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Water, Drought & Famine / 🌊 Hell Is High Water
« on: Today at 07:30:31 AM »
Really good (although long) piece on the futility of trying to tame the Mighty Mississippi.


Hell Is High Water
When will the Mississippi River come for New Orleans?

By Henry Grabar
June 18, 20195:45 AM

The Bonnet Carré Spillway, which has been open for a record number of days, empties water from the Mississippi River into Lake Pontchartrain to spare the levees in New Orleans.

ARABI, Louisiana—The water is breaking gently around the hull of the crew boat Miss Emerson, as if she were puttering across a muddy lake. Instead she is tied at the dock of Port Ship Service, straining at her bowline as a supercharged Mississippi River rushes beneath. On the bank of a levee just over the parish line from New Orleans’ Lower Ninth Ward, Capt. Charles Crawford is preparing to take control of the Valle Azzurra, a big ship coming down the river in a hurry. The Miss Emerson is a transport boat. She will pull alongside the Malta-flagged tanker, and Crawford will board the larger vessel as the ships run momentarily together. He will climb a ladder that hangs over the ship’s port side, whose paint is scraped from a recent trip through to the Panama Canal. His assignment: steer the Valle Azzurra safely to Pilottown, where the river meets the sea.
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“Where’s mine?” Crawford asks Timmy Lopez, the drawling, tattooed dispatcher, his eyes as blue as the river is brown.

“Coming up on Perry Street,” responds Lopez with a glance at a monitor, as if we were waiting for an Uber instead of a 200-foot ship carrying 10,000 gallons of God knows what around the bend at Algiers Point.

Crawford is a member of the Crescent River Port Pilots Association, a group of elite mariners who steer tankers, freighters, and cruise ships down the 106 treacherous miles between New Orleans and the Bird’s Foot, the Mississippi River’s branching delta. It is specialized terrain, the pilots say, and even an experienced captain would struggle with its eccentricities. Crawford has the demeanor of a Hollywood airplane pilot—tanned, pleasantly lined face, a full head of gray hair. He has been doing this job for 40 years, and this one will be his last. “I always said, ‘I think I’ve got another high river season,’ but this year I said, ‘No, no more,’ ” he says, passing me the association calendar, which he helps photograph and design. “I’ve been doing this a long time, and I’ve seen a lot of high rivers, but I’ve never seen a river this high, this long.”
inRead invented by Teads

No one has. The Friday that Crawford sat waiting to board the Valle Azzurra was Day 225 of high water in New Orleans, tying the longest stretch in recorded history, set in 1973. The next day—Saturday, June 8—the record broke, and there is no end in sight.

Average height of the Mississippi by month from 1985 to today.

A wet decade on the Lower Mississippi has set records at New Orleans and the Bonnet Carré Spillway.

In New Orleans, the Mississippi River is considered to be at “high water” when it runs through the city at more than 8 feet above sea level. Usually, high water comes in the winter or spring and ends by June. This season, the river rose in November and hasn’t come down. “The length of time it’s gone on is really, really taxing my guys,” said Michael Bopp, the president of the Port Pilots Association. As a pilot, he said, “if you’re not scared, you’re oblivious. Oil, toxic chemicals, acid—you go right by people’s houses with the most toxic stuff known to man. You have a huge responsibility, and especially right now. The velocity and the length of time it’s been high is extraordinarily unusual. We are dying for it to go down.”
Channelization and climate change have helped create a Mississippi River running high and fast, longer than ever before.

Thirty-two states and two Canadian provinces drain through New Orleans. Sediment from the Midwest, distributed through the alluvial plain by regular floods over millions of years, created Louisiana. Since the 1930s, that process has all but stopped: The river is so heavily channelized here that it is invisible from the streets of the city, ferrying its rich silt deeper and deeper into the gulf. It runs higher than the surrounding land, penned in by levees, in John McPhee’s memorable phrase, like a vein on a hand. For the past six months, it has looked like the vein on a hand that’s been lifting weights. America’s wettest 12-month period in recorded history, all those devastating floods in Nebraska, Iowa, Oklahoma, Arkansas … it is all coming down through New Orleans now, putting the world’s most ambitious infrastructure of river control to the test.

It has been a high water season that has, for now, proved the strength and flexibility of the system of shipping, spillways, and levees built to keep New Orleans prosperous and safe. One season is a little scary. But there are signs that the Lower Mississippi may be entering a new era, one where high water comes faster and longer than it ever did before. The river—long an afterthought in this flood-scarred city—might threaten New Orleans once again.

High water moves fast. In the office of the Coast Guard in Algiers Point, across the river from the Bywater neighborhood in New Orleans, there’s a chart on Tony Marinelli’s desk that shows how the river’s speed rises with its height. At the Carrolton Gage, a measuring stick located just off the bank near the Audubon Zoo, 16 feet of water can be counted on to produce an average speed of 5.2 miles per hour at the surface—7.6 feet per second. The Hudson River at Albany, New York, rarely reaches a quarter of that speed. A log floating downriver through New Orleans (and there are quite a few of them at the moment) is traveling at an easy jog, past banks of submerged willow trees bobbing in the current.
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Crawford, the pilot, told me that taking a big ship down the Mississippi at high water around Algiers Point is like driving a truck down a road of ice. Taking it up the river might take twice as long as it did this time last year, when the river was 8 feet lower. Right now, everyday river operations are tense. One deckhand likened the situation to a five-alarm fire. There are no barges resting on the riverbanks, because there’s not much levee left above the waterline. Anchors won’t hold in the river bottom. On Wednesday morning, a barge hit the shore in Algiers, knocking over a utility pole and causing a power outage for 5,000 people. Then again, at least things are still moving here: Further north, the Arkansas and Illinois rivers have been closed to commercial traffic entirely due to high water, choking off shipments of corn and soybeans.

