns in his room. At one point, Eric sat down in his desk chair holding an airsoft rifle designed to look like an AR-15.

Eric's friend took a picture of him holding the toy gun on the arm of his chair, pointing it toward the ceiling. In the image, Eric is looking at the camera.

Unbeknownst to Eric, his friend shared the photo on Snapchat with the caption: "Don't come to school Monday."

"A lot of people these days just make dark humor jokes about a bunch of tragedies just for the comedy of it," Eric said. "I don't think he really had the intention of getting me in trouble for it."

Eric did get in trouble, though.

Several days later, he said two police officers and his principal pulled him out of science class to question him.

"I was terrified," Eric said. "They think that I wanted to shoot up the school, and I didn’t — I didn't want to at all."

Eric was suspended for 10 days, and he almost got expelled, according to documents provided by his family. His parents fought it, though, explaining that he didn't take the picture, caption or send it anyone himself. Ultimately, he was moved from the A-rated magnet school he attended with his sister to a different school with a C grade. He's now a high school sophomore.

His parents want to transfer him somewhere else, but they worry about his record now: It says Eric distrubed a school campus with a weapon, which is far from what actually happened.

"Anybody that doesn't know the story will read this and say, 'There's no way in the world I'm going to put this child in my school,'" Eric's dad, Ricardo, said.

The Department of Education confirmed that the new school safety database includes information about past incidents.

A spokesman for Miami-Dade public school said the district takes threats seriously, investigates them thoroughly and disciplines students when necessary.

https://news.wgcu.org/post/florida-launches-controversial-database-student-information-aimed-identifying-threats
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Offline knarf

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17 second video

Tropical Storm Humberto became Hurricane Humberto late Sunday night and the next system in this month’s stormy conga line approaches across the Atlantic Ocean.

The National Hurricane Center’s advisory at 5 a.m. Monday says Humberto is up to 85 mph sustained winds, about 760 miles west of Bermuda, moving north at 6 mph. It is not expected to hit the U.S.

“This motion is expected to continue through Monday morning, followed by a turn toward the east-northeast with a gradual increase in forward speed over the next three days,” the advisory said.

Though there are no coastal watches or warnings, “swells from Humberto will increase rip current threat along the Southeastern U.S. coast.”

https://www.miamiherald.com/news/weather/article235117182.html
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Offline knarf

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OxyContin maker Purdue Pharma files for bankruptcy protection
« Reply #14068 on: September 16, 2019, 05:53:48 AM »

Purdue Pharma headquarters stands in downtown Stamford, April 2, 2019 in Stamford, Connecticut.

OxyContin maker Purdue Pharma filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection on Sunday, collapsing under the weight of thousands of lawsuits from states and individuals seeking damages stemming from the opioid crisis.

Purdue’s board approved the much-anticipated bankruptcy filing, days after reaching a tentative deal to settle some 2,000 opioid lawsuits filed by local governments, Native American tribes and states suing the company over the toll of opioids.

“This settlement framework avoids wasting hundreds of millions of dollars and years on protracted litigation,” said Chairman of Purdue’s board of directors, Steve Miller, in a statement. He said it “instead will provide billions of dollars and critical resources to communities across the country trying to cope with the opioid crisis.”

The Stamford, Connecticut-based company has been accused by nearly every U.S. state of downplaying how dangerously addictive its blockbuster pain killer is while exaggerating its benefits. The Sackler family, which owns Purdue Pharma, has been blamed for helping fuel an opioid epidemic that’s claims an average of 130 lives a day. They’ve also been ostracized from the philanthropy circles they once traveled as museums across the world reject their donations. Prosecutors say the company’s marketing practices encouraged doctors to push higher doses of the narcotic and contributed to a public health crisis that has caused thousands of overdoses in the U.S. each year.

The privately held company has previously warned that the cascade of lawsuits, which show no signs of slowing any time soon, put it at risk of bankruptcy.

Purdue and a group of state attorneys general had been negotiating for months to settle the lawsuits over the opioid crisis to avoid a trial, expected to begin in October. On Sept. 7, the Associated Press reported that Purdue was expected to file for bankruptcy after those talks hit an impasse. The next day, the company said it was still interested in continuing negotiations.