Marinelli is the watch supervisor here. From 6 a.m. to 6 p.m., he and his team sit in a dark room, in front of screens that show every ship on the river from Baton Rouge to the Bird’s Foot. “The risks are multiplied” right now, he says over brittle murmurs from the radios—ships calling in, and Coast Guard calling out. “Down-bound traffic can’t stop, except in emergencies. Up-bound traffic has to struggle to get through the 5- or 6-knot current. Debris is floating downriver. It’s so hazardous that the upriver pilots association [between Baton Rouge and New Orleans] won’t run ships at night. So, nighttime’s pretty quiet. Daytime, anything can happen.”

A map of Louisiana with key places like the Morganza and Bonnet Carré spillways pointed out.

A photograph on the wall shows a ship on fire. This was the Union Faith, a Taiwanese freighter that, on the night of April 6, 1969, hit a group of barges loaded with 9,000 barrels of crude oil just north of the bridge that connects downtown New Orleans to the Mississippi’s west bank. A series of explosions followed. Fire boats put out the barges before they hit the shore. A tow ship hooked the anchor chain of the Union Faith, holding it to burn and capsize in the deep part of the channel. “This collision narrowly missed resulting in a catastrophic fire on the New Orleans waterfront,” the National Transportation Safety Board reported. Twenty-five men on the Union Faith went missing and were presumed dead, including everyone on the ship’s bridge when the collision occurred. The cantilever interstate bridge 150 feet above was damaged, and it cost $10 million just to get the sunken ship out of the river. It was a clear night, and the water wasn’t high. Just an accident.

This is the worst-case scenario, though Marinelli can’t even say it before his colleagues hush him quiet. “They don’t even like to think about it,” he says. But there is good news, too. “Everybody who’s been out here for the 220-something days of high water are a lot better at their jobs now than when they started.”

What has happened down here is the weather changed. The 12 months ending in April were the wettest yearlong period in the United States going back to 1895 and caused devastating flooding across the watersheds of the Mississippi and its tributaries. This is not explicitly a product of climate change, but it does align with our long-term expectation of how the warmer atmosphere will alter—and is already altering—precipitation patterns. While parts of the Southwest and Southeast have been drier, annual total precipitation between 1991 and 2012 was up 5 to 20 percent over the historical average in most of the Mississippi watershed.
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At the same time, a megalithic engineering project to tame the Mississippi, begun after the Great Flood of 1927, has pushed the river into a narrow bound relative to its historical meanderings. The river might not run at depth through New Orleans at all if it weren’t for the Army Corps of Engineers’ maintenance of the Old River Control Structure, a system of floodgates that is the subject of McPhee’s famous 1987 essay “Atchafalaya.” Old River Control ensures the Mississippi remains deep enough in Baton Rouge and New Orleans to support shipping on the lower river. Four of the country’s top 10 ports by weight are here, and they move 450 million tons of cargo every year.
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Channelization has many consequences. Flooding has become more destructive when it happens, because more people live closer to the river. Un- or underguarded sections of the river are extremely vulnerable. But mostly, in Louisiana, the river stays where we put it, and the land around it slowly vanishes, deprived of the rich soil layers that once came with the floods. This is the main reason the state is losing a football field’s worth of land every 90 minutes and what looks on a map like a solid boot is in fact a shredded landscape of rapidly subsiding marshland. As Elizabeth Kolbert observes, land here not busy being born is busy dying.

Put them together and, this summer in New Orleans, channelization and climate change have helped create a river running high and fast, longer than ever before.

New Orleans is essentially an island, linked to mainland Louisiana by little more than the elevated banks of the river. This is particularly true right now: Twenty-five miles upstream of the city, the parkland that stretches five miles from the Mississippi River to Lake Pontchartrain has been submerged beneath a shimmering tongue of river water.

At the banks of the Mississippi here is the Bonnet Carré Spillway, the last possible release point to unload river water before it hits New Orleans. Built in 1931 to protect the city from a catastrophic flood, the 7,700-foot spillway (pronounced bonny carry) formalized what had been a natural crevasse during high river years. It sits just above the colossal Shell plant at Norco, a refinery and chemical plant of unfathomable scale. One structure creating climate change, one trying to manage it.

On Wednesday, Bonnet Carré set a record of its own: Most days operating in a year, at 76. This is also the first year Bonnet Carré has been opened twice, and the first year it has been open in consecutive years. (North of Baton Rouge, the Army Corps has contemplated opening the Morganza Spillway, for only the third time in its 65-year history, another sign of how extreme 2019 has been on the Mississippi.)

Along the spillway, the Big Muddy drifts against 350 bays, from each of which hangs a curtain of 20 railroad ties, or needles. To open the bays, a machine slides along the spillway track, lifting needles from their vertical position and hanging them horizontally. The structure was completed in 1931, and its mission is as simple as its design: keep the Mississippi River in New Orleans below 1,250,000 cubic feet per second. To accomplish this right now, the spillway has about half its bays open, and is releasing 147,000 cubic feet of water per second—15 Seine rivers taking the express route to the gulf.
As the years go by, it is looking more likely that high water and a hurricane could coincide in New Orleans.

From space, it is easy to see the effects of the Bonnet Carré’s big year: an enormous cloud of silt in Lake Pontchartrain and the Mississippi Sound, indicating the unprecedented influx of freshwater. “Ecologically, we’re seeing a lot more sustained damage than the BP oil spill,” Moby Solangi, the president of the Institute for Marine Mammal Studies in Gulfport, Mississippi, told the Clarion Ledger. He had counted 128 dead dolphins and 154 dead sea turtles, which he suggests were related to the lack of salinity. The effect on the fisheries has been severe, with Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant calling for a federal disaster declaration as oysters and crabs die off.

At Bonnet Carré, there are more important concerns. Chris Brantley has been the project manager of the spillway for 13 years. He sits in an office looking out at the flooded land below, watching the carp jump from the whitewater and keeping tabs on any sturgeon or paddlefish the local fishermen catch. This is, among other things, a great place to cast. “It’s like when you go to the Grand Canyon or Yellowstone National Park, how much money you got to pay to go out there? Look at this, this is just as exciting.” We look out at the water roaring out of the milelong, concrete riverbank.

“Yeah, you’re basically saving the city of New Orleans,” I said.

“We do do that.”

Brantley has opened the spillway six times since 2008; counting the six openings before that would take you back to 1950. When I asked him if it was unusual to have opened the spillway twice in one year for the first time in its 88-year history, he displayed what I’ve come to see as classic Army Corps sang-froid. “It’s the first time it’s ever happened, but I wouldn’t say it’s unusual.”

In New Orleans, you can go days without thinking of the river. People know about the high water, but it hangs in the mind as a kind of out-of-season curiosity, like an April snowstorm in New England. The Coast Guard and the pilots wrangle and restrict ship traffic to make sure nothing big hits the shore.

Why must the Bonnet Carré keep the Mississippi at 1,250,000 cubic feet per second in New Orleans? Because that is the pressure the levees are built to withstand. Every day of the “flood fight,” when the water is above 15 feet, levee managers patrol every foot of levee searching for seepage and sand boils that indicate river water may be surfacing on the wrong side of the banks, the first indication the structure may be weakening.

Upstream from Bonnet Carré, near Baton Rouge, the river has been even higher and more ferocious. “I’ve never seen anything like it in my entire life,” 5th Louisiana Levee District President Reynold Minsky told the Monroe News Star in May. Seep water was showing up as far as a mile from the river. “I’m on pins and needles until it falls below flood stage.” Baton Rouge and Vicksburg, Mississippi, have already broken flood-stage duration records set during the 1927 flood, the disaster that prompted so much of the Army Corps’ work on the lower river.

Down in New Orleans, the levees are enormous earth-and-concrete structures, and the Army Corps of Engineers has expressed absolute confidence in them to function under extended periods of high water.

But month after month of this, year after year, puts them in uncharted territory. “Having water on [the levees] for 200 days is really testing out the flood protection system,” said David Ramirez, the chief of river engineering and water management for the Army Corps in New Orleans. He reflected on the channelized, fast-flowing river that the corps had created upstream. “The system was designed in 1928 after the big ’27 flood. It is antiquated. Is it still useful for today’s conditions? We initiated a study to start looking at that. We may be looking at the new norm.”

Rainfall flooding is a regular concern in New Orleans, since the city holds puddle points like a waffle and relies on a shaky network of pumps for drainage. Storm surge through the Gulf of Mexico and Lake Pontchartrain caused the catastrophic levee failures during Hurricane Katrina. But the river has been kept in check for a long, long time.

“There are two ways to approach the amount of water coming down,” said Natalie Peyronnin Snider, a senior director for coastal resilience at the Environmental Defense Fund. “One is trapping water in natural floodplains up north, providing space for water to go before it even gets to the river.” The other is changing the course of the lower river below New Orleans, which would both spread sediment onto subsiding coastal marshes and reduce the backup caused by the river’s tortured route to the sea. “If you shorten the distance, you can reduce the stage north of New Orleans.” (Some expensive, small-scale efforts to this effect are underway now.)

One of the most unnerving aspects of this year’s record high water is that it now coincides with the start of hurricane season. The Army Corps’ river levees are built with the assumption that tropical storms would coincide with a river only 8 feet high—less than half its present height. Hurricane Katrina pushed a surge of 13 feet up the river. Hurricane Isaac made the river run backward, with a surge of 8 feet up to Baton Rouge. A storm surge of that size right now would cause the Mississippi to overtop the levees in New Orleans, a catastrophe in its own right that would weaken the barriers below, threatening worse.
A man steers a boat.
Rodney Moorman at the wheel of the Miss Emerson on the Mississippi River on June 7, approaching the Valle Azzurra.
Henry Grabar

For now, that is an unlikely event that should not keep the 1.275 million people in Greater New Orleans up at night. Big hurricanes don’t typically arrive in the gulf until late August and September. A storm would have to hit the river mouth just so to cause a major river surge. But as the years go by, it is looking more likely that high water and a hurricane could coincide—and in turn, it becomes more important to rethink the logic of the system that sends so much water through New Orleans into the hot summer months.