On Sept. 11, Purdue Pharma reached a tentative agreement to settle some 2,000 opioid lawsuits filed by local governments, Native American tribes and states set to go to trial next month. That deal didn’t include several states, including Massachusetts, Connecticut and New Jersey.

Opioid drugmaker Insys Therapeutics filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection June 10, marking the first drugmaker driven to bankruptcy due to its legal costs tied to the opioid crisis. Opioid maker Mallinckrodt reached a tentative settlement with two Ohio counties in early September following reports that it might file for bankruptcy.

The attorneys representing Purdue say accusations against the company are “not supported by facts and are fundamentally flawed,” adding its opioid painkiller represents less than 2% of the U.S. market. They also say new lawsuits rehash a lot of the same old allegations.

However, court filings against Purdue paint a different picture. Legal documents contend the company over the years repeatedly failed to alert authorities to reports its painkillers were being abused. The Sackler family also boasted about its sales, documents show. According to a court filing in Massachusetts, Richard Sackler, who was the company’s president from 1999 to 2003, said at an event that “the launch of OxyContin Tablets will be followed by a blizzard of prescriptions that will bury the competition. The prescription blizzard will be so deep, dense, and white.”

In March, Purdue and the Sacklers agreed to pay $270 million to Oklahoma to settle a lawsuit accusing the drugmaker of ruthlessly marketing and misleading the public about OxyContin. As a part of that agreement, Purdue agreed to contribute $102.5 million to fund the creation of a National Center for Addiction Studies at Oklahoma State University.

OxyContin is a prescription drug used to treat moderate-to-severe pain in adults. From 1999 to 2017, nearly 218,000 people died in the United States from overdoses related to prescription opioids, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. OxyContin first came on the market in 1996.

https://www.cnbc.com/2019/09/16/oxycontin-maker-purdue-pharma-files-for-bankruptcy-protection.html?__s
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Offline knarf

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Mexico amnesty law eyes reprieve for minor drug offenses, abortions
« Reply #14069 on: September 16, 2019, 05:58:45 AM »
MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has sent a draft law to Congress that aims to grant amnesty to people serving jail time for lesser offenses, including abortion and possession of small amounts of drugs, the government said on Sunday.

“The amnesty would benefit those in prison for minor crimes, not murderers or kidnappers or those who have caused serious injury to another person,” Lopez Obrador wrote in a preamble to the draft initiative.

Lopez Obrador put an amnesty at the center of his strategy to bring down record levels of violence in Mexico, which has been ravaged by turf wars between drug gangs for more than a decade, resulting in tens of thousands of deaths.

During his campaign, he said he would explore an amnesty with criminals to pursue a less confrontational approach to tackling the violence, generating expectations it could involve members of gangs. However, the premise remained vague.

The draft law made no specific reference about an amnesty for members of organized crime groups.

However, Lopez Obrador did argue clemency should be shown to vulnerable people who had been convicted for transporting or selling drugs under duress, and that prison stays were more likely to push them into the arms of organized crime.

Provided they are not repeat offenders, the amnesty bill plans to cover people convicted of non-violent robbery to prison terms of four years or less, women who aborted their pregnancies, and doctors who carried out abortions.

Outside of Mexico City, abortion is illegal in most of the country except for in certain situations, such as rape.

The bill said it aims to help poor or indigenous Mexicans who have had limited recourse to legal services, and noted that they, women and young people have been particularly vulnerable to the application of Mexico’s penal code.

The law also foresees granting amnesty to those convicted of sedition or political activities, provided these were not related to terrorism, did not involve kidnapping or cause serious injury to others, or the use of firearms.

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-mexico-violence-amnesty/mexico-amnesty-law-eyes-reprieve-for-minor-drug-offenses-abortions-idUSKBN1W00WN?feedType=RSS&feedName=worldNews&utm_source=reddit.com&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+Reuters%2FworldNews+%28Reuters+World+News%29
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