“It’s not just the height of the water, it’s also the duration,” observed Nicholas Pinter, a levee expert at the University of California–Davis. “The longer the flood fight, the greater the threat to the levees.” He suggested that somewhere along the Lower Mississippi, the state would have to make more room for water to prevent this kind of sustained stress on the riverbanks. The river has been above 16 feet for three straight months—16 feet above sea level. Most of the city is below sea level. Ships like the Valle Azzurra float by at the end of the street like they’re flying.

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Trumpovetsky is, as usual, FULL OF SHIT 💩.


Trump Says Next Week ICE Will Begin Sweeping Crackdown to “Remove” Millions of Undocumented Immigrants

By Elliot Hannon
June 18, 20196:09 AM

White House advisor Stephen Miller smiles as he leaves after US President Donald Trump announced a new immigration proposal in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, DC, on May 16, 2019.


President Trump tweeted out Monday night that his administration plans on a sweeping immigration enforcement crackdown on individuals who have already arrived in the country that could see U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement stage coordinated raids in multiple cities. “Next week ICE will begin the process of removing the millions of illegal aliens who have illicitly found their way into the United States,” Trump wrote. “They will be removed as fast as they come in.”

Whether not the anti-immigration blitz actually takes place is another matter and all (practical) signs point to this being another example of the president’s trumped up bravado. “U.S. officials with knowledge of the preparations have said in recent days that the operation was not imminent, and ICE officials said late Monday night that they were not aware that the president planned to divulge their enforcement plans on Twitter,” the Washington Post reports. “Executing a large-scale operation of the type under discussion requires hundreds—and perhaps thousands—of U.S. agents and supporting law enforcement personnel, as well as weeks of intelligence gathering and planning to verify addresses and locations of individuals targeted for arrest. The president’s claim that ICE would be deporting ‘millions’ also was at odds with the reality of the agency’s staffing and budgetary challenges.”

Whispers of a mass detention plan being pushed by adviser Stephen Miller did emerge last month; the initiative aimed to make as many as 10,000 arrests across 10 U.S. cities. The Trump administration wants the intentionally high-visibility effort to act as a deterrent to undocumented immigrants considering coming across the border. The practical and human implications of the plan however prompted both then-acting ICE director Ronald Vitiello and Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen to balk, citing operational shortcomings and the potential public blowback to arresting families in the streets. Both lost their jobs in short order.

Former FBI and Border Patrol official Mark Morgan is now in control of ICE and has stated publicly that part of his mission is to enhance immigration enforcement inside the country by increasing deportation orders. So far, the Washington Post reports, Morgan’s more Trumpy (and Miller-esque) stance has unsurprisingly impressed Trump, particularly during cable TV interviews.

Not looking good for Trumpovetsky.  :icon_sunny:


The many 2020 polls are telling a pretty clear story

The state of the 2020 presidential election polling, explained.
By Dylan Jun 17, 2019, 1:40pm EDT

Joe Biden is still leading the 2020 Democratic presidential primary polls. But there is more to the story. Scott Eisen/Getty Images

Former Vice President Joe Biden is still leading the Democratic primary, but is potentially seeing some soft spots in his foundation, according to a group of polls released in recent days. Meanwhile, Sen. Bernie Sanders has plateaued, and Sen. Elizabeth Warren is surging, with Sen. Kamala Harris and South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg holding steady right behind the top three.

At the same time, President Donald Trump sure looks to be in some trouble as he prepares to formally launch his reelection campaign.

Several new 2020 national polls told the same story on the Democratic candidates. Both Fox News and Economist/YouGov polls found Biden in front with about 30 percent, Sanders in second, and Warren in third. Here are the longer-term trendlines, from Real Clear Politics: Biden’s and Sanders’s support have flagged, Warren is on the rise, with Buttigieg and Harris a cut above the rest of the field.

Real Clear Politics

National surveys are of limited value, but the story seems to be the same in early primary states. Some more nuanced polling, asking Democratic primary voters about their comfort with a given candidate, also suggests some erosion for Biden and Sanders, while others like Warren and Buttigieg are growing in voters’ estimation.

Meanwhile, the polling for Trump continues to look bad. It’s too early to draw any conclusions about Trump’s reelection bid just yet, but he’s underwater in the key battleground states that were key to his victory last time. His approval rating is still low. His internal polling keeps leaking and keeps looking terrible. And while head-to-head polling is of limited value this early in the game, he appears to be losing to every Democratic candidate in a potential 2020 matchup.
The current 2020 Democratic primary polling, briefly explained

The national polling, to borrow from FiveThirtyEight’s Nate Silver, suggests at least four, maybe five tiers of 2020 Democratic candidates. Here they are, with their national polling averages from Real Clear Politics:

    Joe Biden (31.5 percent). He’s all by himself, still holding a substantial lead in both national surveys and most of the early primary state polls.
    Bernie Sanders (15.8 percent) and Elizabeth Warren (12.8 percent). Right now, Sanders is still Biden’s top rival, but Warren has regularly come in second or third in both national and state surveys for a little while now.
    Pete Buttigieg (7.8 percent) and Kamala Harris (7.3 percent). They have been holding steady, after Harris’s solid start and Buttigieg’s surprising surge.
    Former Rep. Beto O’Rourke (3.5 percent) and Sen. Cory Booker (2.3 percent). We’re splitting hairs now, but this pair tends to score at least a few percentage points of support in any given poll, which puts them a notch above the dozen or so other candidates.
    Everybody else. No other candidates are topping 2 percent in national polls, though Sen. Amy Klobuchar (1.3 percent) and entrepreneur Andrew Yang (1.3 percent) are currently at the front of the also-ran pack.

Democrats don’t have a national primary, so national polls are useful only as a general gauge of support. But the polling of early primary states tells mostly the same tale. CBS and YouGov put out a survey of voters in the first 18 states on the primary calendar and found these results:

    Biden: 31 percent
    Warren: 17 percent
    Sanders: 16 percent
    Harris: 10 percent
    Buttigieg: 8 percent
    O’Rourke: 5 percent
    Booker: 2 percent
    Klobuchar: 2 percent

The tiers hold up. The same could be said of new polling from South Carolina (Biden, 37 percent; Warren, 17 percent; Buttigieg, 11 percent; Sanders and Harris at 9 percent) and in California (Biden, 22 percent; Warren, 18 percent; Sanders, 17 percent; Harris, 13 percent; Buttigieg, 10 percent). The latest Iowa poll from CBS/YouGov showed Biden in the lead at 30 percent, Sanders in second with 22 percent, Warren a little farther back in third with 12 percent, then Buttigieg registering 11 percent and Harris 5 percent.

You get the point.

To look at the primary a different way, a new Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll asked Democratic primary voters whether they would be enthusiastic about a given candidate, comfortable with them, have some reservations about them, or whether they’d be very uncomfortable with the candidate. Biden and Sanders had lost some ground, while Warren has grown in the estimation of Democratic voters.

We have such a long way to go; the first big moment in the 2020 election is finally coming next week when the candidates step on stage for the opening Democratic primary debate. But that is the state of things heading into that watershed moment: Biden and Sanders at the top but hardly running away from the field, with Elizabeth Warren nipping at their heels.
Donald Trump keeps polling really badly in hypothetical 2020 matchups

Now to the president. As Vox’s Matt Yglesias covered last week, Trump’s reelection odds certainly appear bleak based on hypothetical head-to-head matchups with the top 2020 Democratic candidates:

    If you look at Donald Trump’s polling lately, it sure looks like he’s in trouble for reelection.

    A June 11 Quinnipiac poll showed Trump losing 40-53 to Joe Biden. He’s also down 51-42 to Bernie Sanders, 41-49 to Kamala Harris, 42-49 to Elizabeth Warren, 42-47 to Pete Buttigieg, and 42-47 to Cory Booker.

    All plausible contenders at this moment can take heart in the fact that just 40 to 42 percent of the population feels like voting for Trump’s reelection. The public is mostly saying they want to vote for any Democrat, and the strongest pattern so far indicates better-known Democrats do better than the more obscure ones.

    None of this means that Trump is a sure bet to lose the election in 2020 — public opinion can change fast and there’s nothing particularly predictive about polling this far out — but it’s a pretty clear snapshot of public opinion right now.

The Trump 2020 campaign’s own internal polling also keeps leaking to political reporters and it also doesn’t look good:

(The Trump campaign has said those numbers are out of date, and Trump has disavowed them on Twitter, with news emerging that he has fired several of his pollsters over the leaks.)

Now you, as a wise and seasoned monitor of campaign polls, might think it is ridiculous to be polling November 2020 general election matchups in June 2019 before the first Democratic primary debates and you, dear reader, would be right to think that. But some of the other indicators for Trump’s reelection are equally dismal.

Trump is still really unpopular. He’s generally quite unpopular in the most important electoral battleground states too. Here are the raw numbers for Trump in the states that are expected to be competitive in the 2020 election, according to the latest Morning Consult data:

    New Hampshire: 39 percent approval, 58 percent disapproval
    Wisconsin: 42 percent approval, 55 percent disapproval
    Michigan: 42 percent approval, 54 percent disapproval
    Iowa: 42 percent approval, 54 percent disapproval
    Arizona: 45 percent approval, 51 percent disapproval
    Pennsylvania 45 percent approval, 52 percent disapproval
    Ohio: 46 percent approval, 50 percent disapproval
    North Carolina: 46 percent approval, 50 percent disapproval
    Florida: 48 percent approval, 48 percent disapproval
    Indiana: 49 percent approval, 46 percent disapproval

It’s a grim picture. Wisconsin and Michigan were critical Midwestern pieces of Trump’s Electoral College puzzle, and he is now deeply unpopular in both states. Pennsylvania was maybe his most surprising win in 2016, and now he is 7 points underwater there. Perhaps Trump can take solace in his even job approval rating in Florida, but that is the only swing state where the president looks as strong as he did on Election Day 2016. Everywhere else, his support has deteriorated.

Maybe the most striking finding is in Iowa, where Trump beat Hillary Clinton by nearly 10 points. Iowans disapprove of his job performance by a 12-point margin now, in a farming state that’s been hit hard by Trump’s trade war. That would suggest the president’s cult of personality will not totally inoculate him from the unpopular parts of his policy agenda.

We still have a year and a half to go before the 2020 election. These approval numbers aren’t the same as a head-to-head matchup with a specific Democratic candidate (though those have not been very encouraging for Trump either). But they do indicate the unusual weakness of the president heading into his reelection campaign.

We are WAY past 40 Days & 40 Nights nw!


Arkansas, Mississippi, Ohio Valley Flash Flooding: Thunderstorms, Heavy Rains Stretch from Texas to mid-Atlantic
By Sophia Waterfield On 6/17/19 at 5:41 AM EDT

Flash flood warnings have been issued for Texas across to the mid-Atlantic by the National Weather Service (NWS), remaining in effect until this morning.

Across the country, two to three inches of rain has already fallen, with expected showers to follow over the course of the morning, affecting the eastern states and coast. This rainfall is expected to cause flash flooding in Grayson in Georgia, Oldtown in Idaho, Naples in Florida, Coalton in Ohio, Flatwoods in West Virginia, Russell in Massachusetts and Hopewell, Virginia.

In Texas, a flash flood warning is also in effect until this 4:15 a.m. CT. The warning is in place for northern Caldwell County, east central Hays County, south central Travis County, and southwestern Bastrop County in Texas. Three inches of rain has already fallen with further heavy rain detected by the NWS. This rainfall is expected to produce thunderstorms affecting areas north of San Marcos to Buda, extending east to Cedar Creek and Dale.

The following locations will experience flooding:

    San Marcos
    Mustang Ridge,
    Cedar Creek
    Onion Creek
    Mountain City
    Red Rock
    Lytton Springs
    St John Colony

In Ohio, NWS Wilmington issued a flash flood warning for northwestern Champaign County and south central Logan County, which remains in effect until 9:00 a.m. ET. Its radar indicated that thunderstorms had produced heavy rain across the area. Already one to two inches of rain has fallen overnight with another inch expected through to 3:00 a.m. ET.

The following areas will experience flooding:

    St. Paris
    West Liberty
    Kiser Lake State Park

NWS advises that people in these areas move to higher ground and to be cautious as flooding is harder to recognize at night.
Related Stories

    Mississippi, Arkansas Rivers Subject To Further Flooding Through Saturday
    Mississippi River Flooding 2019: Latest Map Shows Dozens of Areas in Flood
    Viral Video Shows Historic Mississippi River Flooding at St. Louis
    Father Drowns While Taking Son and Boy Scouts Rafting Along Arkansas River
    Flooding Continues To Sweep Through North, South Carolina
    North Carolina Flooding: Images Show Destruction, Latest Warnings
    Confirmed Death, Floods on Mississippi, Arkansas and Illinois Rivers

Indiana is also under warning from flash flooding affecting central Monroe County, southern Brown County and northern Greene County in the state. The warning remains in effect until 5:00 a.m ET this morning.

Six inches of rain has already fallen overnight in these areas and NWS reports that flash flooding has already started in areas such as:

    Yellowwood Lake
    Indiana University
    Woodville Hills
    Stone Head
    Gnaw Bone


The Hong Kong Protests Could Be a Prelude to a Big Showdown Over Taiwan

By Joshua Keating
June 17, 20196:02 PM

Protesters display placards during a demonstration in Taipei on Sunday in support of the continuing protests taking place in Hong Kong.
Sam Yeh/AFP/Getty Images

More on Asia

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Advocates of democracy in Hong Kong notched an impressive victory in their long-running fight with the People’s Republic of China last weekend when the city’s pro-Beijing chief executive, Carrie Lam, indefinitely shelved a controversial extradition law in response to mass protests that saw as many as a million people in the streets at their height. It’s a devastating setback for Lam, but less so for China and its leader, Xi Jinping. Thanks to China’s tight information controls, there’s little risk of unrest spreading to the mainland. And while Chinese leaders would like to accelerate Hong Kong’s integration into the Chinese political system, the territory is becoming more economically (and physically) integrated every day, and its special semiautonomous status is due to end in 2047. China has been waiting since the 19th century to take full control of Hong Kong, and it can afford to be patient for a little longer.

Chinese leaders may feel more concern over the implications the events in Hong Kong hold for what the country considers another of its wayward provinces: Taiwan.

Taiwan has been involved in this latest round of Hong Kong tensions from the beginning. The extradition law was proposed in response to a gruesome case in which a 19-year-old Hong Kong man, Chan Tong-kai, admitted to strangling his pregnant girlfriend Poon Hiu-wing and stuffing her body in a suitcase while the two were on vacation in Taiwan. Chan returned to Hong Kong before he was arrested, and because the city has no extradition treaty with Taiwan, he couldn’t be sent there to face murder charges. He was instead tried for money laundering for using Poon’s credit cards.

But rather than pursue a narrowly tailored law that would apply to this case, Lam pushed a broader bill that would allow selective extradition to a number of countries including China. The bill was widely seen as a Trojan horse that would undermine the city’s political independence.

Notably, the law was not supported by the government of Taiwan, the country it was originally supposed to apply to. Mass rallies in solidarity with Hong Kong were held in Taipei over the weekend, and Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen decried the “evil law,” saying Taiwan would not join any extradition treaty that implies it is part of China. She has strongly supported the protesters:

Politically, the timing of the crisis works quite well for the nationalist Tsai, who just fended off a primary challenge from the even more nationalist former Prime Minister William Tai and is facing a tough reelection fight this January.

Taiwan has maintained de facto independence since Chinese nationalist forces relocated there in 1949 after their rout by Mao Zedong’s communists, but Beijing still considers it part of its own territory and has sought to bring it back into the fold. Lately, China has been pressuring the few countries that still have formal diplomatic relations with Taiwan to cut them off and has stepped up military exercises in the region. Hard-liners in China’s military are reportedly frustrated with what they see as an overly cautious approach to Taiwan’s continued defiance.

Taiwanese leaders have been wary about declaring full independence for fear of provoking Chinese retaliation, but Tsai’s Democratic Progressive Party strongly opposes closer unification with China. The party that founded modern Taiwan, the Kuomintang, now ironically promotes closer ties with Beijing. While most Taiwanese oppose reunification, most also now see it as inevitable, given China’s military and economic strength.

On Jan. 2, Chinese President Xi Jinping gave a major speech on Taiwan policy, which included both carrots and sticks. Xi called reunification inevitable and did not rule out the use of force to achieve it, but he also suggested Taiwan could maintain its autonomy under a “one country, two systems” arrangement like the one in place in Hong Kong since 1997.

The speech backfired, leading to an immediate surge in support for Tsai after her party had suffered a setback in recent local elections. “That was a message to her and her team that beating up on China can be very helpful in boosting her support,” says Bonnie Glaser, director of the China Power Project at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. After the past week, suffice to say, “one country, two systems” looks even less appealing—and resistance to Chinese rule looks just a tiny bit less futile.

Glaser says that from Tsai’s point of view, the images coming out of Hong Kong are “even better” than Xi’s controversial remarks. “This isn’t just a speech. It’s reality.”

The Taiwan-China showdown has significant implications for the U.S., too. While America has not formally recognized Taiwan since normalizing relations with the People’s Republic in 1979, the U.S. has maintained unofficial relations with the island and provided it with significant support in the form of arms sales.
After the past week, “one country, two systems” looks even less appealing—and resistance to Chinese rule looks just a tiny bit less futile.

This support has increased under the Trump administration, amid the overall deterioration in U.S.-China relations. Trump broke protocol by accepting a phone call from Tsai during his transition period. He recently signed legislation, which passed with significant congressional support, encouraging U.S. officials to make high-level visits to Taiwan. The Navy has stepped up frequency of the passage of ships through the Taiwan Strait. And the administration is proposing a new $2 billion arms sale to the country. These visible displays of support, over Beijing’s furious objections, have emboldened Taiwan’s nationalists. (In a sign of just how confusing U.S. foreign policy can be in the Trump era, the president recently held an unusual White House meeting with Terry Gou, the billionaire Foxconn chairman who is running for president of Taiwan on a pro-China platform.)

All of this bears watching, if only because an invasion of Taiwan may be the scenario most likely to lead to direct military conflict between the U.S. and China. Despite Xi’s warnings, that still seems unlikely for the moment. But what the past week’s events in Hong Kong and Taiwan’s show of solidarity have demonstrated is that the People’s Republic has a major soft-power problem. Given China’s stunning economic success and rapid rise to global power, it shouldn’t be this hard for its leaders to make the case for unification to places like Hong Kong and Taiwan, given their shared history and culture. One wonders when China’s leaders will run out of patience and resort to more extreme measures.


The Permian Craze Is Fizzling … But Shale Oil Production Isn’t
By Julianne Geiger - Jun 17, 2019, 10:00 PM CDT

The frenzied Permania that had oil and gas companies rushing to the O&G hotspot may be on the outs, but production in the industry’s number one basin has not, according to the US Energy Information Administration’s Drilling Productivity Report released on Monday.

Oil production in the Permian basin is set to hit a brand-new record next month, the EIA said, expecting a 55,000 barrel per day increase month on month, reaching 4.226 million barrels per day. The Niobrara and Bakken basins are also set for an increase in July, of 10,000 and 11,000 barrels per day, respectively. The Permian accounts for nearly half of the production of the top seven basins, and is nearly three times as prolific as the next most prolific basin, The Bakken.

For the seven major basins that the EIA tracks in its monthly Drilling Productivity Report, July’s production is set to increase by 70,000 month over month, reaching 8.520 million bpd—also a new record.

This shale oil production has helped to catapult the United States into the top crude oil producer in the world at 12.6 million bpd as of the first week of June, even ahead of the titans of oil industry old—Russia, whose production hit 10.87 million bpd that same week; and Saudi Arabia, whose production hit 9.690 million bpd according to the last official OPEC MOMR.

While oil production is still on an uphill climb, the number of DUCs decreased in May, from 8,360 in April to 8,283 in May.

Gas production in the seven most prolific shale plays is also expected to increase in July, from 80,564 million cubic feet per day in June to 81,362 million cubic feet per day in July.

By Julianne Geiger for

Shades of Vietnam.


Pentagon sending 1,000 U.S. troops to Middle East after oil tanker attack
Rebecca Morin, USA TODAY Published 9:08 p.m. ET June 17, 2019

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Two oil tankers near the Strait of Hormuz were damaged in suspected attacks on Thursday, an assault that left one ablaze and adrift as sailors were evacuated from both vessels and the US Navy rushed to assist. (June 13) AP

WASHINGTON -- The Department of Defense announced Monday evening that 1,000 U.S. troops are being sent to the Middle East in response to last week's attacks on oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman, attacks the United States says Iran conducted.

"The recent Iranian attacks validate the reliable, credible intelligence we have received on hostile behavior by Iranian forces and their proxy groups that threaten United States personnel and interests across the region," Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan said in a statement.

The troops were authorized "for defensive purposes to address air, naval, and ground-based threats in the Middle East," Shanahan also said.

'Iran did do it': Trump addresses tanker attacks, points to US military video of removing mine

More: Trump’s picks for administration jobs keep dropping out. But why?

Last week, the Trump administration accused Tehran of being responsible for an explosion that set two oil tankers on fire off the coast of Iran.

"Iran did do it," Trump said Friday during an interview on Fox News. “It was them that did it.” He also called Iran, "a nation of terror."

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo says the U.S. believes Iran is responsible for attacks that damaged two oil tankers near the Persian Gulf Thursday. Pompeo said the attacks are part of a "campaign" of "escalating tension" by Iran. (June 13) AP

In addition, the Pentagon released video last week that officials said show Iran’s Revolutionary Guard removing an unexploded limpet mine from one of the oil tankers targeted near the Strait of Hormuz.

Iran has denied being involved, and instead, has accused the U.S. of waging an “Iranophobic campaign” against it.

Shanahan in his statement said that the request for more troops came from U.S. Central Command, adding that he also consulted with the White House and got advice from the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Joseph Dunford.

The United States' relationship with Iran has become strained after Trump pulled out of the 2015 Iran nuclear deal and reimposed sanctions on the country. The U.S. has repeatedly claimed that Iran threatens American forces and facilities in the Middle East.

However, Shanahan in his statement maintained that "the United States does not seek conflict with Iran."

"The action today is being taken to ensure the safety and welfare of our military personnel working throughout the region and to protect our national interests," he said. "We will continue to monitor the situation diligently and make adjustments to force levels as necessary given intelligence reporting and credible threats."

Contributing: John Bacon, USA TODAY and Associated Press

In response to attacks on oil tankers near the strategic Strait of Hormuz, acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan said Iran is not just a U.S. problem. He said the U.S. goal is to "build international consensus to this international problem." (June 14) AP

Geopolitics / 🚢 The High Cost of Deporting Parents
« on: Today at 12:31:34 AM »
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This will be expensive.


June 17, 2019 / 5:35 PM / Updated 5 hours ago
Trump says U.S. agency will begin removing millions of illegal immigrants

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Donald Trump said on Monday that U.S. authorities would begin next week removing millions of immigrants who are in the United States illegally.

“Next week ICE will begin the process of removing the millions of illegal aliens who have illicitly found their way into the United States,” Trump tweeted, referring to the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency. “They will be removed as fast as they come in,” he said. He did not offer specifics.

There are an estimated 12 million immigrants who are in the United States illegally, mainly from Mexico and Central America.

Under a deal reached earlier this month, Mexico has agreed to take Central American immigrants seeking asylum in the United States until their cases are heard in U.S. courts.


The agreement, which included Mexico pledging to deploy National Guard troops to stop Central American immigrants from reaching the U.S. border, averted a Trump threat to hit Mexican imports with tariffs.

Trump also said in the tweet that Guatemala “is getting ready to sign a Safe-Third Agreement.”

U.S. Vice President Mike Pence suggested last week that Guatemala could receive asylum seekers from its neighbors as a so-called safe third country.

Details of the plan have not been made public, and Guatemala has not publicly confirmed talks that the U.S. State Department said were taking place in Guatemala on Friday.


U.S. rights group Human Rights First said, however, it was “simply ludicrous” for the United States to assert that Guatemala was capable of protecting refugees, when its own citizens are fleeing violence.

Mexico has agreed that if its measures to stem the flow of migrants are unsuccessful, it will discuss signing a safe third country agreement with the United States.

Reporting by Eric Beech; Editing by Mohammad Zargham and Peter Cooney


So Diners can plan on what dishes they will bring to the FEAST, here is what the Cooking Zone kitchen is whipping up for Conspicuous Consumption on Friday, June 21st:

Doomstead Diner Menu Prix Fixe
Summer Solstice 2019

Price: FREE!  :icon_sunny:

Starter: Cream of Wild Mushroom & Garlic Soup infused with Tarragon & Rosemary

A delicious blend of flavors and textures
from an Original RE Recipe

Side Dish: Asparagus & Mushroom Alfredo Casserole

A marriage made in heaven between al dente Asparagus spears and butter sauteed Crimini mushrooms in a fresh Alfredo sauce topped with seasoned bread crumbs
from an Original RE recipe

Main Course: Mediterranean Grilled Alaska Coho Salmon with Kalamatta Olives, Tomatoes, Artichoke Hearts, Hearts of Palm and Feta Cheese

Grilled to moist perfection with crispy skin on Bugout Cooking Apparatus
from an Original RE recipe

Beverage: Cheap White Wine
Purchased originally by RE from the ON SALE rack at 3 Bears Liquor Store
(you are :hi: to bring a more expensive bottle of wine to share.  Red is OK too, even though it's a fish dish.)

*Note: Photos above are Googled facsimiles.  You have to wait until Friday for the actual photos and videos, which are better.  :icon_sunny:

Remember, you don't have to actually cook up a dish, you can just pick a favorite and Google up a representative Food Porn pic to share at the dinner table as we discuss the ongoing Collapse of Industrial Civilization!

Eat well in Collapse!


The Diner Pantry / Meat🥩-o-saurus: Field Dressing Bambi
« on: June 17, 2019, 05:51:21 AM »
It's Meat 🥩 Monday here on the Diner, so we are getting some Venison ready for Dinner!  :icon_sunny:


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Seasteading / ⛵ The Old Sea Dog Tours the Homeland
« on: June 17, 2019, 05:35:21 AM »
Rough flight back to Jolly Old England for OS!


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At least they didn't have Mickey Ds and GMO Doritos.


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Knarfs Knewz / Re: Propaganda Is The Root Of All Our Problems
« on: June 17, 2019, 05:06:38 AM »
I have to disagree with that.  It is confusing Cause & Effect.

$MONEY$  🤑 is the Root of all our problems.  Propaganda is simply a tool the Elite use to keep the money in their own hands.


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